Former NBA star Luol Deng leads South Sudan to its first-ever Basketball World Cup victory

Stephen Nartey September 01, 2023
Former NBA star Luol Deng/Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Former NBA star Luol Deng is being lauded for the pivotal role he played in South Sudan’s remarkable journey at the Basketball World Cup. Despite two close losses to Puerto Rico and Serbia, the debutant team’s hopes of coming this far were brought alive under his leadership.

Their standout moment was a stunning victory against China in their second match, which garnered significant attention and enthusiasm. Deng was regarded as the heart and soul of this story.

Head coach Royal Ivey gives full credit to Deng, the president of the South Sudan Basketball Federation (SSBF), for their success. Despite a loss to Serbia, South Sudan now competes for classification in positions 17-32.

This achievement is significant for a nation that gained independence in 2011 and joined Fiba in 2013, with its first official international game occurring just six years ago. Deng’s vision and leadership have been instrumental in this remarkable journey, according to the BBC.

Deng, who is not only the president of SSBF but also an assistant coach for the World Cup, played a central role in South Sudan’s success. According to coach Ivey, Deng is the driving force behind their achievements, and without him, their current position wouldn’t be possible.

Deng, a prominent figure from South Sudan, enjoyed a successful NBA career with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. He also represented Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics and participated in two Fiba Eurobaskets.

Deng’s journey is particularly remarkable as he fled war-torn Sudan at the age of five and later became deeply involved in basketball in his home country after retiring from the NBA. In 2019, he was unanimously elected as the president of SSBF, further cementing his commitment to the sport’s development in South Sudan.

South Sudan’s historic victory over 10-time champions China, their first-ever win at a basketball World Cup, represents a crowning achievement in their progress. The team, ranked 62nd globally, secured an 89-69 victory with 15 three-point shots. Forward Nuni Omot described it as a dream come true and an emotional moment for both the team and their fans, especially as it marked their inaugural World Cup win.

Carlik Jones, who had previously scored 35 points against Puerto Rico, led South Sudan’s scoring with 21 points in their game against China. Coach Ivey praised the team for their resilience, persistence, focus, and commitment to the game plan. He highlighted their emotional and determined performance, emphasizing that they competed at a high level throughout the entire 40 minutes of the game, ultimately securing a victory.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: September 1, 2023


Must Read

Connect with us

Join our Mailing List to Receive Updates