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NBA launches the African basketball league with 12 teams across the continent



The league will debut next year and is referred to as Basketball Africa League. These include teams from several African countries, including Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia.

The NBA announced its plan with the International Basketball Federation and will host qualifying tournaments later this year. While there are several basketball teams across Africa, they are united by a pro league under one roof, providing resources and visibility.

"The Basketball Africa League is an important next step in our evolution of the basketball game in Africa," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a Saturday statement. "Together with our other programs on the continent, we want to use basketball as an economic engine to create new opportunities for sports, media and technology across Africa."

Former President Barack Obama praised the announcement.

"I've always loved basketball because it's about forming a team that's more than the sum of its parts," he tweeted. "I'm glad to see this expansion into Africa, because for an emerging continent, this can be much more than what happens on the field."

The NBA's connections to Africa go far. The Toronto Raptors attacker, OG Anunoby, whose parents are from Nigeria, and Hornets center Bismack Biyombo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, attended Saturday's NBA All-Star Africa lunch on which the announcement took place.

Other players with connections to Africa are Joel Hans Embiid, a Cameroonian who plays for the Philadelphia 76ers. The NBA global ambassador, Dikembe Mutombo, who has played for several teams, including the Atlanta Hawks, hails from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Raptors President Masai Ujiri is from Nigeria.


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