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Inaugural Basketball Africa League to tip off May 16 in Kigali, Rwanda

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The inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) will tip off on May 16 at the Kigali Arena in Kigali, Rwanda, with 12 teams from across Africa competing in the new professional league, the organisers have announced.

According to a statement sent to The Guardian, the BAL, a partnership between the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA), builds on the foundation of club competitions FIBA regional office Africa has organized on the continent and marks the NBA’s first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America.

The first BAL Finals will be held on May 30.

According to the organisers, the BAL will implement robust health and safety protocols for the 12 teams and personnel traveling to Rwanda, based on guidance from the World Health Organization and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, with advice from public health officials and medical experts.

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BAL president, Amadou Gallo Fall, said, “We are thrilled that the inaugural Basketball Africa League season will take place at the world-class Kigali Arena.

“Through the BAL, we will provide a platform for elite players from across the continent to showcase their talent and inspire fans of all ages, use basketball as an economic growth engine across Africa, and shine a light on Africa’s vibrant sporting culture.”

Also speaking on the league, BAL Board President, Anibal Manave, said, “We are extremely happy to finally launch the highly anticipated first season of the BAL.

“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 organisers said the inaugural season would feature 26 games at the Kigali Arena, adding that it would 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,” it said.

The 12 teams for the inaugural season are Groupement Sportif des Pétroliers (GSP) of Algeria, Petro de Luanda of Angola, Forces Armees et Police Basketball of Cameroun, Zamalek of Egypt, Gendarmerie Nationale Basketball Club  (GNBC) of Madagascar, AS Police of Mali and Association Sportive de Salé (AS Sale) of Morocco.

Others are Ferroviàrio de Maputo of Mozambique, Rivers Hoopers of Nigeria, Patriots BC of Rwanda, AS Douanes of Senegal, and US Monastir of Tunisia.

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