NIKE, S. Sudan basketball fed in shirt-deal talks

NIKE, S. Sudan basketball fed in shirt-deal talks
South Sudan continues its unbeaten run by hammering Cameroon. [Photo: Courtesy]

Sponsors are trooping at the doorstep of the South Sudanese Basketball Federation (SSBF) following the national team’s newfound status as one of Africa’s emerging powerhouses in the game.

The national team has had a good run of form in the ongoing FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. South Sudan is right on course for a maiden appearance at the FIBA World Cup Games with three rounds of matches still to play.

Team’s head coach, Terence Ivey, admitted that he never imagined that he would be talking about the possibility of leading the team in the world, five months before the African qualifiers conclude in February next year.

South Sudan will need just a victory against DR Congo, Egypt and Senegal, the only side who have so far managed to squeeze a victory from the American, eight games counting.

Ivy, a retired NBA player, is also the assistant coach for the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

This success, however, has attracted interest from local and international companies, led by NIKE, the world’s largest manufacturer of sports apparel.

“They (NIKE) have approached us but we’ve not signed the deal yet,” Luol Deng, the federation’s president said.

Locally, companies are scudding for attention that comes with the newfound status – success.

“I believe they (local companies) can do much more, not only to basketball but also other sports. But you know that will only come if you have success,” said Deng, a two-time NBA All-Star.

Already the team has inked a three-year deal with a local telco company. A local 5-star hotel and bank are also said to be mulling the idea of a potential partnership with the players.

Deng, however, did not reveal the nitty-gritty of the contract said to be in millions of dollars.

President Salva Kiir is said to have mulled the idea of construction of an indoor arena in the capital – Juba, when he met players on Tuesday, August 31.

“We met the president and he proposed the idea of a modern gymnasium but I don’t see the need for a big gym,” added Deng.

Deng, who in 2012 was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team, wants to develop the game to the grassroots.

“I would rather we construct small basketball grounds in all states so that as many children can play,” proposed Deng.