National, News

Bright Stars’s hope for FIBA World Cup crumbles

By Charles K Mark and Philip Buda

South Sudan National Basketball Team (The Bright Stars) has been knocked out of the FIBA World Cup 2023 group stages.

The mighty Bright Stars faced the Serbians in the third match of the tournament with 83 – 115-point loss in a last group encounter.

With two losses to Puerto Rica and Serbia, only a win against China, the bright stars’ chances to progress to the second round of the historical tournament (FIBA World Cup 2023) were trimmed to a slim opportunity if China won against Puerto Rico.

But all hope was shuttered when the Chinese conceded 107 points over 83, suffering their third group game loss.

During the Serbia Vs South Sudan battle, the winners maintained a lead of 115-83 to book their spot in the Second Round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.

South Sudan was coming off her first-ever World Cup win and excitement didn’t faze the Serbians, led by the trio of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Nikola Jovic and Nikola Milutinov to win a first match-up with the Africans to grab first place of Group B with a perfect 3-0 mark.

Serbia emerged the leaders of their group, awaiting the Second round and matching up with Dominican Republic and Italy following the Chinese loss to the Puerto Ricans.

Now that the calculation didn’t work in favor of the African giant, Bright Stars, South Sudan then moves into the Classification 17-32 and will hope to qualify for the Olympics or Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.

However, South Sudan has accomplished a dream of playing in the FIBA World Cup.

The last three years have been a rocket ride for the team; first, they reached the Quater-finals of the 2021 FIBA AfroBasket and then finished the World Cup African Qualifiers with an 11-1 record thus, qualified for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

The Bright Stars was placed in Group B alongside China, Serbia, and Puerto Rico to fight to make a spot in the second round of the competition.

To secure a seat in the second round, it required an extra effort from the team as being placed in a grueling group.

Serbia possesses a number of professional NBA players in the squad including the current NBA Champion and Nuggets MVP, Nikola Jokic.

Presently, South Sudan is ranked 62 in the FIBA standings a team lead by twelve able men: Nuni Omot, Kuany Ngor Kuany, Majok Deng, Kur Nyok Kuath, and Deng Angok Yak Deng playing forward.

In the guards’ position, is Mareng Gatkuoth, Sunday Dech, Bul Kuol, Dut Jok Kacuol, Padiet wang, and in the center, position is Deng Acuoth, and Koch Deng Aguer Bar.

Juba’s Bright Stars fans heads up

Despite the exiting the Manila competition yesterday, South Sudanese basketball fans in Juba remain optimistic of their team getting to greater heights of winning in near future after losing to Serbia at the group’s last game.

On a sunny Wednesday morning, hundreds of fans gathered at Nimra Talata Basketball Stadium in the capital Juba to cheer the country’s men’s basketball team.

Dozens of fans were donning costumes sawn out of the national flag and armed with vuvuzelas as they throughout the game chanted the Bright Stars in Juba’s Nimra Talata basketball stadium.

The co-sponsor of the Bright Stars team, MTN Telecom South Sudan, set up a big outdoor screen to display the games live on Bein Sport, where fans watched and cheered the Bright Stars in Manila.

But despite the lost that somewhat lowered fan’s morale the home fans in Juba consoled themselves that better chances of a winning streak lies ahead.

They believe the team is destined for more victories, as it’s just the start for the upcoming young team marking a footprint in the world of basketball representing the East African region in the world arena.

One Juba resident and a fan of Bright Stars Basketball, Hillary Gaga, beats hard luck to the boys for the loss, but he expressed that the best is coming our way.

“We had a great performance during the FIBA World Cup competition. But today our game with Serbia is a bit difficult because if you check Serbia in the ranking, they are number six in the ranking of FIBA, so today’s game we tried our best, but according to the ranking of Serbia, that’s why they defeated us (the Brighter Stars),” conceded Gaga.

He however underscored that the participation of the Bright Stars in FIBA world cup for the first time is a historic moment for the 12 years old country which has been only known best for war and conflicts.

“It is really historic for us as South Sudanese and for the region. We raise the name of East Africa as a region in the world,” Gaga noted.

“South Sudan’s image in the outside world has been best known for bad things such as war and conflict, but with our boys there, especially in basketball, they did remarkable things and they changed the image of South Sudan to the world, and now the world will know us as basketballers,” he remarked.

Basketball sport is also becoming a new uniting force for the South Sudanese, especially with the recent rise of the Bright Stars to international competition.

Another Juba resident and a crazy fan of the Bright Stars, Deng, who was at Nimra Talata Basketball stadium, felt a bit disappointed with the result of yesterday’s game but remains confident of the team in the coming endeavor.

“About the game, actually, we are not happy because we have been beaten. If we were to win this game, people would have seen us here in Juba, but it is not a problem” Deng consoled himself.

He still remains hopeful that the Bright Stars will one day beat Serbia.

Deng said with the Bright Stars display in the FIBA World Cup the country will be known for also being good in other fields not only war.

“In every country, there is always some mess after attaining independence, but now South Sudan is trying to move away from all the sorts of bad things—war and violence—that it has been known for,” he underscored.

He advised the Bright Stars basketball players to exert more effort to participate well in the world of basketball.


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