The All Star Weekend held a pleasant surprise for basketball lovers in Africa even though Nigerian born Giannis Antetokounmpo was unable to defeat Lebron James’ team at the NBA All Star exhibition game. On Saturday, basketball in Africa was spotlighted and given more life when the association announced that they would be going pro in Africa next year when they launch “The Basketball Africa League (BAL)” in collaboration with FIBA, the sport’s global governing body.
Just as the league’s global impact spreads to Africa, African players have also made their impacts felt with Akeem Olajuwon imprinting his name in the league’s hall of fame and others like Serge Ibaka and Victor Oladipo heading in a similar direction. African fans have also benefited from the league in the past through the building of several training camps and an elite NBA Academy centre in Saly, Senegal. The league’s investments in Africa has helped provide opportunities for young African talents to be discovered by international scouts and drafted into the NBA. However, the launching of The Basketball Africa League (BAL) is going to help the continent even more as it is expected to strengthening the local teams as well as bring investments into sports in Africa.
No new team or franchises is expected to be created for the BAL, leaving room for already established African basketball clubs to build their fan bases and develop their talents for the more competitive regional league. The association shared the plans for a 12-team league that would feature teams from 9 countries including Angola, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia and Morocco. No more than two teams are allowed to represent each country and though it’s still unclear what teams will feature, a qualification tournament has been scheduled for later this year.
BAL is expected to tip off in January, 2020 and according to an NBA respondent on their website, several NBA team owners have expressed interest to work with the league in Africa. Brands like Pepsi and Nike’s Jordan brand have also reported reached out to be part of the league while former US president, Barack Obama has been lauded for the significant role he played in bringing the African league into reality.
You can watch the inspiring video for BAL’s announcement below.
— NBA (@NBA) February 16, 2019
Featured Image Credits: Twitter/NBA
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