NBA, FIBA announce plans for pro league in Africa

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver talks to the media as part of the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina, on February 16, 2019. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images/AFP)
Updated 17 February 2019
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NBA, FIBA announce plans for pro league in Africa

  • The Basketball Africa League is a new collaboration between the NBA and the sport’s global governing body FIBA
  • Qualification tournaments will be held to determine those clubs that will take part

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina: The NBA is bringing a pro league to Africa.
The Basketball Africa League, a new collaboration between the NBA and the sport’s global governing body FIBA, was announced Saturday. The initial plan is for the 12-team league to begin play in January, and former President Barack Obama is among those who are expected to have direct involvement with the league’s plan to keep growing the game in Africa through the league and other initiatives.
The scope of what Obama’s involvement will be remains unknown, and it’s yet to be determined which existing club teams will be part of the league. Qualification tournaments will be held later this year to determine those clubs, with teams from Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia expected to be among those taking part. No nation will have more than two teams in the league.
“As we’ve been talking about this concept over the last several months, there’s been a tremendous reception from many of our NBA team owners ... and in addition, several of the partners of the NBA have expressed a strong desire to work with us in Africa,” Silver said.
Silver said Pepsi and Nike’s Jordan Brand — Charlotte owner Michael Jordan was among the owners in the room where Silver made the announcement — are among the partners who have reached out to the NBA and said they want to be part of the Africa league. Silver also said that Obama, an enormous basketball fan, has told him he wants to “be directly involved with these activities in Africa.”
Silver said talks between the NBA and Obama are ongoing. Obama spoke on a video that was shown during the event where Silver announced the league.
“I hope you know through sport, that if you put in effort, you will be rewarded,” Obama said. “I hope you learn through sport what it means to play as a team, and even if you are the best player, your job is not just to show off but your job is to make your teammates better.”
The NBA and FIBA’s involvement will include financial support and resources toward continued growing of the game on the continent, as well as providing training for players, coaches and referees and some infrastructure for the new league. Silver said there are 438 companies in Africa that generate more than $1 billion in revenue annually, but that sport there has not seen the same growth — yet.
“Africa is a huge economic engine,” Silver said. “And one place, though, where we haven’t seen enormous economic growth yet is in the industry of sport. And that’s something that we are all particularly focused on.”
The NBA has held three games in Africa since 2015, all of them selling out — two games in Johannesburg, the other in Pretoria. Many of the league’s current players and coaches, along with several legends and Hall of Famers, have been part of those trips.
“I went with them last year,” Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said. “The NBA reaches out across the world.”
The league has an office in South Africa, has helped create 87 learn-and-play facilities in seven African nations, and 13 players who were born in Africa on opening-night NBA rosters this season. The league also built an academy in Senegal that opened nearly two years ago.
“It’s a huge joy to see our partnership with the NBA enter uncharted territory as we work together for the first time to maximize the potential of professional basketball in Africa,” said Andreas Zagklis, FIBA’s secretary-general.
This marks the first time the NBA has been involved with the operation of a league outside of North America.
“We’re excited to work closely with the NBA to develop and put in a place a professional league like none that we have ever seen in our region before,” said FIBA Africa Executive Director Alphonse Bile. “Through the Basketball Africa League, we can provide the many great clubs and players with the best possible environment to compete for the highest stakes.”
The NBA says more details about the new league will be released in the coming months.


Bangladesh sink Afghanistan to keep alive World Cup semifinal hopes

Updated 46 min 40 sec ago
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Bangladesh sink Afghanistan to keep alive World Cup semifinal hopes

  • Shakib’s 51 laid the foundations for Bangladesh to score 262-7 and made him the leading run-scorer in this year’s World Cup
  • The 32-year-old then ripped through the Afghan batting line-up with his career-best ODI figures of 5-29 from 10 overs

SOUTHAMPTON: Bangladesh boosted their bid to reach the World Cup semifinals as Shakib Al Hasan’s superb all-round display inspired a 62-run win over Afghanistan on Monday.
Shakib’s 51 laid the foundations for Bangladesh to score 262-7 and made him the leading run-scorer in this year’s World Cup.
The 32-year-old then ripped through the Afghan batting line-up with his career-best ODI figures of 5-29 from 10 overs.
Shakib is only the second player in World Cup history to take five wickets and hit a 50 in the same match after India’s Yuvraj Singh against Ireland in 2011.
Bangladesh, winners against South Africa and the West Indies earlier in the tournament, are up to fifth place in the 10-team group stage.
They sit one point behind fourth-placed England, who face Australia on Tuesday, in the race to seal a semifinal berth via a top-four finish.
Mashrafe Mortaza’s side play India and Pakistan in their final two group matches.
Afghanistan became the first team to be eliminated after an agonizing 11-run loss against India on Saturday, when Mohammed Shami’s final-over hat-trick denied them a famous upset.
Gulbadin Naib’s team have lost all seven of their matches, leaving with two games to avoid finishing the tournament without a single point.
Rahmat Shah and Gulbadin put on 49 for the first wicket, giving Afghanistan hope of a surprise win.
But Shakib’s introduction brought the breakthrough as the spinner weaved his magic.
Rahmat carelessly flicked a flatter delivery to Tamim Iqbal at mid-on and departed for 24.
Just 10 runs came from the next five overs and Hashmatullah Shahidi perished when he tried to accelerate, stumped by Mushfiqur Rahim off Mosaddek Hossain for 11.
Bangladesh had victory in their sights after Shakib took two wickets in the space of four balls.
Gulbadin was removed for 47 after driving low to Liton Das at short extra cover before Mohammad Nabi was bowled through the gate for a duck.
Shakib became the first Bangladesh player to take five wickets in the World Cup when he had Najibullah Zadran stumped.
Earlier, Shakib became the leading run scorer in this year’s World Cup so far as his side posted a solid score after being put into bat.
Shakib’s 51 took him to 476 runs in the tournament, while Mushfiqur top-scored with 83 from 87 balls.
Liton was promoted ahead of Soumya Sarkar to open along with Tamim for Bangladesh, with the pair managing a brisk 23 from the first four overs.
But Liton fell for 16 in the next over after being fooled into a miscued drive by spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who finished with 3-39.
That brought Shakib to the crease and he upped the tempo even further with some aggressive hitting that maintained his fine World Cup form.
When Shakib, who has two centuries already in the tournament, pulled Naib to the boundary, it moved him above Australia’s David Warner’s 447 runs.
Tamim and Shakib put on their fourth successive fifty partnership in one-day internationals.
Shakib went on to become only the second player to hit six consecutive 40-plus scores in a World Cup.
Not long after that milestone, Shakib brought up his half-century in 66 balls — his fifth score of 50 or more in this tournament — to huge cheers from the Bangladesh fans who made up the majority of the crowd.
Shakib was unable to turn his solid start into another century, but he would contribute more than enough with the ball to seal the victory.