By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Top NBA Basketball players react on the significance of a professional basketball league in Africa, with the creation of the Basketball Africa League set to kickoff on the 13 of March 2020.
During the NBA All-star 2019 Africa Luncheon in Charlotte, the NBA and FIBA, international basketball’s governing body announced the impending launch of the Basketball Africa League, BAL.
The BAL is a joint effort of FIBA and the NBA. Twelve teams are scheduled to start their inaugural season in March. The league’s logo has already been revealed as it celebrates the league’s Pan-African footprint, Africa’s diversity and continent’s rich basketball heritage.
The BAL is a joint effort of FIBA and the NBA. Twelve teams are scheduled to start their inaugural season on the 13 of March 2020. The teams to take part in the competition include: GSP of Algeria, Petro De Luanda (Angola), Zamalek (Egypt), GNBC (Madagascar), AS Police (Mali), AS Salé (Morocco), Ferrovià De Maputo (Mozambique), Rivers Hoopers BC (Nigeria), AS Douanes (Senegal), US MMonastir (Tunisia), and FAP (Cameroon).
To Joel Embiid, “I think it’s really important because there’s a lot of special talent that the world doesn’t know about. If you look at the guys in the league who has been able to make it, there’s probably somebody better than me or has the potential to be better than me in the future. So, I think it’s a great initiative.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo said: “It’s amazing creating a league in Africa. Giving opportunities to African talent, and African players to go out there and showcase their talent. I knew, it was going to happen, and I am pretty happy That I was able to execute it with Nike and Masai (Ujiri) and all those people.”
Pascal Siakam equally notes the importance such a move will have on African basketball. He said: “Yeah, I think it’s incredible for Africa. It’s definitely the next step. It’s something that we as a continent should be proud of, and it shows that the world is recognizing our talent. That league is going to be a big thing for us. We have to continue to bring that awareness to the game and make sure that we pay it forward.”
Luol Deng, former NBA All-star has been named as the Global Ambassador for the Basketball Africa League. “We have a tremendous amount of talent in Africa, and I am excited that some of that talent will be showcased through our new league,” Deng said in a statement.
“I look forward to following some top African club teams when the inaugural season gets underway next month, and supporting the BAL in expanding its footprint around the world,” said the two-time NBA All-star who played a decade with the Chicago Bulls. Deng played 15 seasons in the league overall and finished with averages of 14.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
Back in May last year, Amadou Gallo Fall was named President of the BAL. “I want to build an industry on the continent that’s going to flourish and self-sustain, and create jobs not only for the players on the court, but also for administrators, and those looking to work in a professional sports organization,” He said in an interview with CloseUp360.
“We’re not saying we want to be a feeder programme for the NBA, though if that happens, it’s great because we have so much talent. And the best of the best are always going to want to play in the best league in the world. But for us, it’s about looking to develop the game on the continent, and having basketball that is world-class and meets the highest standards and is followed by fans across the world.”
In 2010, Amadou left Dallas and moved closer to home to help the NBA open an office in Johannesburg, South Africa. In the decade since, he has played a pivotal role in extending the NBA’s global reach while expanding basketball’s footprint on the other side of the Atlantic.