Obama wants involvement as FIBA and NBA unite to form new pan-African basketball league

Former U.S. President Barack Obama says he wants to be directly involved in the competition that starts in 2020.

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) is to launch a new professional pan-African league, beginning in January 2020, jointly with the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Twelve teams will participate in the Basketball Africa League, which is expected to involve clubs from nine countries: Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia.

"The Basketball Africa League will enable us to build on the solid foundation laid by FIBA Africa," said FIBA secretary-general Andreas Zagklis.

FIBA Africa executive director Alphonse Bile added: "Through the league, we can provide the many great clubs and players with the best possible environment to compete for the highest stakes."

It will be the first time the NBA is involved in running a league outside North America.

"The Basketball Africa League is an important next step in our continued development of the game of basketball in Africa."

—NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

According to the Associated Press, former President of the United States Barack Obama told Silver that he wants to be "directly involved" with the new league.

The former president tweeted his love of the sport and support for the new competition on Saturday (16 February), shortly after the NBA and FIBA announced its creation.

The NBA has held three exhibition games in Africa since 2015.

No African country has ever reached the semi-finals of an Olympic Games or World Cup.

The announcement of the new league came on the eve of the 2019 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte, which will see Lebron James and Dwyane Wade share the court one more time.