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Basketball Africa League returns for second season with dozen teams

Basketball Africa League final - Zamalek v US Monastir

KIGALI, RWANDA - MAY 30: Players of Zamalek celebrate after winning the Basketball Africa League (BAL) final match between Zamalek and US Monastir at Kigali Arena Stadium in Kigali, Rwanda on May 30, 2021. (Photo by Muzogeye Plaisir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The defending champions — Zamalek out of Egypt — are back, but there are new teams and new faces as the Basketball Africa League (BAL) returns and expands for its second season starting next month.

The BAL is a partnership of the NBA and FIBA, an effort to grow the sport on the African continent, and the inaugural championship game last May — a 76-63 Zamalek win against US Monastir — was broadcast to fans in 215 countries and territories in 15 languages. In the offseason, the NBA Africa — which includes the BAL — added former president Barack Obama as a “strategic partner” and minority owner.

This season, 12 top club teams from 12 African countries will tip off a season that starts March 5 at the Dakar Arena in Dakar, Senegal, and will include stops in Cairo, Egypt and Kigali, Rwanda. There will be 38 games across the three cities over three months, eventually crowning a champion.

“We are thrilled to welcome seven new teams and four new countries into the second season of the BAL,” said BAL President Amadou Gallo Fall. “Defending Champion Zamalek will anchor the five returning teams, after representing the BAL in the FIBA Intercontinental Cup this month in Cairo. The competition to bring home the 2022 BAL Championship Trophy is heating up, and we are excited that more fans will have an opportunity to watch the games live in three world-class African cities.”

The 12 teams competing are:

AS Salé (Association Sportive Salé) – Morocco
BC Espoir Fukash – Democratic Republic of the Congo
DUC (Dakar Université Club) – Senegal
Cape Town Tigers – South Africa
Ferroviário da Beira or CFV - Beira (Clube Ferroviário da Beira) – Mozambique
Cobra Sport (Cobra Sports Club) – South Sudan
REG (Rwanda Energy Group) (REG) – Rwanda
F.A.P (Forces Armeés et Police Basketball) – Cameroon
S.L.A.C (Seydou Legacy Athlétique Club) – Guinea
Petro de Luanda (Clube Atlético Petroleos de Luanda) – Angola
US Monastir (Union Sportive Monastirienne) – Tunisia
Zamalek (2021 BAL Champion) – Egypt

Those teams will be divided into two conferences — the Sahara Conference and the Nile Conference — and they will play a group phase. The top four teams from each conference will qualify for the BAL Playoffs, which will feature a single-elimination tournament and Finals at Kigali Arena from May 21-28. y

“We are excited for the tip-off of this highly anticipated season two of the BAL,” said FIBA Africa and BAL Board President Anibal Manave. “The Road to BAL 2022, which was successfully completed at the end of last year, provided fans with some exciting close games and captivating action. We are optimistic that this expanded BAL season will be a huge success.”