Big personalities in the game of basketball in various places of the world have expressed enthusiasm about the upcoming Basketball Africa League (BAL) inaugural season that will take place from May 16 to 30 in Kigali Rwanda.
The two-week tournament is the first professional league run by the National Basketball Association (NBA) outside North America, and it will see 12 clubs from 12 different African countries rub shoulders.
The inaugural tournament was earlier expected to take place last year, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was postponed twice.
Speaking about the upcoming tournament, basketball personalities showcased eagerness about it, noting its benefits for the game on the continent.
Egyptian basketball player, Anas Mahmoud who features for Zamalek said the competition may serve as a step to assist people on the continent realise how important basketball is, and this may build the fan base of the game and culture for loving basketball,
“Now that the NBA is bringing its interest over here, I think that is going to assist not just players but also the community to realise how important basketball could be,” he said.
Hermenegildo Mbunga, the Director of Basketball at Petro Atletico Luanda in Angola highlighted that the competition can assist keep the best talents in Africa,
“It is going to create more possibilities for keeping good basketball talent on the African continent. When we have to have better competitions like the BAL that is going to allow us keep the best talents in Africa and also improve their national games,” he said.
Chris Paul, a player for Phoenix Suns in the USA described the competition as “an unbelievable platform, where you get the opportunity to change people’s lives,” including players, coaches among others involved in the game.
Dwane Cassey, the Head Coach of Detroit Pistons, USA said there is very much talent on the African continent, and there is need to nurture it
“I spent so much time in Africa, different parts, with different coaches from Africa. There are too many resources, too many great young players there to teach and grow throughout the continent,” he said.
Meanwhile, Amadou Gallo Fall, the President of the BAL said Kigali is a good place for hosting the tournament due to its good measures in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, and its hospitality,
“We have had incredible experiences there, the way they have managed the pandemic is an example that has been cited around the world, so we are looking forward to it. We are looking forward to the hospitality there, I know that our teams are going to be in first class facilities and that is what the BAL is all about,” he said.
Rwanda as a country will be represented in BAL by Patriots Basketball Club which qualified for the continental competition after registering a stunning unbeaten record in the two-round qualifiers in 2019.
BAL is a partnership between the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA).