FIBA World Cup

Luol Deng hailed the ‘heart and soul’ as South Sudan nails first-ever FIBA World Cup win

Delfin Dioquino

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Luol Deng hailed the ‘heart and soul’ as South Sudan nails first-ever FIBA World Cup win

LEADER. Luol Deng serves as the president of the South Sudan Basketball Federation.

FIBA

After retiring from the NBA in 2019, Luol Deng took over as president of the South Sudan Basketball Federation and guided the country to its maiden FIBA World Cup appearance – and first win – in just four years

MANILA, Philippines – South Sudan has caught the FIBA World Cup by surprise and at the center of it all is former NBA All-Star Luol Deng.

The second-lowest ranked qualified team – ahead only of world No. 64 Cape Verde – No. 62 South Sudan claimed its first-ever World Cup win after an 89-69 romp of China in Group B at the Araneta Coliseum on Monday, August 28.

It was a celebrated victory for the African nation, which has Deng as the president of its basketball federation.

“Luol Deng is the heart and soul of all of this. He is the president,” said South Sudan head coach Royal Ivey, also a former NBA player.

Deng, born in what is now South Sudan before his family fled to the United Kingdom, enjoyed a successful 15-year NBA career that saw him become an All-Star twice and an All-Defensive Second Team member.

He spent his prime with the Chicago Bulls, helping the franchise reach the playoffs in six of his 10 seasons there, before he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, and Minnesota Timberwolves.

After his NBA career, Deng took over as president of the South Sudan Basketball Federation in 2019 and guided the country to its first World Cup appearance in four years time.

Deng put together a formidable squad helmed by Ivey, his former high school teammate who played 10 seasons in the NBA before transitioning into coaching, recently joining the Houston Rockets as their assistant coach.

Leading the Bright Stars are Chicago Bulls guard Carlik Jones, former Los Angeles Laker Wenyen Gabriel, former Philadelphia 76er Marial Shayok, Kuany Kuany, Majok Deng, and 16-year-old NBA prospect Khaman Maluach.

South Sudan almost came out victorious in its World Cup against Puerto Rico but got the job done against China, a nation that has seen action in the global hoops showpiece for 10 editions.

“Without Luol, I would not be sitting here right now. He had a great vision and I entrusted in his vision and it all came together,” said Ivey.

“I’m in awe that I’m sitting here right now in the World Cup.”

Scheduled to face powerhouse Serbia for their final group stage game on Wednesday, August 30, Ivey said the Bright Stars are far from done.

“We got one but we’re not satisfied. We’ll continue to focus in and lock in for the next game,” Ivey said. – Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.