Basketball Africa League
|Number of teams||12|
|Current champions|| Zamalek|
|Most championships|| Zamalek|
|President||Amadou Gallo Fall|
|2022 BAL season|
The Basketball Africa League (BAL) is Africa's premier men's basketball league. The league consists of twelve teams, each qualified through their domestic competition, similar to the format of the UEFA Champions League. The league is a joint effort between the National Basketball Association (NBA) and International Basketball Federation (FIBA) with sponsorship from Nike, Air Jordan and Pepsi.
Its inaugural season started with the qualifying rounds in October 2019 and the regular season in May 2021. The competition replaces FIBA's Africa Basketball League as the continent's top-tier league.
BAL president, Amadou Gallo Fall, announced at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game Africa Luncheon in Chicago, that the season will tip off on 13 March. At the event, Nike and Jordan unveiled the official jerseys for the twelve teams (six of the teams will be outfitted by Nike and the other six by Jordan). The BAL also launched the league's official website and social media accounts.
The inaugural season was postponed on 3 March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On 29 March 2021, it was announced that the inaugural season would start on 16 May 2021, and would end on 30 May.
On 16 February 2019 the National Basketball Association and FIBA announced plans to establish a continental professional basketball league. During a press conference at the 2019 NBA All-Star weekend, NBA commissioner Adam Silver elaborated on plans to establish the league. He stated that the league will feature 12 teams after qualification tournaments in late 2019. The countries that could possibly host a team include; Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia. Silver also hinted at the involvement of former U.S. president Barack Obama in an unspecified role. In May 2019, Amadou Gallo Fall was assigned by the NBA as the first president of the BAL. In September 2019, BAL announced the venues and cities for the inaugural season, which included a Final Four played in Kigali Arena in Kigali, Rwanda.
On 15 October 2019, the qualifying tournaments for the inaugural season began, with teams from 32 African countries participating. On 3 March 2020, the BAL announced that it was postponing its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A new date would not be settled until 29 March 2021, when the inaugural season was announced to start on 16 May 2021, in the Kigali Arena in Kigali, Rwanda. The season was held in a bubble with limited people in the stands. On 30 May 2021, Zamalek from Egypt won the first-ever BAL championship after beating US Monastir in the inaugural Finals.
On 27 July 2021, former President Barack Obama joined NBA Africa as a strategic partner. The former president of the United States (2009–2017), avid basketball player, will also have a minority stake.
Comparable to the UEFA Champions League in association football, the competition has qualifying rounds to determine which teams play in each season. National federations from African countries will each be given the opportunity to send one representing club, usually the national champions. In the BAL Qualifying Tournaments, teams play each other in groups for six remaining spots in the BAL regular season.
Six teams from six countries qualify directly for the regular season to make a total of twelve teams.
Each BAL season consists of twelve teams. In the regular season, the twelve teams are divided into two conferences, in which they play five games each. The four highest-placed teams of each conference advance to the playoffs, which is a single-elimination tournament which decides the BAL champion.
Each club participating in the BAL regular season is restricted to having four foreign players only, which means it has to have at least 8 local players on its roster. Furthermore, two out of four foreign players have to be from an African country.
BAL Elevate program
Ahead of the 2022 season, the BAL launched the BAL Elevate program in cooperation with the NBA Academy Africa. The program places a player from the academy in one of the team's rosters. Players from the same country as a BAL team are automatically assigned to a team, while remaining players are selected from a pool. Elevate players do not share in the prize money that is awarded from the competition, to preserve their amateur status.
These are the 12 teams for the 2022 BAL season:
|Conference||Team||City, Country||National league||National titles||Founded||BAL appearance|
|Sahara||DUC Dakar||Dakar, Senegal||Nationale 1||5||1956||Debut|
|Ferroviário da Beira||Beira, Mozambique||Liga Moçambicana de Basquetebol||3||1924||Debut|
|SLAC||Conakry, Guinea||Ligue 1||6||2004||Debut|
|REG||Kigali, Rwanda||National Basketball League||2||2016||Debut|
|AS Salé||Salé, Morocco||Division Excellence||8||1928||2nd|
|US Monastir||Monastir, Tunisia||Championnat National A||7||1923||2nd|
|Nile||FAP||Yaoundé, Cameroon||Elite Messieurs||2||1972||2nd|
|Petro de Luanda||Luanda, Angola||Angolan Basketball League||14||1980||2nd|
|Zamalek||Cairo, Egypt||Egyptian Super League||18||1911||2nd|
|Cobra Sport||Juba, South Sudan||South Sudanese National League||2||2017||Debut|
|Espoir Fukash||Kinshasa, DR Congo||Ligue Provinciale du Kinshasa||1||2019||Debut|
|Cape Town Tigers||Cape Town, South Africa||South African Championship||1||2019||Debut|
|Edition||Year||Hosts||Champions||Score and Venue||Runners-up||Third place||Score and Venue||Fourth place||No. of teams|
Kigali Arena, Kigali
Petro de Luanda
Kigali Arena, Kigali
The following is a list of clubs who have played in the Basketball Africa League at any time since its formation in 2020 to the current season. A total of 19 teams from 16 countries have played in the BAL thus far.
|TBD||To be determined|
|GS Pétroliers||GS||–||1||Group phase|
|Petro de Luanda||3rd||TBD||2||Third place|
|Espoir Fukash||–||GS||1||To be played|
|SLAC||–||TBD||1||To be played|
|AS Police||GS||–||1||Group phase|
|Ferroviário da Beira||–||GS||1||Group phase|
|Ferroviário de Maputo||QF||–||1||–|
|Rivers Hoopers||GS||TBD||2||Group phase|
|Cape Town Tigers||–||TBD||1||To be played|
|REG||–||TBD||1||To be played|
|Cobra Sport||–||GS||1||To be played|
Sponsorship and partnerships
The BAL is sponsored by multiple multinational organisations, including:
- Air Jordan
- French Development Agency (AFD)
- New Fortress Energy
All BAL games are broadcast by:
- Middle East:
- United States:
- "NBA starting 12-team Africa league next year". ESPN.com. 16 February 2019.
- Conway, Tyler (16 February 2019). "NBA Announces Basketball Africa League to Start in 2020; Barack Obama Involved". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
- Zillgitt, Jeff (17 December 2019). "NBA, FIBA launching 12-team league in Africa; Barack Obama to have hands-on role". USA Today. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
- "FIBA Press Release – February 15, 2020: Basketball Africa League announces the 12 teams that will compete in inaugural season". us11.campaign-archive.com. 15 February 2020. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
- Reynolds, Tim. "NBA, FIBA announce plans for pro league in Africa". NBA.com. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
- "NBA, FIBA and President Obama partner to form Basketball Africa League". sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
- "NBA, FIBA bringing pro league to Africa". sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
- "NBA notes: Amadou Gallo Fall is named president of Basketball Africa League". Los Angeles Times. 28 May 2019. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
- "NBA's Basketball Africa League Gets One Step Closer To Reality With Announcement Of Host Cities". Forbes. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
- "African clubs to compete in qualifying tournaments for the BAL confirmed". FIBA Africa. 9 October 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
- "Basketball Africa League postpones start of inaugural season". NBA.com. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
- "ZAMALEK ARE THE CHAMPIONS OF THE INAUGURAL BASKETBALL AFRICA LEAGUE". www.thebal.com. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
- "Former President Barack Obama joins NBA Africa as strategic partner". www.nba.com. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
- "BAL: Why the Basketball Africa League coming into sharper focus is important for sport". GiveMeSport. 30 October 2019. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
- "BAL teams to field one NBA Academy player each in 2022". ESPN.com. 2 March 2022. Retrieved 4 March 2022.
- "BAL announces new energy sponsor". The African Mirror. 30 April 2021. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
- "VISIT RWANDA AND RWANDAIR JOIN BAL AS OFFICIAL PARTNERS". www.thebal.com. Retrieved 16 May 2021.
- "Basketball Africa League unveils international broadcast partners". sportbusiness.com. 12 May 2021. Retrieved 12 May 2021.
- "قناة الزمالك تعلن اذاعة مباريات بطولة افريقيا BAL تحت رعاية NBA | اوان مصر" (in Arabic). 7 April 2022. Retrieved 9 April 2022.