Tunisia has done the seemingly impossible, crushing Angola in the 2011 Afrobasket championship game 67-56. With the win, Tunisia earns a spot in the 2012 London Olympics. Angola will now be forced to qualify via a last-chance tournament in July 2012, at which three bids are up for grabs. Those bids tend to fall into European hands.
The level at which this result is unexpected is astounding. Angola had won every African championship since 1997 (when it took bronze thanks to a semifinal loss to host Senegal), and, excepting that loss, had taken Africa in every tournament since 1989 -- more than two decades of rarely disputed dominance. Before this tournament, Angola hadn't lost a single game in African competition in a decade. (By contrast, this was Tunisia's first championship game since 1965.)
But the signs that Angola was not up to its usual standard came in early, as Senegal took a game off the Angolans in group play. Angola later needed overtime to escape Cameroon and fought a close match with Nigeria in the semifinals. But Tunisia delivered the crushing blow behind 21 points from point guard Marouan Kechrid, who plays professionally in Morocco.
Earlier Sunday, Nigeria beat Cote d'Ivoire to win a bid to the Olympic qualifying tournament. That 12-team field will assemble in July 2012 to decide the final three entrants in the Olympics, which begin July 27, 2012, in London.