The NBA has revealed plans to launch the Basketball Africa League in partnership with FIBA, the sport’s global governing body.
The 12-team league is expected to begin in January 2020, with the support of former US President Barack Obama as a “hands-on” ambassador.
The NBA and FIBA said they plan to conduct qualification tournaments later this year to identify the 12 teams that would represent several African countries, including Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia.
The project will mark the league’s first direct investment in a non-North American operation.
“The Basketball Africa League is an important next step in our continued development of the game of basketball in Africa,” NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, said in a statement.
“Combined with our other programs on the continent, we are committed to using basketball as an economic engine to create new opportunities in sports, media and technology across Africa.”
According to Silver, several of the NBA’s major sponsors have already reached out about partnering with the new Basketball Africa League.
Pepsi and Jordan Brand are among the most notable, although clearly having the stamp of approval from President Obama goes a long way.
“As we’ve been talking about this concept over the last several months, there’s been a tremendous reception from several of our NBA team owners,” Silver said.