Rwanda’s Patriots to face Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers in Basketball Africa League opener

(SATSports) – Rwandan side the Patriots will tip off the inaugural Basketball Africa League against Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers at the Kigali Arena in Rwanda’s capital Kigali on May 16 as the much-anticipated tournament edges closer to its historic start.

The release of a fixture list revealed that three games will be played per day during the first week of the tournament.

A number of high-profile African teams will be on show during that first week, including Zamalek of Egypt, AS Douanes of Senegal and Tunisia’s US Monastir.

The BAL is using the bubble format that helped the NBA complete its 2020 season. A total of 26 games will be played. The season will tip off with an 18-game group phase consisting of 12 teams divided into three groups of four teams each.

The top eight teams from the group phase will qualify for the playoffs, which will be single elimination in all three rounds. The BAL Finals are scheduled to take place on May 30.

Champions from national leagues in six countries – Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia – were guaranteed representation in the inaugural BAL season. The remaining six teams, which come from Algeria, Cameroon, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and Rwanda, secured their participation through BAL qualifying tournaments conducted by FIBA Africa across the continent in late 2019.

The Patriots have tried to play down expectations about their chances given the amount of interest locally in the competition.

“We always set the target high, and we want to win the title. But it starts with getting some wins and qualifying for the quarter-finals, and then we can go on from there,” Aristide Mugabe, the team captain, told local publication The New Times.

“The message is simple: let’s go out there to compete and show the world that Africa has got talent”.

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