South Sudan lose in Afrobasket quarter-finals to Tunisia
Sudan South lost in the quarter-finals of Africa’s basketball championships on Thursday to defending champs Tunisia.
The world’s youngest nation was defeated 65 to 80 in a performance their coach, Royal Ivey, said they have “a lot to be proud of”.
AfroBasket is a men’s basketball continental championship played by African national teams every four years.
South Sudan joined the International Basketball Federation, known as Fiba, two years after gaining independence in 2013. This was their debut in the AfroBasket champions.
“I am lost for words because these guys did everything I asked them to do from day one,” said Ivey to BBC Sport Africa.
“I told these guys back in the locker room, ‘don’t hold your head,’ they are hurting right now, I am hurting right now, it is a tough loss you know,” said the coach.
But he added: “We will be back. We will be better. We will be stronger. We will be faster. We will be older. So, looking forward to it.”
'I am lost for words because these guys did everything I asked them to do from day one,' said South Sudan's coach
Ivey used to be an assistant coach for the Brooklyn Nets in America’s basketball league NBA, but took on the role of South Sudan’s coach after former NBA star Luol Deng stepped down.
South Sudanese-British basketball star Deng, who played for the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, LA Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves in a 15-year career, is now president of the South Sudan Basketball Federation.
“We come from a country that has been through a lot,” said Deng.
“Some of these kids - what they went through - is something that you cannot control and as life goes on, a lot people never get an opportunity to come back home, let alone to wear a jersey and represent the nation.”
Tunisia will play Cape Verde in the semi-finals on Saturday, and if they win that game, will play either Ivory Coast or Senegal in the final on Sunday.