South Sudan Rumors
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.
South Sudan Basketball Federation (SSBF) President Luol Deng has taken matters into his own hands and will coach the senior men’s national team at the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers in the Rwandan capital from November 25-29. The former Chicago Bulls forward has his work cut out as the world’s youngest sovereign state looks to find a place at the high table of African basketball. Naturally, the tallest population on the continent, analysts are pitting them to dominate the hoops game in the next five years and their journey starts now. Whether they can fit the billing is a matter of time. The atmosphere in camp is that of a yearning for success.
Fresh into retirement from the NBA, Luol Deng is the new South Sudan Basketball Federation president for the next four years following an elective General Assembly in the capital of the world’s newest country over the weekend.
Deng was unopposed for this position – a gesture of respect from the basketball fraternity at home as South Sudan looks to start building a basketball dynasty that could rule the world in the next decade with the right planning and organization.