LuoL Deng leads South Sudan basketball team to victory against Tunisia
Five months ago, South Sudan shocked Tunisia 72-64. On Saturday they did it again, outclassing the reigning African champions with an even bigger winning margin to stay perfect in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 African Qualifiers.
JUBA – Five months ago, South Sudan shocked Tunisia 72-64. On Saturday they did it again, outclassing the reigning African champions with an even bigger winning margin to stay perfect in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 African Qualifiers.
Playing without Salah Mejri and Michael Roll in February was one thing, after all they are vital to the Tunisian’s defensive and offensively, but playing with both A-listers, and still concede a 75-61 defeat, translates how ruthless South Sudan have become in this African Qualifiers process.
South Sudan 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.
“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,” admitted Tunisia head coach Dirk Bauermann.
“We struggled to score, we never found our rhythm, but these things happen, but this game in the past,” the German play-caller said.
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.
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.
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