The Basketball Africa League (BAL) on Monday announced that the league's historic inaugural season will tip-off on May 16 at the Kigali Arena in Kigali, Rwanda, with 12 teams from across Africa competing in the new professional league.
The BAL, a partnership between the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA), builds on the foundation of club competitions FIBA Regional Office Africa has organized on the continent and marks the NBA's first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America. The first BAL Finals will be held on May 30.
"We are thrilled that the inaugural Basketball Africa League season will take place at the world-class Kigali Arena," said BAL President Amadou Gallo Fall.
"Through the BAL, we will provide a platform for elite players from across the continent to showcase their talent and inspire fans of all ages, use basketball as an economic growth engine across Africa, and shine a light on Africa's vibrant sporting culture."
The BAL will implement robust health and safety protocols for the 12 teams and personnel traveling to Rwanda, based on guidance from the World Health Organization and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, with advice from public health officials and medical experts.
"We are extremely happy to finally launch the highly anticipated first season of the BAL," said FIBA Africa and BAL Board President Anibal Manave.
"FIBA and the NBA have been working closely together to develop protocols to address the health and safety of all players, coaches and officials. The experience of hosting the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 Qualifiers in Rwanda late last year will contribute to a safe and successful inaugural BAL season."
The league on Monday also announced an adjusted competition format for the inaugural season, which will feature a total of 26 games at the Kigali Arena. The competition will tip off with an 18-game group phase with the 12 teams divided into three groups of four.
During the group phase, each team will face the three other teams in its group once. The top eight teams from the group phase will qualify for the playoffs, which will be single elimination in all three rounds.
Champions from the national leagues in Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia earned their participation in the inaugural season.
The remaining six teams, which come from Algeria, Cameroon, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and Rwanda, secured their participation through BAL qualifying tournaments conducted by FIBA Regional Office Africa across the continent in late 2019.
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