BAL playoffs guide: New format, new favourites, same Kigali venue

Both 2022 champs US Monastir and Nigeria's Rivers Hoopers have progressed to the BAL playoffs in Kigali, Rwanda, to be played from May 26. Nacer Talel/NBAE via Getty Images

The fourth season of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) will be the first to take on a new format for the playoffs and finals in Kigali, with seeding games introduced to precede the playoffs.

As a result, each team will play one game upon arrival in Kigali to determine their final seeding before the knockout action begins on May 26.

So where do we begin?

Teams were ranked according to their performances against fellow top three sides in their respective Conferences to determine standings heading into the seeding games.

Egypt's Al Ahly were the only team to win all four games against fellow top three sides in their conference, as their only defeat in Cairo's Nile Conference came against fourth-ranked City Oilers. Therefore, they top the pre-seeding game rankings.

As a result, Ahly will face Morocco's FUS Rabat - who won three out of four games in Pretoria's Kalahari Conference against fellow top three sides.

In this conference, Burundi's Dynamo BBC were disqualified over their refusal to display the "Visit Rwanda" logo on their kits, so all games Rabat played against Petro and the Cape Town Tigers counted towards the rankings. FUS beat the Tigers twice and Petro once.

The winner of the game between Ahly and FUS will be the top seed heading into the quarter-finals, while the loser will be the second seed.

Rivers Hoopers (Nigeria), AS Douanes (Senegal), Petro de Luanda (Angola) and US Monastir (Tunisia) each picked up two wins in matches against fellow top three sides in their respective conferences, so for the purpose of these standings, they had to be separated by points difference in said matches against top three teams.

Rivers Hoopers (+17) had the best points difference of the four aforementioned teams in matches against fellow top three sides and Douanes (+4) the second best, so the Sahara Conference duo will once again face off to determine the third seed for the quarter-finals.

Petro's points difference against fellow top three sides was 0 and Monastir's was -21, so the 2022 finalists will face off for the fifth seed.

Al Ahly Benghazi (Libya) and Cape Town Tigers (South Africa) each only picked up one win against fellow top three sides in their respective conferences. Although Ahly Benghazi finished second in their conference with three wins overall, their two wins against City Oilers fell off their record for the purpose of determining pre-seeding game rankings among the eight qualified teams for Kigali.

As a result, Ahly Benghazi will face the Tigers for the seventh seed ahead of the playoffs.

Ok, seeds are set... Now what?

No team will be knocked out of the tournament in the seeding games, but favourable quarter-final ties will be at stake.

In the quarter-finals - the first knockout round - the top seed will face the eighth seed, the second will play the seventh, the third will come up against the sixth and the fourth and fifth seeds will go head-to-head for a place in the semi-finals.

In the semis, the winner of the quarter-final between Seed 1 and Seed 8 will play the winner of the clash between the third and sixth seeds. Meanwhile, the winner of the tie between Seed 2 and Seed 7 will play the victor between Seed 4 and Seed 5.

The losers of the two respective semi-final matches will play the third-place playoff, while the winners will contest the championship game on June 1.

All seeding games and knockout fixtures will take place at Kigali's BK Arena, which will host the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year.

BAL seeding game fixtures

Seed 1 decider: Al Ahly (Egypt) v FUS Rabat (Morocco)

Seed 3 decider: Rivers Hoopers (Nigeria) v AS Douanes (Senegal)

Seed 5 decider: Petro de Luanda (Angola) v US Monastir (Tunisia)

Seed 7 decider: Al Ahly Benghazi (Libya) v Cape Town Tigers (South Africa)

Previous BAL champions

2021: Zamalek (Egypt)

2022: US Monastir (Tunisia)

2023: Al Ahly (Egypt)