03 October, 2023
26 November
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High motivation key as Stade Malien target second BAL ticket in a row


BAMAKO (Mali) - Finishing third at their first-ever Basketball Africa League (BAL) appearance is a feat that few teams have achieved.

Last year, after a tortuous Road to BAL campaign that saw Stade Malien travel to Niamey (Niger) and Abidjan (Cote d'Ivoire) to qualify for the BAL for the very first time, the Malian campions not only grew in confidence, but they also raised eyebrows when they made it to Dakar for the BAL Sahara Conference.

Kigali was their next stop, and history was made.

In the build-up to the West Division Elite 16, slated for October 31 to November 5 in Yaounde, Cameroon, Stade Malien are expected to resume their ascension in African basketball scene. 

Stade Malien stunned former African champions Petro de Luanda in the 2023 BAL Third-Place game

The Blancs de Bamako, as are called the Stade Malien, head to the capital city of Cameroon with high hopes.

Drawn in the Group A with Forces Armees et Police (Cameroon), Libya's Al Ahly Benghazi and DR Congo’s ASB Virunga, Stade Malien will face some tough opposition in their bid to make it to their second BAL appearance. 

As Mamadou Keita puts it, things will be very hot in Yaounde. "We'll just try to show we belong among the top teams in Africa," he said.

Stade Malien have been able to pin one of the biggest names in African basketball to their hit list. Playing Petro de Luanda in the Third-Place game at the 2023 BAL, they came back from behind with crucial points from Makan Keita to claim the win, thus becoming the first-ever team from the Road to BAL to make it to the podium.

So, repeating such a feat or improve from it seems difficult their Group A opponents look legitimate candidates to secure one of the three slots for the BAL Season 4.

"We just have to prove our value," suggests Keita.

The Malian guard also reflects on changes that occurred since the team last appeared at the BAL. Souleyman Berthe and Aliou Diarra have since left the club, while some news players have been called in.

Mamadou Keita

While their names have not yet been revealed, coach Kaba Kante, who led Mali at the FIBA AfroCan earlier this year, has been working on rebuilding the alchemy over the past months. "It's a completely new team as compared to last year. We lost some key players, but the motivation is the same."

With such mindset, comes the first question: just how much motivation is needed to overcome star-studded Al Ahly Benghazi and FAP, while keeping ASB Virunga at bay ?


This Group A might be prone to surprises if Stade Malien put their heads into it. Though they are not hot favorites, the team can still count on some players to make a difference on the court, which leads to the second question: Can they make it through without their most prolific scorers, Diarra and Berthe, who averaged 18.3 and 16.4 points per game respectively?

They sure have the firepower to make it, but they expect some nothing but tough games during their time in Yaounde. "We're far from being the favourites, but we'll keep going no matter what and fight for the right for a second BAL appearance."

Now that the stage is set, will the Blancs de Bamako outshine their opponents? That's an answer that can and will be debated only on the court.