Opponents consider him a terrifying defender, teammates praise his presence on and off the court, but what Ater Majok really wants, is to do better than he did in the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) season.
Last year, Majok’s US Monastir reached the BAL final undefeated in five games and looked set to extend their winning streak and take the BAL trophy home.
The 6-foot-11 center was doing great on both ends of the floor, and US Monastir were favourite to win it all.
However, against the odds, the Tunisian champions stumbled in what would have been a historic moment for Majok and US Monastir.
Uncharacteristically, the star-studded US Monastir struggled to cope with a fast-paced and calculating Zamalek team, who closed the Championship Game with a 76-63 triumph.
“That’s not a good feeling,” Majok said in an exclusive interview with the bal.nba.com.
When US Monastir reached out to Major for a second chance of featuring in the BAL, the man who plays internationally for Lebanon, accepted the offer with open arms.
The mission, he said, is to correct the wrongs and do better this time round.
“That’s what I am fighting for,” he emphasised.
And a close look into his numbers in the BAL second season suggests that the former Los Angeles Lakers player is a on mission.
With five games in the BAL Sahara Conference that took place in Dakar in March, Majok registers the second highest two-point percentage (65.4) – only second to Zamalek’s center Anas Mahmoud (71 percent).
He currently leads the league in second-chance points (28) and ranks first in rebounds with an average of 13.2 boards per game.
Arguably the most impactful US Monastir player in the Sahara Conference, Majok recorded a team-high of 33 minutes per game while registering a team-high of 15 points per game.
In the process, US Monastir head to the BAL playoffs with a 4-1 record.
The Tunisian champions will take on Cape Town Tigers in the BAL quarterfinals on May 15 in Kigali, the stage of the playoffs.
“We refuse to go home. As a team we are going to fight for every little inch that we got. We got our fighters for you to beat us, you need to be better than us,” Majok stressed.
“If you fight with us, we’ll give whatever we got in the tank.”
When asked to elaborate on the feeling of returning to Kigali where his US Monastir team tasted an unexpected defeat to Zamalek last year, Majok replied: “The feeling of the trip going back to Kigali, after losing last year, I don’t want that anymore. That’s not a good feeling.”
“Besides, the people of Monastir, and where I am from, South Sudan, I want to take that trophy on their honor,” vowed Majok, who traces his roosts in South Sudan although he was raised in Australia.