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NBA Africa, Sports

Basketball Africa League: A Passage for Africans to the NBA

The emergence of the Basketball Africa League has helped craft a path for local players to make the jump to the American National Basketball Association.

  • Toyosi Afolayan
  • 16th February 2023
Basket Africa League: A passage for Africans to the NBA

Aspiring Pro-African basketball players who wanted to play professional basketball, just like the American National Basketball Association (NBA) stars on TV, know how difficult it is to have the chance to show off their skills abroad. Growing local talent has always been significantly hampered by the absence of very lucrative professional leagues at both the national and regional levels. The Basketball Africa League (BAL), an African continental professional basketball league created through a collaboration between the American National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), is altering all of that.


The Basketball Africa League, which was established in February 2019 in Dakar, Senegal, successfully began play in Kigali, Rwanda, in May 2021, during the COVID-19 epidemic. Dakar and Cairo co-hosted the second season’s events, while Kigali hosted the season’s final contest. The first season was won by the Egyptian team Zamalek, and the second by US Monastir of Tunisia.


Twelve club teams from all over the continent are now participating in this league, the first of its kind in Africa. In order to get teams to compete in each season, it organizes qualifying rounds. Basketball associations in participating African nations have the opportunity to submit their country’s top basketball club to the qualifying competition. The finals feature the 12 teams from the qualifying stage.


The women’s league hasn’t started yet, but there are plans to do so soon. There are, however, initiatives aimed at female coaches, individuals in positions of power in the sports industry, and young girls learning the game of basketball at basketball academies (e.g. Junior NBA in Africa and other academies that partner with BAL).


NBA TV, ESPN+, and Voice of America are among the league’s US television partners that show the matches in Africa. Scouts from American teams attend the championship games. An opportunity to show off their skills in the NBA Summer League in the US gives talented African athletes a chance to sign a contract.


Young basketball players on the continent now have the chance to pursue professional careers by participating in the Basketball Africa League and using its platforms to compete on a global scale. For instance, Zamalek Anas Mahmoud of Egypt was the first player to be given a position on the roster of the Toronto Raptors for the NBA Summer League 2021.


The Milwaukee Bucks selected Evans Ganapamo (of the Central African Republic), a Season 2 Cape Town Tigers BAL player, in the first round of the NBA Summer League 2022 selection. However, neither player was able to secure a berth on the NBA team’s final roster. They’ll participate in the BAL one more time and try out the following year.


Additionally, two head coaches from BAL Season 2 were invited to serve as assistant coaches in the NBA Summer League in 2022. In the 2022 Summer League, Emmanuel Mavomo, who coached Espoir Fukash from the DRC, worked with the Toronto Raptors, while Francois Enyegue, who led the Forces Armees et Police (FAP) club from Cameroon, coached with the Milwaukee Bucks. Jean Sauveur Ruhamiriza, a BAL official from Rwanda, also officiated in the 2022 NBA Summer League.


The 2023 edition will be the third season of the Basketball Africa League. The season will begin on March 11, 2023 and end on May 27, 2023, with the final in the BK Arena in Kigali, which hosts the finals for a third season in a row. In line with the previous season, the regular season is played in both Dakar, Senegal and Cairo, Egypt.

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