For Africa’s basketball fans, the African NBA is finally becoming a reality.
Rabat – Morocco’s 2019 basketball champions AS Sale will feature in the NBA’s inaugural season in Africa, set to start on May 16. The NBA will launch its first international league outside of North America in May with the start of the NBA’s Basketball Africa League (BAL).
In exciting news for basketball fans across the continent the tournament will pit the top 12 African teams against each other in the first international NBA competition.
Hosted in Kigali, Rwanda, the teams will participate in a two-week season that will see 26 games across three divisions and an 8-team playoff.
AS Sale automatically qualified for the league by winning the 2019 Moroccan league. AS Sale joins other league winners including Angola’s Petro de Luanda, Egypt’s Zamalek, Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers B, Senegal’s AS Douanes, and Tunisia’s US Monastir.
NBA superstar Point Guard Chris Paul called the league “an opportunity to change people’s lives” in a BAL promotional video.
Besides the six automatically qualified teams for the NBA season, six others have played in qualifying tournaments organized by the African office of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). The remaining six teams that will join the national league winners are Algeria’s GSP, Cameroon’s FAP, Madagascar’s GNBC, Mali’s AS Police, Mozambique’s Ferrovirio de Maputo, and Patriots BC from the host country Rwanda.
The NBA’s African league was originally set to launch in March 2020 but was postponed because of the COVID-19 crisis. This year however FIBA and the NBA are working with the WHO and the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure the respect of safety and health protocols.
“We are thrilled that the inaugural Basketball Africa League season will take place at the world-class Kigali Arena,” BAL President Amadou Gallo said in a statement.
The Twitter account for the African NBA league termed the event “the next evolution of the game” and called on African basketball fans to “witness history in the first ever Basketball Africa League, right here on home soil.”