The way the game brings everybody from all backgrounds together – once you are on the court it does not matter where you come from, we are all the same and our only goal is to win.Duop Reath
The love and passion for the game is pure and simple for South Sudanese Australian centre Duop Reath.
At 9, he and his family migrated to Perth, Australia in 2005 due to civil war in his birth nation of Sudan. Now 22 and mastering his craft in the Serbian league for KK FMP Belgrade, Reath is a dedicated team player, uncomplicated but tactical, and is everything you look for in a player. He describes his personality as honest, dedicated and resilient when speaking to The Pick and Roll. Once he hits the court, however the Jekyll side of Hyde is revealed.
A late starter to the game, Reath first played in high school, where his passion was ignited in the ninth grade. He would go on to play in the US with Lee College in Baytown, Texas for his freshman and sophomore seasons (2014-2016) before transferring to the LSU Tigers (2016-2018), averaging 12.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game in his senior year.
After college, Reath went unselected in the 2018 NBA draft, but experienced the NBA Summer League with the Dallas Mavericks. His ability had been noticed, and on August 1 2018, he signed a three-year contract with FMP in Serbia, the same team that helped launch the NBA career of fellow Australian Jonah Bolden, now with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Reath explained the different experiences he faces in transitioning from college to a professional career, in a country where English is a second language.
“It has been really great as I had a lot of people in my corner who let me know what to expect in Serbia as well as throughout my professional career and future,” outlined Reath.
“From when I started playing and throughout college along the way, I have been preparing for this moment to be a professional athlete.
“The Serbian league is a top-level one filled with very skilled players which has really helped me with my development. The language barrier was a little difficult, and probably the only hard bit, but I’ve been able to adjust to it.”
In watching him play, fans could comment that his form has really lifted of late, something which is both great for not only Reath, but creates future opportunities to see more Australian stars throughout international leagues. He is averaging 8.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game for FMP who are currently sitting in seventh position in the ABA Liga, and more importantly for Reath, recently registered a new career high of 19 points in a narrow loss to fourth placed Cedevita.
Reath attributed to his improved recent form through having adjusted to his new environment.
“I feel it took me a little while to adjust to the league and the European style of basketball coming from an American style. It took a little while, but it feels good knowing I can really play both styles well.
“My role in the team has really stayed the same but I have become a lot more comfortable with everything like the offense and knowing where I can get my shots off.
“Doing the little things I feel really helps my team – playing defence and making shots when I have to or can. Whatever I can do to help my team win I’ll do and improving along the way.”
For Reath, who very much places family at the centre of his life, the impact of playing away from Australia and his friends and family back home has hit hard.
“I really miss my family back home and my brother, who is in America. I keep in touch with them regularly and know that they are really supporting me 100%. It feels good knowing that they do that wherever I go.”
Playing in the Serbian league has provided the athletic big man the opportunity to play against Australian Boomers star centre Jock Landale, who has been starring at rival club Partizan Belgrade. Reath admires what Landale brought to the league and was doing for Australian basketball internationally.
“Jock has been playing really well in this league and dominating it in all kinds of ways. I feel he is going to be a really good player into the future.”
With plenty of time left to run in his own career, there is so much more to in store for Reath who is only just starting out. When it comes to the future, Reath’s motivation and goals continue to remain the same.
“I want to always be playing at the highest level possible – that’s it.”