The inaugural season of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) has been postponed due to the coronavirus epidemic.
The tip off game was scheduled to take place in Dakar, Senegal, on March 13, where two cases of the virus have so far been confirmed. This makes it the third case in Sub-Saharan Africa after Nigeria confirmed its first case on February 28.
“Following the recommendation of the Senegalese government regarding the escalating health concerns related to the coronavirus, the BAL’s inaugural season will be postponed,” BAL President, Amadou Gallo Fall, said in a statement.
“I am disappointed we are not able to tip off this historic league as scheduled but look forward to the highly-anticipated launch of the BAL at a later date.”
The first recorded case of coronavirus in Africa was confirmed by Egypt on February 15. Since then, there have been six reported cases of the virus in six other countries including Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco.
Coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, began in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has since been spreading fast across the world. New cases have been reported in the Middle East, Europe and other parts of the world.
The BAL is a new professional league featuring 12 club teams from across Africa, with the inaugural regular season taking place in Cairo (Egypt), Dakar (Senegal), Lagos (Nigeria), Luanda (Angola), Rabat (Morocco), Monastir (Tunisia) and Kigali (Rwanda).
According to the NBA: “The six cities will host a regular season that will feature 12 teams divided into two conferences, with each conference playing in three cities. The regular season will see the 12 teams play five games each for a total of 30 games, with the top three teams in each conference qualifying for the playoffs.
“The six playoff teams – the “Super 6” – will play in a round-robin format to determine the four teams that will advance to the BAL Final Four and BAL Final in Kigali, Rwanda in late spring 2020. The BAL Final Four and BAL Final will be single-elimination games.”
“The establishment of the Basketball Africa League is another exciting milestone for the NBA in Africa,” Fall said during the launch of BAL in February last year.
“Having a top-flight professional basketball league in Africa will provide a platform for elite players to showcase their talent and inspire more young boys and girls to play the game.”