Dynamo’s Deing appreciates trial by fire journey to first BAL

ONE thing you cannot accuse Dhieu Deing of is a lack of effort on the court. So, it’s understandable if he thought himself to be an unlucky player since turning pro.

The South Sudanese, whose professional career began on the continent with South Africa’s Cape Town Tigers, says the journey to experiencing his first Basketball Africa League as a player has been a trial by fire.

After a year and a few months, it is finally happening for Deing, who will suit up for Dynamo BBC, a team from the humble climes of Burundi. But looking back on his journey and production, Deing surely deserved to play sooner in the BAL.

His respectable 12.3 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game, and six assists per game in the 2023 Road To BAL catapulted the Tigers to a second continental appearance. Sadly, Deing would suffer a gut punch as he never ended up featuring with the Tigers for BAL Season 3.

Dhieu Deing
Dhieu Deing has returned to South Africa to represent Dynamo at the BAL. Pictures: The BTO and FIBA

Deing, who will help lead Dynamo’s BAL Kalahari Conference campaign, felt immense disappointment at not turning out for the Tigers last year. But he has grown to appreciate the non-linear journey to the elite club tournament.

“Definitely! At that time (with the Tigers), I was disappointed. I felt like all the work I had put in had gone to waste, but everything happens for a reason. All that has led to me being here today with Dynamo,” said the 22-year-old.

Before joining Dynamo for their Kalahari Conference journey in South Africa, Deing was on the roster of Tanzanian club Pazi for their 2024 Road To BAL campaign.

That journey would end in a dispiriting manner for the point guard when Pazi did not qualify. In a twist of irony, it was Dynamo that pipped Deing’s former club to the second-spot finish in the group play of the Road To BAL’s Elite 16.

Deing explained that in Pazi’s last group game against Dynamo, his final shot attempt with seconds remaining looked a sure bet to go in, but it could only tease at the rim, and bobble out. That seemingly dashed his hopes of appearing at the BAL for another season.

“Man! Honestly, we were supposed to make it… With my shot looking like it was going in, but for it to rim out, it was just God’s plan. I was frustrated. I wondered why. But now I see why,” said Deing.

The dynamic guard did not have to sit for long in his disappointment. A call from Dynamo’s new French coach Julien Chaignot made his BAL dream come true. Deing felt that divinity was also at work for him to journey to the tiny East African nation. 

“For anybody signing for a club, you first have to look up the country. When I looked up Burundi, it was the poorest country in the world in 2023,” said Deing. “So, I feel something way bigger than me led me there. Going there was a great choice.

“I was happy (to join Dynamo). I played against these guys twice (in The Road To BAL) and knew the atmosphere their fans brought. Their style of play also impressed me, so when I got the call from the coach, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands.”

Despite the economic challenges faced by Burundi, which basketball also mirrors, Deing is unfazed. He believes the trial has given them impetus to excel at the tournament.

He explained his experience playing on the concrete turf under sometimes trying weather conditions.

“We have been preparing for seven to eight weeks outside on concrete… Practising two to three times a day. It’s been a hard grind, but I feel we need that to do well in this tournament,” said Deing. “We know we are an underdog because no other team practices outside with the sun beaming on them. I think that gives us a lot more fuel.”

Dhieu Deing fell short with Tanzania’s Pazi at the Road To BAL’s Elite 16.

Deing has also been pleased with his French coach and his new teammates.

“The coach is the type that does his homework on the players he has. He puts everybody in the right position and everyone is on the same page defensively,” said Deing. “We have a player like (Israel) Otobo, a great asset with rebounds, defence and scoring. Guibert (Nijimbere) will give us great spark plug minutes when he comes off the bench. 

Dynamo must be on point in all facets of the game when they play Cape Town Tigers on the Kalahari Conference’s opening night (Saturday), FUS Rabat and Petro de Luanda in the expanded BAL.

And Deing is itching with excitement to have finally reached the pinnacle in African club basketball.

“I can’t wait to experience the BAL and showcasing our talent. That is what we are looking for… To show the world what we can do,” said Deing.

He will not have to wait long for the moment that seemed elusive. Come Saturday, the stage will be set for Africa to witness Deing show up and show out.

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