Tunisia will count on experience to qualify for AfroBasket

THE Big Tip Off spoke to Tunisia’s Omar Abada, to find out about their qualification process for the FIBA AfroBasket. Abada also shares his views about the absence of fans and who he regards as Tunisia’s greatest players.


BTO: The second window of qualifiers is taking place in Tunisia, your home country. Do you think it is an advantage for your team to play at home?

Omar Abada: Yes, it is an advantage to play at home, we know the venue and we are used to the conditions. It is a place where we know, we can play with confidence.

BTO: Because of Covid-19, Tunisia will not be playing in front of its fans. What will it feel like to play without them cheering the team?

OA: It is going to be difficult without their support, but we have set our goals. We have to achieve them, even without our fans.

BTO: Tunisia has a 3-0 record in the AfroBasket qualifiers. How confident are you going into the second window, that Tunisia will qualify?

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Omar Abada will look to contribute to Tunisia’s successful qualification. Pictures: FIBA

OA: We play the same way in every game or tournament. We put in 100% effort to win and play good basketball at both ends of the court.

BTO: You are one of the team leaders statistically, in terms of scoring, rebounds and assists in the first qualifying window. What are you doing to make sure you maintain the consistency for your team in the second window?

OA: In every game I play, I must focus. I have to play smart and play hard at both ends and to follow the coach’s instructions.

BTO: How would you describe this Tunisia team involved in the qualifiers? What are your strong points? Where do you think you can improve?

OA: We have a good team of experienced players and talented young players. Our strength is to play as a team offensively and defensively. We have to work on maintaining our consistency for 40 minutes.

BTO: You are one of the experienced players, in the Tunisia team. How important is this experience going into these qualifiers?

OA: Experience is important, especially in games of this magnitude. You have to know how to play against every opponent. You have to play smart and with confidence.

BTO: Tunisia has created a culture of winning in the AfroBasket (2011 and 2017). How important is it for you as players to qualify for the tournament and win?

OA: As a team, we have a target that we want to achieve, but the process of success is a step-by-step one.

BTO: Has Covid-19 affected the match fitness of Tunisia’s players? Have players been able to participate in competitive basketball in their various leagues?

OA: No, not at all. Covid-19 did not affect us. All the players of the national team have managed to play for their clubs. So, that is an advantage for us.

BTO: You are playing against the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR) and Madagascar. What do you think about each team?

OA: DRC are an athletic team. We have to play aggressive and smart against them to win. CAR have talented players. We should play as a team and help each other especially in defence to beat them. Madagascar are a quick team. We have to push them to play in the half-court and slow down their fast breaks.

BTO: You played in the FIBA 2019 World Cup, how was that experience for you and what did you learn from that tournament?

OA: The World Cup was a good experience for Tunisia and myself. Although we did not achieve our goal of qualifying for the Olympic Games, we showed the world we can compete against the high-level teams.

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Omar Abada has been one of the statistics leader for the Tunisia team.

BTO: How would you describe yourself as a basketball player? What are your strong points? What do you still want to improve?

OA: I think I have a high basketball IQ. I know what to do on the court and how to help my teammates be better. I want to improve defensively and that will make me a better basketball player.

BTO: What is your biggest achievement in basketball so far? And why?

OA: My biggest achievement in basketball is winning the 2017 AfroBasket. Firstly, it is the biggest tournament on the continent. Secondly, it was held in Tunisia and in front of our fans.

BTO: Which player has given you the toughest time on the basketball court? And why?

OA: Many players come to mind, but I would say Spain’s Ricky Rubio. He is one of the best point guards in the world. It is not easy to play against him.

BTO: Who is your favourite player in basketball? And why?

OA: The late Kobe Bryant. His talent and attitude. He wanted to be better every day. He also achieved everything in his career.

BTO: Who is Tunisia’s greatest player? And why?

OA: There are two, in my opinion: Makrem Ben Romdhane and Salah Mejri. Makrem has had a great career in the national team and has won many individual titles. He has also contributed to the success of the national team. Salah is one of the best players of all time in Africa. He has competed in the NBA and in Europe. At the national team level, he is an efficient player.


BTO: Do you remember your first basketball sneakers. Which brand were they?

OA: Kobe Bryant’s sneakers.

BTO: What sneakers are you playing with now?

OA: I currently wear Nike Paul George sneakers.

BTO: What is your favourite sports quote?

OA: You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

BTO: What kind of person is Omar Abada off the basketball court?

OA: I am a serious person. I can talk about basketball, all day long. I also like to help people out of difficult situations.

BTO: How do you want to be remembered when you retire from basketball?

OA: I want to be remembered as a smart player who gave everything to his country.

BTO: What is your message to Tunisian fans, who will be cheering you on during the AfroBasket qualifiers?

OA: I want to tell them to support us from their living rooms. Their support and encouragement is important, even if they cannot come to the venue.

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