Petro de Luanda, Al Ahly, Cape Town Tigers and Ferroviario da Beira of the Nile Conference and Stade Malien, AS Douanes, Rwanda Energy Group (REG) and Abidjan Basket Club Fighters (ABC) from the Sahara Conference have all shown they deserve to be at the Playoffs.
Petro de Luanda
The Angolan champions continue their quest for the BAL trophy that has eluded them for two consecutive times.
In 2021, they were defeated by the eventual champions, Zamalek and had to finish in third place after thrashing Patriots.
They came really close last season but where outplayed in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter of the final game against US Monastir. Victory in the final would have crowned a good season after their head coach, Jose Neto, was awarded the coach of the year.
2023 season has started well for the Angolans as they finished 5-0 mark in the Nile Conference held in Egypt. The team had a smooth ride but faced their biggest hurdle in host, Al Ahly in their last game.The game went down the wire and took a Gerson Lukeny Goncalves’ buzzer beater to win by one point.
Many had referred it to be a final game away from the final in Kigali with both being touted as the finalists of this season.Well, it would only be wise to lower our expectations, because stranger things have happened in basketball and sports in general.
Petro would have to overcome ABC in the quarter final first, then pick a win in the semis from the winner between AS Douanes and Ferroviario da Beira to reach the BAL final.
The fearless and youthful side have stayed consistent in their style of play from the Road to BAL to the Sahara Conference. They have also shown they are up for every challenge thrown at them irrespective of the opponents.
Although the Malians left it late to pick the last ticket to the BAL, victory over Bangui Sporting Club from Central African Republic in the third place game was all it took to earn their maiden appearance in Africa’s elite tournament.
The team went on to defy all odds to win the Sahara Conference with a 3-2 mark propelled by two young players, Aliou Diarra and Souleymane Berthe.
They face Cape Town Tigers for a place in the semifinals.