The NBA-backed Basketball Africa League has announced the 12 teams that will compete in the inaugural season that will begin in Dakar, Senegal on 13 March.
The clubs, from 12 African nations, are: Groupement Sportif des Pétroliers (Algeria), Petro de Luanda (Angola), Forces Armées et Police (Cameroon), Zamalek (Egypt), Gendarmerie Nationale Basketball Club (Madagascar), AS Police (Mali), AS Salé (Morocco), Ferroviàrio de Maputo (Mozambique), Rivers Hoopers BC (Nigeria), Patriots BC (Rwanda), AS Douanes (Senegal) and Union Sportive Monastirienne (Tunisia).
“It’s amazing creating a league in Africa,” said reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, a Greek born to Nigerian parents. “Giving opportunities to African talent and African players to go out there and showcase their talent, I knew it was going to happen.”
The teams from Algeria, Cameroon, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and Rwanda earned the right to be in the league through qualifying tournaments. The teams from Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia was guaranteed a spot by winning their national leagues.
“I think it’s really important because there’s a lot of special talent that the world doesn’t know about,” said Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Joel Embiid, who hails from Cameroon. “If you look at the guys in the league who have been able to make it, there’s probably somebody better than me or has the potential to be better than me in the future. So I think it’s a great initiative.”