SAN ANTONIO – It’s no secret that the NBA has gone to great lengths to bring the league to the international stage. Some of the fan favorite players over the past two decades have come from outside the United States.
Now, an NBA affiliate league in Africa is expected to start in less than a week.
The Basketball Africa League, which was set to start last year until COVID-19 stops these plans, will feature 12 teams competing over the next few weeks with a championship at the end of the month. All BAL matches will be played in Kigali, Rwanda.
This is where things get complicated.
Last month, St. Mary’s University accused a diplomat at the Rwandan Embassy in Washington DC of spying on a Zoom classroom that discussed the trial of Paul Rusesabagina, the man who saved more than 1,200 people. during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Rusesabagina is on trial with 20 others on charges of terrorism, accusations his family describes as false and nothing more than retaliation for denouncing Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Rusesabagina and her family lived in exiles and are permanent residents of the United States living in San Antonio, Texas.
Since Rusesabagina’s arrest, his family have contacted many members of Congress to urge Rwanda to release Paul on humanitarian grounds. As these upcoming NBA-related games head to the same city, which is holding a San Antonio resident on trial, the family are now turning to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
Paul’s wife Taciana wrote an open letter to the Commissioner last week, first reported by The Nation. Taciana listed her concerns about playing games in the country as her husband remains in solitary confinement and continues to be denied access to his lawyers:
KSAT 12 Sports has reached out to the NBA for comment on Taciana’s appeal. The NBA did not directly comment on the open letter to Adam Silver but released a statement from BAL:
The BAL starts the game on Sunday May 16.
Daniel P. Villanueva has worked with KSAT 12 for over 17 years and is an award winning producer. To submit article ideas, send an email [email protected]
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