14 March 2013

TUNISIA : Salah Mejri goes viral

It did not take long for Mejri to return his fan’s gratitude.
On Sunday, Mejri and his Blusen Monbus team travelled to Seville to close the gap on a play-off spot as they beat Cajasol 71-63.
The Tunisian had 12 points, five rebounds and added four block shots. The ACB website named him Monbus’ best player of the game.
Mejri went viral following a 1:09 minute video posted on 5 March which shows a sequence of Mejri’s dunks, block shots and exuberant celebrations.
That video has registered a record high sharing on the ACB's Facebook page.
As of last Sunday, the video had been shared more than six hundred times, with the vast majority of visitors based or linked to Tunisia, according to the ACB.
This reaction from fans comes as no surprise, especially as current Afrobasket champions Tunisia are one of the strongest teams in the continent and Mejri is its MVP.
His popularity has stretched to Santiago de Compostela too, the home of his team Blusen Monbus.
Since he joined the Galicia-based team last summer, Mejri has never hidden the desire of playing at his best.
He had just led the London Olympics in block shots with 3.4 swats per games.
Before that, he had tryouts with NBA teams Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks and turned out for the Utah Jazz in the summer league.
Back home, every game Mejri plays attracts high attention, especially because he is currently the only Tunisian playing at such a high European league.
The 2.17m center is currently ACB second in block shots with 1.54 block shots per game, not too far from Nigeria's Ekene Ibekwe.
The Tunisian also ranks second in the league with 1.33 dunks per game.
Mejri currently shoots 62 percent success from the field.
However, just like other big man, the 26-year-old struggles from the free-throw line and his 52 percent from the charity stripe is the lowest among Blusen Monbus players.
When asked about the viral video, Mejri said: "I have many fans in Tunisia and many of them follow me and are eager to see me in action.
"They follow me on Facebook, watched the video and liked it and that is how it began."
"It feels great to have so many fans at home as I am the only Tunisian player in Spain and Europe and they follow me and know what I do," he added.
Basketball is surely one of the most popular sports in the country.
In an appreciation message in French, the ACB page thanked all Tunisian fans and pledged to bring them "some surprises in the coming weeks".
Among those followers quite certainly is Adel Tlatli, Tunisia’s head coach, a man who was criticised when he first called Mejri to join the national team.
Mejri is expected to play at this summer's Afrobasket in the Ivory Coast's capital of Abidjan come August.
Following two seasons in the Belgium League - where he played for Antwerp Giants - it is now time for ACB fans to get used to the Tunisian giant.
Júlio Chitunda

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