RABAT (AfroBasket 2015) - Ten days on after AfroBasket 2015 came to a close, there is a sense of unfinished business among Morocco players.
They feel they could have done a lot better.
They not only averaged a tournament best 17 assists per game, but also finished with the highest field-goal shooting percentage (49.8 percent) in the competition.
Yet, they returned home with a 1-4 mark after close defeats to Senegal, Angola and Mozambique, mainly because of their inconsistent play on the defensive end.
But it was their 69-68 overtime defeat to hosts Tunisia in the Round of 16 that made the loudest noise in the entire tournament.
Tunisia and Morocco were tied at 56-56 with six seconds remaining and things could have been totally different if Abdelhakim Zouita - an electrifying and super athletic forward - had finished their final possession in the regulation with a dunk.
Instead, he attempted an easy layup, but Tunisia's Salah Mejri came out of nowhere to rescue his country from an imminent elimination.
Then, in the overtime, as the hosts trailed 68-66 with two seconds left, Tunisia's Mourad El Mabrouk hit a game-winning three-pointer to spoil Morocco's aspirations in the tournament and send the home crowd into frenzy.
Zouita, who had the highest field goal shooting percentage of any player at AfroBasket 2015 (58.9 percent), talked to FIBA.com to explain what went wrong, and what the future holds for Moroccan basketball.
"We are a good team," the 29-year-old said. "We just need extra motivation, but none seems to care about basketball in our country.
The result doesn’t reflect our potential as I feel that with this group of players we could have reached the Semi-Finals. - Zouita
"Since I began my national team career, this was by far our most competitive campaign. But we were unfortunate to lose most of those games," he noted.
When asked about what exactly happened in that critical moment of the game that could have eliminated Tunisia and possibly draw a different picture of the tournament, the 1.99m forward said: "I honestly didn't expect him [Mejri] to come from where he was to block my shot.
"I know everything should have been different, but I must admit that in that moment of the game I had no legs for a dunk. I was exhausted."
Eventually, Nigeria clinched their first-ever African Championship title after beating Angola in the Final, and Tunisia gave their fans something to cheer about by securing a podium finish after beating Senegal in the Third-Place Game.
What's next then for Morocco basketball?
"We need to build a competitive basketball league in the country and get a bigger media exposure because as you all saw there is basketball talent in Morocco," Zouita said.
"But we also need good ideas, good foreign players and, more importantly, we are going to need sponsorship deals.
"It is time for our basketball authorities to take action to give us a chance to maximise our potential.
If we improve our organisation, I feel we’ll do a lot better in 2017. - Zouita
"We faced many organisational problems. For example, they said Lazare Adingono was going to be the head coach. All of sudden he signed with Cameroon and the Federation contracted coach [Anton] Vujanic.
"Even though we faced lower league [opposition] during the preparations in Serbia, and some people criticised coach Vujanic, I think he did a really good job."
Oguchi was a deserving MVP, I have no doubts about it because he changed the game in the Final, and sparked Nigeria offensively. - Zouita
While Al-Farouq Aminu, Chamberlain Oguchi, Gorgui Dieng, Carlos Morais and Makram Ben Romdhane made up the tournament's All-Star Five, Zouita had a slight different view.
"My All-Tournament Team would have been Soufiane Kourodu [Morocco], Xane Dalmeida and Dieng [Senegal], Oguchi [Nigeria] and me.
"Nigeria were the better team because, after so many years, they finally managed to put together their best players."
As for his future, the AS Sale forward feels it is time to try something else.
"I had offers from professional clubs," he indicated. "I'll have to look at them and decide my future."