• December 10, 2023

Kenya men’s coach Liz Mills ranks BAL contenders and players to watch

Kenyan men’s national coach Liz Mills has spent most of the last decade coaching basketball in Africa and has an in-depth knowledge of the players and teams represented in the Basketball Africa League [BAL].

It is knowledge that comes from crossing the continent and working with clubs, universities and national teams in Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Cameroon, Rwanda and Kenya, both as a coach and as a scout, with her groundbreaking use of data and analysis.

Ahead of the BAL’s COVID-19 suspension last year, Mills, who previously worked as a coach at the Patriots Basketball Club in Rwanda, was slated to take a position on one of the BAL’s teams [not the Patriots].

The Australian decided against it in the end and eventually led Kenya to Afrobasket qualification, one of the first cases in which a woman led a men’s national team to a major tournament.

Not many have the glimpse Mills has of the African game, and it offers ESPN a glimpse of what the BAL may have in front of them in Kigali before the final on May 30th.

The coach of the Kenyan men’s national team, Liz Mills, rated the Tunisian international Omar Abada from US Monastir as the best point guard in Africa. GREG BAKER / AFP via Getty Images

The real competitors

1. US Monastir (Tunisia)

How they qualified: Direct qualification as the winner of the Tunisian champions 2018/2019 Tunnat National A.


Bundesliga: 6X National League Champions, 1x runner-up

National Cup: 3x champions, 9x runners-up

FIBA Africa Club Championship: 1x third place

Coach Mills’ verdict:

USM is basically the Tunisian national team with few imports. They have a great core group of players who have played together for a long time.

They are experienced at this level, having been with the national team in qualifying for Afrobasket and the World Cup, as well as the World Cup. So this type of stage won’t scare or burden them like other teams will.

They have a great bank too. I think BAL is all about the local players. Everyone has great imports, but how good are your local players? Nobody has a group of local players like USM.

You are run – in my opinion – by the best point guard in Africa in Omar Abada and the experience of veterans in Makrem Ben Romdhane and Mourad El Mabrouk. Very experienced veterans and all three start for the Tunisian national team. I’ll see her until the finale.

2 relatives

Mills player to see:

Omar Abada, without a doubt the best point guard in Africa. A great leader on the pitch, a great decision maker, can score and defend. Very efficient.

2. Petro de Luanda (Angola)

How they qualified: Direct qualification as the winner of the Angolan Basketball League 2018/2019.


Bundesliga: 14x winner, 7x runner-up

National Cup: 12x winner, 5x runner-up

FIBA Africa Club Championship: 2x winner, 6x runner-up

Coach Mills’ verdict:

Petro, led by Carlos Morais and Leonel Paolo, is very experienced. You’ve been to the final several times and you know what it takes to get there.

They have a great group of young people too, Childe Dundao is their point guard and they have a young striker who really showed what he had in World Cup qualifiers.

Trainer Jose Neto from Brazil is also a very experienced trainer on an international level. It is not his first time in Africa that he has trained Angola to qualify for the World Cup.

So this is another veteran team with a lot of experience and I think under the big lights these guys are not going to come under any pressure. For me it’s USM against Petro in the final, I would be shocked if it wasn’t.

Brazilian Jose Neto took over the job at Petro de Luanda in 2020 and is an experienced international coach who has led the Brazilian women’s team in the past. He was named Angola’s Coach of the Year in 2021. Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

Mills player to see:

Carlos Morais. He is at the top of African basketball. Morias can do anything on the pitch and what his team ask of him and he has grown to be a great leader. One of the most experienced players in Africa. A real African basketball OG.

3. Zamalek (Egypt)

How they qualified: Direct qualification as the winner of the Egyptian Super League 2018/2019.


Championship of the Egyptian Republic: 2x champions

Egyptian Super League: 14x champions

National Cup: 13x winners

Egyptian Super Cup: 3x winner

FIBA Africa Club Championship: 1x champion, 3x second

Coach Mills’ verdict:

Zamalek, led by Egypt internationals Anas Osama Mahmoud and Meshaal Mostafa, is a real threat and after watching the fights I think they might sneak into the final before Petro, but that’s a big problem.

These two will protect the color, block shots, get big setbacks on the offensive end, pull dunks back and make moves. These guys are a dynamic duo.

Then they have this young point guard, Mohab Yasser, who is only 18 years old but he’s the next up and coming Egyptian star.

The thing for me with this team is the lack of experience at this level. They’re rather young and don’t have many veterans on their team other than their imports. I think that might hurt her.

Mills player to see:

Anas Osama Mahmoud. Great defender, blocks the suit, great at transition and a versatile goalscorer.

Egyptian Anas Mahmoud played with the Grizzlies in the Summer League after college in Louisville in 2018, but left them soon after to join Zamalek and has been there ever since. Melissa Majchrzak / NBAE via Getty Images

The challengers

AS Sale (Morocco)

How they qualified: Through direct qualification as the winner of the Excellence Division 2018/2019 in Morocco.


Bundesliga: 7x winners, 4x runner-ups

National Cup: 11x winner, 1x runner-up

FIBA Africa Basketball Championships: 1x champion, 1x second

Coach Mills’ verdict:

Experience has shown that AS Sale could make it into the last four … Abderrahim Najah, Soufiane Kourdou, Zakaria El Masbahi and Yassine El Mahsini have played together for the past two years. You finished second in the African Basketball League [the precursor to the BAL] In 2019 he lost to Augusto in the final.

They have some good imports, they’re not amazing. I think the fact that the league has not played in Morocco for the past two years and has only recently started operating again is going to hurt them.

You don’t have a lot of gaming experience. But they have enough veteran experience to lead them through the first round and possibly the semi-finals at most.

Your trainer Said El Bouzidi is very experienced and trained in Tunisia last year. He knows these players very well. He’s trained in Africa for a long time, so hopefully that’s an advantage for them.

Mills player to see:

Your point guard, Yassine El Mahsini. He’s a defensive point guard, leads the team’s defense, gets lots of steals, rebounds and distractions. He’s great at transitions, can shoot the three, can break his opponent one and one to get to the basket. Very versatile, exciting gamer to look at.



Prince Ebeh storms through the Rivers Hoopers defense to bring the Patriots to the top.

Potential for shock


How they qualified: He finished third in the Western Division via the BAL qualifying playoffs.


League 1: 3x champions, 2x runner-up

Malian Cup: 4x champions, 2x runner-up

Coach Mills’ verdict:

For my dark horse, I would say AS Police. You’re only physically impressive. You can make a profit.

They were able to play in their home league, which is an advantage for them. And they have some Malian internationals, plus they have some really good imports.

They are led by Ibrahima Haidara, who plays for the national team. Together with Carlos Morais, he is probably the best little striker on the continent … very versatile, long, can score, can defend. He’s probably one of the best two-way players to enter the competition.

One disadvantage for them is that they lack experience in such competitions and I’m not sure if they can withstand the pressure if they make it to the semi-finals, which is difficult because they are in Group B with Patriots, AS Sale and FAP.

You know, when it comes to the X and O, it will matter most when you get to the semifinals and the finals.

Mills player to see:

Ibrahima Haidara. One of the best, if not the best, little strikers in the competition. It’s sporty, long and versatile. Can score, defend and ricochet well. A big advantage at both ends of the floor.

Source link


Read Previous

Zen Cho, Author Of ‘Black Water Sister’ : NPR

Read Next

Our Middle School Winner From The NPR Student Podcast Challenge : NPR

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *