TUNIS (2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament) - Tunisia head coach Adel Tlatli has refused to put pressure on his team ahead of the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (OQTs) despite it being the team's final chance to qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
The Tunisians off to a good start at AfroBasket 2015, including five straight wins, but a 58-51 Semi-Final defeat against Angola ended their hopes of qualifying directly for the 2016 Summer Games.
With the win, Tunisia kept their Olympic hopes alive, but Tlatli insists that there is no pressure.
"We have to wait and see for the results of the OQT draw,” he told FIBA.com.
"The good thing is we have no pressure to qualify."
Thanks to their third-place finish in Rades, Tunisia earned the right to participate in one of the three OQTs, which will be their first appearance in a world level event since competing at 2012 Olympics.
There will be three OQTs with 18 teams from across the world battling for the remaining three spots for the Olympics.
"It's going to be difficult for us," Tlatli said. "We have little chances to qualify but we are going to try our best.
"We have to look at the positives of competing in a such a big tournament."
So far, New Zealand, Angola, Tunisia, Senegal, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, France, Serbia, Greece, Italy, the Czech Republic, the Philippines, Iran and Japan have claimed spots in the OQTs.
Despite Tunisia being among the OQTs outsiders, Tlatli feels the favourites will need to show it on the floor.
"From the competitive standpoint, there is no longer that big gap between us and European teams which was a recurrent problem a decade ago," he pointed out.
"At the London Olympics we played balanced games against Lithuania and France. We led Lithuania until later in the fourth quarter, but we fell short in the final minutes of the game."
By the time the OQTs takes place next July, Tlatli is expecting to make readjustment to his team.
At AfroBasket 2015, Tunisia were among the lowest scoring teams, averaging 69 points per games, and that’s what makes Tlatli envision changes in the team.
"The trouble is we lack a competitive national championship," Tlatli said.
"As a team we lacked bench rotation also. We had only seven key players, that is not good enough.
"I am hoping to make a few adjustments on the team. I may select one or two new players and see if we increase our chances in the OQT."
As for FIBA's new system of competition, which is due in action from 2017, Tlatli praises the initiative, but his cautious about its implementation in Africa.
In two years time, AfroBasket will be held every four years - instead of every two years - with qualification for the competition taking place during four windows over the course of 15 months.
"It's a great initiative for the growth of the game in Africa," he said.
"But, more importantly, local federations need to modernise themselves to make it work."
Under the new system, teams will play home and away games in order to qualify for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
The best African team at FIBA's flagship event will qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games. More teams from the continent will have the opportunity of chasing their Olympic dream through four Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.