South Sudan books ticket to 2024 Olympics, thwarts Angola in FIBA WC closeout

Carlik Jones is ecstatic after he helped South Sudan gain Olympic qualification. Kennelf Monteza
By John Rhey Piamonte

QUEZON CITY–Capping off its first World Cup stint on a high note, South Sudan banked on a scintillating start to prevail over fellow African rival Angola, 101-78, and punched an outright Paris Olympics berth in their final game of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup Saturday night, at Smart Araneta Coliseum. 

With this win, South Sudan booked a ticket to next year’s Olympic Games after finishing the tournament as the top African team, squeaking past Egypt who lost against New Zealand, in a tight 86-88 contest on the other side of Metro Manila, the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay. 

Basketball’s youngest nation ended its campaign with an impressive 3-2 win-loss slate, clinching pivotal victories against Asia’s top teams like China and the Philippines in the two-week-long tournament. 

After leading his team to a monumental win against the hometeam Gilas Pilipinas last Thursday, guard Carlik Jones closed out his scintillating world championships debut with another superb performance for the Bright Stars, scorching Angola with 26 points, alongside 15 assists and seven rebounds. 

The 25-year-old guard spearheaded the first-half domination of South Sudan as he dropped 15 points right at the get-go and paved a 53-39 second-quarter lead over the gritty Angola squad. 

The Bright Stars continued to shine in the second half with the team also tightening up their defense and forcing a series of turnovers from Angola that led to transition baskets to build a 63-41 advantage entering the final frame. 

But the Time Nacional would not let go without a fight as Angola dropped a 6-0 bomb behind the efforts of guard Childe Dundao and Silvio De Sousa to trim the lead of South Sudan down to 13, 54-67. 

The Coach Royal Ivey-headed squad flaunted the poise and composure that kept them blazing the whole tournament as the team answered Angola’s fightback with their own 8-0 run that ballooned their advantage back to 22, 63-41. 

Jones put on the finishing touches knocking down a triple to send the Angolans packing, 96-73 with 1:03 left in the game. 

Marial Shayok also contributed 18 huge points for South Sudan while Nuni Omot followed suit with 17 markers on his own.

NBA stalwart Wenyen Gabriel added a double-double performance, scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the process. 

Meanwhile, the 5’6 guard Dundao who has been a revelation this tournament topped the chart for Angola after a 21-point performance.

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