FIBA World Cup

‘We did it’: Carlik Jones basks in glory of South Sudan’s 1st Olympic appearance

JR Isaga

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‘We did it’: Carlik Jones basks in glory of South Sudan’s 1st Olympic appearance

RISING UP. South Sudan star guard Carlik Jones reacts in the 2023 FIBA World Cup


NBA player Carlik Jones bursts into the international basketball scene in historic fashion, helping carry young nation South Sudan to its first-ever Olympic appearance after a productive FIBA World Cup run

MANILA, Philippines – South Sudan, a nation just 12 years into its hard-earned independence, is now sending its national basketball team to the 2024 Paris Olympics as Africa’s outright representative after nabbing three wins in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

Already enjoying a dedicated following due to their inspiring success story amid numerous hurdles, the South Sudanese are now deservedly on cloud nine after breaking another barrier in their budding basketball program, and top star Carlik Jones is just loving every minute of it.

“We did it! We did it and we appreciate you all (people of South Sudan), we love you all so much. This is for you all,” said the World Cup standout, who tied an all-time tournament record of 15 assists to go with 26 points in the 101-78 blowout over Angola.

“Man, [the Olympic berth] means the world. It means the world to the people back home. It means the world to the fans, my teammates, the coaches. Man, it’s just a blessing.”

Jones was the clear-cut focal point in each of South Sudan’s wins, including an 87-68 classification phase rout of host Philippines and an 89-69 blowout of Asian mainstay China in the group phase.

He, along with fellow NBA players Wenyen Gabriel and Marial Shayok, made South Sudan the most dangerous underdog of the entire World Cup, as it vastly outperformed its world No. 62 FIBA ranking set before the tournament.

Jones, however, knew that their campaign was for something so much bigger than rankings, stats, and even the wins that got them to the Olympics in the first place.

“[The coaches] constantly, constantly talk to us. They constantly let us know what’s at stake, who we’re playing for, what we’re doing it for, our mission. They never let our mission not go known,” he continued.

“I think that was the biggest thing. The guys as a team, we locked in, and knew what we needed to do.”

From this point onwards, the basketball world is an open playground for South Sudan. Every next win or loss is just another step in a long, arduous process that gained steam in the World Cup.

Count on Jones to be there for the rest of the ride.

“Oh, [the future] is very bright. I think this team has a big ceiling. We’re just getting started, man,” he continued.

“This is our first go-around. I can’t wait to see what we got in store.” –

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