Under the leadership of former NBA player Luol Deng, South Sudan earned its first qualification in the final phase of an Afrobasket, thanks to a (69-65) victory over Mali on Thursday in a match counting for the second day of Group D.
South Sudan versus Mali
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However, the Malians got off to a flying start by winning the first two quarters with a wide margin (23-12 and 17-13), i.e. (40-25) at the break. However, their opponents showed more resilience in the second half. South Sudan reduced the score margin to (48-47) in favor of Mali at the end of the 3rd quarter.
The "money-time" will be in favor of Luol Deng's men who passed in front (60-55) less than 5 minutes left to play. The Malians multiplied faults committed while South Sudan made the baskets. South Sudan wins (69-65) and keeps its 2nd place in this group. It joins Nigeria, leader of the group.
A "Deng" performance...
Indeed, this qualification is the first in the history of South Sudanese basketball. The team will play its first Afrobasket finals this August. Ten years after its first official match in July 2011, South Sudan lost to Uganda, 69-73. Luol Deng has set up an extensive basketball development program within the Federation, of which he is the president. The results are already bearing fruit with this qualification in Afrobasket.
Mali is also qualified for the next Afrobasket. The Eagles tallied(7 pts) ahead of Rwanda (4th, 5 pts). However, Rwanda is host, so their spot is guaranteed regardless of their position in the group.
Fixtures and Results
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
South Sudan - Nigeria 70-75
Rwanda - Mali 51-76
Thursday, February 18, 2021
Nigeria - Rwanda 64-51
Mali - Southern Sudan 65-69
Friday, February 19, 2021
10:00 am Mali - Nigeria
13:00 South Sudan - Rwanda
Group D rankings
1st Nigeria (10 pts +82), 2nd South Sudan (8 pts +4), 3rd Mali (7 pts -9), 4th Rwanda (5 pts -77)