South Sudan men’s basketball team on the cusp of FIBA World Cup history Global Voices Français
africa youngest country, the Republic of South Sudan, could soon go down in basketball history. Competing for qualification for the FIBA World Cup to be held from August to September 2023 in the Asian tri-nations of Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines, the ‘shining stars‘ are one game away from joining four other African representatives in the tournament.
Under the guidance of the former NBA star Luol DengSouth Sudan’s Bright Stars defied doubters by winning all but one of the nine qualifying matches in the Africa FIBA Basketball Qualifiers.
Known for having the tallest people in africa, South Sudan has a rich history in basketball. The second player of African descent and co-greatest player in the NBA league, the end Manute Bowl written in 1985, had roots here. His exploits in the mid-1980s and early 1990s saw many young Sudanese develop an interest in basketball. Upon retirement, he returned home and became actively involved in the south sudan liberation war of greater Sudan. He paved the way for many other players of Sudanese origin, including the current president of the South Sudanese Basketball Federation. Luol Deng.
In recognition of his efforts, Deng was awarded the Order of the British Empire for his involvement and efforts in basketball – having dual citizenship of English and South Sudanese descent. It cements his efforts to build the game beyond his club and national borders.
Former Sudanese basketball players formed the South Sudan Basketball Federation in 2011 and became a member of FIBA in December 2013. Due to the lack of infrastructure in Juba and other cities, most players practiced their profession abroad. The Federation worked on the development of a competitive league for men and women players.
Road to the World Cup
In January 2020, the Bright The stars lost to Kenya in the FIBA Afrobasket Qualifiers, but they quickly bounced back to become favorites for the World Cup tournament. Prior to the loss, the team had won four of their previous matches. In November 2020, an opportunity arose to qualify for the Afrobasket tournament after Algeria withdrew due to COVID-19 fears. The African Basketball Invitational brought together Cape Verde, Chad and South Sudan, who won to qualify for Afrobasket in 2021.
Deng took on the responsibility of bringing young players together, many of whom have performed overseas youo develop a competitive team. By using the FastScout Pro Tool, the team went from strength to strength, becoming major contenders to play in the World Cup. The FastScout Pro tool is a platform developed to track player performance during their matches, providing managers and the technical bench with data to use in deciding plays and how to approach different plays.
Entering the next qualifying window which should be played in November This year, the South Sudanese team ranks first in Africa in FIBA Power Rankings. Some national team players also play for the South Sudanese basketball league team, Cobra Sports. The team participated in the 2022 edition African Basketball League — a collaboration of FIBA and the NBA to develop local talents from the African continent and showcase them to the world. The team includes talented players such as padiet wangwho plays as a guard, coming off the bench to make an impact on the pitch, Deng Ring playing for the Newfound Rangers in Canada and Nouni Omot play the game in Puerto Rico after briefly playing for the Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets in the NBA Summer League.
A hero’s welcome
Coming back from the Window 4 World Cup qualifiers, South Sudan President Salva Kiir welcomed the team back as a hero. The qualifiers are the fourth round of matches for African teams seeking to qualify for the World Cup. The final round will qualify for Window 5 in November.
Thank you to His Excellency President Salva Kiir Mayardit for your invitation and kind words of support! 🇸🇸🏀 pic.twitter.com/xs7UcG5Qvm
– South Sudan Basketball (@SSBFed) August 31, 2022
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA), via its Twitter account, said the Bright Stars were on the cusp of glory;
South Sudan heroes return to Juba ✈️��
The World Cup isn’t officially linked yet, but the Bright Stars are on the cusp of glory! ��
— FIBA (@FIBA) August 30, 2022
Activities at Juba International Airport almost came to a halt when family, friends and fans of their beloved basketball team landed. Team player Padiet Wang captured and posted the jubilant celebrations on his Instagram page.
While the last window 5 appears from February 24 to 26 2023the Bright Stars will be looking to qualify for the World Cup for the first time as the youngest democratic republic in the world.