On the heels of starting a new professional basketball league in Africa in 2020, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said he is considering the same in India. The NBA is partnering with basketball’s governing body, FIBA, to launch the Basketball Africa League in January of next year.
The Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings played the first-ever NBA game in India on Friday night. The preseason game was played in Mumbai at the NCSI Dome. The Pacers wound up beating the Kings 132-131 in overtime, but to make the game happen the NBA had to bring in the actual court, scoreboards, more seats, and had to help refinish the locker rooms.
Still, Silver and the NBA believe that a pro league in India is possible. What the country lacks though is the facilities to pull it off. The NCSI Dome is a well-known facility in India, but it was built in the 1950s. It’s maximum capacity is only 8,000. Other facilities around the country are used primarily for sports like tennis and badminton.
The Basketball Africa League is scheduled to begin in January with 12 teams participating. Teams will be determined by qualification tournaments to be held throughout Africa. Teams from Tunisia, South Africa, Senegal, Rwanda, Nigeria, Morocco, Kenya, Egypt, and Angola are among those expected to participate in the qualifying tournaments. The BAL has said that no country will have more than two teams in the league.
The NBA has played three games in Africa since 2015. Two were in Johannesburg and one in Pretoria, which are both located in South Africa. All three games were sellouts. Both FIBA and the NBA have pledged financial support as well as resources for players, coaches, and referees in the new league. Nike’s Jordan Brand and Pepsi have both expressed interest in supporting the league as well.