How South Sudan basketball team lit up dull year

How South Sudan basketball team lit up dull year
Fans welcome the national basketball players at Juba International Airport. [Alex Bullen, The City Reviw]

When the precious history of the year 2022 is put to paper, the South Sudan men’s basketball team will claim the topmost pages.

This comes after the team won a historic game against Tunisia in Monastir in August 2022, triggering World Cup qualification talks, albeit with a game to spare.

Their heroic home reception came after the team won against DR Congo and Egypt in their round four FIBA World Qualifiers while losing their opener against Senegal in Monastir.

Despite being one win away from qualifying for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, South Sudanese fans believe the Bright Stars have already purchased their World Cup tickets.

The victory made the supporters, including the politicians, come up for the first time in history since the outbreak of war in 2013 and welcome their team as one people of one nation.

Fans from various tribes back home were won over by the performance and graciously welcomed the guys after their outstanding performance in Tunisia, where they had made strides toward success.

“You made us proud and our heads are held high because of you,” President Salva Kiir said while addressing the players at the State House, J1.

“Your victory has united the people of South Sudan and recruited many friends for us. You have started a fight to put South Sudan on the world map to be recognized,” Kiir added.

The audience persisted in staying at the airport even though the players arrived at Juba International Airport later than expected.

The love was shown by the fact that thousands of fans gathered at Juba International Airport and the Juba basketball court to welcome the national basketball team.

Luol Deng, president of the South Sudan Basketball Federation, described the reception as going beyond just a basketball match.

“This victory has taught us how to support each other by working together,” Deng said. “I cannot just refer to this as a simple basketball game, but it goes beyond what we think,” he added.

“I want to thank all the fans who have waited for hours simply to welcome us to the squad on behalf of everyone in the team,” he said.