The National Basketball Association ( NBA) announced that it will invest millions of dollars in Basketball Africa League, its first professional league outside of North America, and will be hands-on in its operation on Tuesday
The NBA, in partnership with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), is launching the Basketball Africa League in January 2020, featuring 12 teams from across the continent.
“This league will be fully operated by the NBA,” Amadou Gallo Fall, the NBA’s vice president for Africa, confirms.
According to Forbes, The NBA generated $8 billion in revenue last season and industry players say audience interest in Africa has grown alongside the profile of Africans playing in the world’s top basketball league.
Cameroon’s Joel Embiid, a 25-year old center for the Philadelphia 76ers has emerged as a top player in the NBA, signing a five-year contract with the team worth nearly $150 million in 2017.
This season, Embiid and 24-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, born in Greece to Nigerian parents, are contenders to become the NBA’s most valuable player.
The NBA established an Africa office nine years ago. It held its first NBA Africa game in 2015. Games in 2017 and 2018 were played in front of sold-out crowds in South Africa.
Basketball Africa League will involve six national champions — from Nigeria, Angola, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Senegal — who will automatically qualify for the competition. The remaining six will come through international qualifiers later this year.
While the NBA is yet to state an exact investment amount, it confirms it will be millions of dollars. The league opened an elite basketball academy in Senegal in 2017, which along with its Basketball Without Borders Africa program, has showcased African talent hoping to play for NBA teams or U.S. colleges.
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