(Reuters) – The NBA’s first professional basketball league outside of North America will begin in Africa next year, the NBA and the sport’s global governing body announced on Saturday.
Basketball Africa League (BAL) will feature 12 club teams from across Africa and will launch next January, the NBA and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) said.
The NBA has a long history in Africa and 13 African-born players were on opening-night rosters.
More than 80 current and former players from Africa or with direct family ties to the continent, including Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria) and Dikembe Mutombo (Democratic Republic of Congo), have competed in the NBA.
The NBA and FIBA said they plan to conduct qualification tournaments later this year to identify the 12 teams that would represent several African countries, including Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia.
No more than two teams from the same country will play in the league.
Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Toby Davis