Season three of the Basketball Africa League tips off on March 11 in Dakar, Senegal. Like the last edition, 12 teams from 12 African countries will play a total of 38 games over three months in three cities; Dakar, Cairo, and Kigali.
Of the 12, six automatically qualified for this season’s BAL while the other six had to go through qualifying tournaments.
The six teams with automatic spots are: Al Ahly (Egypt), As Douanes (Senegal), Petro de Luanda (Angola), Union Sportive Monastirienne (Tunisia), Rwanda Energy Group (Rwanda) and Kwara Falcons (Nigeria).
While Seydou Legacy Athlétique Club (Guinea), Abidjan Basket Club (Coted I’voire), Stade Malien de Bamako (Mali), Cape Town Tigers (South Africa), City Oilers Basketball (Uganda) and Ferroviario da Beira (Mozambique) made it to the BAL from the qualifiers.
Interestingly, there will be five debutants in season three of the Basketball Africa League – Al Ahly, Kwara Falcons, ABC, Stade de Bamako and City Oilers Basketball.
Let’s take a look at each of the 12 teams and how they made it to season three of the Basketball Africa League.
Union Sportive Monastirienne (Tunisia)
Reigning champions, US Monastir will be making their third appearance at the BAL, one of the two teams to do so. They picked one of the automatic spots after they emerged champions of the Tunisian league.
Monastir finished second behind Ezzahra in the regular season of the Championnat National A (CNA) but defeated the latter 3-1 in the playoffs to win their seventh Tunisian league title.
Petro de Luanda (Angola)
Angola second most successful team, Petro de Luanda won the Angolan Men’s Basketball League beating Interclube in the best-of-five series to qualify to the BAL for a third consecutive season.
Petro won the regular season of 26 games without defeat. They went on to defeat Casa do Pessoal do Porto do Lobito (CPPL) and Primeiro de Agosto in the quarter final and semi final respectively before they triumphed over Interclube to be crowned champions of Angola for the 15th time.
Brazilian Jose Neto who has been in charge since 2020 returns to the BAL, a year after losing the 2022 final to US Monastir.
Rwanda Energy Group (Rwanda)
Rwanda Energy Group (REG) Basketball retained the Rwanda Basketball League title after beating Patriots to take the series 3-2. The win earned them an automatic slot to the 2023 Basketball Africa League.
It was the first time REG will defend a trophy they won in 2021 in what has now become a fierce rivalry with Patriots locally.
REG reached the quarterfinal of the 2022 BAL where they lost to FAP of Cameroon, but can they go one better this year?
Al Ahly (Egypt)
This will be Al Ahly’s debut at the Basketball Africa League after missing out on the first two editions to local rivals, Zamalek.
Al Ahly picked one of the automatic slots to the BAL following their victory in the final of the Egyptian Basketball Super League beating Al Ittihad of Alexandria 3-2 in the best of five series.
The Red Devils as they are fondly called reached the final after thrashing El-Gezira 3-0 (80-61,76-62, 87-65) while Al Ittihad had to overcome Zamalek 3-0 (97-53, 73-68, 79-59) to set up a highly anticipated clash.
The title is Al Ahly’s sixth in their history.
AS Douanes (Senegal)
AS Douanes will be returning to the BAL after beating their arch rivals Dakar University Club (DUC) 2-0 in the Nationale 1 Masculin (Senegal Men’s Basketball league) playoffs to grab their 10th title in their history.
The Senegalese Customs team finished in the quarter final of the inaugural edition of the BAL after they struggled to go past US Monastir.
Kwara Falcons (Nigeria)
Following their 78-53 win over Nigeria Customs in the final game of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) Final 8, Kwara Falcons will be making their debut at this year’s BAL.
Victory over Nigeria Customs saw them pick one of the six automatic spots to the BAL.
Falcons defeated Benue Braves 83-59 while Customs overcame former Nigerian champions Rivers Hoopers 64-59 in the semifinals.
The BAL season three will see the return of a Nigerian team to the elite League after a year out due to leadership crisis in the NBBF.
Abidjan Basket Club (Coted I’voire)
14 teams participated in the 2022 Basketball Africa League qualifying tournament tagged “Road to BAL”and ABC were in group A of the West Division held in Niamey, Niger.
The champions of the Ivorian Basketball Championship finished unbeaten (3-0) in the group stage that had Stade Malien, Elan Coton and host Nigelec.
They however managed one win out of their three group games in the West Division of the BAL Elite 16 which was enough to see them through to the semis were they defeated Stade Malien for a second time in the qualifiers and qualified for the 2023 BAL.
ABC crowned their BAL qualification with victory over SLAC in the final to emerge champions of the West Division.
Cape Town Tigers (South Africa)
With the six automatic slots already filled, Cape Town Tigers were one of the teams who jostled for the remaining six spots to the 2023 BAL edition.
They didn’t go through the Basketball Africa League qualifying tournament but went straight to the Elite 16 Round as one of the seven teams who played the last edition of the BAL and are champions in their countries.
The South African team edged City Oilers 75-69 in a thrilling semi final game before they overcame Ferroviario da Beira in the final to emerge Elite 16, East Division champions with a 4-1 record.
Ferroviario da Beira (Mozambique)
Ferroviario also went straight into the Elite 16 as one of the teams who played in last season’s BAL.
They finished with a 2-1 record in the group stage, their only loss was against City Oilers of Uganda.
The Mozambican champions qualified from the East division after they defeated Urunani 68-62 in the semifinal.
Seydou Legacy Athlétique Club (Guinea)
Seydou Legacy Athlétique Club (SLAC) are making a return to the Basketball Africa League for a second consecutive season. Like Cape Town Tigers and Ferroviario Beira, SLAC made it straight to the Elite 16 of the BAL.
SLAC finished second in Group B of the West division with a 2-1 record and went on to beat Bangui Sporting Club 69-61 in the semi final which earned them a spot in the 2023 Basketball Africa League.
Stade Malien de Bamako (Mali)
Stade Malien started the qualification to the BAL in Group A of the road to BAL qualifying tournament in Niamey. They won two and lost one against Abidjan Basket Club.
The next stage of the qualifying tournament called the “Elite 16 Division” was a smooth ride for the Malians as they kept a 100% record.
Despite winning all three games in Group B of the Elite 16 division, Stade Malien left it late to qualify for the BAL.
The Malian side lost 63-80 to the eventual champions of the West Division, ABC in the semis. They however dug deep to pick the last slot when they defeated Bangui 62-59 in the third-place game.
City Oilers Basketball (Uganda)
City Oilers made history as they became the first team from Uganda to qualify for the Basketball Africa League when they picked the last ticket in the East Division. They held on to defeat the champions of Burundi, Urunani 71-62 in the third place game.
COB who had a 2-1 record in the group stage of the road to BAL, were unbeaten in the group stage of the Elite 16 (3-0) but lost to Cape Town Tigers in the semis.
The Ugandans had to battle for the remaining BAL ticket in the third place game of the East Division.