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NBA Africa, Sports

NBBF Tasked to Restructure League Ahead of Potential BAL Bid

if we can have our arena first, we can now go into the conversation of hosting one – Queen John-Moseph

  • Toyosi Afolayan
  • 24th March 2023

The growth of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) has been quite impressive since its inception in 2019. The league was created through a partnership between the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the aim of providing a platform for the best basketball talent in Africa to showcase their skills and to promote the growth of the sport on the continent.


Some of the key factors contributing to the growth of the BAL include:



The league has received significant investment from the NBA and other partners, which has enabled it to build world-class facilities, attract top talent, and create a sustainable business model.



The BAL has forged partnerships with various organizations governments across Africa, which has helped to raise awareness of the league and promote basketball at the grassroots level.


Talent development:

The league has focused on developing the skills of young players through initiatives such as the Jr. NBA program and the BAL Skills Camp, which have helped to identify and nurture talent across the continent.


Media coverage:

The BAL has received extensive media coverage both locally and internationally, which has helped to increase its visibility and attract new fans to the sport.


Fan engagement:

The league has placed a strong emphasis on fan engagement through initiatives such as the BAL Fan Fest, which has helped to create a sense of community and excitement around the league.


Overall, the BAL has made significant strides in its goal of promoting basketball in Africa and providing a platform for African talent to showcase their skills on a global stage. With continued investment and support, the league has the potential to become one of the premier basketball leagues in the world.


Hosts and winners of each edition of the BAL:


The 2021 BAL (Basketball Africa League) was won by Zamalek of Egypt. They defeated US Monastir of Tunisia in the championship game held on May 30, 2021, with a score of 76-63. This inaugural season of the BAL was held in Kigali, Rwanda, and featured 12 teams from across Africa.


The second season began on 2 March, 2022 and ended with the Finals on 28 May, 2022. The group phase was played in the Dakar Arena in Dakar and the Hassan Moustafa Sports Hall in Cairo. The playoffs and finals were played in the BK Arena in Kigali for a second year in a row.


Tunisian club US Monastir won the finals to win its first-ever BAL title, after defeating Angolan club Petro de Luanda in the 2022 BAL Finals. As winners, Monastir qualified for the 2023 FIBA Intercontinental Cup.


In a conversation with BOUNCE, Queen John-Moseph who is a Basketball enthusiast and the Media Manager of Rivers Hoopers, stated that Nigeria has to restructure her domestic league before considering a bid to host the rest of Africa, as it’d be a shame to host an international tournament without having a functional league.


“We need to put our house in order. Yes, we now have a federation, which is good. We don’t have that in house fight  anymore or having two federations or factions, now we have one and the ministry has backed one which is the Musa Kids led faction.


“We need to get to work. And how do we get to work ? We need structure and find ways to have our league back, not a week tournament or a tournament just to qualify for the BAL. A league where the players get to play regularly because we need to increase the level we are right now.



“If we don’t increase our level we cannot compete favorably with teams from the rest of Africa. I’m not surprised the Kwara Falcons turned out the way they did, this is their debut season.


“You’ll want to compare the level of our Basketball and the talents that we have in Nigeria with Rwanda, and you will be shocked that an East African team is beating a Nigerian team.


“Their level is not up to ours, but because they have a functional league and also the recruitment that they did coupled with the coach that has got them the job done and they played out the way they wanted. 


“It was like we were not ready to play, just airballs and turnovers. So we need to get back to having a well structured league and then increase the level of our Basketball because the talent is there.”


Queen, who is currently in Dakar watching the BAL 2023 went further to lament on the lack of world class facilities in Nigeria and reiterated that Nigeria will only win a bid to host the Basketball Africa League if they get facilities like that of Dakar and Rwanda.


“The major one aside from doing all of these, having an arena. One would want to count the amount of arenas that we have or let me just say a similar Arena to that we have in Dakar.

“The only Arena that is better than Dakar Arena is the Kigali Arena or the BK Arena, because it was recently changed to BK Arena last year. The Dakar Arena was built in 2019 and in six months, the BK Arena was built. It was just a template for it and an upgrade because I’ve been to the BK Arena they’ve similarities and I’ve seen the Arena they improved on. So let’s have an arena first.


“Do we have the resources ? We definitely have the resources but do we have that idea that we have ? Everyone has been saying “We need to have an Arena”. The national stadium has been there for how many years and yes is not a facility that can host an international game to an international standard. 


“The last time we hosted an international tournament was the World Cup Qualifiers in 2018 when we were preparing for the 2019 FIBA World Cup. There was a little refurbishment of the national stadium but it was not complete. So for us to host the BAL we need an Arena, I’m not talking about the National Stadium or Teslim Balogun Stadium. We need an Arena and that’d be enough to host these kinds of tournaments.

“You know the pedigree of Nigeria and a whole lot is expected of us when it comes to Basketball. There’s no way we can host a BAL Tournament or even have conferences, not even talk about the finals and I hear talks are even ongoing with South Africa if something like this can be hosted because they already have the facility; wether in Cape Town, Johannesburg they do have it.”


“But for us we can’t even boast of one, so if we can have our arena first, we can now go into the conversation of hosting one. And the BAL will love it because they know that the fans in Nigeria love the game, if football is taken out, the next team sport in Nigeria is basketball.”


On 1 August 2019, the NBA announced the seven host cities for the regular season. Six cities in six countries (Nigeria, Egypt, Senegal, Angola, Morocco, Tunisia) would host the regular season games, with three assigned to each conference. The Kigali Arena in Kigali, Rwanda was announced as the venue for the inaugural Final Four. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, it was later decided that the entire event was to be played at the Kigali Arena.


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