FIBA World Cup

Next big thing? South Sudan’s 16-year-old titan eyes NBA after historic World Cup win

JR Isaga

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Next big thing? South Sudan’s 16-year-old titan eyes NBA after historic World Cup win

REMEMBER THE NAME. South Sudan prospect center Khaman Madit Maluach poses with his fans at the 2023 FIBA World Cup


Standing at 7-foot-2 and just 16 years old, South Sudan hidden gem Khaman Madit Maluach reaches for the stars of the NBA following a historic FIBA World Cup win

MANILA, Philippines – Remember the days when Filipinos used to wonder how far Gilas Pilipinas center Kai Sotto can go after having a massive growth spurt in his early teens?

The same phenomenon is happening right now in rising basketball nation South Sudan, currently fielding an eye-catching 16-year-old giant named Khaman Madit Maluach in its first-ever FIBA World Cup stint.

Already standing at a staggering 7-foot-2, the lanky center was quick to show flashes of huge potential in South Sudan’s historic first World Cup win with 1 point, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a game-high plus-minus of +20 against struggling China.

While his game is still understandably jagged around the edges, Maluach is already eyeing a future stint in the NBA – a dream as high as his reach, but likely attainable all the same.

“It means a lot to me. At this certain moment, I feel like I deserve to be here. I’m supposed to be here,” the 2023 World Cup’s youngest player confidently said after the game. “In three years, I expect myself to be in the league, the NBA.”

Fittingly right before facing Serbia in South Sudan’s next game, Maluach revealed that he patterns parts of his game after two-time NBA MVP and newly crowned champion, Nikola Jokic.

“I watch Jokic all the time. I watch most of his games because of his IQ, his passing. I watch European players mostly too,” he continued.

“I expect [the next game] to be tough, but I expect me to go there and be tough too. I’m not going to let down [my country]. I’m going to come and bring it to them.”

Having extraordinary height in basketball is one great asset, but having the confidence to use it to one’s full advantage unlocks a whole new area of potential just waiting to be tapped.

If Maluach can keep his head and heart in the right place as his career starts to blossom, there is definitely no telling the heights this young gun can soar to. –

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