One month after the Sahara Conference's success in Dakar, the Basketball Africa League (BAL) is returning this week with the Nile Conference. Six teams will face each other in Cairo in the hope of being among the top four teams playing in the final phase of the tournament which will take place, as usual, in Kigali, Rwanda.
Amongst 2023's new recruits, two new teams have made an appearance: Egypt's Al Ahly and Uganda's City Oilers, both of which will participate in their first BAL alongside Petro de Luanda (Angola), SLAC (Guinea), Ferroviário de Beira (Mozambique) and Cape Town Tigers (South Africa).
A finalist in last year's BAL (beaten by Monastir 83-72), Petro de Luanda are going into their third year strengthened by the recruitment of two key players from their Tunisian rival: the Sudanese Ater Majok, winner of the League's Dikembe Mutombo Defensive Player of the Year award, and the experienced Ivorian point guard, Souleymane Diabaté, the sole winning player from the first two editions of the BAL (with Zamalek in 2021 and USM in 2022).
The Angolan's partnership with Carlos Morais, Childe Dundão and Aboubakar Gakou gives the appearance of a dream team to the five major players that will be difficult to beat.
Cape Town Tigers is also worthy of attention with the team's roster bolstered by the arrival of two former NBA players: Josh Hall, who played 21 matches in 2010 to 2011 with Oklahoma City's Thunder and the Nigerian Michael Gbinije, who made 9 appearances for the Detroit Pistons in 2016 to 2017 and was the winner of Afrobasket in 2015. They will be led by Rasheed Hazzard, experienced former assistant coach for the NBA's Knicks and the Lakers.
Zaire Wade, the son of the legendary NBA player, Dwyane Wade, will also make his debut on the continent, after being recruited in Salt Lake City for the G League.
Al-Ahly will be watched closely too, after replacing their key rival Zamalek. The Cairo team will build on the backbone of the Egyptian national team who have just qualified for the World Cup. Amongst their players, Dramane "Ladji" Camara is another one to follow. The young player is the product of the NBA Academy Africa and will return to the United States next year.
Al-Ahly will open the Nile Conference this Wednesday against Ferroviário de Beira.