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A hoop dream come true

BOITUMELO RANTAO 

THE dreams of African basketball players around the globe to play the sport at the highest level on African soil will be realized at the Kigali Arena in Rwanda in the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL). The 26-game tournament tips-of on May 16 – with the final being played on May 30.

The Basketball Africa League (BAL) is the first partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) outside of North America. The inaugural league, formed in collaboration with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), includes club teams from African countries such as Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Egypt, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia. 

BAL competition begins 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. 

The NBA ties don’t end with the organization’s footprint in the league, it continues with players possessing NBA experience that will prove their high-level mantle in the BAL. Rivers Hoopers guard Ben Uzoh played in 60 NBA games with the New Jersey Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors while also playing professionally in the G League (NBA Development league). Uzoh’s teammate Chris Daniels played five preseason games for the Brooklyn Nets in 2015 and also played in the G League, with fellow RIvers Hoopers forward Taren Sullivan having G League experience as well.

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Rwanda Patriots forward Brandon Costner; Mozambique Ferroviário de Maputo guards Myck Kabongo, a former high school McDonald’s All American, Demarcus Holland, and Tunisia’s US Monastir center Ater Majok also played in the G League. Zamalek boast experienced guard Souleyman Diabate who participated in the NBA summer league with the New York Knicks.

The 12 teams set to compete in the BAL are: Zamalek (Egypt), Ferroviario de Maputo (Mozambique), GNBC (Madagascar), Rivers Hoopers (Nigeria), Petro de Luanda (Angola), AS Douanes (Senegal), AS Police (Mali), FAP (Cameroon), Union Sportive Monastir (Tunisia), AS Sale (Morocco), GSP (Algeria), and Patriots (Rwanda).

By The African Mirror

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