South Sudan’s meteoric rise to the pinnacle of African Basketball in 2023


2023 has been a landmark year in African basketball, with South Sudan emerging as the continent’s new powerhouse. This remarkable ascent is a story of dedication, physical prowess, and an unwavering belief in potential.

The journey of South Sudan, the youngest nation in Africa, from being an underdog in the East African region to dominating the African basketball scene is nothing short of inspirational.

At the heart of this triumph is South Sudan’s unique blend of physical attributes and athleticism. These qualities have been crucial in the country’s journey to the top of the FIBA World Rankings in Africa, as updated in September 2023.

The Bright Stars, as they are fittingly named, have outshone traditional powerhouses like Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda to claim the throne of African basketball.

The year’s highlights began with the FIBA Basketball World Cup African Qualifiers. On February 24, South Sudan etched its name in history by becoming the first team in African basketball to qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup in their first attempt.

They defeated Senegal 83-75, thanks to a standout performance from Nuni Omot. This victory was more than just a win; it was a statement to the world about South Sudan’s arrival on the big stage.

The momentum continued through the qualifiers. South Sudan bested DR Congo 82-61, marking their second victory over them in these qualifiers. The previous encounter, a resounding 101-58 win in Tunisia, had already signaled their rising dominance.

The qualifiers concluded with an impressive 97-77 win against Egypt, further cementing South Sudan’s status as a formidable force in African basketball.

Perhaps the most significant achievement came at the World Cup, where South Sudan outclassed eleven-time African champions Angola with a decisive 101-78 victory.

This win not only showcased their prowess but also secured their place as the best-performing African team at the 2023 World Cup and a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The FIBA World Ranking update in September 2023 was a crowning moment. Climbing an astonishing 32 spots, South Sudan now stands proudly at 31st in the world with 375.5 points. This phenomenal rise is a testament to their hard work and determination.

In a recent interview, South Sudan Basketball Federation chairman Luol Deng expressed his awe at the team’s progress. “Three years ago, saying we had a chance at the Olympics seemed insane. But here we are,” he remarked, reflecting on the disbelief that once surrounded their ambitions.

As 2023 draws to a close, the question on everyone’s mind is: What’s next for South Sudan? With victories over former champions like Angola, Egypt, and Senegal, the Bright Stars have set a high bar.

Their story is more than just about winning; it’s about breaking barriers and redefining possibilities. As they look ahead, South Sudan carries not just the hopes of a nation but the inspiration for an entire continent.

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