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BAL4: Kalahari Conference Preview

Kalahari Conference Preview: This season marks a historic moment for the Basketball Africa League (BAL) as it makes its debut in South Africa with the Kalahari Conference.

Published on

April 10, 2024

Last Updated on

March 9, 2024

Fanya Nkengasong

Fanya Nkengasong

Staff Writer

BAL4: Kalahari Conference Preview

The BAL4: Kalahari Conference Preview

The Basketball Africa League (BAL) is set to make history again with the debut of its inaugural South African-based conference, the Kalahari Conference.

Previously, South Africa had only hosted the Preliminary Round, known as the Road to BAL, back in November 2023, and an NBA Africa game, six years ago. Pretoria was chosen over Johannesburg as the host city for the Kalahari Conference. Located around 45 minutes away from Johannesburg, it boasts a state-of-the-art arena that can accommodate top level basketball games.

FUS Rabat (Morocco), locals Cape Town Tigers (South Africa), Dynamo BBC (Burundi) and Petro de Luanda (Angola) will battle for a ticket to the next round.

Petro de Luanda and FUS Rabat are hot favourites, but things could play out differently once the teams take the court. With the recent scramble to sign players who can complement their teams, the Kalahari Conference appears poised to be fiercely contested.

Below are some facts about the teams and their respective rosters:

Cape Town Tigers (South Africa)

• The Kalahari Conference home team, Cape Town Tigers, are making their third appearance in the BAL. They reached the quarterfinals in each of the previous two BAL seasons.

• The Tigers will be led by former NBA G League forward Billy Preston Jr., who re-joins the team after making his BAL debut with theTigers in 2022. During the 2022 season, he led the team in scoring at 20.3 PPG.

• Pietermaritzburg-native Storm Gilchrist will be making his professional debut for the Tigers. Gilchrist was a standout player at Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Africa 2023, which was held in Johannesburg and featured top high-school-age prospects from across the continent.

• After being named to the 2023 BAL All-Defensive Team, Samkelo Cele is looking to anchor the Tigers’ defence in his second year in theBAL.

• Former BWB Africa camper (2008) and Tigers vice-captain Lebesa Selepe brings veteran experience to the team. Four years ago, Selepe was working as a corporate accountant before pursuing professional basketball as a full-time career.  

• Senegalese rising star and NBA Academy Africa prospect Yakhia Diop joins the Tigers as part of the third edition of the BAL Elevate program.

Dynamo Basketball Club (Burundi)

• Dynamo Basketball Club will be one of five teams making its BAL debut and the first BAL team from Burundi.

• Head coach Julien Fabian Chaignot (France) coached Madagascar’s Club Omnisport de la Police Nationale Basketball (COSPN) during the 2023 Road to the BAL qualifying tournament, where the team fell to Dynamo in the third-place game. Chaignot will be joined by assistant coach Olivier Ndayiragije, who served as Dynamo’s head coach during the qualifying tournament.

• South Sudanese guard Dhieu Deng is set to be a key player for the team, having played a significant role in Pazi Basketball Club's (Tanzania) near qualification for the 2024 BAL season. Deng also contributed significantly to the Cape Town Tigers' qualification for the 2023 BAL season.

• Nigerian center Israel Otobo, who played a major role in helping Dynamo Basketball Club qualify for the BAL, will be one of the youngest non-BAL Elevate players to compete in the Kalahari Conference group phase. Otobo will turn 20 years old on May 31.

• Senegalese center and former SEED Academy student-athlete Makhtar Gueye, one of the top performers at the 2024 BAL Combine that was held in Morocco in January, returns to the BAL after competing for Clube Ferroviárioda Beira (Mozambique) last season. 

• Senegalese rising star and NBA Academy Africa prospect Mohamed Camara joins Dynamo Basketball Club as part of the BAL Elevate program.

FUS Rabat Basketball (Morocco)

• FUS Rabat heads into the Kalahari Conference group phase as one of five teams making its BAL debut this season.

• Forward Abdelhakim Zouita, who won the 2017 FIBA Africa Champions Cup MVP Award with AS Salé (Morocco), is set to make his BAL debut on March 9th.

Aliou Diarra, the 2023 BAL Defensive Player of the Year with Stade Malien (Mali), helped FUS Rabat clinch their first-ever ticket to the BAL, scoring 13.3 PPG and grabbing 9.8 rebounds during the Road to the BAL tournament.

• American guard Jonathan Jordan will be a key contributor for FUS Rabat Basketball. His buzzer-beating three-pointer against 2024 BAL participant Bangui Sporting Club (Central African Republic) in the Road to the BAL sent the game to overtime before FUS Rabat Basketball prevailed to secure a spot in the 2024 BAL season. 

• Former BWB Africa camper (2012) Badr Eddine Azzouga will compete in the BAL for the third time. The power forward played for AS Salé in 2021 and 2022.

• Senegal native and NBA Academy Africa prospect Mohamed Sylla joins FUS Rabat Basketball as part of the BAL Elevate program.

Petro de Luanda (Angola)

Petro de Luanda are one of the two BAL teams – alongside US Monastir (Tunisia) – to have participated in all four BAL seasons and the only team to have reached the BAL semifinals in three consecutive BAL seasons. 

• The team will once again be led by head coach José Neto (Brazil), who coached the team in each of the last two BAL seasons. Neto was named 2022 BAL Coach of the Year after leading Petro to a 4-1 record in the Nile Conference group phase before defeating AS Salé and F.A.P (Cameroon) to advance to the Finals.

• Angolan basketball legend Carlos Morais will make another run at the BAL title after participating in the first three BAL season. Morais, who is one of the most decorated professional basketball players on the continent, was named to the 2022 All-BAL First Team after helping lead Petro to the BAL Finals where they lost to U.S. Monastir. 

Childe Dundão will serve as another veteran presence in Petro’s backcourt after being named to the All-BAL Defensive Teams in 2022 and2023.

• Former BWB Africa camper (2009) Yanick Moreira, who played NCAA Division I basketball for the Southern Methodist University Mustangs, has more than 10 years of experience playing professionally in Europe and is representing Petro in the BAL for the second time. 

• Angola native and NBA Academy Africa prospect Aginaldo Neto joins the team as part of the BAL Elevate program.



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