Early this year, FIBA Africa announced that it will change the format of the club continental championship. The FIBA Africa Champions Cup was renamed FIBA AfroLeague. The maiden edition of the league, based on the 2018 basketball season of participating countries, is expected to tip off in January next year.

Some of the objectives of the league are to increase the coverage and duration of the competition.

Here are things you need to know about the 2019 FIBA AfroLeague;

15 Teams played to qualify - Fifteen teams emerged as representatives of their zones after participating in the zonal qualifiers. They are; AS Sale (Morocco), ES Rades (Tunisia), JS Kairouan (Tunisia), Rivers Hoopers (Nigeria), Civil Defenders (Nigeria), Elan Sportif (Benin), SLAC (Guinea), ASB Mazembe (DR Congo), ASB Terreur (DR Congo), Al Ahly (Egypt), Smouha (Egypt), Primeiro D’Agosto (Angola), Petro de Luanda (Angola), Ferroviario da Beira (Mozambique) and COSPN (Madagascar).

Three Zones produced the highest number of participants - All seven zones participated in the qualifiers to produce the 15 teams for the AfroLeague. Zones 1,3 and 6 produced the highest number of participants with three teams each, Zones 4 and 5 produced 2 each while Zones 1 and 7 had one qualifying team each 

A wildcard to be issued - A wildcard will be issued to one team to make up the 16 teams needed for the tournament. It will go to the Zone with the highest number of participating teams at the zonal qualifiers. Considering that Zone 3 - where Nigeria belongs - and Zone 1 already have three teams each in the tournament, it is unlikely that either will get the wild card.

Three phases will be played - The FIBA AfroLeague will be played in three phases - Sweet Sixteen, Elite 8 and Final Four. Sweet 16 will feature 16 teams divided into four groups who will play against one another in a round robin format.

The two top teams from each group will form the Elite 8. These 8 teams in the Elite 8 will form four groups of 2 teams each and will play home-and-away games in the knock-out format to determine who advances to Final Four.

Sweet 16 will hold from January 25 to March 10 while Final Four will be played from May 17-19.

Draws will take place early next month - The draws to determine the teams in the groups, as well as the announcement of the hosting teams of Sweet 16, will be held early next year as soon as FIBA Africa resumes from break on 2nd January 2019. The venue for the draw has not been decided but, according to sources, will mostly be Abidjan. 

We can`t wait for January to come as we look forward to the maiden edition of the all-new FIBA Afroleague and wish the Nigerian teams - Rivers Hoopers and Civil Defenders - a good outing.

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