Luol Deng wants to build up basketball in his native South Sudan and sometimes that means coaching the national team himself. The two-time NBA All-Star, who became president of the South Sudan basketball federation after retiring as a player last year, stepped in when the team was a late addition to the Afrobasket qualifying tournament.
Deng, born in what is now South Sudan, said after Thursday’s 76-56 loss to Nigeria that coaching is a temporary gig. “I’m fine with being coach for now, but in the future I don’t think I’ll be the coach,” Deng said after the game against Nigeria. “This is just something that I wanted to do for our country and our players.”
Deng, who played 15 seasons in the NBA, had a familiar face on the opposing bench. Mike Brown coaches the Nigerian team, and used to coach Deng when they were with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014. “I didn’t know he was going to coach the team,” Brown said “I used to coach Luol, now I’m coaching against him.” Brown credited Deng’s squad, which is inexperienced, for their grit.
The Slovenian basketball federation president, Matej Erjavec via a video conference with the local press Monday explained how Luka Doncic really wanted to help his national team in the upcoming games of the EuroBasket qualifiers but was not allowed. Doncic, 21, was keen on playing for Slovenia in the games versus Ukraine and Hungary scheduled to be held in Ljubliana on November 28 and 30, respectively. He even discussed his strong desire with Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, However, the lack of agreement between FIBA and NBA ultimately stopped him.
Luka Doncic strongly wants to play again with the Slovenian team. Along with the Basketball Association of Slovenia, he is making great efforts to be able to play in the upcoming qualifiers, but due to the NBA season timing, the probability is very small. The decision on whether Doncic, who has been training with national team coaches for the last four weeks, will be able to join the national team will be known at the end of the week.
Nigeria Basketball: 2015 NBA winner with Golden State Warriors, Festus Ezeli will be on the flight to Rwanda for a chance to represent Nigeria for the first time ever alongside a member of the 2015 Afrobasket winning team, Mike Gbinije.