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NBA, FIBA unite to operate 12-team African pro league

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and FIBA officials announced Saturday they will collaborate on a new 12-team African pro basketball league that begins in January 2020 © AFP/File / Glyn KIRK

CHARLOTTE, United States, Feb 16Basketball world-governing body FIBA and the NBA will launch a new 12-team African professional league in 2020, announcing Saturday the first NBA collaboration on a league outside North America.

The Basketball Africa League (BAL) was unveiled at Charlotte, North Carolina, on the eve of the 68th NBA All-Star Game.

With teams from across Africa, the BAL will assemble based on a foundation of FIBA’s current club competitions in Africa and begin play in Janaury 2020.

“The Basketball Africa League is an important next step in our continued development of the game of basketball in Africa,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.

“Combined with our other programs on the continent, we are committed to using basketball as an economic engine to create new opportunities in sports, media and technology across Africa.”

The NBA and FIBA plan to conduct qualification tournaments later this year to identify the 12 teams that will represent several African nations, including Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia. No more than two teams from the same country can qualify for the league.

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

“The Basketball Africa League will enable us to build on the solid foundation laid by FIBA Africa and relaunch the continent’s club competition to offer the ultimate platform for the very best clubs and players.”

FIBA and the NBA also plan to provide financial support and resources to continuing development of African basketball, including training for players, coaches and referees and infrastructure investment.

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The NBA also unveiled a plan to introduce revamped direct-to-consumer offering of NBA games for African fans starting with the 2019-20 season with new packages, features and local content.

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