South Sudan books first-ever trip to Olympics in Fiba World Cup debut
MANILA, Philippines—Carlik Jones delivered another historic performance as South Sudan booked its first-ever Olympics berth after dominating Angola, 101-78, in their final game in the Fiba World Cup 2023 on Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Jones poured in 26 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and dished out 15 assists to tie the most assists in a single game by Croatia’s Toni Kukoc in the 1994 World Cup.
The reigning NBA G-League Most Valuable Player also became the first player in the World Cup to tally more than 10 assists in three separate games in their final game in Manila on top of Group M of the classification phase.
Let ‘em know what’s up, SSD! 🇸🇸
— FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 🏆 (@FIBAWC) September 2, 2023
“Unbelievable, on both ends. I didn’t know I had 15 assists, that’s crazy. But you know, it’s mostly about the team, man. I’m so glad we got it done. We knew after we won the first game that we had a really good chance to qualify [for the Olympics] and we kind of just locked in on what we needed to do and I’m glad we got it done,” said Jones, who was a rebound shy of becoming the first player to tally a triple-double in the men’s World Cup in a victory over Gilas Pilipinas two nights ago. “It’s a blessing, you know, to play in my first World Cup games and to walk out on the history boards is unbelievable.”
“We just qualified for the Olympics, man, I’m gonna enjoy this night,” he added.
South Sudan, debuting in the World Cup for the first time, emerged as the best African team to earn an outright ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics with a 3-2 record ahead of Egypt (2-3), which lost to New Zealand, 88-86, in its final game at Mall of Asia Arena.
Besides Jones, who shot 10-of-15 in the field, Marial Shayok and Nuni Omot also stepped up with 18 and 17 points, respectively. Wenyen Gabriel put up a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds on top of six blocks, while Majok Deng added 10 markers.
Angola finished the tournament with only one victory—at the expense of the Philippines—out of five matches as it ended up winless in the classification.
Childe Dundao carried the Black Antelopes with 21 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Silvio De Sousa had 12 points and six rebounds, while Jilson Bango put up 10 points and 13 boards, stepping up for NBA big man Bruno Fernando, who didn’t play.