South Sudan coach Royal Ivey thrilled as Bright Stars secure historic Paris Olympics berth

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BASKETBALL South Sudan coach Royal Ivey thrilled as Bright Stars secure historic Paris Olympics berth

Festus Chuma 10:30 - 03.09.2023

Coach Royal Ivey overflows with emotion as South Sudan secures maiden Olympics basketball qualification, fueled by resilience and sweat.

South Sudan national basketball  team the Bright Stars on Saturday secured their first-ever Olympic basketball berth after an impressive victory over Angola with a final score of 101-78. 

The historic win took place in the vibrant Philippine capital, Manila, and marked a significant milestone for the youngest nation on the planet. 

The Bright Stars secured the lone FIBA Africa direct qualification spot for the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympics.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Royal Ivey, the head coach of the Bright Stars, commended his team's resilience and dedication.

"We competed from zone five [in the Afrobasket qualifiers] to now, my guys are resilient, they know how to work, they push forward, they fought day-in, day-out, and we got here because of the hard work and the sweat that we put in every day. Now we’re reaping the rewards, so it’s not over," he said.

The group draw for the Paris 2024 Olympics placed South Sudan alongside basketball powerhouses Serbia, Puerto Rico, and China in Group B. 

Despite being ranked 62nd in the world, the Bright Stars made a lasting impression with their strong start against Puerto Rico. 

Although the Caribbeans managed to secure an overtime victory with a score of 101-96, South Sudan showcased their potential and determination on the global stage.

The Bright Stars continued to shine bright, making history with a dominant 89-69 win over the 20th-ranked China. 

However, the journey through the group stage proved challenging, and South Sudan faced a formidable opponent in Serbia, ranked sixth in the world.

 Despite a valiant effort, the Bright Stars fell short with a score of 83-115, which marked the end of their bid for the second round.

The team's participation in the World Cup was a historic moment in itself, and it showcased the potential and talent that South Sudan possesses in the world of basketball. 

"It’s our first time playing [at a World Cup] and having the national team come this far, it’s been great for us and just seeing the potential we have, I think sky’s the limit for us," remarked Carlik Jones, the Bright Stars' leading scorer from the Chicago Bulls.