22 November, 2021
28 February, 2023
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Young stars who stepped up in African Qualifiers window 3


ABIDJAN/ALEXANDRIA/KIGALI - They were relatively anonymous to some, but five young players became widely known during and after Window 3 of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 African Qualifiers early this month after displaying staggering performances  in Abidjan, Alexandria and Kigali.

For the difference they made and the way they contributed to their countries in the race for the five tickets on offer for African countries for next year's World Cup, these five stars in the making in African basketball are names to keep an eye on.

Four of these five these players might wear their countries' uniform again in August window of the African Qualifiers, but before that moment comes, here's how they performed in July.

Thierry Serge Darlan – Central African Republic

Small Forward
Date of birth: 3 Feb. 2004 (age 18)
Height: 196cm / 6'5"
Club: NBA Academy Africa/Petro de Luanda (Basketball Africa League)
July stats: 12.7 PTS, 6 REB, 11.3 EFF in 24.3 minutes per game.

Darlan couldn't have had a better debut with the Central African Republic's senior team. And although the former African champions won't advance to the Second Round of the African Qualifiers after finishing last in Group , the youngster left his game do the talk for him in Abidjan.

Aggressive attacking the basket, he was a constant headache to opponents, who could only stop him by fouling him, which explained why he scored most of his points from the free-throw line. 

Darlan came off the bench in all three games in Abidjan, but he ended up leading the team in scoring with 12 points per game.

Arthur Kaluma – Uganda 

Date of birth: 1 Mar. 2002 (age 20)
Height: 201cm / 6'7"
Club: Creighton University (NCAA Division 1)
July stats: 22.5 PTS, 5.5 REB, 18.5 EFF in 28.4 minutes per game.

Kaluma reminded everyone in early July why he is a true star in the making. After sitting out Window 1 of the African Qualifiers, and making his first big appearance since the 2022 NCAA D1 Championship, the 20-year-old forward returned to the Silverbacks with an impressive display.

He not only led Uganda in scoring with 22.5 points per game, but he also was one of the most impactful Uganda players after Ishmail Wainright. 

Against Nigeria, Kaluma did a bit of everything. From scoring from long range to creating shooting opportunities for him and others and protect the Ugandan painted area, Kaluma made a tremendous difference for the East African who advanced to the 12-nation Second Round where they will go up against Angola, Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea.

Mareng Gatkuoth – South Sudan 

 Shooting Guard
Date of birth: 10 Sep. 1999 (age 22)
Height: 198cm / 6'6"
Club: Montana State University
July stats: 7.7 PTS, in 14.8 minutes per game.

Gatkuoth hasn't started any of South Sudan's six games so far, but most of times that he came off the bench he made a tremendous difference, especially in games against reigning African champions Tunisia.

After contributing a 4-for-5 from long range to finish with 12 points in South Sudan's 72-64 win over Tunisia in the first round of Group B in February, Gatkuoth perfected his shooting to a 4-for-4 from behind the arc to help South Sudan beat Tunisia (75-61) for a second straight time in the African Qualifiers.

Sixth-man Gatkuoth has become Tunisia's worst nightmare. 

Jean-Jacques Boissy – Senegal 

 Point Guard
Date of birth: 28 Jan. 2000 (age 22)
Height: 187cm / 6'2"
Club: Bàsquet Cornellà (Liga LEB Plata - Spain)
July stats: 12.PTS, 5 REB,  4 ASS, 14 EFF in 29 minutes per game.

In his African Qualifiers debut, Boissy made the most of the opportunity, contributing impressive 12 points in almost 30 minutes per game. In the absence of renowned point guards Brancou Badio, Clevin Hannah and Pierria Henry, Boissy created plays, and shot the ball when Senegal needed him to, and was vocal for most of his time on the floor.

After his three games, it's fair to affirm that the door remains open for Boissy regardless of the return of Badio, Hannah and Pierria.

Jilson Bango – Angola

Date of birth: 6 Jan. 1999 (age 23)
Height: 208cm / 6'10"
Club: Primeiro de Agosto (Angolan League)
July stats: 10.6 PTS, 8.6 REB, 2 ASS,14.7 EFF in 20 minutes per game.

One thing Angola may feel good about is Bango's consistency. And although he continues to struggle from the free-throw line, Bango remains a force to be reckoned with in the painted area making above 57 percent of his shooting.

He either tends to finish with thunderous dunks or benefit from his admirable low post moves, which has become a headache for opponents.