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Barack Obama and NBA-backed Basketball Africa League to launch in 2020

By Tom Walker    11 Mar 2019
Former U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to have an operational role in the league

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) have revealed plans to launch a new, continental professional basketball league in Africa.

Called Basketball Africa League (BAL), the new competition will feature 12 club teams from across Africa.

Scheduled to launch in January 2020, the BAL would mark the NBA's first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America.

Former US President Barack Obama is expected to have an operational role in the league, after he shared his support for the collaboration. While he will be “directly involved” in some way, however, his official role has yet to be confirmed.

"I’ve always loved basketball because it’s about building a team that’s equal to more than the sum of its parts," Obama said in a tweet commenting his involvement.

"Glad to see this expansion into Africa because for a rising continent, this can be about a lot more than what happens on the court."

FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis said: "It's a huge joy to see our partnership with the NBA enter unchartered territory as we work together for the first time to maximize the potential of professional basketball in Africa.

"This is a natural extension of what we have done through the joint initiative that is Basketball Without Borders (BWB), which helps find, develop and nurture young talented players all around the world, including in Africa.

"The Basketball Africa League will enable us to build on the solid foundation laid by FIBA Africa and relaunch the continent's club competition to offer the ultimate platform for the very best clubs and players."

FIBA Africa executive director Alphonse Bilé added: "This is a historic day for FIBA Africa and basketball on our continent.

"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.

"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.

"The implementation of this league is also vital to our young up-and-coming players in Africa as it gives them something to take aim at: they can look at becoming players who can play and evolve in these competitions, right on their continent."

The National Basketball Association  NBA  International Basketball Federation  FIBA  Barack Obama 
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