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Sudanese knock down Chinese wall

Carlik Jones of South Sudan attacks the defense of Zhou Qi and Zhang Zhenlin of China during their FIBA Basketball World Cup game. | Photograph by JOEY SANCHEZ MENDOZA for the Daily Tribune @tribunephl_joey

South Sudan — the world’s youngest country — made history following an 86-69 victory over China in Group B preliminaries of the FIBA Basketball World Cup on Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Sudanese, who became an independent nation only in 2011, banked on the efforts of
Sudanese-American Carlik Jones while taking advantage of the Chinese erratic execution to book their first victory in this prestigious 32-nation tournament.

Jones, who went undrafted in 2021 National Basketball Association Draft before landing a gig with the Dallas Mavericks and the Denver Nuggets until getting signed by the Chicago Bulls in the previous season, scattered 21 points and six assists to book the victory the landmark win that was widely celebrated by fans home.

After all, it was the Bright Stars’ first ever win in the world stage since joining the International Basketball Federation in 2013.

It was also their first time to qualify in the World Cup, thanks to the leadership of former NBA star Luol Deng, who now serves their federation president, and Royal Ivey, who serves as head coach.

“My players stuck to the game plan from the opening tip to the closing horn,” said Ivey, a 10-year NBA veteran whose wards turned China’s 11 turnovers into 15 points and 14 fastbreak points.

“They were resilient and persistent. They had laser-like focus. They followed the game plan and competed at the highest level and I commend everybody from one to 12.”

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