Today, Basketball Africa League, also known as the BAL, announced that tip off for the league’s inaugural season is set for Sunday, May 16 at Kigali Arena in Kigali, Rwanda. Twelve teams from across Africa, including champions from the national leagues in Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia, as well as Algeria, Cameroon, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and Rwanda who qualified through BAL qualifying tournaments conducted by FIBA Regional Office Africa, are set to compete with the finals set to take place on Sunday, May 30.
The adjusted schedule will include 26 games, beginning with an 18-game group phase. The top eight teams will qualify for the playoffs, a three round, single elimination tournament.
“We are thrilled that the inaugural Basketball Africa League season will take place at the world-class Kigali Arena,” said BAL President Amadou Gallo Fall. “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.”
The league was originally scheduled to begin play in March 2020, but those plans were shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to FIBA Africa and BAL Board President Anibal Manave, health protocols are being put in place to keep all personnel safe.
“We are extremely happy to finally launch the highly anticipated first season of the BAL,” said 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 NBA and FIBA first announced plans for the new league on February 16, 2019. Then in August 2020, long-time banking executive Victor Williams was named the CEO of NBA Africa.
See below for a full list of the participating teams.