Anchorage’s Mareng Gatkuoth scored from the post to the perimeter Wednesday as South Sudan beat Venezuela 80-61 in a World Cup tune-up in Australia.
Gatkuoth came off the bench to score eight points and dish off a beautiful assist – a 40-foot dime to Deng Acuoth for the dunk in the third quarter.
The 6-foot-5 guard out of ACS has been a key contributor for South Sudan over the last few years, helping the team establish itself on the world stage.
This is the first time South Sudan has qualified for the World Cup after winning 11 of 12 games across several qualifying tournaments. Gatkuoth averaged 7.2 points per game in qualifying and was on par scoring wise against Venezuela.
His first points came on a baseline drive that ended with an emphatic two-handed, slap-the-backboard slam. His next bucket came on a point-blank layup off a nice assist from a teammate who threw the ball to the Alaskan before falling out of bounds.
Gatkuoth’s awesome assist made it 58-49 in the third quarter. He drilled two jumpers in the fourth quarter, both off beautiful ball fakes. First he faked a 3-point shot that set up an open 18-footer; then he knocked down a step-back 20-footer after faking out a defender with 32 seconds remaining.
South Sudan is in Group B in the World Cup draw along with Puerto Rico, China and Serbia. The action begins Aug. 26 in Manila, Philippines.
Last season, Gatkuoth spent his junior season at Tarleton State University, a NCAA Division I team in Stephenville, Texas.
Speaking of Tarleton State, another Alaskan is headed that way after it was announced over the weekend that Anchorage’s Traivar Jackson had signed with the WAC team.
Jackson was the first player in Pima Community College history to be named NJCAA Division II All-American in back-to-back seasons.
The 6-foot-7 former West High standout averaged 18.9 points in 62 career games for the Aztecs, who improved from 17-13 (9-11 in ACCAC) his freshman season to 25-7 (16-6 in ACCAC) last season.
He scored in double figures in all 32 games and kept getting better and better as his average jumped from 15.1 points in December to 17.5 in January to 20.7 in February to 23.0 in March.
Jackson amassed a total of 1,153 points, the second most among Alaskans in a junior college career; only former Bartlett star Doron Perkins had more (1,191) at Southwestern Oregon Community College in the early 2000s.
Switching gears to off-the-court news, Bentiu Panoam of Anchorage is moving into the front office at the University of North Dakota.
The former UND player and 2022 grad was named the school’s new Director of Operations.
“We are excited about Bentiu joining our staff,” coach Paul Sather said in a release. “Having coached him for three years, he is very familiar with our program, the university, and the community of Grand Forks. His academic background along with his experience as a student athlete at UND made him a perfect fit.”
Panoam, who has a finance degree, started 52 of 84 career games with the Fighting Hawks, a NCAA Division I team in the Summit League.
The former Bartlett High came alive in the 2020-21 season, leading the Fighting Hawks into the Summit League Tournament quarterfinals and finishing second on the team with 9.4 points per game, including a pair of 20-point outings in wins over South Dakota.
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