The world is trying to return to a bit of normalcy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic while taking the necessary precautionary steps. Offices are resuming and lock-down is being eased across the world. The sport world is not left behind either. Some sport leagues e.g. Bundesliga have resumed with restriction in place while others such as the English Premier League and the NBA are weighing their options. So is the Basketball Africa League (BAL)
The BAL, which should have tipped off in March, was postponed due to the pandemic. Now the organisers are considering their options to ensure that the league still holds this year. The FIBA Africa President and President of the Board for the Basketball Africa League, President Anibal Manave in his interview on FIBA.basketball acknowledged that it is important to have the maiden edition of the league this year.
"Our hope is that the BAL’s first edition takes place in 2020. It’s important to give all stakeholders involved a sign of confidence. That includes clubs, local federations, sponsors, and public. And the best way to give them confidence is by starting the competition"
For this to happen, the continental governing body along with the NBA are considering the likely format that the tournament will take when it resumes. The three likely scenarios are as follows;
1. Keeping the original format and have the regular season across six countries and the playoffs and final in Rwanda
2. Playing the regular season in two countries with Nile Conference taking place in one county and Sahara Conference taking place in another country. The top four teams from each group advance to the Final Phase in Rwanda.
3. Playing all the games including the final phase in one one country over the course of two weeks.
The third option is similar to the single site format the NBA is considering for the return and completion of the NBA season using Disney land for games, practices and housing.
When asked about the partnership with the NBA on the BAL, President Manave admitted that the previous format of the club championship was obsolete and that participating clubs needed more games. According to him, there had been calls to FIBA Africa to adjust this format and the organisation had been thinking about it. So, when the partnership offer from the NBA came, they embraced it.
"The NBA is the ideal partner for this project. They embraced our ideas and together we are going to do everything in our power to make the BAL happen this year."
The President also confirmed that the BAL games will be played using FIBA rules, and that the games will be officiated by African and G-League referees.