The first edition of the Basketball Africa League will see twelve teams compete for the right to be crowned the new champions of African club basketball.
Join the BAL fever, we will bring you everything you need to know about the tournament.
What's the schedule of the inaugural BAL?
The regular season will run from May 16-22 with each team playing three group games. The quarterfinals will be held from May 23-26, and the semifinals, third-place and finals will take place from May 28-30. In total, there will be 26 BAL games. The BAL season tips off on Sunday, May 16 at 4:00 p.m. CAT when Rwanda’s Patriots Basketball Club (BBC) takes on Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers at the Kigali Arena.
How can I watch the BAL games?
The BAL games will be broadcast throughout Africa and around the world by the following broadcasters partners: Canal+, ESPN, beIN SPORTS, NBA TV, Tencent Video, TSN, American Forces Network and Voice of America, with all games also live-streamed on the NBA App, NBA.com and the official BAL website, theBAL.com Select free-to-air channels throughout Africa will also air BAL games, including the opening game, quarterfinals, semifinals and Finals. The Inaugural BAL season will reach fans in 215 Countries and territories in 15 Languages. For the complete schedule and broadcast information, click here. Fans can follow the BAL @theBAL onTwitter, Instagram and Facebook and register their interest in receiving more information at www.theBAL.com.
How do teams qualify for the Basketball Africa League?
The national champions from Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia automatically qualified for the inaugural season. The remaining six teams, which come from Algeria, Cameroon, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and Rwanda, secured their spot through BAL qualifying tournaments in late 2019.
How will the competition be structured?
Teams are divided into three groups of four teams. Group A teams are comprised of: GNBC (Madagascar), Rivers Hoopers (Nigeria), Patriots Basketball Club (Rwanda) and Union Monastir (Tunisia). Group B is made of FAP (Cameroon), Petro de Luanda (Angola), AS Police (Mali) and AS Sale (Morocco). Group C teams are: AS Douanes (Senegal), Ferroviario de Maputo (Mozambique), GSP (Algeria) and Zamalek (Egypt).
What's the officiating system?
BAL games will be officiating under FIBA basketball rules.
How many teams qualify for the playoffs?
The BAL will tip off with an 18-game group phase with the 12 teams divided into three groups of four. During the group phase, each team will face the three other teams in its group once. The top eight teams from the group phase will qualify for the playoffs, which will be single elimination in all three rounds.
Will fans be allowed at the games?
Yes, limited fans will present at the Kigali Arena, but there will be social distancing measures in place.
How are rosters structured?
Each of the 12 teams, will have up to 13 players (12 active and one inactive), at least nine of whom are citizens in their respective team’s home country and up to four of whom are from other countries, with no more than two players per team from outside of Africa.
Is the BAL a one-off tournament?
No, the BAL, a partnership between the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA), is a new professional league featuring 12 club teams from across Africa. The BAL builds on the foundation of club competitions FIBA has organized in Africa and marks the NBA’s first collaboration to operate a league outside North America.
Will the BAL always be played at a single site?
The BAL was initially scheduled to begin play in March 2020 in seven African countries. Due to the impact of the coronavirus, and following the guidance of local government and public health experts, is was decided to host the inaugural season at a single site in a ‘bubble’ environment in order to provide the best opportunity for a safe and successful event. The plan for future seasons is to return to a caravan format with stops across the continent.
Who are the partners of the BAL?
The BAL is working with a roster of world-class marketing partners: Agence Française de Developpement (AFD), Flutterwave, Genius Sports, Hennessy, Jordan Brand, New Fortress Energy, Nike, Visit Rwanda, RwandAir, Social Nation Africa, and Wilson.
The inaugural BAL season will be officiated by 22 of FIBA Africa’s top referees, a group of 19 men and three women from 16 countries selected after live and video observation by the NBA’s Referee Operations Department, in partnership with FIBA and FIBA Africa.
The opening matchup between Rwanda’s Patriots BBC and Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers will be officiated by Samir Abakiil of Morocco, Leslie Cherubin of Mauritius, and Ndeye Aissatou Diagne of Senegal.
Through collaboration with FIBA Africa, the BAL's Referee Operations team, led by Monty McCutchen and William Mensah, has hosted a series of more than 25 virtual training sessions for 35 of FIBA Africa’s referees to prepare for the launch of the BAL.
The BAL will use FIBA rules and court dimensions for all BAL games, including four ten-minute quarters, the 3-point line at 6.75 meters (6.6 meters on the baseline), the ability for any player to touch the ball after it hits the rim, and fouling out after five fouls.
The only modification to FIBA rules is a reduced number of in-game events that can trigger instant replay. Additional resources highlighting the differences between NBA and FIBA rules can be found on FIBA.com.
William Mensah, a long-time G League referee of Ghanaian descent, is the BAL’s Referee Operations Advisor. During his 12-year career, Mensah officiated more than 375 games across the G League regular season and playoffs.
Michael “Duke” Callahan, the current Head of G League Officials and a former NBA Finals official, is supporting Mensah for the inaugural season. Charles Saunders and Vitalis Gode, two decorated former FIBA Africa officials, will also assist with referee development and training this season.