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Egypt's Al Ahly Lifts 2023 BAL Championship Trophy

Basketball Africa League President Amadou Gallo Fall presents Al Ahly of Egypt the 2023 BAL Championship trophy at the BK Arena in Kigali, Rwanda, May 27, 2023

WASHINGTON — The curtains closed on a compelling season of the Basketball Africa League, an almost three-month spectacle featuring 12 clubs, as Egypt's Al Ahly won 2023 championship at the BK Arena in Kigali, Rwanda.

The BAL season three debutants triumphed over Senegal's AS Douanes 80-65, in a match up that favored the Egyptian side after the first half. Al Ahly entered the fourth quarter with a 17 point lead over AS Douanes.

Nuni Omot, named the 2023 BAL Hakeem Olajuwon Most Valuable Player, was the lead scorer for Al Ahly with 22 point, three rebounds and two assists. Power forward Michael Fakuade, who is now a two-time BAL champion — winning with Egypt's Zamalek in 2021 — nabbed 11 rebounds and seven points.

Nuni Omot of Egypt's Al Ahly stands with the 2023 BAL Hakeem Olajuwon Most Valuable Player award at the BK Arena in Kigali, Rwanda, May 27, 2023.
Nuni Omot of Egypt's Al Ahly stands with the 2023 BAL Hakeem Olajuwon Most Valuable Player award at the BK Arena in Kigali, Rwanda, May 27, 2023.

AS Douanes' guard Jean Jacques Boissy scored 20 points, three rebounds and assists.

Third Place Match Up

First-timers Stade Malien emerged victorious in the third-place match up against Petro de Luanda with a 73-65 victory, out-scoring their Angolan counterparts in final minutes of the decisive encounter.

The Malians had a two-point lead in halftime, and leading up to the fourth quarter, both teams put on a dunk fest at the BK Arena.

2023 Season

The 2023 BAL campaign tipped off in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, continued in Cairo, Egypt and closed in the city of Kigali, Rwanda. Twelve teams, representing twelve African countries, were divided into conferences - Sahara and Nile.

The Sahara Conference featured six teams, including ABC Fighters (Ivory Coast), AS Douanes, Kwara Falcons (Nigeria), REG (Rwanda), Stade Malien and US Monastir (Tunisia), the 2022 BAL champions.

The Nile Conference featured: Al Ahly, Cape Town Tigers (South Africa), CFV Beira (Mozambique), City Oilers (Uganda), Petro de Luanda and SLAC (Guinea).

Sahara Conference: qualified teams and emerging dark horse

Only four teams qualified from each conference. In the Sahara Conference, Abidjan Basket Club, AS Douanes, Stade Malien and Rwanda Energy Group secured a spot in the playoffs.

Kwara Falcons of Nigeria arrived in Dakar looking to rewrite history after the Rivers Hoopers, previous contenders representing Nigeria, came up short to make it to the playoffs during the inaugural BAL season in 2021.

But the five-losses record in the Sahara Conference prevented the Falcons from advancing further, leading to their elimination from the competition.

The unforeseeable upset during the Sahara Conference was US Monastir becoming the first reigning champions to miss out on the playoffs, following their defeat in Dakar at a highly-motivated AS Douanes of Senegal, which emerged as the dark horse of the tournament.

Petro de Luanda Undefeated

Al Ahly, Cape Town Tigers, CFV Beira and Petro de Luanda advanced to the playoffs, with Petro concluding their regular season campaign undefeated.

In a display of superiority, the Angolans showcased their domination in the Nile Conference, beginning their win streak with a resounding victory against Uganda's City Oilers 89-71. The stage was set for Petro to shine even more as they went head-to-head with CFV Beira, emerging victorious with a remarkable 101-76 scoreline.

The Angolan team continued to leave their mark, overpowering South Africa's Cape Town Tigers with an impressive 87-48 win, securing their third consecutive triumph in the Nile Conference.

Adding to the excitement, Petro did not fail in keeping fans on the edge of their seats with a nail-biting 91-90 win against the hosts, Al Ahly of Egypt. The momentum carried forward as they triumphed over Abidjan Basket Club with a hard-fought 88-84 victory.

Petro — two-time FIBA Africa Champions — is the only team that hasn’t missed out on a BAL season since its inception in 2021, finishing third in 2021 and 2nd in 2022 after losing to US Monastir in the final.

Playoffs: Unforgettable Moments

Kigali, Rwanda hosted the eight-team playoffs featuring six battles with the remaining eight teams vying for a sport in the BAL finals. The intensity and high stakes of each game brought out the best in the talented athletes, leading to fierce competition and unforgettable moments.

After the end of the conference games, two teams, namely Al Ahly and Petro de Luanda had been projected as the most-likely favorites to fight for the 2023 BAL title.

Against all the odds, however, AS Douanes caused the biggest upset of the season after shocking self-proclaimed title contender Petro de Luanda 92-86 to advance to the championship game. AS Douanes became the first Senegalese team to reach the BAL finals.

AS Douanes Gears Up for BAL Championship
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Stade Malien shocked fans at the BK Arena displaying a superior performance against Al Ahly of Egypt in their semifinal game, leading through halftime. But Al Ahly grabbed the tough win against the Malians with a 78-73 score.

Best Players

The only player in the 2023 Final to have lifted the BAL trophy before, Fakuade was absent from the Nile Conference campaign, and only joined the Egyptian champions days before the finals in Kigali.

Michael Fakuade of Al Ahly
Michael Fakuade of Al Ahly

Contributing 8.5 points per game in the quarter and semifinals, Fakuade asserted his presence during the 2021 season. He is well regarded for his role in helping Egyptian club Zamalek secure the first-ever BAL championship.

When asked about the upcoming championship game against AS Douanes, Fakuade said the squad was a "really good defensive team. high energy. Good rebounding team."

"I think they lead the league in skills and/or forced turnovers." he added during an exclusive interview with

One of the key players steering AS Douanes' astonishing BAL campaign is Boissy, the 23-year-old who wasn’t yet born when Senegal last won the FIBA Africa championship in 1997 in Dakar.

Jean Jacques Boissy of AS Douance
Jean Jacques Boissy of AS Douance

Boissy and teammate Chris Crawford have become opponents' worst nightmares. In their historical semi-finals' win against Petro de Luanda, Boissy and Crawford finished with 28 and 26 points, respectively.

The 37-year-old Carlos Morais of Petro de Luanda became a player to watch this season. His impressive form and contributions were instrumental in Petro's successful run.

In addition, Morais' three-point prowess steered the team's impeccable record before losing to AS Douanes. Besides his impact on the offensive end, he currently averages 4.2 rebounds in 26.9 minutes per game.