03 October, 2023
26 November
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What we learned from the Group Phase of the East Division Elite 16


JOHANNESBURG (South Africa) - In the build-up to the Semi-Finals of the East Division Elite 16, we take a look back at what we learned from the last twelve games that are determining the race for the last three tickets to the fourth Basketball Africa League (BAL) season.

Each of the eight teams played back-to-back three games, but in the end, only four of them remain in contention while three of the four teams head to the boardroom to reassess their performances.

Here's how things unfolded at Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg.

Sky is the limit for the NBA Academy Africa 

The U18 group of players originally from different parts of the continent of Africa reminded everyone as to why their participation in the Elite 16 is always worth following.

They picked up where they left off in November 2022. The Alfred Aboya-coached team won two of their three games against Tanzania's Pazi and Burundi champions Dynamo; they lost to Cape Town Tigers for the straight time in the history of the competition to finish second in Group A.

However, the team's participation was solely aimed at giving the youngsters some international basketball experience and exposure, and, as such, their participation concluded in the Group Phase. 

For everything they did in Johannesburg, it's fair to acknowledge their unquestionable potential and quality... The sky is the limit for them.

Disappointing Pazi Basketball Club

The Tanzanian champions looked nothing like the team that out-classed their tree opponents in Group C of the Road to BAL last month in Dar es Salaam. 

Interestingly enough is that Pazi showed up in Joburg with a decent roster. They strengthened the team with the additions of former REG forward Cleveland Thomas Jr and South Sudanese international Mareng Gatkuoth, but, somehow, they return home with three losses in as many games. Answers are needed as to why Pazi came up short of expectations.   

Dynamo chasing history for Burundi

Two years ago, New Star Basketball Club came, saw, but missed out a BAL spot. Last year, Urunani carried the Burundi's flag in the Elite 16 in Johannesburg, but, just like New Star, they too came up short.

It's now up to Dynamo Basketball Club to try to become the first Burundian side to take the country's name to the coveted BAL.

And although Dynamo opened their Group A campaign with losses to Cape Town and NBA Academy Africa, it was in the do-or-die clash against Pazi that they showed their true colours,

Led by two-time BAL participant Nigerian Chris Obekpa, who came up with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks, and 19-year-old Israel Otobo who contributed 20 points and 18 rebounds, Dynamo outlasted Pazi 88-85 in the first-ever double overtime game in the history of the BAL qualifiers to seal through to the semis.

Dynamo aims to become the first Burundian side to reach the BAL Finals.

What went wrong with Ferroviario da Beira?

A whooping 88-57 defeat to COSPN on Gameday 2 not only raised eyebrows, but it also had Ferroviario da Beira on the ropes. And taking on City Oilers in a must-win clash was too much to ask for as the Beira-based side fell miserably 100-86 to return home with a 1-2 record.

Beira's poor outing in Johannesburg means that Mozambique won't be represented in the BAL Finals for the first time.

COSPN belong 

From Gameday 1 and throughout their Group B schedule, the Madagascar champions proved that they belong in the Elite 16. City Oilers, Beira and JBC tasted  the Malagasy Policemen's toughness, and they deservedly sit in a position to decide their own Elite 16 destiny.  


COSPN have now one or two chances to become the second Malagasy side to qualify to the BAL.

Oilers and Tigers head to familiar territory 

As the only teams that reached the Semi-Finals unscathed with a 3-0 mark each, City Oilers and Cape Town Tigers have reached a familiar territory.

Both teams made it to the third BAL season after successfully passing their Elite 16 tests in Johannesburg.  

Winners of Groups A and B, Tigers and Oilers can return to the BAL if they beat Dynamo and COSPN, respectively in the semis.

While City Oilers dispatched Beira, COSPN and JBC, Cape Town outplayed NBA Academy Africa, Pazi and Dynamo.