08 - 16
August 2014
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ANG - Basketball takes Jungo from streets of Luanda to glitz of Dubai

DUBAI (FIBA U17 World Championship) - Joao Jungo didn't really have big dreams of travelling the world and playing basketball when he started with the sport around age of 12.

Being at the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship for Angola is beyond what he could have imagined when he was discovered playing basketball.

"I just started playing on the streets. Someone found me on the streets of Luanda and asked me if I want to join the team," said Jungo through an interpreter.

Looking back four or five years later, the Angolan forward recalls just how tough it was for him starting out in the game.

"It was very difficult, walking to the club. We had two practices a day. I spent a lot of time there and not as much at home or school. There was no one to support me, not even in transport."

Jungo was one of nine siblings in a family consisting of six boys and three girls. His father died when he was young, leaving Joao's mother was left to raise the entire group.

But things have since changed.

"Now things are getting better. I don't have these kinds of difficulties and I’m looking forward," said Jungo.

Fast-forward to the glitz and glamour of Dubai, where Jungo is one of the leaders of a very young Angolan team making their debut at the FIBA U17 World Championship.

And the 2013 African U16 champions started their campaign in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with a 82-72 victory over Philippines.

"It's a great win. It's our first time in the tournament and I hope we can go as far as possible," said Jungo.

"The group really came together. We learned a lot about concentration and attitude."

Angola coach Manuel Silva has brought a very young team to Dubai with six players born in 1998 and one in 1999.

The 1997-born Jungo, who averaged a double-double in Antananarivo, Madagascar last year, said the players don't feel that they are young.

"I don't think it's a matter of age when the team works out together on attack or defense. Everything is working," said the 1.98m forward, who also collected 11 rebounds and three blocks against Philippines.

Angola hope they are not done winning in Dubai but the main objective of the team is bigger than just wins or losses.

"The main thing is the respect from the other teams. But we are also trying to go as far as possible," said Jungo, who knows he still has a long way to go in the development of his own game.

"I was okay in the game (versus Philippines), but I have to improve more, especially my strength and concentration.

"I also need to work on my dribbling and shooting."

When asked who are his favourite players, Jungo said LeBron James because of his attitude towards the game while he also enjoys watching Spain's Rudy Fernandez because of his versatility and shooting - Jungo says as he imitates the Real Madrid star's jumper.

Jungo said his ultimate dream is the same as so many others in the sport.

"The dream of almost all players is to go to play at the top, and the top for me is the United States," he explained.

And that dream is much, much closer to becoming a reality now for Jungo than when he was discovered years ago on the streets of Luanda.