MANILA (Philippines) – South Sudan is over the moon after achieving their first-ever global victory against China in basketball, but the team believes that their journey at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 is far from being finished.
The youngest nation in basketball proved their readiness by defeating China, a team that has participated in the World Cup ten times before, with a score of 89-69 in their first appearance.
“It’s incredible to win. We feel lucky and proud to be part of this, together with my teammates. This feeling is amazing. Our path to this point has been full of challenges that people might not fully understand. It’s inspiring and emotional. The story behind this, what we’ve gone through, is significant,” shared Nuni Omot, who scored 14 points in the historic win in Group B.
Sunday Dech added, “I can’t find the words to describe this right now. I’m still trying to process it. This victory is for the next generation. It’s just the beginning. We have a long way to go. It’s very meaningful. We might be just 12 guys here, but there’s an entire nation supporting us. We are representing our country and the generations to come. It means the world to us.”
South Sudan became an official country on July 9, 2011, and FIBA welcomed their basketball team, the Bright Stars, into the basketball family in December 2013. The team’s official logo even pays tribute to Manute Bol, the country’s first NBA player.
Despite being new and already making history, South Sudan is not content. The team, which reached the Quarter-Finals in their first FIBA AfroBasket appearance in 2021, has one more game in the First Round against Serbia.
“We might be new to this, but I have full confidence in this team. We’ve worked incredibly hard to get here. We have something to prove, and we’ll keep proving it. We’ve been working to prove doubters wrong, and we’ll continue. Anything is possible. I’m not going to back down. Serbia is a strong team, but let’s see what happens,” commented Omot about the upcoming game against Serbia.
Dech added, “We can enjoy tonight, but we need to stay focused against Serbia.”
Carlik Jones chimed in, saying, “No, we’re not done yet. Let’s not talk about the next game right now. We won our first game, and that’s historic. I just want to savor this moment.”
First, there’s celebration for making history. Then they’ll look forward to making more.