Africa’s top basketball club sides faced off this Sunday in the Rwandan capital Kigali in a new professional competition designed to promote the sport, drive economic growth and unearth the best up and coming talent. Such aims are part of the reason for the involvement of the NBA, which is helping to organise a league outside of the United States for the first time. Basketball’s world governing body Fiba is also involved in the hunt for the next Joel Embiid (Cameroon) or Pascal Siakam (Congo). “Africa is a continent full of secrets and treasure and I think all this treasure is going to be found,” basketball great Dikembe Mutombo told BBC Sport Africa. The competition replaces the old Africa Basketball League, another pan-African club tournament, which had been running since 1971. The BAL was supposed to start in March last year, but Covid put a stop to that, meaning tip-off will finally arrive some 14 months late. There are 12 teams involved and for the inaugural season, the national champions from Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia were all guaranteed a spot. The other six teams had to go through qualifying – with representatives from Algeria, Cameroon, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and Rwanda all making it through.