Colorful reception for basketball team as heroic boys return home

Colorful reception for basketball team as heroic boys return home
Fans welcome the national basketball players at Juba International Airport. [Alex Bullen, The City Reviw]

The national basketball team jetted home to a heroic reception after their exploits in the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers.

The team won against DR Congo and Egypt in their round four FIBA World Qualifiers while losing their opener against Senegal in Monastir, Tunisia.

South Sudan currently leads Group F with one win away from qualifying for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

For the first time in history, it appears that the Bright Stars have already purchased their World Cup tickets.

The performance won over fans back home, who voluntarily welcomed the guys for their sterling performance in Tunisia, having made steps for advancement.

Despite the players’ delayed arrival at Juba International Airport, the crowd insisted on remaining at the airport for their arrival. 

Thousands of fans that gathered at Juba International Airport to welcome the national basketball team.

They jetted in with a group of fans led by senior presidential advisor Kuol Manyang Juuk and Minister of Youth and Sports Albino Bol.

Government officials who were waiting at the airport and other fans were seen dancing and sobbing with pleasure.

Other leaders, like the MPs, the First Speaker of the Council of State, and the minister of presidential affairs, Dr Baranba Marial Benjamin, welcomed the players.

Many spectators and officials sang songs about how sports can bring people together.

Despite the 10-hour flight, they managed to get to the Juba Basketball Stadium and interact with supporters there until the wee hours of the night, proving that they were not about to give up.

The South Sudan Basketball Federation President, Luol Deng, gave a succinct address in which he conveyed his gratitude for the warm welcome.

“On behalf of everyone in the team, I want to say thank you to all the fans that have waited for hours just to welcome us to the team.”

He committed to doing everything in their power to make South Sudan’s participation in the FIBA World Cup a reality.

“I know a lot of people love basketball, but I just want to promise you my people that we are going to give you the best basketball in the world and let them know how much talent we have here in South Sudan,” Deng said.