FIBA Africa President Anibal Manave has said that he is optimistic about the possibility of having the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) season this year.
The BAL tournament, which is a continental competition for Africa’s best basketball clubs, was scheduled to kick-off on March 13 in Dakar, Senegal, but it was postponed to a yet to be established date due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Patriots basketball, Rwanda’s representatives in the competition, belong to the Nile Conference, and were supposed to start the regular season campaign against Tunisia’s Monastir on March 20, in Monastir.
“What we have to do is to resume the BAL project in the next few months, maybe in September,” said Manave in an interview with Fiba.basketball.
“Some say that the Covid-19 pandemic could reach its peak in Africa in September, but there’s no evidence of that, and the good news is that most countries continue fighting this pandemic. Our hope is that the BAL’s first edition takes place in 2020.”
“It is important to give all stakeholders involved a sign of confidence. That includes clubs, local federations, sponsors, and the public. And the best way to give them confidence is by starting the competition,” he added.
Asked about the feasibility of the competition this year amid the coronavirus uncertainties, Manave revealed there are three possible formats to stage the tournament and one of them was to keep the BAL’s original format of the regular season across six countries and the Final Phase in Rwanda.
The second option suggests that the tournament would be played in two countries with Nile Conference taking place in one county and Sahara Conference taking place in another country, then the top four teams from each group advance to the Final Phase in Rwanda.
Whereas, the third alternative is for the highly anticipated showpiece to be played in one country over the course of two weeks, including the Final Phase.
BAL is a joint effort between the American National Basketball Association (NBA) and the world basketball governing body (Fiba). The tournament’s inaugural season this year comprises 12 clubs from 12 different African countries.
“We will try to do everything in our power to make the Basketball Africa League a reality this year. We don’t want to cancel it.”
Rwanda’s Patriots qualified for the continental competition after registering a stunning 9:0 record in the two-round qualifiers last year.Follow https://twitter.com/NkotanyiDamas