The NBA and FIBA will jointly launch the Basketball Africa League (BAL) featuring 12 club teams from across the continent. Play will begin in January 2020 and existing teams will get a chance to qualify for the league, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.
"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."
The NBA and FIBA plan to hold a qualification tournament later this year to determine the BAL's inaugural 12 teams, with no more than two clubs representing the same country, a source told Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.
Silver also added that former U.S. President Barack Obama has expressed a desire to be involved, according to Reynolds.
"I’ve always loved basketball because it’s about building a team that’s equal to more than the sum of its parts," Obama tweeted in response to the NBA's announcement. "Glad to see this expansion into Africa because for a rising continent, this can be about a lot more than what happens on the court."
The NBA has a long, storied history with Africa. Since 2003, the league has held "Basketball Without Borders," an annual instructional camp that has produced the likes of Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid and Pascal Siakam of the Toronto Raptors.