Pro Basketball League Planned for Africa Next Year

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The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation are to launch a professional league in Africa in January 2020.

The Basketball Africa League (BAL) will feature 12 teams from at least six African countries.

FIBA Africa’s Executive Director, Alphonse Bile, said the league will help players compete in the “best possible environment”.

Charlotte Hornets’ Bismack Biyombo is one of 13 African players in the NBA.

Bile said: “The implementation of this league is vital to our young up-and-coming players in Africa as it gives them something to take aim at.”

FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis added: “It’s a huge joy to see our partnership with the NBA enter unchartered territory as we work together for the first time to maximise the potential of professional basketball in Africa.”

Former US President Barack Obama has backed the plans, while NBA legend Michael Jordan, who is now the Charlotte Hornets chairman, was at the launch event in North Carolina.

The NBA has heavily invested in Africa with programmes such as Basketball Without Borders and Giants of Africa in addition to having an office in South Africa and academy in Senegal.

Since the end of his presidency in 2017, President Obama has helped Toronto Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri, who hails from Nigeria, with the Giants of Africa youth basketball programme.