Sports Money: Basketball Africa League reveals teams; Hennessy activates NBA partnership

Key Points
  • The Basketball Africa League revealed its 12 teams for the 2020 season, which begins next month.
  • Hennessy activated its partnership with the NBA on Friday as the company served as the associate partner at the NBA Celebrity Game.
Details and information are projected on a screen during the announcement of the The NBA-backed Basketball Africa League (BAL) at the Museum of Black Civilisations in Dakar, on July 30 2019.
SEYLLOU | AFP | Getty Images

The Basketball Africa League is set after the 12 teams that will participate in the inaugural season next month were announced during the National Basketball Association's 2020 All-Star Weekend in Chicago.

BAL president Amadou Gallo Fall revealed the teams at the 2020 Africa Luncheon in Chicago, with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts, NBA Global Ambassador and former NBA center Dikembe Mutombo, and International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Secretary General Andreas Zagklis in attendance.

"This is a historic moment as we welcome the 12 teams that will participate in our inaugural season," Fall said in a statement. "These teams have earned the opportunity to represent their respective countries and will establish the BAL as a world-class product that entertains fans of all ages when the season tips off March 13."

Six teams from African countries gained automatic entry into the BAL after they were named champions in their respective leagues. From Angola, the Petro de Luanda club is one of the six granted entry; the Zamalek will represent Egypt; while Morocco will have AS Salé as its team and Nigeria will be represented by the Rivers Hoopers Basketball Club. The remaining two countries, Senegal and Tunisia,  are represented by AS Douanes and Union Sportive Monastirienne.

The remaining six African clubs played their way into the BAL via a 32-team qualifying tournament.

Basketball clubs from Algeria (GSP), Cameroon (FAP), Madagascar (GNBC), Mali (AS Police), Mozambique (Ferroviàrio de Maputo), and Rwanda (Patriots Basketball Club) will be added to the 2020 season, too.

Last February, the NBA, in partnership with FIBA, announced its plans to commence a basketball league in Africa. The BAL will consist of two conferences, and each team will play five games. Following the season, the top six clubs will compete in a single-game elimination tournament to determine the champion.

The first BAL will be played in seven African cities – Cairo, Dakar, Lagos, Luanda, Monastir, and Salé. The BAL playoffs and title game will be played in Kigali, Rwanda.

Nike and Jordan Brand, which ended 2019 with its first $1 billion quarter, unveiled game uniforms at the luncheon, as the companies are the official partners of the BAL.

The BAL will tip-off the 2020 season at Dakar Arena in Dakar, Senegal.

NBA partners with Hennessy

Before kicking off its All-Star festivities, the NBA announced a multi-year partnership with cognac maker Hennessy earlier this week.

The deal, which was activated Friday when Hennessy served as the associate partner at the NBA Celebrity Game, makes the France-based LVMH company the official spirit of the NBA, the Women's National Basketball Association, and USA Basketball.

"Our partnership with Hennessy provides an exciting opportunity to reach and engage with a broader segment of basketball fans around the NBA's marquee moments," Dan Rossomondo, NBA senior vice president of media and business development said in a statement. "As the iconic brand continues to expand its business in sports marketing, we look forward to creating elevated experiences and unique initiatives that celebrate the game of basketball."

Terms of the partnership were not made available.

Soccer investment firm announces three acquisitions

For Soccer Ventures, an investment firm started by Philadelphia Union co-owner Richie Graham, announced it acquired three companies in efforts to grow and develop the sport and the culture around it.

The roughly $50 million investment to acquire companies FootyCon, The Association and Kicks to the Pitch represents the firm's "ambition to prop up the best-in-class operators that are advancing the sport of soccer in America," Graham said in a statement.

The Association is a soccer league that was established in Los Angeles in 2017. The league is driven by the creation of teams using creative individuals and social media influencers. Companies including Red Bull, SpaceX, and Beats by Dre were represented in the first two seasons of the league.

FootyCon is a convention series that celebrates the soccer culture and will feature soccer brands, tastemakers, E-gamers, and artists. The convention is expected to launch in June.

Kicks to the Pitch, an online publication that commenced in 2014, creates soccer-based content through sneakers, art, music, and fashion in efforts to educate fans on the culture of soccer.

For Soccer Ventures is hoping to announce additional acquisitions throughout 2020.

"We are committed to not only investing in the American soccer community," Graham said, "but also growing it."