Mon. Sep 25th, 2023
 Carlik Jones South Sudan

Carlik Jones leads South Sudan to a historic Fiba World Cup first win. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — Carlik Jones sustained his fine play to lead South Sudan to its first-ever Fiba World Cup win after dominating China by 20 points, 89-69, on Monday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

After his 35-point explosion went for naught in South Sudan’s world basketball debut loss to Puerto Rico in overtime two days ago, the Chicago Bulls guard put on the finishing touches in the fourth quarter, where his team unleashed 26 points to improve to 1-1 in Group B and stay in contention for the next round.

Jones led the collective effort of the Bright Stars with 21 points on 3-of-4 three-point shooting and dished out six assists as Kuany Kuany chipped in 16 points built on four triples.

“Like I’ve said 20 times man, I couldn’t do it without my teammates. My teammates trust me, my coaches trust me. I just try to come out and be who I am. I always think that every time I step on the floor I’m the best player so I try to be it and I try to be a leader,” said the American NBA player of South Sudan descent. 

“Leader is the biggest thing for me being the point guard. I have to lead the offense and defense. I just want to make sure that my teammates are good and everybody is confident.”

South Sudan's Nuni Omot. Fiba World Cup

South Sudan’s Nuni Omot. –Marlo Cueto/INQUIRER.net

Nuni Omot was also instrumental in South Sudan’s historic win with 14 points, while Marial Shayok and Majok Deng added 13 and 12 markers, respectively.

MAKING HISTORY

The Bright Stars pulled away from a slim 48-47 lead early in the third quarter through a 15-6 run capped by Shayok’s triple in the final 24 seconds of the period to enter the final frame with a 10-point lead, 63-53.

As South Sudan battles Serbia in a pivotal match on Wednesday, Jones vows to continue to achieve historic things for his country with thousands of their fellow countrymen supporting them in Manila in their maiden World Cup campaign.

“We made history. We came to do what we wanted to do. We’re not done. We got a lot to play,” said Jones. “It’s so huge for the players and the fans. The feeling is unbelievable, we all worked so hard. The fans, everybody shows support. It’s huge for the country, it’s huge for the fans. We’re just blessed to be here and we’re just grateful.”

China dropped to 0-2 despite Kyle Anderson’s bounce-back game from a scoreless debut against Serbia. The Minnesota Timberwolves forward, who also goes by his Chinese name Li Kaier, led the Dragons with 22 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Zhao Rui and Zhou Qi had 13 and 10 markers, respectively.



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