21 - 24
September 2023
to read

Meet the team: Two-time NBA champ and FIBA World Cup hero join forces for Al Ahly

SINGAPORE (Singapore) - The Basketball Africa League will be represented at FIBA Intercontinental Cup Singapore 2023 by Al Ahly, a powerhouse from Egypt with la lot of experience and accumulated trophies in competitions throughout  their continent. Now the goal is to claim an intercontinental piece of silverware, as well.

Who are they?

The Reds were founded in 1930, but their habit of collecting medals began in the late 1980s. Since then, they have won the Egyptian League seven times, including back-to-back titles in 2022 and 2023. To make this the most successful era of the club, they also won the Egyptian Cup in 2022 and 2023, making it consecutive double crowns for Al Ahly.

In 2021, they also won the Arab Club Basketball Championship for the first time in their history, and they had more international success with two African Basketball Cup Winners' Cup titles in 1998 and 2000, one FIBA Africa Club Champions Cup trophy in 2016 and the newly added prestigious Basketball Africa League title in 2023.

How did they get here?

The Basketball Africa League is an professional league established by the NBA and FIBA in order to raise the level of club competition in Africa. With each passing season the level of competition has been increasing, and the path to glory that Al Ahly has to negotiate in 2023 was arguably tougher than that of any previous champion.

The first step was hiring coach Augusti Julbe, the 2021 BAL winner with Zamalek. Julbe then steered Al Ahly to a 4-1 record in the Nile Conference, finishing second in that part of the bracket, behind only the unbeaten Petro de Luanda from Angola.

As the second seed in their conference, Al Ahly faced in the Quarter-Finals the third-placed team in the Sahara Conference , Rwanda's REG, and prevailed 94-77 to set up a date with the top-ranked Sahara Conference team, Mali's Stade Malien, in the Semi-Finals.

That one finished 78-73, allowing Al Ahly to go to the championship game and defeat AS Douanes from Senegal 80-65 in the Final. Nuni Omot was named the MVP en route to Al Ahly's conquest of their maiden BAL title.

Why should we watch them?

The playcalling from the bench will be interesting to follow, as Julbe built a reputation as one of the best assistant coaches during his time in Europe, at the bench of Joventut Badalona, Barcelona, Baskonia, Anadolu Efes and Gran Canaria.

The Spanish coach has got a superstar to draw plays for now. Two-time NBA champion Norris Cole is the squad's biggest arrival over the summer. The former Miami Heat guard is now getting his first taste of African basketball, after stints in North America, Asia and Europe.

Domestic firepower will also be on hand for Al Ahly. The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 star Ehab Amin will control the backcourt, fresh off of leading Egypt to two wins in Manila, double the amount they had celebrated over the last 60 years of World Cup games.

Amin will have his World Cup teammates Amr El Gendy, Amr Zahran and Omar Oraby to help him around, and when you know Ehab averaged 19.4 points, 5.6 assists, 4.8 rebounds in the World Cup then trust us, there's plenty of reason to stay tuned for 40 minutes.

Who will they play in Singapore?

They are in Group A, which means they get to take on NBA G League Ignite on September 21, before springing back to action the following day, facing the Basketball Champions League Americas winners Sesi Franca Basquete.

The winner of that three-team group will move to the Final, the second-placed team will fight for the third step of the podium against the Group B runner-up, while the third-placed team will battle for fifth spot in the tournament against the third-placed team in Group B.