LIBREVILLE (AfroBasket 2015) - There was an awakening of sorts in international basketball in Tunisia this summer.
Gabon, playing at the AfroBasket for the first time in a decade, looked about as weak as any of the 16 teams at the tournament in heavy defeats to Egypt (96-49), Mali (78-54) and Cameroon (93-67).
While Gabon fell 88-64 to eventual champions Nigeria, they left Tunisia with their heads held high.
Two and a half months have passed since their one and only win over Cape Verde.
It's clear that that result is going to be something Gabon's players are going to remember for a long, long time.
"It was amazing, the first time that Gabon ever made it past the first round," Gabon's most famous player, Stephane Lasme, said to FIBA.com.
"This was the biggest thing that has ever happened to Gabonese basketball.
"Cape Verde were one of the strongest teams in the competition (after the first three games)."
Gabon's exertions in their first three games gave no indication that a surprise was possible.
If they had been woeful, Cape Verde had been excellent.
"We had only played for 10 minutes in the first game," Lasme admitted, "20 in the second and 30 in the third.
"Against Cape Verde, we played all 40 minutes."
Lasme, who dunked for the first points of the game, says it was evident early on that Gabon had a chance to spring an upset.
"The first quarter, when I got into the game, I kind of figured out by the fifth minute that we had a chance," he said.
One key sequence saw Gabon cut a 41-33 Cape Verde advantage to 41-39 by half-time.
The opponents threatened to steal the momentum with a 7-0 run of their own at the end of the third quarter, capped by a Jeff Xavier three-pointer to make it 58-55 in favor of Cape Verde.
With 4:42 left in the game, an Xavier basket lifted Cape Verde into a 67-61 lead.
Lasme then travelled and turned the ball back over.
But following a timeout, Xavier missed on a drive and Gyll Mayimba answered with a lay-up.
A dunk and a layup by Lerry Essono Mve knotted the game at 67-67, and a three-pointer by Mayimba put Gabon in front for good.
"It was a blessing that we were able to stay in the game and win it," Lasme said.
While some players went to the AfroBasket with the primary aim of getting to a FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament or the Rio de Janeiro Games, Lasme's primary objective was to get a win in the first knockout game.
"It was a dream of mine since 2002 when I first played for Gabon and I finally passed the first round and did it with young players," he said.
"I didn't have any practice (with the team) so to win like we did and to get to the next round, it was an amazing story us and it will stay in the books forever."