Basketball Africa League kicks off in Kigali

Rwanda's Patriots beat Nigerian Rivers Hoopers 83-60 in opening game

2021-05-17 03:42:56

KIGALI, Rwanda

The inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) kicked off in Rwandan capital Kigali on Sunday, featuring 12 teams from across the continent.

Rwanda's Patriots beat Nigerian Rivers Hoopers 83-60 in the opening game at Kigali Arena.

American rapper Jermaine Cole, known as J. Cole, made his Basketball Africa League debut, playing for the Rwandan side, and scoring three points.

The 36 years old played for 17 minutes.

He later scored his only free-throw following a technical foul.

The Rwandan side had a slow start, but later picked to claim the lead in the second quarter of the game and that led to their eventual win.

The first professional league of its kind to be run by America's NBA outside North America is to run from May 16-30 under strict COVID-19 protocols.

The teams include champions from the national leagues in Nigeria, Angola, Morocco, Egypt, Senegal, and Tunisia.

Others are from Algeria, Cameroon, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, and Rwanda.

The teams were drawn into three groups of four each.

During the group phase, each team is to face the three other teams in its group once.

The game will feature an 18-game group phase with a total of 26 games to be played.

The top eight teams from the group phase will qualify for the playoffs -- with single elimination in all three rounds.

The BAL is a result of a partnership between the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the NBA.

It is a new professional league, featuring top club teams from across Africa.

The league was originally scheduled in March 2020 but was postponed due to COVID-19.

On Monday, Senegalese side AS Douanes will play against Algeria's GS Petroliers while Egypt's Zamalek will face Mozambique's Ferroviario Maputo.

Amadou Gallo Fall, president of the BAL, believes the new league offers opportunities to more players to showcase their talents.

Africa's time is now and the goal is to establish the Basketball Africa League as a destination for top players and offer international experience, according to Fall.



Teams drawn

Group A: US Monastir (Tunisia), Rivers Hoopers (Nigeria), Patriots BBC (Rwanda), and GNBC (Madagascar)

Group B: Petro de Luanda (Angola), AS Salé (Morocco), AS Police (Mali), and FAP (Cameroon)

Group C: Zamalek (Egypt), AS Douanes (Senegal), Ferroviário de Maputo (Mozambique) and GS Pétroliers (Algeria).