On Saturday, the NBA announced the formation of the Basketball Africa League, one of it’s largest projects in years. Former President Barack Obama is expected to be heavily involved in the 12-team collaboration between the NBA and FIBA that’s expected to open January 2020.
Although there are many professional teams in Africa, they aren’t unified. This league’s goal is to unify those teams while providing financial support, resources, and further training. With that being said, this league is no slouch. Not just any team can join.
Qualifying tournaments will be held to decide which teams make the league but the nations of Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia will likely be represented.
The NBA is heavily involved in Africa with programs like Basketball Without Borders, Giants of Africa, their office in South Africa and academy in Senegal. Former U.S. President Barack Obama is not new to the NBA and overall involvement in the basketball hemisphere, he’s assisted Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri from Nigeria with the Giants of Africa youth program as well.
The NBA’s number of African players has risen to 13 this season, including Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Joel Embiid along with Al-Farouq Aminu, Bismack Biyombo, Gorgui Dieng, Emmanuel Mudiay and Pascal Siakam.
“We’re excited to work closely with the NBA to develop and put in a place a professional league like none that we have ever seen in our region before,” said FIBA Africa Executive Director Alphonse Bile. “Through the Basketball Africa League, we can provide the many great clubs and players with the best possible environment to compete for the highest stakes.”
This new development will certainly provide more of an opportunity for hidden talent in Africa to be discovered, which will undoubtedly increase the number of Africans in the NBA sooner, rather than later.