It’s all systems go for the Elite 16 in South Africa

THE Road to BAL Elite 16 Division East will see eight teams converge in Johannesburg, South Africa this week (21 November – 26 November), to fiercely compete for the last three spots of The Basketball Africa League (BAL) Season.

Group A features host Cape Town Tigers, NBA Academy (Senegal), Dynamo (Burundi), and Pazi Basketball Club (Tanzania). Meanwhile, Group B comprises formidable opponents: City Oilers (Uganda), Ferroviário da Beira (Mozambique), COSPN (Madagascar), and JBC (Zimbabwe).

 

 

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As the tournament approaches, anticipation grows for the return of familiar faces and the emergence of new stars. While playing on home turf, Cape Town Tigers seek victory but face the historical challenge of overcoming Burundian opponents. Bolstered by international players Terrance Ferguson, Cartier Diarra, and Terry Larrier, along with the expertise of 2023 All-Defensive player Samkelo Bryan Cele and BNL MVP, Nkosinathi Sibanyoni, the Tigers should be a competitive team.

The City Oilers, playing in their third Elite 16, bring size and physicality, making them top contenders for the coveted tickets. The acquisition of Dane and the return of Germain Roebuck Jr ensures that the Oilers will bring their A-Game.

Ferroviário de Beira has bolstered their ranks with new talent. The team’s star point guard, Will Perry, has reunited with Jermel Kennedy and Bourouma Sidibe. Former FAP centre Michael Mendes will provide depth in the front court. With Beira’s impressive offensive prowess and ability to shoot the ball well from behind the arc, they are one of the favourites for the tournament.

COSPN will have to improve after finishing winless last year. The Malagasy club will, again, be led by Bishop Coulter and Livio Ratianarivo. The team can look to build on their success so far in this year’s qualifiers and take advantage of the extended preparation period that the delay of the Elite 16 has provided them.

Newcomers Dynamo JBC and Pazi Basketball Club make their Elite 16 debut, aiming to establish their presence. JBC, reinforced by notable signings, seeks to elevate Zimbabwean basketball to new heights. Dynamo, awarded a wild card by FIBA, aims to rectify their only loss in the qualifiers behind the strength of teen sensation Israel Otobo.

Pazi Basketball Club, led by Cleveland Thomas and former NBA pick Hasheem Thabeet, finished undefeated in pre-qualifiers. The last-minute additions of Cleveland Thomas jr and Mareng Gatkouth give Pazi a lot of depth aside from their giant centre. Thabeet’s paint protection poses a challenge. The Tigers could struggle as they are thin in that department.

Hasheem Thabeet will be a key player for Pazi. Picture: FIBA

The NBA Academy, here for participation only, are led by rising star Khaman Maluach. He will be the X-factor in the tournament in this qualifying tournament. The Dakar-based Academy players held their own against the Tigers in a friendly on Sunday, winning 70-64. This young group of players will be no pushovers in Group A.

The tournament promises a display of incredible basketball skills, combining past matchups with the introduction of new teams. Stay tuned for updates and witness the competition unfold!

 

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