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Basketball Africa League Postponing Start of Inaugural Season After Coronavirus Concerns

The Basketball Africa League, a new league formed in partnership with FIBA and the NBA, is postponing the start of its inaugural season after health concerns related to the coronavirus.

"Following the recommendation of the Senegalese government regarding the escalating health concerns related to the coronavirus, the BAL’s inaugural season will be postponed," BAL President Amadou Gallo Fall said in a statement. "I am disappointed we are not able to tip off this historic league as scheduled but look forward to the highly-anticipated launch of the BAL at a later date.”

The 12-team league was first announced during 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte and features teams from all over the continent. Its first game was scheduled for Friday, March 13 at the Dakar Arena in Dakar, Senegal.

Champions from national leagues in six countries—Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia—were guaranteed a place in the inaugural BAL season, per a Feb. 15 release. The remaining six teams, which come from Algeria, Cameroon, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and Rwanda, secured spots in the league through BAL qualifying tournaments conducted by FIBA Africa across the continent in late 2019.

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The BAL marked the NBA's first attempt to operate a league outside North America.

In North America, a number of sports leagues, including the NBA, have recently formed advisory committees or issues recommendations for how to handle the virus to their respective teams.