The NBA’s Basketball Africa League announced its long-awaited debut that’s to be held on 16 May 2021 in Kigali, Rwanda. It will feature several club teams from across Africa. Twenty-six of the games will take part at the Kigali Arena, and the title game will be concluded on 30 May 2021.
The Basketball Africa League was supposed to debut last March 2020 in Dakar, Senegal. However, it was postponed because of the pandemic that has plagued the world.
A Revolutionary Step for Basketball in Africa
In an emotional meeting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Dikembe Mutombo hugged him and said, “You made my dreams come true.” Mutombo, a Basketball Hall of Famer, further stated in an interview, “I was fortunate enough to play this game and dreamed of something like this happening in the continent. Today, we see that. I don’t have to explain the importance of it to myself.
“I was the first player to ask commissioner Silver to come to Africa. We were trying to find a way to grow the game on the continent. Now, the commissioner made it happen with the league. No more just going and playing a [exhibition] game. This is great.”
The Basketball Africa League is the first professional league of the NBA outside of North America.
What the Basketball Africa League Will Consist Of
BAL would be a 26-season event and will include 12 teams. They are the following:
- Algeria’s GSP (Groupement Sportif des Petroliers)
- Angola’s Petro de Luanda (Clube Atletico Petroleos de Luanda)
- Cameroon’s FAP (Forces Armees et Police Basketball)
- Egypt’s Zamalek
- Madagascar’s GNBC (Gendarmerie Nationale Basketball Club)
- Mali’s AS Police (Association Sportive de la Police Nationale)
- Morocco’s AS Sale (Association Sportive de Sale)
- Mozambique’s Ferroviàrio de Maputo
- Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers BC
- Rwanda’s Patriots BC
- Senegal’s AS Douanes (Association Sportive des Douanes)
- Tunisia’s US Monastir (Union Sportive Monastirienne)
Six teams that won the title in national leagues will compose half of the 12 teams. These are the teams in Angola, Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia. They received automatic berths. On the other hand, the six other teams had to play their way into BAL through qualifying tournaments. FIBA’s African regional office organised the tournaments back in 2019. These included Algeria, Madagascar, Mozambique, Cameroon, Mali and Rwanda.
Furthermore, they’ll be dividing the 12 teams into three, four team divisions. They will play each team in their respective group once, and the top eight teams will advance to the playoffs. It will be single elimination.
Safety Measures and Protocols Will Be Strictly In Place
In order for the season to begin, BAL will seek help from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. They will help implement strict health and safety protocols so that all the teams and personnel will be able to travel to Rwanda for the games.
According to BAL president Amadou Gallo Fall, “We are thrilled that the inaugural Basketball Africa League season will take place at the world-class Kigali Arena.
“Through the BAL, we will provide a platform for elite players from across the continent to showcase their talent and inspire fans of all ages, use basketball as an economic growth engine across Africa, and shine a light on Africa’s vibrant sporting culture.”
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