South Sudan’s Sunday Dech thrilled to face former teammate Kai Sotto in Fiba World Cup
MANILA, Philippines — South Sudan guard Sunday Dech looks forward to facing Adelaide 36ers teammate Kai Sotto and Gilas Pilipinas in the classification round of the Fiba World Cup 2023 on Thursday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
It was a tough Wednesday for South Sudan after failing to advance to the next round, losing to unbeaten Serbia, 115-83, with topscorer Carlik Jones being limited to just three points and six assists.
Dech, who scored five points and dished out four assists, couldn’t hide his frustrations after the Bright Stars came up short of advancing to the next round with a 1-2 record in Group B. But he can’t dwell too much on the defeat as they battle the host Philippines.
“We’re looking forward to it. Obviously, it was a bitter one tonight. We couldn’t get the job done,” Dech told reporters. “But now we regroup and take the learnings of today and look forward to playing Kai and Gilas tomorrow.”
The 29-year-old Dech and Sotto teamed up in Australia’s National Basketball League for two seasons before the 7-foot-3 Filipino center decided to take his act in Japan B.League with the Hiroshima Dragonflies.
The South Sudanese-Australian said he’s been in touch with the 21-year-old Sotto and watched his games for the Gilas Pilipinas, which ended up winless in three games in Group A.
“I’ve watched all of his games. He’s a really close friend of mine. We talk every day. It’s good that we’re at the same hotel. Hopefully, when we go at it, we get the win over him,” Dech said. “We talked about it today. We had all the scenarios laid out. Facing him would be great again. Obviously, we were teammates for two years in Adelaide. He’s one of my closest friends now and we’re gonna battle tomorrow to see who’s the better team.”
South Sudan is determined to get more wins in its first-ever World Cup, while the Philippines is gunning for an outright 2024 Paris Olympics berth by becoming the best Asian finisher in the tournament.