The Basketball Africa League (BAL) has postponed the start of its inaugural season, due to ongoing concerns regarding coronavirus, the league officially announced on Tuesday. The league was supposed to tip off on March 13 in Dakar, Senegal.
“Following the recommendation of the Senegalese government regarding the escalating health concerns related to the coronavirus, the BAL’s inaugural season will be postponed,” BAL President Amadou Gallo Fall said in a statement. “I am disappointed we are not able to tip off this historic league as scheduled but look forward to the highly-anticipated launch of the BAL at a later date.”
The league will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation and react accordingly. Over the NBA All-Star Weekend last month the league that would be participating in the inaugural season. Champions from national leagues in six countries – Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia – were guaranteed representation in the inaugural BAL season. The remaining six teams, which come from Algeria, Cameroon, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and Rwanda, secured their participation through BAL qualifying tournaments conducted by FIBA Africa across the continent in late 2019.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has described the BAL as an “important step” in continuing to develop the game of basketball in Africa.
The BAL, a partnership between the International Basketball Federation and the NBA, features 12 club teams from across Africa and is a key part of the NBA’s effort to expand the North American brand worldwide.
When it does ultimately launch, the Basketball Africa League will be the NBA’s first professional basketball league outside of North America.
There are almost 91,000 cases of coronavirus globally of which more than 80,000 are in China. China’s death toll was over 2,900, with more than 160 fatalities elsewhere.