Former NBA star Luol Deng has vowed to take basketball in his country of birth into another level following some impressive performances at the recently concluded FIBA Afro Basketball Pre-Qualifiers.
Despite failing to host Kenya in the final game of the zone five, the South Sudanese had their best ever performance in the international basketball arena, following successive wins over Somalia, Burundi, Eritrea and Tanzania.
Deng, who was elected the new President of South Sudan Basketball Federation (SSBF) in November 2019 has set sight on nurturing talent in a bid to build new crop of basketball stars in South Sudan.
Among other things, Deng said he would organize a national basketball tournament for boys and girls in the new future.
“We are trying to create a boys and girls’ national tournament where we would ask the states to come down with some of the kids. There will be a lot that we want from that tournament,” Deng told reporters in Juba on Friday.
He said the tournament would help SSBF to spot talented youngsters.
“We have under 18 boys and girls coming up. We also want to put efforts together and put our women’s team together. That allows us to get to know some of the kids and coaches,” Deng added.
Basketball is the second most popular sport in South Sudan after football, but due to protracted years of civil war, the game has failed to pick up in most rural areas due to insecurity and undeveloped sports infrastructure.
Deng said he would seek support from the government and well-wishers to help fund basketball activities in the conflict-torn country.
“We are reaching out to organizations and also we would encourage the government in finding ways to make us work together. Deng said. ” We have a lot coming up,” he said.