No matter how this one ends, Tunisia will never forget how it started. (Getty Images)Well, this wasn't what we expected to see at the start of Tuesday's preliminary-round matchup between Argentina and Tunisia in the men's basketball tournament at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. After 10 minutes of play, Tunisia — the only team in the field without an NBA player on its roster, FIBA's 32nd-ranked team in the world and 47-point losers to the United States on Tuesday — just doubled up the heavily favored Argentines in the first quarter, leading 28-14 after the opening 10 minutes of play.
As it did against the United States, Tunisia came out of the gates strong, showing no fear of its more highly touted opposition and attacking from the opening tip. Behind a strong opening quarter from center Salah Mejri — eight points, five blocks, three rebounds and a pair of strong drives for thunderous dunks around plodding Argentina forward Luis Scola — Tunisia shot 11 for 18 from the floor, a sterling 61.1 percent, in the opening frame and made 4 of 7 shots from 3-point range. Argentina, on the other hand, opened ice cold, missing 13 of 18 field-goal attempts (27.8 percent) and five of six long balls. Tunisia gave Argentina fits on the defensive end in the opening 10 minutes, forcing turnovers, blocking shots and using their size advantage on the interior to protect the rim against Argentine penetration.
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It's extraordinarily unlikely that the Tunisian side will be able to keep this pace up against an Argentina squad ranked No. 3 in the world heading into the Olympics and expected to contend for a medal in London, even after Tuesday's loss to France. But still, scoring 28 points in a quarter and holding a double-digit lead over one of the most decorated and experienced starting fives in the history of international basketball? Not bad, Tunisia. Not bad at all.
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