Luol Deng: Former NBA Star Leads South Sudan to its First-ever Basketball World Cup Victory

Former NBA player Luol Deng is being praised for his crucial part in South Sudan’s incredible trip at the Basketball World Cup. Despite two tight losses to Puerto Rico and Serbia, his leadership brought the fledgling team’s ambitions of reaching this stage to life.

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Their highlight was a shocking victory over China in their second match, which drew a lot of attention and excitement. Deng was regarded as the story’s heart and soul.

Head coach Royal Ivey attributes their victory entirely to Deng, the president of the South Sudan Basketball Federation (SSBF). South Sudan presently fights for classification in slots 17-32, despite a loss to Serbia.

This is a noteworthy feat for a country that got independence in 2011 and joined Fiba in 2013, with its first official international game taking place only six years ago. According to the BBC, Deng’s vision and leadership have been critical in this incredible journey.

Deng, who is not only the president of the SSBF but also a World Cup assistant coach, was instrumental in South Sudan’s achievement. Deng, according to coach Ivey, is the driving force behind their achievements, and their current position would not be feasible without him.

Deng, a well-known South Sudanese figure, had a great NBA career with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. He also competed in two Fiba Eurobaskets and represented Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics.

Deng’s path is especially amazing because he fled war-torn Sudan when he was five years old and later became deeply involved in basketball in his native country after retiring from the NBA. In 2019, he was unanimously elected president of the SSBF, demonstrating his dedication to the development of the sport in South Sudan.

South Sudan’s stunning triumph over 10-time champions China, their first-ever win at a basketball World Cup, marks a watershed moment in their development. The 62nd-ranked squad in the world won 89-69 with 15 three-pointers. Forward Nuni Omot called it a “dream come true” and an emotional moment for both the team and their fans, especially since it was their first World Cup victory.

Carlik Jones led South Sudan’s scoring with 21 points in their game against China, after earlier scoring 35 points against Puerto Rico. Coach Ivey applauded the team for their perseverance, focus, and dedication to the game plan. He emphasized their impassioned and determined effort, highlighting that they competed at a high level for the whole 40-minute game, ultimately winning.

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