South Sudan, from independence to the World Cup in 12 years

South Sudan became the first team in African basketball history to qualify for the World Cup on their first attempt on Friday. An incredible milestone for this team with hardly any history. We must not forget that the country became independent from Sudan on July 9, 2011: it is the youngest country in the world… and one of the poorest (2nd with the lowest GDP per capital in 2022). The fairy tale took place in Alexandria, where the last three games of the African Windows are being played in group F. South Sudan will end up as the leader, regardless of what they do this Sunday against the local team, Egypt: they have only lost one (Senegal, 69-66) of the ten games played in these Qualifying Windows.

The history of this team is closely linked to a famous name in basketball for about a decade. Luol Deng, who made a name for himself in the NBA during his time with the Chicago Bulls and who defended the colors of the Great Britain jersey, was the driving force behind basketball in the newly created country.. He was born there 37 years ago and that is why he gladly assumed the position of president of the Federation, which in recent years he has sometimes combined with that of coach. When he was 4 years old, his father sent him, by coincidences of life, to Alexandria, where two days ago he watched from the bench as his country won the ticket for the World Cup.

Up to three NBA players can go to the World Cup event, from August 25 to September 10 between Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan: Wenyan Gabriel, JT Thor and Bol Bol, son of the mythical Manute. Although the hero of the decisive victory (83-75 against Senegal) was Numi Omot, with 26 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Born in a refugee camp in Kenya, where his family was after fleeing the war in Sudan, he left with his mother for the United States when he was 3 years old.. He has now been the catalyst for the greatest sporting joy that has been experienced in the 12 years of life of South Sudan, a country that has been submerged in violence since 2013.

In December of that year, a civil war broke out that currently remains latent, unresolved despite the peace agreements signed during 2020. A new chapter of violence in a country that tried to escape the fire and blood that they have plagued Sudan, their neighbors to the north, with their independence since time immemorial.

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