By William Madouk Garang
South Sudan national basket team has beaten yet again Tunisia with 75-61, outshining the reigning African champions with bigger margin to stay perfect in FIBA Basket World Cup 2023 African qualifiers.
Though the national team played without Salah Mejri and Michael Roll, the team managed to play tough Tunisian’s defensive and offensive – A-listers players and still emerge victorious.
Luol Deng’s team knew that coming to Window 3 of the African Qualifiers they were the team to beat, and Tunisia were the frontrunner to challenge their lead in Group B, but South Sudan never panicked, even when they trailed by 7, they stayed focused.
Mareng Gatkuoth had a 4-for-4 shooting from beyond the arc to finish with 12 points off the bench; Nuni Omot was superb on both ends of the floor, finishing with 16 points; Kuany Ngor Kuany added 12, and Sunday Dech hit two critical three-pointers that made Tunisia look helpless.
Aggressive defensively and efficient on the offensive end of the floor, South Sudan were on a desperation mode to extend their winning streak and boost their World Cup aspirations alive, and they did just that.
“I don’t think we have a limit. Tonight as a group we did a great job of playing together. It wasn’t just one person,” noted Omot.
Meanwhile, Tunisia head coach Dirk Bauermann acknowledged that South Sudanese basketball team was best throughout the phases of the game with attractive shots.
“They were better in all phases of the game, they were better defensively, they got more assists (19), better ball movement than we did, and they shot pretty well from the 3-pt range,” he admitted.
The German play-caller said: “We struggled to score; we never found our rhythm, but these things happen, but this game in the past.”
For most of the game, it seemed as if it could have gone either way as the 6 lead changes showed, but the biggest difference was South Sudan’s aggressive defence, which forced Tunisia to look idealess.
Tunisia could only make 8 of their 31 3pt attempts. Even the battle in the paint belonged to South Sudan who out-rebounded their opponents 45-36.
“Third quarter was rough for us. We were down 8 or 10, and that took a lot of our mental energy,” admitted Roll who led Tunisia in scoring with 21 points.
South Sudan head coach Royal Ivey prefers to keep his feet on the ground. “I keep telling the guys, we got our respect, but don’t get too content because we haven’t done anything yet. We got to take game by game.”
Before they open their Second Round campaign in August, they still have a game to play on Sunday when they take on Rwanda.
Last week, national basketball team had a thrilling win against home opponent Rwanda with 73-63 in Kigali Arena, for the FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifies on Friday 1 July, 2022.
The national basketball team is leading the Group B with Tunisia trailing in the second position, followed by Cameroon while Rwanda sank to bottom