Playoffs phase of the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) set to commence

From May 26 to May 30

On May 16, the inaugural edition of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) commenced at the Kigali Arena in Rwanda. The BAL, organised via joint partnership between the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA), is a professional league featuring twelve club teams from across Africa. This debut edition was initially slated to commence in early 2020 and take place across seven countries, but due to the restrictive effect of the coronavirus pandemic, it was indefinitely pushed back and is currently being held at a single site in order to provide the best opportunity for a safe and successful competition.


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Teams for this year’s BAL are a mixture of national champions from six countries (Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia), and clubs that won spots during qualifying tournaments held by FIBA in late 2019. Each of the twelve teams are allowed a roster of up to 13 players (12 active and 1 inactive), at least nine of whom are citizens in their respective team’s home country and up to four of whom are from other countries, with no more than two players per team from outside of Africa.

These stipulations are meant to encourage the use of home-grown and home-based talents, even though clubs are allowed to import a limited amount of players from anywhere in the world. The BAL 2021 cumulative roster includes 9 players who’ve played in the NBA G-League, 20 former Basketball without Borders Africa campers, and 21 players with U.S. NCAA Division 1 experience. American rap superstar J. Cole made his highly publicised professional basketball debut for Rwanda’s Patriots Basketball Club on the opening, as one of the club’s non-African signees alongside Brandon Costner.

In an interview with ESPN Africa, AS Sale guard Terrell Stoglin—who became the first player to score 40 points in a BAL game—deemed J. Cole’s presence at BAL as disrespectful to other players who have worked hard for a chance at (re)starting their professional careers. Haydee Ndayishimiye, Patriots’ chief operations officer, is adamant that Cole, who has scored 5 points across 3 games so far, is on the team for purely basketball reasons.


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On Sunday, May 23, the group phase of the league ended. The teams were initially split into three groups of four clubs, with each playing those in their groups for a spot in the playoffs phase of the league. Comprising the best eight performing teams of the group phase, the quarter-finals of the playoffs are set to begin on Wednesday, May 26. Teams who exited the league after the group phase include GS Petroliers (Algeria), Gendarmerie Nationale Basketball Club (Madagscar), Rivers Hoopers (Nigeria), and AS Police (Mali).

Here’s the quarter-final schedule for BAL 2020:

Forces Armees et Basketball (Cameroon) vs Zamalek (Egypt) – Wednesday, 3:30pm GMT

A.S. Sale (Morocco) vs Atletico Petroleos de Luanda (Angola) – Wednesday, 7pm GMT

A.S. Douanes (Senegal) vs Us Monastir (Tunisia) – Thursday, 3:30PM GMT

Ferroviario de Maputo (Mozambique) vs Patriots B.B.C (Rwanda) – Thursday, 7pm GMT

Winners of the single eliminations games on the same day advance to the semi-finals, which will be played on Saturday, May 29, at 12pm GMT and 3:30pm. Third place and finals game will take place on Sunday, May 30, at 10:30am GMT and 2pm GMT, respectively. As with the group phase, all games will be streamed live on the official BAL websites, and viewers across the world will also be able to watch on 19 broadcast partners.

@dennisadepeter is a staff writer at the NATIVE.