Party time as South Sudan stay undefeated
South Sudan caused the biggest surprise in Window 2 of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 in Dakar by becoming the only undefeated team from Groups B and D.
On Sunday, the World Cup African Qualifiers debutant built on their spectacular win over reigning African champions Tunisia to stay undefeated in Group B after beating Cameroon 74-68.
Nuni Omot and Anyiarbany Makoi propelled the South Sudanese offense with a combining 45 points, and Deng Acuoth protected the South Sudanese rim with a tournament-high 4 blocked shots.
Cameroon entered Sunday’s game aiming to capitalise from their only Group B win against Rwanda, but the day belonged to the East Africans.
Jordan Bayehe led the Cameroonian ‘army’ by scoring 11 of his team-high 21 points from the foul line; Paul Eboua contributed 10 poitns and 7 rebounds but the Central African closed the First Round of Group with a 1-2 mark.
South Sudan currently top their group with a 3-0 record after wins over Rwanda, Tunisia and Cameroon.
To advance to the Second Round of the World Cup African Qualifiers, teams need to finish in the top three places from Groups A, B,C and D. https://www.youtube.com/embed/4lmAkoTFYiQ?enablejsapi=1
Turning point: Cameroon trailed by 19 points at some stage in the game, but managed to cut the deficit to just four points with a minute left. But South Omot and Acuoth closed the game out from the Free-Throw line in the waning seconds of the game.
Game hero(es): Makoi did his job before fouling out with four minutes left with South Sudan up by 12 (69-57). In his absence South Sudan could add only three more points from the charity stripe.
Makai converted 10 of his 12 Field-Goals attempts, including a three-pointer, and added 7 rebounds to finish with the second highest Efficiency rate from Window 2 of the African Qualifiers..
Stats don’t lie: South Sudan step on the floor in a desperation mode, leading by as many as 19 points at some point, which proved fruitful for Luol Deng’s team.
Cameroon had 19 opportunities to score from beyond the arc, but could only make 5 of their attempts, while South Sudan looked more efficient making 10-of-25 from beyond the arc.
Bottom line: This was the real chance to weigh up Cameroon’s chances against South Sudan. Back in August, Cameroon forfeited their meeting against South Sudan at 2021 AfroBasket due to a number COVID cases in their delegation.
South Sudan turned out the strongest and more consistent between the two sides, especially because of the morale booster of beating reigning African champions the day before.
Cameroon had a slow start, but became more aggressive and efficient later in the game, but it was far too late, the damage was already done.
It’s now time for both teams to return home and start plannings for Window 3 of the African Qualifiers in June-July.
What they said: “We had a slow start but we fought… some guys arrived late [to the camp], for me this is like a win. Give this group two weeks of practice.. Tunisia played a tournament [2021 Arab Cup], before; Rwanda practiced for one month. South Sudan practiced for two weeks; We’ve only practiced for four days. And what I saw from four days, this is a good improvement for us. We did really well. We don’t have a team chemistry, that’s why we keep looking for options… We forced shots; we lacked energy in defense,” – Sacha Giffa – Cameroon Head Coach
“Most of all for us, [South Sudan’s 3-0 record] is just showing that we belong here. Being the youngest country in the world, we’re looked as the underdogs. We just wanted to come here and prove ourselves… As long as we do what we got to do and stay together we can play against anybody.
There’s no words that can really describe the things that we’re able to do because our country has been through a ton.. We don’t have to to be through the history to see the joy that it brings to the people, not to mention our parents, who witnessed first-hand the terrible things [in South Sudan’s past], because of a lot us in this group grew up in the Western side of the world.” – Anyiarbany Makoi – South Sudan guard.