Kenya’s representatives at the inaugural Basketball Africa League Kenya Ports Authority are racing against time to feature in the event whose venue has now been changed from Mombasa to Madagascar.
The sudden change of venue by Fiba Africa has thrown the reigning Kenyan champions into disarray, as they have now to deal with new logistics ahead of the event which tips off on October 28.
“We had an approval to hold the games in Mombasa and had made all arrangements just to be told last week that Fiba had opted to stage the event in Madagascar and not Kenya which now means we have to move with speed to ensure everything is in place for us to honour the event,” KPA basketball team manager Christopher Ogutu told Nation Sport.
Ogutu said the team has been in intense training under coaches Anthony Ojukwu, Samuel Kiki and Samuel Ochola as they await for the nod from the top brass.
Ogutu believes their 88-54 thumping of Kisumu Lakeside in the team’s final National Classic League match in Mombasa had greatly boosted the team’s morale ahead of the event which will see KPA battle with among others teams from Madagascar, Comoros and Djibouti.
The Basketball Africa League is Africa's premier men's basketball league which consists of twelve teams, each qualified through their domestic competition.
The league is a joint effort between the National Basketball Association (NB) and Fiba with sponsorship from the Jordan Brand and Pepsi with its inaugural season starting in a fortnight with the qualifying rounds at different venues in Africa.
Fiba Africa's executive director, Alphonse Bile, said the league will help players compete in the "best possible environment".
Charlotte Hornets' Bismack Biyombo is one of 13 African players in the NBA.
"The implementation of this league is vital to our upcoming players in Africa as it gives them something to take aim at," Bile was quoted as saying.
Fiba secretary general Andreas Zagklis said it was great to see Fiba’s partnership with the NBA enter unchartered territory as they work together for the first time to maximise the potential of professional basketball in Africa.
Former US president Barack Obama backed the plans to start the league while NBA legend Michael Jordan, who is now the Charlotte Hornets owner, was at the launch event in North Carolina.
“I have always loved basketball because it’s about building a team that’s equal to more than the sum of its parts. Glad to see this expansion into Africa, because for a rising continent, this can be about a lot more than what happens on the basketball court,” Obama was quoted saying.