Counting down hours to the new BAL season 

We’re only hours away from the start of the 2023 Basketball Africa League

Come tomorrow, the new Basketball Africa League is resuming with a bang with the Sahara Conference group phase. The first game is between the debuting Abidjan Basket Club Fighters (Cote d’Ivoire) and hosts of the Sahara Conference, AS Douanes (Senegal). Other teams which will be fighting to pass the group stages are Rwanda Energy Group (Rwanda), US Monastir (Tunisia), Stade Malien (Mali) and Kwara Falcons (Nigeria). All Sahara Conference group stages will take place in the Dakar Arena in the Senegalese capital.  There will be 15 games played each conference, then the last four per conference will advance to the 2023 BAL Playoffs. The last two respectively will play the Finals.

It’s just a matter of time till we crown one team the new champions of the BAL. But the question remains: is US Monastir able to defend their championship or we going to crown a brand new champion? Are we going to have the best officials ever, or we going to have NBA kind of refs with wrong decisions and no accountability? This is the season to put African basketball on the world map. We are already having members of G-League flocking to the African league to add onto the skills we already have and make it more competitive. Teams are investing so much in players and facilities, and owners are making sure we get quality players from all over the world and quality from their respective countries.

BAL PLAYERS TO WATCH

Like any team that is willing to win the championship, they’ll do anything within their budget and powers to beef up their rosters prior to the season. With Hennessy and Wilson being the sponsors, you know the stakes are high. So, let’s look into the debutants of the Basketball African League and the players we should watch.

CHECK OUT: All eyes on the Basketball African League

The Kwara Falcons, is a team from Nigeria, based in Ilorin, Kwara. They play in the Nigerian Premier League and qualified for the BAL after winning the NBBF Final 8 tournament in their home country. This is a team to watch, as we know that Nigerians are very competitive when it comes to any sport. They’ll be travelling to Dakar, Senegal in March to represent Nigeria at the third edition of the BAL tournament.  Recently they have signed three additional players to boost the squad ahead of their first game.

Michael Kolawole who played one season at Lamar Cardinals. Between 2015-2017 he was playing for UIC Flames, which is the intercollegiate athletic teams that represent the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Jeremiah Mordi, a Nigerian professional basketball player, with NBA G League experience to add to the Falcons Locker room, played lot of college basketball, like any baller whose dream it is to make it to the NBA. He recorded 16 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists on average (23.4 efficiency) while playing for Moncton Magic (Canadian professional basketball team based in Moncton, New Brunswick). He is a player to watch and capable of taking the Falcons all the way to the finals.

Coach to watch

So many teams have a point to prove. Some just want to experience the competitiveness, while others want to leave a mark! The Abidjan Basket Club Fighters from the Ivory Coast is the most successful men’s team in the country, with 19 national championships won, and one continental FIBA Africa Champions Cup in 2005. Now the big question is: can they transfer all that energy to BAL?

Can 20 years of coaching experience by Australian-born coach Liz Mills take them all the way to the BAL finals and see them crowned as the new champions? Liz is the first-ever female head coach in the Basketball Africa League (BAL). Liz has only been with the Ivorian team since December 2022, who earlier qualified for the 2023 BAL season.

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