South Sudan kept their hopes alive in the pursuit of a spot in the 2024 Olympics and the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments by securing a decisive 87-68 victory over the Philippines in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Classification 17-32 phase.
The catalyst behind this triumph was Carlik Jones, who came incredibly close to achieving the first triple-double in the history of the World Cup.
Despite facing an earlier defeat against Serbia in the First Round, the fledgling basketball nation of South Sudan demonstrated impressive composure.
They emerged as the first African team in the tournament to secure two victories. Jones led the way, with a total of five South Sudanese players reaching double-digit scores in the Group M matchup.
Notably, this game marked the inaugural encounter between South Sudan and the Philippines.
South Sudan seized control from the very beginning, establishing a commanding 16-3 lead in the opening moments and extending their advantage to as much as 17 points during the first quarter. Their lead grew further to 21 points in the subsequent quarter.
However, despite the determined effort from the hosts and their supportive crowd of 9,250 at the Manila Araneta Coliseum, the Philippines managed to reduce the deficit to 60-56 early in the fourth quarter.
Nevertheless, the South Sudanese team exhibited poise and regained control of the game.
Carlik Jones’s exceptional performance earned him an indisputable claim to the title of TCL Player of the Game, as he came astonishingly close to achieving a historic triple-double.
Jones contributed 17 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, and distributed an impressive 14 assists, along with making 2 steals.
His performance could have included a 10th rebound in the final moments of the game, but his teammate secured it instead.
Jones’s performance came within a hair’s breadth of achieving a truly extraordinary feat in basketball history.
Watch the game highlights between South Sudan and the Philippines in the First Round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023: