Patriots BBC, Rivers Hoopers to tip off inaugural BAL season on ESPNews, ESPN+
The Basketball Africa League tips off Sunday with Patriots Basketball Club facing Rivers Hoopers at Kigali Arena
The inaugural Basketball Africa League tips off Sunday as the host Patriots Basketball Club faces Nigerian club Rivers Hoopers at Kigali Arena in Kigali, Rwanda (10 a.m. ET, ESPNews, ESPN+).
The two-week tournament matches 12 of the best club teams in Africa with the final taking place on May 30. To start, teams have been divided into three groups of four (Groups A, B, and C) and will play three games against opponents within their group.
Following that group stage, the top eight teams will advance to the quarterfinal round next week. Group A, which include US Monastir (Tunisia) and GNBC (Madagascar), will get the action started with the Patriots and Rivers Hoopers.
Patriots Basketball Club has become the most dominant force in Rwandan basketball over the past five seasons with four national league titles. The additions of Jermaine Cole, Brandon Costner and head coach Alan Major added some American flavor to the hosts, who re-signed Rwandan 3-point specialist Kenneth Gasana.
Seven-foot center Tom Bush Wuamukota, an NCAA Sweet 16 participant in 2015 with Wichita State University, provides a crucial presence in the paint, while newly-signed Wilson Nshobozwa is expected to put his quickness to service on the perimeter.
When it comes to analyzing Nigerian Rivers Hoopers, all eyes are on former NBA guard Ben Uzoh and his backcourt teammate Robinson Opong.
Uzoh, a regular member of the Nigerian national team who helped his country to their only FIBA AfroBasket title six years ago, could be a key factor for the Hoopers with his experience, handles and leadership.
He appeared in 60 NBA games for the New Jersey Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors from 2010-2012. In his final NBA game with Toronto, Uzoh tallied a triple-double agains the Nets, the first by a Raptor in 11 years.
An Ugandan international, Opong made a name for himself on the continent for his three-point shooting prowess and calmness in critical game moments.