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Holding breath as big African pro ball league tips off March 13

  • Every move is history made … Here are the 12 teams competing in the Basketball Africa League (Bal). With all the action tipping off on March 13, we’ll be bringing you all the info you need ahead of season start!
  • Rwanda’s Kigali Arena is the seventh venue of BAL 2020 and will host the grand finals. (Kigali’s) Patriots are the only East and Central African franchise

NIKE and Jordan will kit the 12 teams participating at this year’s Basketball Africa League (BAL). Nike will kit six while Jordan will kit the other six.

At the NBA All-Star Game over last weekend, the BAL confirmed the 12 teams which will play in the first Basketball Africa League. As well, all jerseys of the teams were revealed. The start date of the competition was also confirmed, is March 13. All teams wear similar jerseys designed by Nike and Jordan. On the side of the shorts is a map of Africa.

Aristide Mugabe (88) is one of the most successful Rwanda basketballers …humble, hard working and leader in The Patriots spirit

Top: Aristide Mugabe (88) is one of the most successful Rwanda basketballers …humble, hard-working and leader in The Patriots spirit. Above: The teams for the inaugural Basketball African League

Meanwhile…

‘I see Africa coming alive’: Potential for Basketball Africa League is boundless – Dikembe Mutombo

Africa was about to have a moment. If that wasn’t evident, one only needed to look on the hardwood at the United Center for the opening tip of the 2020 NBA All-Star Game. Joel Embiid, the game’s most physically-imposing, fun-loving troll, was standing at centre court, preparing to jump. Pascal Siakam, the unorthodox and wiry NBA champion, was nearby, facing him. And Giannis Antetokounmpo, the overly athletic, overachieving MVP, was at the foul line, ready for some action.

Ater Majok joins US Monastir. The 32-year old center joined ahead of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) leaving his team in New Zealand to play for the Tunisians. He has three nationalities: Sudanese, Lebanese and Australian. He represents Lebanon in international play. Standing at 2.08 m, he brings more height to the front court of Monastir

Ater Majok joins US Monastir. The 32-year old center joined ahead of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) leaving his team in New Zealand to play for the Tunisians. He has three nationalities: Sudanese, Lebanese and Australian. He represents Lebanon in international play. Standing at 2.08 m, he brings more height to the front court of Monastir

Embiid and Siakam, natives of Cameroon, and Antetokounmpo, Greek-born to Nigerian parents, were selected starters by the combined votes of fans, media and players. Antetokounmpo earned the honour of having the team named after him for the second year in a row after being the Eastern Conference’s leading vote-getter.

All three were members of Team Giannis because Antetokounmpo made it that way with the draft selections of his “African brothers.” All three are just 25.

Michael Taylor signs with Zamalek the Egypt representative in the BAL. The 34-year old veteran American last played with Al-Nasr in the BAL Qualifiers. In the 2008-2009 season he played 51 games for the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA. Zamalek has been drawn in the Nile Conference and will start its games on March 13 The team should be one of the strongest teams in the competition

Michael Taylor signs with Zamalek the Egypt representative in the BAL. The 34-year old veteran American last played with Al-Nasr in the BAL Qualifiers. In the 2008-2009 season, he played 51 games for the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA. Zamalek has been drawn in the Nile Conference and will start its games on March 13 The team should be one of the strongest teams in the competition

Four All-Stars and the team president [Masai Ujiri] of the NBA champions [Toronto Raptors] all have African heritage. And a new league is set to debut on the continent in March. Africa is about to have a moment, Dikembe Mutombo to @TheAthleticNBA: “More than ever, I see Africa coming alive.”

The League tips off on March 13 in Dakar, Senegal. As the President of BAL, Mamadou Gallo Fall announced the 12 teams who would be competing in the inaugural season to a crowd of about 100 people inside the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency hotel during NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago. It wasn’t just a celebration of BAL — it was the 10-year anniversary of the first NBA office opened in Africa, which was spearheaded by former NBA commissioner David Stern, who died in January from a brain haemorrhage, will surely be smiling down on them.

During the luncheon, videos were shown celebrating the various milestones that the NBA has made across Africa, with clips of Stern talking about why it was important for the league to open an office on the continent. The international platform that the NBA has is in large part due to Stern’s work of expanding the reach of the league, to ensure that the game of basketball could be enjoyed and experienced by as many people as possible, not just those inside the United States.

“He got us here,” Fall said. “When I first started, it was David who hired me to head up NBA International. He deserves a tremendous amount of credit for, first of all, going to Africa in 1993, and meeting with President [Nelson] Mandela, and he also went back the following year for President Mandela’s inauguration. He shared his passion for the opportunity to use the celebrity of the NBA brand to inspire young people and build communities. I know that wherever he is, he’s smiling because we now have a professional league powered by the NBA in partnership with FIBA, something that’s never been done before happening in Africa and it’s because he believed in the market.”

BAL was announced last year during All-Star festivities, and the creation of the league is a massive show of support from the NBA as it continues to push Stern’s vision for the game forward. While the NBA has had African players in the league in the past, with Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo putting the continent on the map, recently there’s been a steady increase in the number of African-born players entering the league.

On the opening day of this season, there were 11 players from African countries on NBA rosters, and nine African-born players were selected in last year’s draft. Through programs like Basketball Without Borders and Jr. NBA initiatives, the NBA has uncovered tremendous talents like the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid and Pascal Siakam of the Toronto Raptors.

-Additional reporting by Correspondents and Agencies

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