The Kilsyth Cobra Men have made a huge interior addition on the eve of the NBL1 season, signing centre Deng Riak.
A graduate of the University of Akron, Riak gives the Cobras an elite defender and rim protector, with the ability to stretch the floor offensively and finish above the rim. During his two year stint at Akron, Riak led the Zips in total rebounds (5.4rpg) and blocked shots (1.0bpg), helping the Zips record a 26-7 record and regular season conference championship during his senior season. A favourite of Akron head coach, John Groce – who describes Riak as a high character teammate who impacts winning in a variety of ways – Riak’s focus at Kilsyth is simple: play hard on both ends and help the Cobras win games.
“I’m excited be here at Kilsyth, playing for Coach Godfrey and a great group of guys that play the game the right way,” Riak said.
“The Kilsyth fans will see a guy that works hard on both ends of the floor and someone who just wants to win. I am proud to be part of the Cobra family.”
Cobras head coach is thrilled to add a versatile athlete and elite defender prior to the season tip-off, and believes Riak’s selflessness and diverse skill set will make him a perfect fit at Kilsyth.
“Deng will be a really nice fit with us for this season and beyond for sure,” Godfrey said.
“He is long, can run the floor, shoot the three, rim finish, defend and rebound. The fellas are stoked to have him join the group, and looking forward to embracing him into the Kilsyth family.”
Godfrey and Riak share a little history dating back to 2013, when Riak was finishing up his junior basketball career at Werribee while Godfrey was coaching the Cobra Under 20 Men. The pair went head-to-head once that season, with Riak leading the way for Werribee to hand Godfrey and the Cobras their only loss of the year. Godfrey still remembers the impact Riak had on his team eight years on, and now the pair will look for shared success in the 2021 NBL1 season.
“Basketball moves in mysterious ways sometimes – I coached against Deng back in 2013 and he was largely responsible for a double OT loss in an Under 20s VJBL Game,” Godfrey recalled.
“That was our only loss for the season, so that game and Deng stuck in my mind. Jump forward to last month, and Deng reached out after Afrobasket. A couple of great conversations on and here we are with Deng as a Cobra.”
After tormenting Godfrey in the junior ranks, Riak went on to finish his high school career at Victory Rock Prep in Florida, before signing at East Carolina University. After transferring to Akron to finish his collegiate career, Riak a season in Lithuania with BC Delikatesas and then competed at the FIBA Afrobasket Qualifiers as a member of the South Sudan national team.
Now settled back home, Riak is ready to make a splash with the Cobras, joining veteran Tim Lang and Jack Oćwieja to form a formidable frontcourt rotation. Riak and the Cobras make their 2021 NBL1 debut on Saturday night at home when they play host to the Waverley Falcons.
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