SHEFFIELD (Julio Chitunda's African Message) - Nigeria entered the AfroBasket 2015 Final having lost all nine games against Angola dating back to 1987. However, they came out of Sunday's finale in Rades, Tunisia as the new champions of Africa.
And, if one asks Nigeria's head coach Will Voigt about the significance of his team's first-ever AfroBasket title, he would back what some believe is the beginning of a new chapter in the African basketball history.
A new face of African basketball is something that some expected for many years to happen, and Angola was the team to beat not only from Day 1 of AfroBasket 2015, but for most of past two decades.
After all, Angola had won 11 of the last 13 AfroBaskets, dating back to 1989.
That moment of change may have arrived as Angola fell to Nigeria in Sunday's Final of AfroBasket 2015 in Tunisia.
And if Angola don't win the next AfroBasket, then their basketball dominance might be disappearing.
Moncho Lopez's team faced a lot of adversity throughout the tournament in Tunisia as most of their opponents - with the exception of hosts Tunisia - played their best games against them.
Mozambique, Morocco, the Central African Republic (CAF) and Egypt all put Angola to the test. Only Senegal and Nigeria - the two tallest teams in the tournament - upset the 11-time African champions.
First, Antoine Mendy's tip-in the final second lifted Senegal to a 74-73 win over Angola in the Group Phase, and then Nigeria - perhaps the most discontent team with Angola's continental success - took the responsibility of drawing a new picture of African basketball by denying Angola's automatic qualification for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
From the Angolan perspective, winning the AfroBasket over the course of the past two decades had become a routine.
But now, things seem a little different.
In an interview with an Angolan journalist in Rades before the tournament began, he asked me to pick the favourite teams to win the championship.
I responded as I had written before: "Nigeria, Tunisia, Angola, Cameroon, Cape Verde, and I wasn't too sure about Senegal because of their problematic preparations."
I explained to him that Angola won in the past because they were the better team, but things have evolved recently, and other nations were ready to do whatever was necessary to see new a champion of Africa.
Nigeria's persistent failure against Angola encouraged the country's Basketball Federation to select their best players - no matter that they played with 10 American-Nigerians - and a highly-skilled coaching staff, and the plan worked to perfection.
Nigeria outplayed Angola in most aspects of the game.
They moved the ball a lot better despite finishing with their lowest field goal percentage (29 percent) in the tournament.
But the biggest difference was clearly the Angolans' 50 percent free-throw shooting (8 for 16) and the battle in the paint where Nigeria out-rebounded Angola 60-37.
Among those willing to build a new picture of African basketball was Voigt.
This is what he told me after the game: "What they [Angola] have done - nine straight Finals winning seven of them - it is impressive. We hope this win starts that tradition with Nigerian basketball moving forward.
"We received the call from the Vice-President [of Republic of Nigeria] before we played, and it was only him because the president [Muhammadu Buhari] was sick and didn't have enough voice.
"We knew we were representing an entire nation and we have to give credit to our guys for achieving it.
"We were a little nervous at the beginning of the game. We had good shots that we usually make but we weren't quite finishing.
"Once we could regroup defensively we found our rhythm offensively."
Taking to fellow journalist Jeff Taylor, Voigt added: "For us, we would have been ready no matter who we played against. But we looked at Angola as they are the champions. Not only because they won it in 2013 but because for such a long time, they've really been the face of African basketball. So we felt at some point, we were going to have to go through them. I know a lot of people were counting them out at the beginning of the tournament, but we had our eyes on them early.”
For the benefit of African basketball, Angola should remain their heads held high and regroup.
It's now to time to congratulate the deserving African champions.