WINDHOEK – Development officer of the Namibia Basketball Federation (NBF) Malakia Matias is adamant that the newly formed Basketball Africa League (BAL) will serve as a major turning point for the sport of basketball on the continent, as small nations such as Namibia and the likes should greatly benefit.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) early this year announced their plans to launch BAL, a new professional league featuring 12 club teams from across Africa.
The BAL will be built on the foundation of current club competitions FIBA is organizing in Africa. Scheduled to officially commence with activities in January next year, the BAL would also mark the NBA’s first collaboration with FIBA that will see them operate a professional league outside of North America. This would be an opportunity for young aspiring basketball players to get much-needed exposure and access to the bigger world market of basketball, Matias is of the opinion.
Matias said the BAL will be a platform for small countries in Africa that haven’t really had a huge impact in the sport to get exposure and learn from the best on the continent and the world at large.
“It’s actually really important as it will create opportunities for African basketball players and youngsters, because there are lot of opportunities that will come with the league, whether they be scholarships and also just the fact that you can have integration of different cultures, and having NBA bring the product close to people who haven’t been exposed to it. So the impact will be huge and people will understand the sport and the brand around it,” he said.
NBA held its first NBA Africa Game tournament, known as Basketball without Borders, last year in Pretoria, South Africa, which was aimed at giving African players an opportunity to get involved in the sport.
Though the NBA Africa Game tournament is aimed at exposing all African players to the big league, Matias believes it hasn’t been close to smaller countries.
“The thing is it has not been very close to a lot of African countries that are smaller in market like Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe … because you know South Africa is a huge market for so many things. To be honest, as Namibians we have not benefited from these kinds of tournaments. Because for one to get scouted, you will need to send a video to Europe, so it was all difficult to get that an opportunity but now having it [BAL] so close in Africa, we will have a chance to be scouted. And also you won’t need to go as far as going to NBA and get a scholarship in America to play in the NBA. Now you can just a have a vision and a dream to play in the NBA Africa League, which will be clearly accessible for one to get scouted. I think it will benefit us in many ways,” added Matias.