The long-awaited NBA-affiliated tournament will begin on May 16 in Kigali, Rwanda, with Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers taking on the Patriots.
The BAL will feature 12 teams competing in three groups of four, followed by a three-round knockout phase, culminating in the Finals on May 30. Fans can bet on basketball with Betway, the leading sportsbook in the continent.
The national league champions of Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia qualified for the inaugural season. The remaining six teams, from Cameroon, Algeria, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, and Rwanda, qualified through BAL qualifying tournaments held across the continent by the FIBA Regional Office Africa in late 2019.
Three games will be played every day during the first week of the competition, beginning at 2 p.m. local time (8 a.m. ET), with teams such as Zamalek (Egypt), AS Douanes (Senegal), and US Monastir (Tunisia) expected to be sides to watch in the group stage.
The Hoopers have one of the most high-profile rosters in the tournament, with former NBA guard Ben Uzoh and G-League veteran Taron Sullivan. Their coach told ESPN that the coronavirus-induced year-long layoff was a ‘blessing in disguise.’
Meanwhile, the Patriots, the tournament’s hosts, will be vying for local pride, as the tournament will be held behind closed doors but interest in Rwanda is strong. Betway basketball betting is also primed to hit greater heights across the African continent.
Speaking to a local Rwandan publication, skipper Aristide Mugabe said: “We always set the target high, and we want to win the title. But it starts with getting some wins and qualifying for the quarter-finals, and then we can go on from there.
“The message (for fellow players) is simple: let’s go out there to compete and show the world that Africa has got talent”.
A foreign player quota has been imposed (four), with only two eligible to be from outside Africa, so the competition will truly highlight the continent’s talent.
Rapper J. Cole is set to play for the Rwanda Patriots BBC in the Basketball Africa League’s inaugural season.
- Cole, 36, arrived in Rwanda two days ago and is currently quarantining in preparation for his 12-team league debut.
Jermaine Lamarr Cole was born in Sanford, North Carolina, and was a walk-on at St. John’s University before deciding to pursue music instead of playing in a Division I game.
Although the Basketball Africa League is expected to be short on talent in its first season, former NBA guard Ben Uzoh thinks differently.
“It will be pretty good. The signings that I’ve been reading and that I’ve been made aware of across the country and across the continent have been pretty solid,” opined Uzoh.
Here is the schedule for group stage matches, so you can place your bets with Betway before kick-off.
May 16 – Rivers Hoopers v Patriots
May 17 – GSP v AS Douanes, Maputo v Zamalek, GNBC v US Monastir
May 18 – AS Police v Petro de Luanda, FAP v AS Sale
May 19 – Patriots v GNBC, AS Douanes v Maputo, GSP v Zamalek
May 20 – Petro de Luanda v FAP, Rivers Hoopers v US Monastir, AS Police v AS Sale
May 22 – Maputo v GSP, Zamalek v AS Douanes, US Monastir v Patriots
May 23 – GNBC v Rivers Hoopers, FAP v AS Police, AS Salé v Petro de Luanda
News DESK REPORT