A new professional basketball league is coming to Africa.
On Saturday at NBA All-Star weekend in Charlotte, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that the league and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) are teaming up to launch what will be called the Basketball Africa League (BAL); a 12-franchise league that is set to begin play in January of 2020.
#NBA announces arrival of Basketball Africa League in 2020. #NBAAfrica pic.twitter.com/iLlqxOkGe9— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) February 16, 2019
The Basketball Africa League will be NBA's first professional basketball league outside of North America.
It still needs to be determined which of the existing club teams in Africa will be part of the league, and qualification tournaments will be held later this year to determine that, with teams from Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia expected to be among those taking part, per ESPN. No nation will be permitted to have more than two teams in the league.
Commissioner Silver is excited about the new league, and the continued growth of the game on an international level.
"The Basketball Africa League is an important next step in our continued development of the game of basketball in Africa," Silver said in a statement. "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."
Silver also said that former President Barack Obama will also be involved in the league and the NBA's continued efforts in Africa, but his exact role has not yet been determined.