Tunisia-Nigeria Preview

Tunisia-Nigeria Preview

Published Jul. 27, 2012 4:17 p.m. ET

In a matchup of teams making their first appearances in the men's Olympic basketball tournament, Nigeria faces Tunisia in the preliminary round of Group A play Sunday.

The Nigerians qualified with a sensational run though the FIBA qualifying tournament, getting last-second free throws from Ade Dagunduro to defeat Greece 80-79 in the quarterfinals and beating the Dominican Republic 88-73 in the final.

"That win against Greece was the biggest win in African basketball. This is a big thing for African basketball," Dagunduro said.

Former NBA player Ike Diogu and current one Al-Farouq Aminu led the way offensively for Nigeria. Diogu paced his team with 16.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game in the qualifying tournament and scored 25 in the final.


"Well if you consider yourself to be a big-time player you got to relish those moments," Diogu said. "I said I'm going to be the one to put our team on my back, thank goodness the balls went in."

Aminu averaged 13.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in the qualifier, and the two players could create major headaches for Tunisia, which qualified for London by going unbeaten at the 2011 Africa Championship and dethroning defending six-time champion Angola 67-56 in the final.

Tunisia won its seven games by an average of 24.0 points en route to its first Afrobasket championship and Olympic berth.

Tunisia does not have an NBA player on the roster and relies on a balanced offensive attack. Macram Ben Romdhane led the team with 12.7 points in the tournament, Marouan Kechrid averaged 11.6 points and 2.6 assists and Salah Mejri averaged 8.9 points and 9.0 rebounds.

Captain Amine Rzig scored 8.4 points with 4.1 rebounds a contest in the seven games.

While both teams are grouped in a challenging pool that's rounded out by the United States, Argentina, France and Lithuania, neither is content with just making it to London.

Mejri says Tunisia is in the Olympics "to compete. And realistically, we expect to win one or two games."

The two countries have met three times since 1999, with Nigeria taking all three contests. The most recent matchup was Aug. 24, 2007, an 83-82 Nigeria victory.