Basketball Africa league teams and colours announced
JOHANNESBURG – The full list of 12 teams to participate in the inaugural Basketball Africa League were announced at a luncheon in Chicago on Saturday.
The Basketball African League, which has the full backing of the National Basketball Association, will start on March 13 in Senegal, and is widely viewed as a vehicle that will grow the game even more across the continent and provide more exposure for players look to make it in the lucrative NBA.
The champions from national leagues in six countries – Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia – were guaranteed representation in the inaugural BAL season. The remaining six teams, from Algeria, Cameroon, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and Rwanda, secured their participation through the BAL qualifying tournaments conducted by the International Basketball Federation last year.
“This is a historic moment as we welcome the 12 teams that will participate in our inaugural season,” BAL President Amadou Gallo Fall told an audience that included NBA commissioner Adam Silver in Chicago. The ‘Windy City,’ is hosting this weekend’s All Star festivities which will culminate in the All Star game that will take place at the United Centre on Sunday night. “These teams have earned the opportunity to represent their respective countries and will establish the BAL as a world-class product that entertains fans of all ages when the season tips off March 13.”
The BAL has secured the backing of sports brand Nike, which through it’s well known Jordan division will kit out all the teams (including training gear) in Jordan Brand clothing.
The launch of the BAL coincides with a period when African players are increasingly growing in influence in the NBA. Giannis Antetokounmpo, the NBA’s most valuable player last season, is captaining one of the All Star teams on Sunday against Lebron James. Although Antetoknounmpo represents Greece on the international stage, he is very attached to his Nigerian roots - his parent were refugees from that country - and he named Pascal Siakam and Joel Embiid - both from Cameroon - in the starting line-up of his team. Masai Ujiri, born in Nigeria, is widely viewed as on of the NBA’s top administrators and was instrumental in building the NBA’s current champions the Toronto Raptors.
“That league is going to be a big thing for us,” Siakam said. “It’s definitely the next step. It’s something that we as a continent should be proud and it shows that the world is recognising our talent. We have to continue to bring that awareness to the game.”
Nigerian Point guard, Josh Okogie, who plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves believes basketball in Africa is on the brink of taking a major step forward that will be helped by the establishment of the BAL. “There are a lot of players over there are capable of playing in the NBA,” said Okogie. “People look at Africa and they only see athleticism and not really good basketball play. Our job this year is to prove that we are more than just athletes, that we can play, compete and potentially win an Olympic medal.”
12 teams. 7️⃣ game locations. 1️⃣ league. pic.twitter.com/AK0iJppcWr— Basketball Africa League (@theBAL) February 15, 2020
The inaugural regular season of the BAL will take place in Cairo, Dakar, Lagos, Luanda, Monastir (Tunisia) and Salé (Morocco). The Rwandan capital Kigali (Rwanda) will host the first-ever BAL Playoffs and Finals at its glittering new indoor arena later this year.