By Morris Rawal
The NBA has announced that the third season of the Basketball Africa League, also known as BAL, will commence on March 11th, and will once again feature the top 12 club teams from 12 African countries playing a total of 38 games in Dakar, Senegal; Cairo, Egypt and Kigali, Rwanda over three months in 2023.
BAL, which had its inaugural season in 2019, has so far played two seasons. The response has been “tremendous” according to BAL Vice President, and Head of Strategy & Operations John Manyo-Plange back in May.
Two conferences will be formed from the 12 club champions. The Nile Conference will play a 15-game group phase at the Hassan Mostafa Indoor Sports Complex in Cairo from April 26 to May 6, and the Sahara Conference will play a 15-game group phase at the Dakar Arena in Dakar from March 11 to 21.
At the BK Arena in Kigali from May 21–27, the top four teams from each conference will compete in an eight-game, single-elimination Playoffs and Finals.
NBA Africa is opening a fourth office on the continent, this time in Cairo, Egypt, further underlining the NBA’s presence and interest in expanding basketball into Africa.
BAL is a gathering of national league champions from 12 African countries, which will qualify for the BAL. Last year’s champions, US Monastir, hail fra Tunisia. It’s therefore similar to how UEFA Champions League operate in soccer.
BAL has partnered with major brands such as the Rwanda Development Board, NIKE, Jordan Brand, Wilson, Hennessy and Envol City. This level of sponsorship will only add to the appeal of the league, as many of these brands are globally recognized.
In the Division East third-place playoff, Uganda’s City Oilers defeated Urunani, 71-62, to earn a spot in the Basketball African League.
The Oilers required a solid defensive performance in the second half to secure the final entry into Africa’s top club basketball tournament.