SHEFFIELD (Julio Chitunda's African Message) - The 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (OQTs) remain among the hottest topics of the moment in African basketball circles as Angola, Senegal and Tunisia look to follow in the footsteps of new continental champions Nigeria.
With FIBA due to announce this week the candidates to host the three tournaments that will take place in early July 2016, there is no indication that any of the three African countries are among them.
Considering that, with the exception of Canada's women, the host nations of recent FIBA tournaments have come up short of winning them, perhaps the decision - whatever the real reasons - by these African countries to pass on the tournament hosting duties may turn out to be a smart move.
Next year, there will be three six-team OQTs, with Angola, Tunisia and Senegal among 18 countries hoping to finish top of their respective event, which guarantees a place in the Rio Olympics.
No one really knows whether Angola, Tunisia or Senegal can repeat Nigeria's astonishing campaign at 2012 Olympic Qualifying Tournament, in which they stunned Greece and Lithuania.
As a result, the Nigerians qualified for the London Olympics, joining then African champions Tunisia in the 12-team event.
Realistically speaking, European teams - at least in theory - are favourites to clinch the last three qualifiying places for the Rio Games. However, if the level of confidence shown by the three African teams for the OQTs is anything to go by, then anything could be possible.
Three years ago, then Nigeria head coach Ayo Bakare was so confident about his team's chances at the OQT in Caracas, Venezuela, that when I asked him which teams were in the best position to make it to London, he did not hesitate to pick Nigeria along with Lithuania and Greece. He wasn't far off as his Nigeria side upset Greece, while Russia completed the trio of teams headed to the British capital.
In that tournament, Nigeria's campaign translated into a major a statement, drawing a new picture of international basketball competition.
The Western Africans entered the basketball history books as the first African national team to successfully qualify to the Olympics from the OQT.
And, it is that level of confidence that keeps the three African teams dreaming.
Tunisia's Amin Rzig, Gorgui Dieng of Senegal and former Angola head coach Vitorino Cunha have recently shared their views on the OQTs and all believe in their prospects of reaching the Olympics.
While Dieng says he will alway be available to compete for his country, Rzig looks to play in his second Olympics, and Cunha, who led Angola to their first first-ever Olympic appearance in 1992, feels his country's OQT success will depend on disciplined and clever planning.
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.
The question we are all asking is, can Africa be represented in the Olympics by two teams for the second time in a row? If so, then we are officially living a new era of basketball.