The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) have announced plans to launch a professional basketball league for Africa called, Basketball Africa League.
The 12-team league, is expected open in January 2020.
NBA and @FIBA announce their plan to launch the Basketball Africa League (BAL), a new professional league featuring 12 club teams from across Africa. @NBA_Africa #NBAAllStar https://t.co/mhnp0bgNX4 pic.twitter.com/S5NjSf4ksP— NBA (@NBA) February 16, 2019
Though the teams that will take part in the league are not known yet, a qualification tournament is set to be held this year to determine those clubs, with teams from Rwanda, Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia expected to be among those taking part.
No nation will have more than two teams in the league.
“As we’ve been talking about this concept over the last several months, there’s been a tremendous reception from several of our NBA team owners. Several of our partners have also expressed an interest to work with us in Africa.” Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA announced on the eve of the NBA All-Star Game.
The NBA has for the last few years aided in starting some basketball projects such as Basketball Without Borders, Giants of Africa and several academies.
President Kagame conducts a drill at the launch of the Giants of Africa basketball camp for the Rwandan youngsters at Petit Stade Remera last year.
In August 2018, President Kagame joined Adam Silver and Masai Ujiri, the President of NBA’s Toronto Raptors as they opened the 2018 edition of Giants of Africa training camp at Amahoro indoor stadium.
“You don’t become giants anyhow. Invest your energy, time, thinking and passion into it and you will end up being giants. We continue to encourage you to be what you want to be, among other things including basketball players.” President Kagame told 50 young players that were attending the training camp.
The Giants of Africa project is an initiative that seeks to provide African youth access to professional basketball training and to empower them to achieve their full potential. It was founded by Masai Ujiri.
Rwanda Development Board's Deputy CEO, Emmanuel Hategeka attended the event to launch the Basketball Africa League in Charlotte, North Carolina.
NBA VP & Managing Director for Africa, Amadou Gallo Fall, @hornets Chairman Michael Jordan and @NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum at the announcement of the Basketball Africa League at the annual #NBAAllStar Africa Luncheon in Charlotte, NC! pic.twitter.com/3s4LLxfYcn— NBA Africa (@NBA_Africa) February 16, 2019
Apart from Silver and Hategeka, the luncheon to make the announcement of the Basketball Africa league was also attended by FIBA secretary-general Andreas Zagklis, FIBA Africa President Hamane Niang, Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan, Toronto Raptors chairman Larry Tanenbaum, National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts and NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum.
There are currently 13 African players in the NBA.