BAL Qualifiers: Rwanda to host final round games

Patriots captain Aristide Mugabe (#88) and his teammates will be looking to make the most of home advantage during the tournament next month. The inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) tips off in March 2020. Sam Ngendahimana.

Rwanda has been confirmed as one of the only two countries to host games of the second round of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) qualifiers.

Désiré Mugwiza, the president of Rwanda Basketball Federation (Ferwaba), confirmed Thursday afternoon in a press conference ahead of the BK All-Star Game on Friday.

 

The second – and final – round of qualifiers for the highly anticipated inaugural BAL season, which gets underway early 2020, will take place from November 26 through December 1.

 

In the decisive round of the road to the BAL finals tournament, the 16 teams – also known as ‘Elite 16’ – will be put under two groups of eight; with the best six teams automatically joining champion clubs from Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia to complete the BAL 2020 regular season’s lineup of 12 teams.

 

While the draws for the second round are yet to take place, Rwanda will host one group while the other group will have their games held in Cameroon.

Ferwaba applied to host the second round games a fortnight ago after Rwandan champions Patriots finished top of Group D in the first round qualifiers in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

“We are thankful to FIBA for choosing Rwanda,” Mugwiza said as he announced Rwanda’s bid win at Kigali Arena. “This is an important vote of confidence in our ability and reputation as a country to successfully host international events.”

Basketball Africa League is a product of joint effort between FIBA, the international basketball governing body, and NBA. The continental showpiece will mark NBA’s first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America.

Mugwiza added: “We have all it takes – facilities, skills and equipment – to organise a memorable competition. Also, hosting means an advantage to Patriots and we believe they will make the most of home advantage to secure their BAL ticket.”

During the first round, Patriots marched into the upcoming second round after tormenting their Group D rivals to finish with a perfect 4:0 win ratio. The group also included Ugandan giants City Oilers, whom they beat 74-63 in the final game, Tanzania’s JKT, Dynamo from Burundi and Hawassa of Ethiopia.

Winning the hosting rights for the second round of qualifies comes as an icing on the cake after Rwanda – since the completion of Kigali Arena in June – has already won bids to host the BAL semi-finals and the final, as well as the 2021 African Basketball Championships.

BAL tips off in March 2020.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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