After decades of being hooked on the National Basketball Association (NBA) league of the USA, the African version of the sport is set to kick off this weekend with 12 clubs from 12 countries involved in the inaugural phase of the Basketball Africa League (BAL).
The Basketball Africa League comes with sweeteners in the form of partnerships with Canal+, ESPN, beIN Sports, NBA TV, Tencent Video, TSN, American Forces Network (AFN) and Voice of America (VOA) to broadcast the matches live throughout Africa and around the world.
The inaugural BAL season will start on Sunday May 16 when Rwanda’s Patriots Basketball Club takes on Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers at the Kigali Arena in Kigali, Rwanda.
The other opening matches in the group phase will feature Senegal’s Association Sportive des Douanes vs Algeria’s Groupement Sportif des Pétroliers, Egypt’s Zamalek vs Mozambique’s Ferroviàrio de Maputo, Tunisia’s Union Sportive Monastirienne vs Madagascar’s Gendarmerie Nationale Basketball Club, Angola’s Petro de Luanda vs. Mali’s Association Sportive de la Police and Morocco’s Association Sportive de Salé vs Cameroon’s Forces Armées et Police Basketball.
The first BAL finals will be held Sunday, May 30.
Canal+ and ESPN will air all 26 BAL matches across Francophone and Anglophone countries and territories in sub-Saharan Africa. Canal+ will also produce and distribute original ancillary programming, including weekly magazine show “BAL Action.”
VOA will broadcast 24 matches, including select matches in English, French, Portuguese, Kinyarwanda, Bambara and Wolof across its extensive radio network in Africa, with additional programming across its online and mobile platforms. beIN Media Group, the global sports and entertainment broadcaster, through its flagship channel beIN Sports, will air all 26 matches in Arabic in the Middle East and North Africa, including the opening game, quarterfinals, semi-finals and finals.
Select free-to-air channels throughout Africa will also air BAL games, including the opening game, quarterfinals, semi-finals and Finals.
In the US, all matches will be available on ESPN+ while the opening match and finals will also air on ESPNews. ESPN will air the opening match and finals in select countries in Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean, Europe and Latin America and all BAL games will air on ESPN’s digital platforms in those same regions.
BAL games and programming will also be available in Canada on TSN and in China on Tencent Video. AFN, which is distributed in 168 countries and territories to American military bases and ships at seas, will air select games live and on delay throughout the season.
NBA TV will broadcast 12 live games and select games on delay in the US and around the world across the group phase, quarterfinals, semi-finals and finals. All BAL matches will livestream on the NBA App, the official NBA website www.NBA.com and the official BAL website www.theBAL.com.
“We’re excited to work with this group of world-class distribution partners to broadcast our historic inaugural season,” said BAL President Amadou Gallo Fall. “I encourage basketball fans in Africa and around the world to tune in on May 16 and throughout the season to watch the best talent in Africa and beyond compete for the right to be crowned the first BAL champion.”
BAL game broadcasts will utilise the NBA’s Global Statistical System, which has been built and supported by NBA partner Genius Sports.
The BAL will take off with an 18-game group phase with the 12 teams divided into three groups of four. During the group phase, each team will face the three other teams in its group once. The top eight teams from the group phase will qualify for the playoffs, which will be single elimination in all three rounds.
- A Tell report