With the aim of nurturing more talent and expanding the game in Africa, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) announced plans early this year to launch the Basketball Africa League (BAL).
The competition, which is set to commence in March 2020 will consist of twelve teams from countries across the continent. As the D-day nears, BAL, on Tuesday announced the 7 host cities for the inaugural edition of the competition, the NBA said in a statement.
The cities include Cairo (Egypt), Dakar (Senegal), Lagos (Nigeria), Luanda (Angola), Rabat (Morocco), either Monastir or Tunis (Tunisia) as well as Kigali (Rwanda), which will serve as the venue for the BAL Final Four and BAL Final.
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The 10,000 seater Kigali Arena, which was recently opened and is one of Africa’s largest indoor stadia will also host the 2019 FIBA Africa Under-16 Championship for girls in August as well as the 2021 FIBA Africa Basketball Championships.
BAL also confirmed Nike and Jordan Brand as the kit sponsors of the inaugural league.
The announcement was made by BAL President Amadou Gallo Fall at a reception at the Musée des Civilisations Noires in Dakar. The event was also attended by the FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis, FIBA Africa Executive Director Alphonse Bilé, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum as well as current and former NBA and WNBA players.
“Today’s announcements mark another important milestone as we head into what will be a historic first season for the Basketball Africa League,” Fall said. “We now have seven great host cities where we will play and our first partnership with a world-class outfitter. We thank our first partners NIKE and Jordan Brand for supporting us on this journey and ensuring our teams have the best uniforms and oncourt products.”
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 announcement of the host cities comes after the BAL was announced in February this year.
“The establishment of the Basketball Africa League is another exciting milestone for the NBA in Africa,” Fall said during the February launch. “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.”
Barack Obama, who is an avid basketball fan, also welcomed the February announcement. Reports indicate the former U.S. president is likely to have a role in the new league.
“I’ve always loved basketball because it’s about building a team that’s equal to more than the sum of its parts. Glad to see this expansion into Africa because for a rising continent, this can be about a lot more than what happens on the court,” he tweeted.