Africa: Zamalek Wins Inaugural Basketball Africa League

Zamalek players celebrate with the cup after winning the inaugural season of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) in Kigali.

Egyptian basketball giants Zamalek have won the inaugural season of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) after defeating Tunisia's US Monastir 76-63 in the final at the Kigali Arena, Rwanda Sunday.

Petro de Luanda finished third after defeating Rwanda's Patriots BBC 97-68 in the third place playoff also played on Sunday at the same venue.

Zamalek's Walter Hodge was named the Hakeem Olajuwon BAL Most Valuable Player after leading his team to an undefeated 6-0 record with per game averages of 15.5 points, 5.7 assists and 5.0 rebounds.

"I am very happy. Everybody stepped up today. It makes the difference when everyone works hard," he said.

On being voted the MVP: "It's a big honor for me. It's not mine, everybody on the team played a role. I am very happy."

His teammate Anas Osama Mahmoud was named the Dikembe Mutombo BAL Defensive Player of the Year after recording per game averages of 6.7 rebounds and 2.8 blocks.

US Monastir's Makrem Ben Romdhane received the Manute Bol BAL Sportsmanship Award for exemplifying the ideals of sportsmanship and camaraderie.

Additional awards will be announced Monday on the BAL's social media channels, including the BAL All-First Team, 2021 BAL Scoring Champion and Ubuntu Award, which is awarded to an individual or organization that has made an impact on the local community during the first BAL season.

Zamalek head coach Agustin Julbe Bosch on starting the tournament slow: That's the fact, the team grew slow through the games and the last two games showed us that we can be patient and wait for the moment, cut down on our mistakes and that's how we did it."

US Monastir head coach Mounir Ben Slimane said: "It is really disappointing. I take responsibility for this.

We hope next year to be the BAL Champions. We did not score and did not take chances. The will was there to do good but the pressure was there, I take responsibility for every turnover, miss and everything that did not go right."

On playing the finals on series: "I hope the organisers will look at that. But I will not put excuse on that. Our focus is on the next finals. The result is disappointing but the journey was very positive."

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