Tunisia's team effort to cover Mejri's OQT absence
DALLAS (2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments) - Tunisia have warned they will not back down from anyone at the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Turin, despite being without Salah Mejri.
Mejri, who is coming off his rookie season in the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks, will undergo a knee surgery on Thursday in Dallas, but he doesn’t rule out a return to the national team.
"I love playing for my national team, but due to my knee conditions I won't be able to contribute in the OQT," he told FIBA.com. "I haven't joined the national team earlier because I was undecided about the surgery but it’s been decided now."
Tunisia are set to compete in the six-team OQT taking place in the Italian city from 4-9 July, where they will look to earn a spot at the Rio Olympics. They have been drawn in Group A, alongside Italy and Croatia.
If they can win one game in the Group Phase, the Tunisians will see their chances increased to advance to the Semi-Finals where they would face a team from Group B which consists of Greece, Mexico, and Iran.
Only the winner of the tournament will advance to Olympics.
"It will be tough for us," Tunisia coach Adel Tlatli admitted. "It's unfortunate that Salah can't join us but we will play as a team and we will take our chances."
A knee injury forced Mejri to sit out the Third-Place Game at AfroBasket 2015
A key member of the Tunisian national team, Mejri wished his teammates a good display in Turin.
"They just need to play hard and never give up. It will be difficult, but we are used to playing against better teams than us," he said. "If I am healthy next year, I will surely be playing for Tunisia."
On Tuesday and Wednesday, they will take on the Czech Republic on a two-game warm-up series in Prague.