Algérie

One step away from the Basketball Africa League 2020’s regular season

YAOUNDE (Cameroon) – History will be made Saturday when four clubs take to the floor in Yaounde for the first Semi-Finals of the ‘Elite 16’ of Basketball Africa League (BAL).

With twelve games into the eight-team West Division qualifier, which started early this week, four teams remain in contention for their places in BAL’s regular season, starting in March 2020.

It’s never too much to recall the importance of Saturday’s Semi-Finals for these four teams as it could open the door to the first-ever BAL, a partnership between FIBA and the NBA. It’s the NBA’s first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America.

While GSP of Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire’s ABC, AS Police from Mali and Cameroon’s FAP advanced to the last four of the Yaounde’s showdown, it was the end of the road for Gabon’s Manga , Libya’s Al Naser, AS Nigelec Club of Niger and BC Mazembe from DR Congo.

For GSP, FAP, ABC and AS Police Saturday’s semis could be one of – if not – the most important games of their clubs this year, as it could change their history.

After weeks of intense pre-qualifier competition, they are just one step away from reaching BAL 2020’s regular season.

The winners of the Semi-Finals qualify automatically to the 12-team BAL regular season while the two losing teams will face off Sunday for the right to secure the last ticket on offer for West Division teams for the continent’s top clubs competition.

In the first Semi-Final, Group A winners Algerian champions GSP (2-1) take on Group B runners-up AS Police (2-1) of Mali (14:30 GMT +1).

The last time Algerians and Malians faced off in the pre-qualifiers a month ago in Bamako, AS Police stunned GSP 83-76 so, will it be a payback for GSP, who have shown tremendous tenacity to remain in the competition.

With an average of 95 points scored per game, GSP currently register the highest scoring mark in Group G while AS Police record (73) the fewest conceded points in the group.

Two and half hour later, former FIBA Africa Champions Cup winners Abidjan Basket Club (2-1) of Cote d’Ivoire, who topped Group B will exchange blows with hosts Force Armees et de Police (2-1) of Cameroon, who finished second in Group A.

At the age of 39, ABC’s Stephane Konate, who claimed honours of the FIBA Africa Champions Cup 2005, has been fundamental for the Ivorians not only because of his tournament-high 21 points per game, but more importantly, because he can’t hide his desperation to join Africa’s elite players in the regular season.

The Cameroonians will need to come together to prevent ABC from causing an upset in front of their home fans.

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Engelbert Beleck, has sparked FAP with timely and crucial plays, and he could be the answer to his team’s needs against a highly-motivated ABC side.

Already qualified for the 12-team BAL regular season champions of Angola (Petro Atletico de Luanda), Egypt (Zamalek), Tunisia (Union Monastir ), Morocco (Association Sportive Sale), Senegal (AS Douanes) and Nigeria (Rivers Hoopers).

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FIBA

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