The inaugural season of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) will take place at the Kigali Arena in Rwanda and get underway on May 16, it has been announced.

The BAL is a partnership between the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and North America’s NBA. The league will feature 12 teams from across Africa.

The league will look to build on the foundation of club competitions organised by FIBA’s regional office in Africa. It marks the first time the NBA has collaborated to operate a league outside of North America.

The inaugural finals of the BAL will be held on May 30 at the Kigali Arena. A number of health and safety protocols will be in place for the 12 teams and personnel travelling to Rwanda for the tournament.

In total, 26 games will be held at the Kigali Arena. The tournament will begin with an 18-game group phase with the 12 teams divided into three groups of four. The top eight teams from the group phase will qualify for the playoffs, which will be single elimination in all three rounds.

BAL president Amadou Gallo Fall said: “We are thrilled that the inaugural Basketball Africa League season will take place at the world-class Kigali Arena. 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.”

FIBA Africa and BAL Board president Anibal Manave added: “We are extremely happy to finally launch the highly anticipated first season of the BAL. 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 12 teams set to compete during the inaugural BAL are GSP (Algeria), Petro de Luanda (Angola), FAP (Cameroon), Zamalek (Egypt), GNBC (Madagascar), AS Police (Mali), AS Salé (Morocco), Ferroviàrio de Maputo (Mozambique), Rivers Hoopers BC (Nigeria), Patriots BC (Rwanda), AS Douanes (Senegal) and US Monastir (Tunisia).

The groups and additional details about the league will be announced at a later date. The league had been due to debut in March last year but the tournament was postponed due to the pandemic.

The Kigali Arena has a capacity of 10,000. Construction work on the facility, which is the largest of its kind in East Africa, was completed in the summer of 2019.

Image: Kirezi Arnaud/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size