Why the NBA chose South Africa as the newest Basketball Africa League host nation


JOHANNESBURG — Basketball Africa League president Amadou Gallo Fall told ESPN that the BAL and NBA Africa chose South Africa as the fourth location for the expanded 2024 season due to the nation’s strong infrastructure.

Johannesburg will host the Kalahari Conference in March 2024, before the BAL moves on to the already-established Nile Conference in Cairo (April), the Sahara Conference in Dakar (May) and the seeding games and playoffs in Kigali (May – June).

According to Fall, South Africa was always one of the countries the BAL was most focused on expanding into: “South Africa has always been a priority country for the NBA’s development in Africa.

“Obviously, this is where the headquarters of NBA Africa still [are]. There’s been a lot of work over the years and the BAL is a culmination of many decades of work by the NBA, ultimately partnering with FIBA.

“You have the team from South Africa (the Cape Town Tigers) the past two seasons that made it to the playoffs, so it’s a good place and a market where we have a footprint and we know that there is a lot of passion for basketball, so we are excited to be bringing basketball games here into South Africa.”

Fall praised South Africa’s young talent, which he had the chance to view at Basketball Without Borders in Johannesburg in July, but implored Basketball South Africa to ensure the country begins competing more regularly internationally again. Their men’s senior national team has not participated in a competitive tournament since the 2017 AfroBasket.

“This past [July] at Basketball Without Borders – this is probably the most talented group of young players from South Africa that I’ve seen and I’ve seen at least three guards there that I thought were noticeable,” he said.

“I’m sure that the work that’s been done here over the past decades with programs like Royal Bafokeng or the Jr. NBA leagues across Gauteng are really allowing these players an opportunity to play. At the end of the day, you’ve got to play the game. That’s how you get better.

“The talent is here. I have no doubt for a country of [around 60] million people, there’s bound to be enough talent out there to make up a strong national team, but I think it all starts with the governance.

“You have to have a federation that is strong and that has a vision. For the future, I would encourage the country to send more teams – U16 [and] U18 to African continental tournaments.

“This is how you get better. I haven’t seen South Africa participate for a long time at elite men’s level, but it has got to start from youth level. You have a league – the BNL – that has tremendous potential.

“You’ve got clubs who have history. It’s just about moving this young talent and having this young talent participate and matriculate with the teams, starting with having this domestic league [strengthen].

“I think you have the infrastructure. The interest is here; I see a lot of people in the basketball family here – former players that should get involved [and] come back to either coach or manage [and] feed the interest that the younger generation has.

“I’ve seen interest from kids all across; they love the game. For me, the barometer is what I saw from those young players at BWB and these are U16s. You start really identifying those young players and following them and that’s how you get to the country reaching its potential.

“For me, the infrastructure [is] here and the interest. Now, you’ve got to develop more coaches, but most importantly, have a strong administration for the sport.”

Source : ESPN