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May 21, 2022

Can Cape Town halt US Monastir's BAL dream?

US Monastir landed in Kigali looking to move on from their disappointing 2021 Basketball Africa League (BAL) campaign.

Last year the Monastir-based team left the Rwandan capital with the hope of returning better and stronger to win the BAL title that slipped out of their hands after a 76-63 defeat to Zamalek in the Final.

With a BAL Quarter-Final meeting against BAL debutant Cape Town Tigers set for Sunday, May 22, the last thing the Tunisian champions contemplate this time around is to return home empty-handed again.

Theoretically, Monastir are favourites, but history has shown that there are no easy games in the BAL playoffs.


Evans Ganapamo has been one of the highlights of the season so far and is the go-to man for Cape Town Tigers.

Athletic with an ability to shoot from everywhere on the floor, the highly skilful Ganapamo has been fundamental for the Tigers.

Joining the Central African Republican international player is Billy Preston, a 6-foot-8 forward who can do it all. From playing defence to attacking the rim ferociously, the former G League player with the Texas Legends is likely to give Monastir some headaches.

6-foot-11 center Ater Majok is described as being Monastir’s key factor throughout the Sahara Conference such was his contribution on both ends of the floor. 


There are some striking differences between the two teams who have never faced each other.

While the Tigers were founded in 2019 and are making their continental debut, Monastir was founded in 1959, making it one of the oldest basketball clubs on the continent.

Despite their storied past, the best result Monastir achieved in Africa was a third place at the 2017 FIBA Africa Champions Cup. 

If Monastir win the 2022 BAL title, they will complete a treble after winning the 2022 Tunisian League and the National Cup. This fact tells how much Kigali 2022 means for Monastir.


Unlike US Monastir, who secured automatic qualification to the BAL regular season, the Tigers clinched their ticket through one of the FIBA-run Road to the BAL qualifiers, which they hosted in Johannesburg in October and December 2021.

Last month, Cape Town won two of their five Nile Conference games to finish third. 

US Monastir made it to Kigali on the back of a 4-1 mark, and after finishing second in the Sahara Conference.


Former NBA player Jamel Artis got injured in the second quarter of Cape Town’s 96-92 defeat to Espoir Fukash, and it turned out to be his last showing as a Tiger. To cover for Artis’ absence, Cape Town signed Cleanthony Early, who had a brief career with New York Knicks in the NBA.

Two other Cape Town’s new recruits are Mathew Williams and Tholo Lehlogonolo.

Although Mohamed Adam Rassil is out for Kigali, Monastir kept the core of the squad from the Sahara Conference, but they added Julius Coles Jr.

Coles, a 6-foot-4 guard who played college basketball for the University of Canisius, has recently played for Alwakrah in Qatar. 


When it comes to key aspects of the game, Monastir’s numbers are relatively superior compared to the Cape Town’s.

The runners-up of last year’s BAL averaged 79.4 points per game compared to the Tigers’ 77.2

The Tunisian champions recorded in the Sahara Conference a Field-Goal percentage of 46, seven more than Cape Town. 

Monastir recorded relatively higher figures in the paint, averaging 39.6 rebounds per game compared to Cape Town’s 34.2.


Although US Monastir are favourites, it won’t be an easy ride for the Tunisians, especially if Cape Town can compete for the entire game. 


“We’ll be prepared. We’ll come to Kigali stronger. 

When we play our brand of basketball and the guys stick to our game plan, we play beautiful. We showed against Zamalek, we showed against Petro – the first two quarters - that we can beat any team.” – Cape Town Tigers head coach Relton Booysen.

“We want to compete for the Championship. We lost last year. Our goal is to make it to the Championship game and win it. But we get to take one possession at a time. It’s going to be tough.” – US Monastir shooting guard Michael Dixon.