African Basketball League

Kanika Fagbure
Contributing Author
To Read: 8 minutes

Africa is the birthplace of many gifted athletes. However, many players are choosing to pursue their goals outside of the continent due to a lack of adequate infrastructure and facilities. Therefore, certain solutions were implemented. The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Federation of Basketball (FIBA) didn’t consider starting the Basketball Africa League (BAL) until a few years ago. This league fundamentally altered the way that the game is played in Africa. 

Additionally, it increases the appeal of the game throughout the continent and opens up new doors for aspirant players. 

Maybe this part will motivate African basketball players who are playing professionally abroad to go back home.


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Basketball is a popular sport all throughout Africa, but its popularity is most noticeable in the Western and Northern parts of the continent. It is determined by a number of factors. Which game receives the greatest attention is decided by each nation’s sports ministry. Additionally, nations like Senegal and Nigeria that have basketball academies have higher levels of popularity for the game. 

Still, with more and more clubs popping up, the sport is becoming more and more widespread. 

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Roots of Basketball in Africa

The game of basketball started to gain attention in Africa in the middle of the 20th century, especially in Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire, two former French colonies.

The game was spread throughout the continent by missionaries and administrators, and soon, African nations were participating in international competitions. The Pharaohs of Egypt participated in the 1937 Eurobasket competition in Latvia as African representatives after joining FIBA in 1934. In 1949, the year Egypt hosted and emerged victorious from the Eurobasket 49 competition against Europe’s top teams, Greece and Turkey, the continent’s first-ever international basketball match took place between the American and Egyptian teams.

Following their independence in the late 1950s and early 1960s, African nations sought to become integrated into the international community. The Association des Federations Africaines de Basketball (AFABA) was established by twelve African nations in June 1961 during the Consultative General Assembly in Cairo, Egypt. Abdel Moneim Wahby, a former player, referee, and administrator in the Egyptian Basketball Federation, was chosen as the AFABA’s first president. AFABA became the governing body for basketball on the continent.

In 1962, AFABA established the Afrobasket competition, which functioned as a qualifying event for the FIBA World Cup and the Olympic Games.

African basketball kept growing in the 1980s and 90s as more nations took part in international tournaments and more African players entered the NBA. In 1989, the African Basketball Confederation was founded with the aim of advancing basketball throughout the continent.

Current Situation

Currently, basketball is expanding quickly in the African countries. Most likely, it might take some time for it to become as well-known as football. Also, basketball clubs are emerging in African schools, producing the next wave of outstanding players. More African athletes are probably going to become well-known in the future and inspire younger generations. The sport is being developed and expanded by organizations like FIBA Africa, and these initiatives are increasing the game’s popularity and reach.

Basketball African League

A new professional league with 12 club teams from throughout Africa is called the BAL, a collaboration between the NBA and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). Based in Dakar, Senegal, the BAL is the NBA’s first league operated outside of North America, building on the success of club competitions FIBA Regional Office Africa has arranged throughout Africa. 

The COVID-19 pandemic caused the BAL, which was scheduled to debut in March 2020, to be delayed. 

However, the League was introduced later and is now vital for the development of the sport in the country. This League’s goal is to introduce African professional players to a higher level of competition. Teams that meet the requirements can pit themselves against one another for delicious rewards.

The women’s league is not yet underway, but it is scheduled to begin in the near future. 

Nonetheless, initiatives exist that cater to female coaches, individuals in leadership roles in sports, and young ladies undergoing training at basketball academies (such as Junior NBA in Africa and other academies associated with BAL).

Best Teams in Africa

Despite the recent developments, this sport in Africa still suffers from a lack of progress in several areas.

The two main issues African basketball is dealing with are lack of funding and bad administration. 

African talent is migrating to Western countries due to poor infrastructure, low player compensation, and unstable political environments. Nevertheless, the majority of African teams are fighting against the grain to develop their gifted players. Let’s review the best teams Africa can boast.

Tunisia

When playing in international basketball tournaments, the Tunisia team represents the nation of Tunisia. Strong defensive play and quick transition offense are two of the team’s best attributes. The Tunisian team has an extensive history in African basketball. In 2011, they won the African Championship. Skilled players like Mourad El Mabrouk, Radhouane Slimane, and Omar Abada lead the team. Their quickness, agility, and physicality define the team’s playing style. During games, the team’s ardent supporters are well known for their devotion. Ultimately, the team of Tunisia is a national pride and a fierce rival on the international scene.

Nigeria

If proper conditions are met, Nigerian basketball has a lot of potential to produce some of the best players in the world. The Nigerian Basketball Federation (NBBF) is committed to fostering the development of the sport in Nigeria since major international teams visit the country for competitions. To get the most out of the player, the federation collaborated closely with the league’s sponsors.

Nigeria joined FIBA in 1964. Over the past 20 years, the Nigerian national team has competed in the World Cup twice and won five Afrobasket medals.

Angola

Angola is a homeland to a bunch of elite athletes. Its top players are winning not just on the continent but also getting recruited by US and European teams. Basketball is ingrained in Angola’s culture and is a deep passion. Since Angola joined FIBA in 1979, the men’s basketball team has participated in both the Summer Olympics and the FIBA Basketball World Cup on a regular basis, making it one of Africa’s strongest programs historically. 

Angola’s men’s basketball team routinely makes the podium at FIBA Afrobasket, where they have won 11 gold medals since 1989, despite never having won a medal at the Olympics or World Cup.

Senegal

In the NBA, Senegal is the most represented African nation. Nigeria is ranked second in the Association with ten players, and there are eleven Senegalese players.

Senegal’s national team is among the most successful in Africa. With five golden and six silver Afrobasket medals, the Lions share second place with Egypt. In addition, their total number of Afrobasket medals (16) places them third, behind only Egypt and Angola. The key Senegalese golden age spans twelve years, from 1968 to 1980: three Olympic Games, four titles, and seven consecutive Afrobasket finals. 

Cote d’Ivoire

In the last ten years, Les Elephants, the national basketball team of Cote d’Ivoire, has shown off incredible talent. Their first World Cup match was in 2010, and they have participated in most Afrobasket competitions. Making it to the 2019 FIBA championships following a hard tiebreaker against Mozambique was a significant accomplishment for the team.

Conclusion

As a popular sport, basketball has millions of fans worldwide. It is played all over the world and is meant to unite and strengthen our bonds. When people get together hoping to find a compatible match, identities and nationalities don’t really matter. Africa has demonstrated to the world how nations can come together and produce outstanding athletes. It is a sport that, in spite of differences, embraces diversity. It also demonstrates how hard work pays off by using national basketball celebrities as an example. Africa has come a long way in developing basketball as a sport, and today, the continent is home to some of the most recognizable figures in the sport’s history.

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F.A.Q.

Who is the logo of the BAL?
The BAL logo honors Africa's diversity and rich basketball history, as well as the league's Pan-African reach. It shows a silhouette of a player making a jump shot against a background of vivid green, yellow, red, and royal blue.
Is the BAL owned by the NBA?
The top men's league in Africa is called the Basketball Africa League (BAL). The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) jointly founded the organization in 2019.
Where is the NBA headquarters in Africa?
In 2010, the NBA opened its headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa.