Basketball Africa League to tip off in Rwanda in May
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JOHANNESBURG – The Basketball Africa League will – after a year-long delay caused by the coronavirus epidemic – finally tip off in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, on May 16.
The tournament, a collaboration between the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation (Fiba) was supposed to have taken place across seven countries starting in March last year. However the Covid-19 epidemic curtailed those plans and now, instead of a continent wide tournament, all the games will take place at the Kigali Arena.
As was the case with the play-off portion of last year’s NBA season in the United States, the BAL will take place in a ‘bio bubble’ with access to the arena and hotels where teams and officials will be playing, very strictly controlled.
“We are thrilled that the inaugural Basketball Africa League season will take place at the world-class Kigali Arena”. 12 #African countries, 26 games, 1 winner. GAME ON! Learn more on https://t.co/NMZUGvgVOM@amadougallofall @NBA_Africa @NBAPR @NBA #theBAL pic.twitter.com/2EAybn6LbM— Basketball Africa League (@theBAL) March 29, 2021
The NBA last year pulled off a conclusion to its season by hosting 16 teams in a bio-secure environment at Disney World in Florida.
Rwanda has led one of the strictest covid protocols on the continent and recently has started a vaccine rollout that saw 140000 people receive a jab in one day.
“We are extremely happy to finally launch the highly anticipated first season of the BAL,” said Fiba Africa and BAL Board President Anibal Manave.
“Fiba and the NBA have been working closely together to develop protocols to address the health and safety of all players, coaches and officials. The experience of hosting the Fiba AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers in Rwanda late last year will contribute to a safe and successful inaugural BAL season.”
The BAL, which was launched during the 2019 All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2019, is one of the NBA’s most crucial development initiatives with aim of providing a platform for the emerging talent in Africa, which is one of the fastest growth regions for basketball in the world.
This year’s amended competition will tip off with an 18-game group phase with the 12 teams - divided into three groups of four. During the group phase, each team will face the three other teams in its group once. The top eight teams from the group phase will qualify for the playoffs, which will be single elimination in all three rounds.
Algeria GSP (Groupement Sportif des Pétroliers)
Angola Petro de Luanda (Clube Atlético Petroleos de Luanda)
Cameroon FAP (Forces Armées et Police Basketball)
Madagascar GNBC (Gendarmerie Nationale Basketball Club)
Mali AS Police (Association Sportive de la Police Nationale)
Morocco AS Salé (Association Sportive de Salé)
Mozambique Ferroviàrio de Maputo
Nigeria Rivers Hoopers BC (Rivers Hoopers Basketball Club)
Rwanda Patriots BC (Patriots Basketball Club)
Senegal AS Douanes (Association Sportive des Douanes)
Tunisia US Monastir (Union Sportive Monastirienne)