The NBA’s Basketball Africa League is slated to open its inaugural, 14-day season on May 16 in Kigali, Rwanda.
The league will feature a dozen club teams from across Africa, with all 26 games being held at Kigali Arena in Rwanda and concluding with the title game on May 30.
The BAL was initially expected to debut in March 2020 in Dakar, Senegal, but was ultimately postponed due to the worldwide pandemic caused by the coronavirus.
The 12 teams are 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) and Tunisia’s US Monastir (Union Sportive Monastirienne).
The six teams that won the title in national leagues in Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia received automatic berths in the BAL. The six other teams — one apiece from Algeria, Cameroon, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and Rwanda — had to play their way into the league through qualifying tournaments organized by FIBA’s African regional office in 2019.
The 26-game season will consist of the 12 teams split into three, four-team divisions. Teams will play each team in its respective group once, with the top eight teams from group play advancing to the playoffs, which will be single elimination.
The BAL will seek the advice of the the World Health Organization and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to implement strict health and safety protocols for the 12 teams and personnel traveling to Rwanda. The BAL, which is the NBA’s first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America, is a partnership between the NBA and the International Basketball Federation.
“We are thrilled that the inaugural Basketball Africa League season will take place at the world-class Kigali Arena,” BAL president Amadou Gallo Fall told said in a statement. “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.”
–Field Level Media