KIGALI (Rwanda) – On the day hosts of the 2021 African Basketball League (BAL), the BBC Patriots advanced to the semi-finals of the newly launched competition, a partnership between FIBA and the NBA , there were a number of guests at Kigali Arena.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame attended the second BAL quarter-finals between the BBC Patriots and Mozambique Ferroviario de Maputo on Thursday alongside French President Emmanuel Macron.
The two dignitaries were accompanied by FIBA President Hamane Niang, BAL President Amadou Gallo Fall, NBA Africa President Victor Williams, FIBA Africa President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of BAL, Anibal Manave, and Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri.
President Macron, who was on a two-day state visit to Rwanda, expressed his joy at watching the BAL match with Paul Kagame. “And what a pleasure to see France supporting this unprecedented competition,” he tweeted.
What a joy to share a Basketball Africa League match with @PaulKagame ! And what pride to see France supporting this unprecedented competition. Where we build land, where we bring sport, we take concrete action for development and social inclusion. pic.twitter.com/K7P3WC94yC
– Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) May 27, 2021
The nearly sold out Kigali Arena saw the Patriots come off with a 73-71 victory. They will face the Tunisian American champion Monastir in the semi-final on Saturday, May 29.
BBC Patriots prevailed, but their victory was not easy as team captain Aristide Mugabe later admitted: “It is an honor for us to play in front of our president and, of course, the Honorable guests. We had to make sure we make him proud. “
The BAL, a partnership between the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the NBA, is a new professional league of 12 club teams from across Africa. The BAL builds on the club competitions that FIBA has hosted in Africa and marks the NBA’s first collaboration to run a league outside of North America.