The Basketball Africa League tipped off its first campaign Sunday, bringing to life the NBA-affiliated league based in Africa.
The 26-game tournament includes a group phase and playoffs, with the first Basketball Africa League Finals scheduled for May 30. Twelve teams from 12 different African countries are converging on Kigali, Rwanda, for the event.
The Basketball Africa League was supposed to start on March 13, 2020, in Dakar, Senegal. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to wait more than a year to finally begin, but the first-ever Basketball Africa League game was played May 16, 2021, with Patriots Basketball Club of Rwanda waxing Nigeria’s River Hoopers, 83-60, at Kigali Arena.
“We played good inside, we limited a lot of inside points and we look advantage of the turnover that they had,” Patriots guard Kenneth Gasana said. “It feels good to start the BAL with a victory.”
The player with the greatest name recognition in the league is Jermaine Cole, better known as J. Cole, who already released his sixth studio album last week. The 36-year-old made his professional basketball debut in the league’s first game, putting up three points, three rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes of play for the Patriots.
The league’s group stage, an 18-game campaign with all 12 teams divided into three groups of four, will be played through May 23. The top eight teams will then play in a three-round, single-elimination playoffs.
The 12 teams in the Basketball Africa League are Atletico Petroleos de Luanda (Angola), A.S. Douanes (Senegal), A.S. Police (Mali), Association Sportive de Sale (Morocco), F.A.P. (Cameroon), Ferroviaro de Maputo (Mozambique), G.N.B.C. (Madagascar), G.S. Petroliers (Algeria), Patriots B.B.C. (Rwanda), Rivers Hoopers (Nigeria), U.S. Monastir (Tunisia), and Zamalek (Egypt). Teams are allowed 12 players each, eight of whom must be national players and four spots for international players, though two of those four must be African.
In Africa, the games will air on ESPN (channel 218 on DStv), Azam channel 120, Zuku channel 320, and StarTimes channel 256. In the United States, all games will stream on ESPN+, though the Finals will be shown on ESPNews. TSN will carry the Basketball Africa League in Canada and Tencent Video has it in China. The games will be showcased in other countries across the world, too.
Now for some other news from across the sport this week:
Nothing But News: May 11-17, 2021
The NBA Play-In Tournament is set. On Tuesday, No. 10 Charlotte Hornets will play at No. 9 Indiana Pacers at 6:30 p.m. EST with the loser eliminated, and at 9 p.m. EST, No. 8 Washington Wizards will travel north to take on No. 7 Boston Celtics (winner becomes No. 7 seed in Eastern Conference, loser plays winner of Charlotte-Indiana for No. 8 seed in the East). On Wednesday, No. 9 Memphis Grizzlies will host No. 10 San Antonio Spurs at 7:30 p.m. EST, and No. 8 Golden State Warriors at No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers will follow at 10 p.m. EST. The outcomes of those games will lead to the same consequences as in the East.
At age 33, Steph Curry became the oldest scoring champion in NBA history after putting up 46 points on the Memphis Grizzlies in Golden State’s 113-101 victory over Memphis. It is Curry’s second scoring title of his career.
Mac McClung will forgo his remaining college eligibility and keep his name in the 2021 NBA Draft.
The New York Liberty has already matched their entire win total from 2020, starting the 2021 WNBA season 2-0.
The 2020-21 Utah Jazz became the first team in NBA history to make 10 or more threes in every game in a season.
Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday and his wife, Lauren, are donating $1 million in new grants to Black-led nonprofit organizations and Black-owned businesses, per Shams Charania.
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