South Sudan stunned Tunisia with a score of 75 to 61
In January, South Sudan defeated Tunisia 72-64. Saturday, they repeated the feat, outclassing the defending African champions by an even greater margin to maintain their flawless record in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 African Qualifications.
Playing without Salah Mejri and Michael Roll in February was one thing, given they are crucial to Tunisia’s defensive and offensive success, but playing with both A-listers, and still losing by 75-61, illustrates how merciless South Sudan has gotten in this African Qualifications process.
South Sudan recognized that entering into Window 3 of the African Qualifiers that they were the team to beat and that Tunisia was the side most likely to threaten their lead in Group B. However, South Sudan never panicked, even while down by seven goals; they remained focused.
“They were superior in every aspect of the game, including defense, assists, ball movement, and three-point shooting,” said Tunisia head coach Dirk Bauermann.
The German play-caller said, “We struggled to score and never established our rhythm, but these things happen and this game is in the past.”
Mareng Gatkuoth shot 4-for-4 from beyond the arc to finish with 12 points off the bench; Nuni Omot was outstanding on both ends of the court, ending with 16 points; Kuany Ngor Kuany scored 12 points, and Sunday Dech made Tunisia seem helpless with two crucial three-pointers.
South Sudan, who were aggressive defensively and effective offensively, were desperate to extend their winning run and keep their World Cup hopes alive, and they achieved just that.
“I do not believe there is a limit. Tonight, we did an excellent job playing as a group. It wasn’t just one individual,” Omot remarked.
The six lead changes demonstrated that the game was close for much of its duration, but the decisive factor was South Sudan’s relentless defense, which rendered Tunisia idealess.
Tunisia only made 8 of 31 three-point shots. South Sudan even won the fight in the paint, as they outrebounded their opponents 45-36.
“Our third quarter was difficult. Roll, who led Tunisia in scoring with 21 points, stated that being down eight or ten points sapped the team’s mental energy.
Royal Ivey, the head coach of South Sudan, wants to keep his feet on the ground. “I keep reminding the lads that we’ve earned respect, but don’t get too comfortable since we haven’t accomplished anything yet. We must take each game as it comes.”
Before they begin their Second Round campaign in August, they have one last game on Sunday against Rwanda.