Paris 2024: Bright Stars of South Sudan set to shine at Olympics


After defying all the odds to make it to the Men’s Olympic Basketball Tournament Paris 2024, the stage is set for South Sudan, the youngest nation in FIBA, to make its Olympic debut.

Ranked 33rd in the FIBA World Ranking Men, South Sudan is poised to capture the imagination of basketball fans worldwide as they step onto the Olympic stage for the first time.

South Sudan’s journey to the Olympics is a story of rapid rise and remarkable resilience. Just six years after their first official FIBA game, the Bright Stars made history by qualifying for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.

Their debut on the global stage came with a thrilling start in the Philippines, where they pushed Puerto Rico to overtime before narrowly losing 101-96.

Two days later, they celebrated their first-ever World Cup victory with an impressive 89-69 win over China. Despite a heavy loss to Serbia in their final First Round game, South Sudan’s spirit remained unbroken.

The Bright Stars continued their campaign in the 17-32 Classification, starting with a convincing 87-68 victory over the Philippines. They made more history by finishing the World Cup with a dominant 101-78 win against Angola.

Their qualification for the Paris Olympics was secured when New Zealand defeated Egypt, confirming South Sudan as the highest-placed African team at the tournament, finishing 17th overall.

South Sudan’s rise in basketball has been meteoric. Only joining FIBA in 2013 and playing their first official game in March 2017, they have achieved what many thought impossible. The next chapter in their magical journey begins in Paris this summer.

In the group phase of the Olympics, South Sudan will face formidable opponents. Their first game will be against the winner of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico, which includes Bahrain, Côte d’Ivoire, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.

Their second game will be a highly anticipated matchup against the USA, one of the powerhouses of international basketball. South Sudan will conclude their group play against Serbia, seeking to improve on their previous encounter at the World Cup.

Key players will play a pivotal role in South Sudan’s Olympic campaign. Carlik Jones, their floor general at the World Cup, ranked eighth in scoring with 20.4 points per game and led the tournament with 10.6 assists per game.

His ability to control the game and create opportunities for his teammates will be crucial. Nuni Omot, another standout player, showcased his sharpshooting skills by averaging double figures and shooting nearly 53 percent from long range.

Wenyan Gabriel of South Sudan. PHOTO: FIBA

Marial Shayok also demonstrated his prowess from beyond the arc, adding depth to South Sudan’s offensive threats.

The team boasts strong options at the power forward position with Majok Deng and Wenyen Gabriel, both of whom bring physicality and rebounding prowess.

The inclusion of Phoenix Suns center Bol Bol, son of former NBA legend Manute Bol, adds significant size and skill to the roster.

The Bright Stars also have promising young talent in 17-year-old Khaman Malauch, who is headed to Duke University, and 2007-born Paul Ater Bol, who plays at BAXI Manresa in Spain.

South Sudan’s roster is further strengthened by players like Kuany Kuany, former Australia internationals Thon Maker and Mangok Mathiang, as well as Aher Uguak, Makur Maker, and Emmanuel Akot.

This mix of experienced players and young talents gives South Sudan a dynamic and versatile squad capable of competing at the highest level.

As the Olympic Games approach, the world will be watching South Sudan’s historic journey with great anticipation.

Their story is one of resilience, determination, and the unyielding spirit of a nation that has overcome immense challenges to stand on the brink of sporting glory.

The Bright Stars have the potential to not only make history but also inspire future generations of basketball players in Africa and beyond.

South Sudan’s participation in the Paris 2024 Olympics is a remarkable achievement in itself, but their aspirations go beyond merely competing.

With a talented roster and a burning desire to prove themselves on the world stage, the Bright Stars have the potential to make a significant impact in their Olympic debut.

Whether they can overcome the giants of international basketball remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: South Sudan will bring passion, energy, and a story that captures the hearts of fans around the globe.

Source: FIBA

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