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BAL 2024: A Definitive Guide to the Basketball Africa League Season

BAL 2024: A Definitive Guide to the Basketball Africa League Season

cover photo Regis Hirwa scaled

We’ve put together a fantastic FAQ to guide you through the BAL’s League Season and the exhilarating quest for the title. 

By Tuka Letura 

The 2024 Basketball Africa League (BAL) Tournament is here, and this season promises to be a thrill. As the Sahara Conference, one of the three consisting conferences goes on, it may leave questions for both fans and bettors.  To fuel the excitement and ease the uncertainties, we’ve put together a fantastic FAQ to guide you through the BAL’s League Season and the exhilarating quest for the title. 

What is the Basketball Africa League? 

The Basketball Africa League (BAL) is Africa’s top men’s basketball league. It started in 2019 and was formed by the National Basketball Association (NBA) in collaboration with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).

The season usually runs from March to May, with twelve teams in the league across three conferences. Six directly qualify by winning the national leagues of six pre-selected countries. The teams for this season include Egypt’s Al Ahly, Angola’s Petro de Luanda, Tunisia’s US Monastir, Rwanda’s Armée Patriotique Rwandaise (APR), Senegal’s AS Douanes, and Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers.

On the other hand, the remaining six teams secured their places through the Road to BAL. The 2024 BAL season’s qualification, known as Road to BAL 2024, was the fourth edition of the qualifying tournaments organised by FIBA Africa from October 3 to November 26, 2023. Twenty-nine teams registered, with 22 participating in the competition, divided into West and East Divisions. In the West Division, Bangui Sporting Club emerged as champions, making history as the first team from the Central African Republic to qualify. Moroccan side  FUS Rabat and Al Ahly Benghazi of Libya secured second and third place, respectively, with Al Ahly Benghazi becoming the first Libyan team to qualify. In the East Division, the Cape Town Tigers claimed their second division title, while City Oilers of Uganda secured qualification for the second consecutive season. Additionally, Dynamo became the first team from Burundi to qualify for the BAL, thus completing the teams from the East division to six, and the total to 12.

The Basketball Africa League (BAL) is divided into three conferences: the Sahara Conference, the Nile Conference, and the newly introduced Kalahari Conference. Each conference consists of four teams and the top two of each will qualify directly to the playoffs. The best two third-placed teams across the three conferences will join the other six in the playoffs where the overall champion will be crowned. That is, eight of the twelve teams across the three conferences make it to the playoffs. 

However, before the playoffs, the eight teams will be drawn against seeded teams to determine their opponents in the single-elimination playoffs. 

The playoffs are in single-game knockout style, with the winner of each game proceeding to the semi-finals after the opening game which is the quarter-finals, and so into the finals. 

The Kalahari Conference

The Kalahari Conference made its debut this year in the Basketball Africa League with four teams. FUS Rabat of Morocco, Petro de Luanda of Angola, Cape Town Tigers from South Africa, and Dynamo of Burundi made up the group for the conference. 

However, the conference faced early disruptions when Burundi’s Dynamo BBC withdrew from the competition after the first game day. This withdrawal followed a controversial incident during Dynamo’s opening match against the Cape Town Tigers, where the Burundian team taped off the logo of league sponsor Visit Rwanda. This action stemmed from escalating political tensions between Burundi and Rwanda, with Burundi accusing Rwanda of supporting rebel militia groups within its borders.

The controversy surrounding Dynamo BBC continued as they forfeited their second game against FUS Rabat on March 10. The BAL cited Dynamo’s failure to comply with the league’s rules regarding jersey and uniform requirements as the reason for the forfeiture. Dynamo’s troubles deepened when they forfeited their third game on March 12, leading to their automatic withdrawal from the group according to FIBA rules. Players Bryton Hobbs and Makhtar Gueye revealed that the Burundian government had instructed the team to tape off the sponsor logo and to forfeit games if necessary.

Following the withdrawal, the BAL took measures to address the gaps in the roster by scheduling three replacement games involving the NBA Academy Africa and local South African teams. As such, FUS Rabat and Petro De Luanda finished first and second respectively, with third place Cape Town Tigers almost guaranteed a playoff place.

Here is the final ranking of the Kalahari Conference: 

BAL 2024: A Definitive Guide to the Basketball Africa League Season | Afrocritik
Kalahari Conference standings

The Nile Conference 

The 2024 BAL Nile Conference is held in Egypt at the Hassan Moustafa Sports Hall with four competitive teams: Egypt’s Al Ahly, Libya’s Al Ahly Ly, Central African Republic’s Bangui SC, and Uganda’s City Oilers, all locking horn from April 19 to April 27, 2024. 

Al Ahly of Egypt finished top of the standings as they exuded an impressive five-game win in six, only suffering a loss to Bangui SC 96–93 on game day four. Meanwhile, Al Ahly Ly of Libya secured the second spot in the standings with three wins and three losses. 

Bangui SC’s Thierry Darlan led his team to their first-ever BAL victory, beating City Oilers 101-88 on gameday two. However, it wouldn’t be enough to finish in the top two, with Al Ahly and Al Ahly Ly securing direct playoff spots, and Bangui SC hoping to be one of the two third-placed teams to qualify. 

Here’s a full list of standings in the Nile Conference:

Nile Conference standings scaled
Nile Conference standings

Sahara Conference

The 2024 BAL season continued in the Kalahari Conference in Dakar, Senegal, on May 4, 2024. Senegal’s AS Douanes, Rwanda’s Armée Patriotique Rwandaise (APR), Tunisia’s US Monastir, and Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers are the four teams competing in the Sahara Conference. 

APR beat Tunisia’s US Monastir in a keenly contested game on game day one that went into overtime, with a final score of 89-84. 

Later that day, AS Douanes Senegal took on Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers. AS Douanes started strong but Rivers Hoopers ended top securing a 77-68 win, with Devine Eke contributing an outstanding 31 points and 12 rebounds in the Hoopers’ victory.

APR Rwanda were up against Rivers Hoopers, the two teams with wins trying to double their wins record and start a streak. Rivers Hoopers emerged victorious with a final score of 86-82 in an exciting end-to-end game. Perry led the charge for Rivers Hoopers with an impressive 31 points as the Port-Harcourt-based side recorded their second win.

AS Douanes Senegal bounced back on game day two with a dominant 76-59 win over US Monastir.

Game day three was indeed a day of threes, as US Monastir lost again to Rivers Hoopers. Their third loss so far and equally, Hoopers’ third consecutive win. US Monastir, the 2022 champions, now sit rock bottom on standings and the Hoopers are top with three games to go in this conference. 

APR, after losing the first quarter of game day three to AS Douanes, managed to win the remaining three and record their second win so far. They sat second on the log, above AS Douanes who were third. 

Here are the standings after gameday three:

Sahara Conference standings scaled
Sahara Conference standings

The remaining fixtures in the Sahara Conference will also be completed in May:

May 9, 2024:

  • APR vs US Monastir
  • Rivers Hoopers vs AS Douanes

May 11, 2024:

  • Rivers Hoopers vs APR
  • US Monastir vs AS Douanes

May 12, 2024:

  • Rivers Hoopers vs US Monastir 
  • AS Douanes vs APR

Restrictions on Foreign Players

See Also
All African Games 2023 - Afrocritik

In the BAL regular season, each club is limited to having a maximum of four foreign players on its roster. This requirement ensures that each team must have at least eight local players. Additionally, of the four foreign players, at least two must be from another African country. 

Trophy and Prize Money

The winners of the BAL finals are awarded the competition’s trophy, which is inspired by the iconic Adansonia tree, also known as the baobab tree, found throughout Africa.

Bal Trophy image scaled

During the inaugural season in 2021, the champions reportedly received $100,000 in prize money. Runners-up were awarded $75,000, third place received $55,000, and fourth place received $25,000. No changes in this fee have been confirmed by BAL or FIBA. 

Basketball Africa League Regular Season Tiebreakers

The ranking of teams in the regular season is determined through a series of tiebreakers. Here’s how it works:

Win-loss record: Teams’ records are based on their wins and losses throughout the regular season.

Head-to-head record: The results of the games played between the tied teams during the regular season.

Point differential in head-to-head games: The difference between the total points scored and allowed in games between the tied teams.

Total points scored in head-to-head games: The total number of points scored by each team in games against each other.

Average point differential in conference games: The average difference between points scored and allowed in games against all other teams in the conference.

Average number of points scored in conference games: The average total points scored by each team in games against all other teams in the conference.

Drawing: If teams are still tied after considering the above tiebreakers, a random drawing will determine their final ranking.

The winner of the BAL each season gets to play in the FIBA Intercontinental Cup. Al Ahly (2021), US Monastir (2022), and Zamalek (2023) were previous champions and also representatives at the FIBA Intercontinental Cup. Will the title leave North Africa this time? 

Tuka Letura is an experienced sports writer with over five years of experience in the craft. He uses data and statistics to provide analysis and commentary. From regional to worldwide competitions, he has covered a wide range of sports-related events and topics. He is devoted to sharing his enthusiasm for sports with his audience and engaging them with interesting anecdotes and viewpoints.

Cover Photo – Regis Hirwa

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