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2021 promises thrilling menu for African basketball

ABIDJAN (Cote d'Ivoire) - The new year is finally here with us and with it comes an exciting new calendar that promises to wow African Basketball fans even if it means from the comfort of their couches.

The ongoing global coronavirus pandemic threatened the existence of sports in general for many months but last November when FIBA organized the AfroBasket Qualifiers in November across two cities with three groups in Kigali, Rwanda and one in Alexandria, Egypt, it was a show of resilience and commitment. 

That was followed by the FIBA U18 African Championships for men and women in the Egyptian capital of Cairo last month to further display the dedication to organize basketball events amidst this pandemic while respecting Standard Operating Procedures in line with health guidelines to combat the novel coronavirus. 

With this in mind, more activities are lined up in 2021 and here is a lineup for you to bookmark your calendar and prepare for an action-packed year. 

FIBA AfroBasket 

The 30th edition of Africa's premier basketball competition will take place in the Rwandan capital of Kigali from August 24 to September 5 with 16 teams vying for supremacy. 

The continental tournament that used to be biennial will take place after four years for the very first time and the yearning to vie for the trophy is evident. Social media is awash with excitement and the countdown is on. Who will conquer Africa? Only time will tell. 

FIBA Women's AfroBasket 

Nigeria have won back-to-back continental titles and are unbeaten in Africa in the past four years. Who can stop them? Senegal, who are the 12-time record champions, are rebuilding while Mali and Mozambique are closing the gap on the 2019 finalists. 

Former African champions Angola find themselves between a rock and a hard place and while they revamp their fortunes, Egypt are out in full force and will be looking to join the elite group on the continent at this year's edition. The cocktail could also have former powerhouses Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire and a new look Cape Verde. 

Meanwhile, four countries are bidding to host the Final Phase of the FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2021 which will take place from the September 17-26, 2021. Those countries are Nigeria, Cameroon, Egypt and Cote d'Ivoire.

Basketball Africa League

BAL is finally here. Even though the inaugural edition failed to take place last year, 2021 is when it is expected to tipoff and with it comes a new era for club basketball in Africa as the NBA collaborates with FIBA for their first league outside North America.

With 12 teams from 12 countries heading to Kigali, Rwanda for the final showdown, the caravan is expected to be an exciting venture for the players and everyone involved even the fans who will be watching on television. 


FIBA Africa Women's Champions Cup 

Mozambican giants Ferroviario de Maputo are the team to beat having won back-to-back titles in 2019 and 2020. Who can stop them? Bitter rivals Inter Clube of Angola, newbies Al Ahly and Primeiro de Agosto from Angola are expected to bring the heat to the party. 

Once again, this year's edition is expected to attract players from near and far to spice up the competition and could attract majorly some familiar Olympic-bound Nigerian faces. 

Tokyo 2020 Olympics

The Olympics are always exciting and this year will be very special for basketball as it will be the first time that 12 Olympic medals will be up for grabs at the Olympic Games. 

Nigeria have already qualified for both the men and women's categories but three more slots are still available for Angola, Senegal and Tunisia at the highly anticipated FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments to be held in Lithuania, Serbia and Croatia in that order for the African giants. 

This year is also very special for basketball as 3x3 will make a historic debut at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.  The Qualifiers to that effect are expected to produce a lot of excitement as players look to be part of history. 

Road to FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 

The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 is fully in sight now with the Qualifiers set to tipoff this November with 16 African teams in contention for the five coveted slots. 

As teams look to qualify for the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 in Rwanda, they will also earn automatic qualification to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Qualifiers. 

FIBA's flagship event will be hosted across three nations – the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia for the very first time ever.