ALGIERS (FIBA AfroBasket 2017) - Algeria's Mehdi Cheriet feels his country should be given a second chance to take part in the FIBA AfroBasket 2017 in Congo-Brazzaville.
Algeria lost all four of their games against Morocco and Tunisia in last month's FIBA AfroBasket Zone 1 qualifier, and as a result saw their chances of advancing to the 16-team biggest African basketball showpiece evaporate.
Yet, Cheriet points to a number of reasons that contributed to Algeria's failure including the absence of key players. He also insists his national team shouldn't be judged on those four games.
His remarks come as FIBA Africa deliberates who will be the recipients of the two wild cards to participate in FIBA AfroBasket 2017. The result is due later this week.
"Last month's qualifier wasn't our best performance for sure," Cheriet explained to FIBA.com, adding that Algeria's defeats to Morocco and Tunisia "don't represent our basketball’s potential."
While arguing that Algeria should be considered for one of the two wild cards, the 2.02m power forward, who turns 30 next week, insists that unexpected decisions such as a new federation's board, injuries and clubs' commitments undermined their chances in the qualifier.
"Mounir Benzegala and Mohamed Harat couldn't play for us. Mounir was injured and Mohamed wasn't released by his (Qatar) club. These two players are instrumental for us. I personally wasn't in my best shape and lacked rhythm because I was almost a month without competing.
"We have players who can give us a chance if we are invited to the FIBA AfroBasket. Karim Atamna, one of the best Algerian players of all-time, is having a fantastic season in France's Pro B and he's keen to play for us again."
Algeria were awarded a wild card for FIBA AfroBasket 2015 in Tunisia.
Asked why he believes his country should be considered again, Cheriet said: "It's a fair question. Two years ago we showed that we can compete. We played great basketball, we fought hard and we finished sixth, above most teams that had qualified directly.''
Thirteen of the 16 national teams that will compete in FIBA AfroBasket 2017 in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo from 19-30 August, are known. Tournament hosts Republic of Congo and reigning champions Nigeria were granted automatic places, while Angola, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, Tunisia and Uganda have all booked their places via qualifying tournaments. Zimbabwe and South Africa square off in the last qualifier on Saturday-Sunday April 8-9 for the final qualifying berth on offer.