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NBA Makes Historic Move Into Africa

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There is good news for NBA fans in Africa. The NBA is coming to Africa. Not quite literally though. The NBA is backing an African basketball league, and the host cities have been announced. The new league, known as the Basketball Africa League (BAL), will be hosted in seven cities across the countries.

The host cities include Tunis or Monastir in Tunisia, Rabat in Morocco, Luanda in Angola, Lagos in Nigeria, Dakar in Senegal, and Cairo in Egypt. Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, will host the finals of the league.

The announcement of host cities was made in Dakar, Senegal, by BAL president Amadou Gallo Fall. Also present during the event were NBA commissioner Adam Silver and his deputy Mark Tatum. Others present include FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis and FIBA Africa Executive Director Alphonse Bile. Some former and current NBA and WNBA players also graced the occasion.

Basketball Africa League

There is basketball talent in Africa, as evidenced by successful NBA players and executives from Africa. The 2019 NBA champions, Toronto Raptors, were led by an African Team president, Masai Ujiri. Ujiri, a Nigerian, is the president of basketball operations for the Toronto Raptors.

BAL is a proposed 12-team league set to start in 2020. The league is a joint effort between FIBA and NBA. The regular season will start in March, 2020, and will be hosted in the six cities—Kigali not included because it hosts the finals. The league will have two conferences, each with six teams. Each conference will play in three cities.

Each team will play five games and the top three teams from each conference will qualify for the playoffs. Four teams will then advance to the BAL final four. Ultimately, two teams will make it to the finals. The final four and finals games will be played in Kigali, Rwanda.

Outfitters Of The League

The NBA first announced plans to expand overseas during the 2019 NBA All-star weekend in February. NBA commissioner Adam Silver made the announcement during the annual luncheon of NBA Africa.

NIKE and Jordan brand will be the official outfitters. The two brands will provide official game uniforms, socks, practice gear, and warm-up apparel. Six teams will feature in Jordan Brand and the other six teams feature in NIKE. This collaboration of BAL with NIKE and Jordan Brand is the first partnership for the league.

BAL makes the league the first collaboration for NBA to run a league outside North America.  In addition to BAL, FIBA and NBA plan to provide resources and financial support towards the development of basketball in Africa. Support will include training of players, referees, coaches, as well as infrastructure investment.

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