In search of glory in the prestigious BK Arena, Kigali, eight teams will slug it out for the 2023 Basketball Africa League trophy from 20th -27th May.

Petro de Luanda, Al Ahly, Cape Town Tigers and Ferroviario da Beira of the Nile Conference and Stade Malien, AS Douanes, Rwanda Energy Group (REG) and Abidjan Basket Club Fighters (ABC) from the Sahara Conference have all shown they deserve to be at the Playoffs.

Petro de Luanda

The Angolan champions continue their quest for the BAL trophy that has eluded them for two consecutive times.

In 2021, they were defeated by the eventual champions, Zamalek and had to finish in third place after thrashing Patriots.

They came really close last season but where outplayed in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter of the final game against US Monastir. Victory in the final would have crowned a good season after their head coach, Jose Neto, was awarded the coach of the year.

2023 season has started well for the Angolans as they finished 5-0 mark in the Nile Conference held in Egypt. The team had a smooth ride but faced their biggest hurdle in host, Al Ahly in their last game.The game went down the wire and took a Gerson Lukeny Goncalves’ buzzer beater to win by one point.

Many had referred it to be a final game away from the final in Kigali with both being touted as the finalists of this season.Well, it would only be wise to lower our expectations, because stranger things have happened in basketball and sports in general.

Petro would have to overcome ABC in the quarter final first, then pick a win in the semis from the winner between AS Douanes and Ferroviario da Beira to reach the BAL final.

Stade Malien

The fearless and youthful side have stayed consistent in their style of play from the Road to BAL to the Sahara Conference. They have also shown they are up for every challenge thrown at them irrespective of the opponents.

Although the Malians left it late to pick the last ticket to the BAL, victory over Bangui Sporting Club from Central African Republic in the third place game was all it took to earn their maiden appearance in Africa’s elite tournament.

The team went on to defy all odds to win the Sahara Conference with a 3-2 mark propelled by two young players, Aliou Diarra and Souleymane Berthe.

They face Cape Town Tigers for a place in the semifinals.

Al Ahly

The Egyptian giants made a huge statement in their quest to win the BAL in their debut season just like their compatriots, Zamalek in season one.

Al Ahly finished with a 4-1 mark in the Nile Conference with their only loss against Petro de Luanda which went down the stretch.

Former Zamalek head coach Agustin Bosch is back in the BAL but this time as head coach of AL Ahly and would only hope to win his second BAL title as head coach and also help Al Ahly win their first.

Bosch has added two new players to the roster Omar Azab and Michael Fakuade who was part of the 2021 BAL winning Zamalek team leaving out Ahmed Ismail.

Al Ahly are up against REG who will be playing right infront of their fans a luxury the Egyptians enjoyed at the Nile Conference in Cairo.

AS Douanes

A vibrant home crowd can do a lot in motivating a team and propelling them to do well especiailly when they have the players who can deliver. An inspired-AS Douanes got into their rhythm after two defeats in the Sahara Conference.

In the absence of one of their key players, Terrell Stoglin, the Senegalese side had the backing of their fans.

Chris Crawford, Jean Jacque Boissy alongside other team members stepped up to do the unthinkable. Not just the fact that they picked three wins in their remaining three games, they knocked out the defending champions US Monastir with a convincing win on the last day of the Sahara Conference.

The Senegalese champions play against Ferroviario da Beira for a place in the semi final. Both teams have never surparssed the quarter final stage. It will be interesting to see who makes it through to their first ever BAL semis but this time they have to do it without the huge home crowd behind them like in Dakar.


For a third consecutive season, Rwanda has a representative in the Playoffs of Africa’s biggest basketball club competition and would only wish they go beyond the quarter final and not fall short.

REG became the first team to qualify for the Playoffs from the Sahara Conference after they registered three wins in their first three games but fell to Stade Malien and US Monastir.

Head coach of REG, Dean Murray has called on the Rwandan fans to get behind his boys when they face AL Ahly on Saturday.

Ferroviario da Beira

Like Petro de Luanda, the Mozambicans have kept their entire roster from the Nile Conference heading to the big showdown in Kigali. Beira finished with a 2-3 mark in the conference held in Cairo, Egypt.

They face Senegalese champions, AS Douanes with both making a return to the BAL after missing out of the second season.

This will be the second meeting between these two after being grouped together in season one with Beira picking the win in Kigali.

Once again Beira will count on Najeal Young and William Perry to lead the side to a first semi final place. Perry tied the BAL record for most points scored in a game (41 points) and also set a record for most threes scored in a game.He made 9 of 14 from behind the arc to help defeat SLAC in the Nile Conference.

Abidjan Basket Club Fighters

Coached by the only female coach in the Basketball Africa League, Liz Mills, she has overtime proved her coaching abilities and why she deserves to sit at the same table with the men.

In her first season of the elite league, Mills led AS Sale to a quarter final finish losing to Petro de Luanda. Mills would once again lead her ABC side to face Jose Neto’s Petro in the quarter final on Sunday.

As a result, the Australian has added three new players to her roster, Tylor Ongwae, Omar Abada and Ousmane Drame. It is believed that these players would be the best fix for her team when they face the Angolans on Sunday.

Cape Town Tigers

A team with so much buzz around them with the inclusion of Zaire Wade, the son of NBA legend, Dwayne Wade. Also coached by a former asistant coach in the NBA, Rasheed Hazzard.

Cape Town Tigers have a lot at stake when they faceoff with the youthful and athletic Stade Malien. An hard fought win against the City Oilers of Uganda on the last day of the Nile Conference was all it took to pick the last spot to the Playoffs.

The team so promising from South Africa would have to beat their least season’s record of a quarter final finish. Victory over Stade Malien will be more than enough to achieve that feat.