By David Gold

tunisia_basketball_30-08-11August 29 - Tunisia's men's basketball team won an historic final with Angola at the Afrobasket tournament to book their place at next year's London Olympic Games, the first time they will have competed in the event.

The 67-56 win was secured in Madagascar as Marouan Kechrid led the way with 21 points to beat a team who had won every African title but one since 1989.

Salah Mejri, who also starred for the Tunisians with 15 rebounds and three blocks, was named the Most Valuable Player and was delighted after the final whistle.

"This is the most beautiful day of my life," Mejri said.

"I will remember this date all my life.

"To win the Afrobasket and be qualified for the Olympics at the age of 25 is such a great achievement.

"And in addition, being named MVP and member of the All Star Five of the tournament... I can't find my words.

"This goes far beyond basketball.

"I will never forget this night."

Tunisia were beaten by the Angolans in 2009 at the semi-final stage of this tournament, but they raced into a 21-9 lead after the first quarter determined to avenge the defeat and stamp their authority on the final.

They continued to dominate and eventually swept to a win that never appeared in doubt.

They could still be joined by Angola in London when they go into the final Olympic qualifying tournament next July.

Nigeria will also join the Angolans in the play-off event after they beat the Ivory Coast 77-67 to take bronze.

One team definitely heading to London will be China's female basketball squad, who edged a closely fought final against neighbours South Korea at the Asian qualifying tournament in Japan.

The two countries had produced a double overtime result earlier in the week and it was only a near miss from Lee Youn-Hoa at the death, which prevented South Korea from taking this game to overtime too.

The game started at a slow pace though with both teams playing a cagey game as the Chinese took a narrow 10-9 lead at the end of the first quarter, extending that lead to 34-28 by half time.

Dan-Bi Kim then produced some sensational basketball as Korea took a two point lead into the final quarter, where they traded points and the lead until Youn-Hoa's three pointer failed to drop into the net, giving the Chinese the win and a place in London next year.

Hosts Japan beat Taiwan 83-56 in the third place play off, meaning that they still harbour hopes of qualifying through the world final qualifying tournament next June, as do the defeated Korean side.

Miao Lijie took the Most Valuable Player award and was thrilled after the game to take the prize.

"Isn't Championship medal games all about raising to the occasion?" she said.

"I am thrilled that people still think I am that good.

"Most importantly, my coach and teammates think I am good enough to help them, and I am glad I am able to keep their faith.

"I am MVP because everybody thought so.

"My biggest happiness is standing on the podium and listening to the Chinese National Anthem."

Coach Sun Fengwu praised his victorious team.

"For the young players the older players take on a role like big sisters," he said.

"This Chinese women's national team is in a very special situation where we have a transitional period with young players and older players.

"We have had our problems that we must overcome, but it was a great performance to win this game and get a ticket for London, it is a great achievement.

"A final like today is more a mental game, and it is a great experience for our players to experience this."

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