Rapper J. Cole makes African Basketball League Debut
It’s been a busy week for rapper J.Cole. The 36-year-old released his long-awaited album ‘The Off-Season’ on Friday before making his professional basketball debut just two days later on Sunday.
Cole turned out for Rwandan side Patriots against Nigeria’s River Hoopers in the opening game of the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL). The BAL has been set out to replicate football’s UEFA Champions League format in basketball with it featuring all of the top teams from across Africa. It has been set up by the NBA and FIBA.
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The Patriots came out on top, defeating the River Hoopers 83-60 in the opening game on Sunday night and Cole played his part. Playing a total of 17 minutes, the former St. John’s walk-on contributed three points, three rebounds and two assists coming off the bench.
His points came via a putback layup and a technical free throw, but he missed both of his field goal attempts in the second half. There was talk of Cole playing in the NBA last summer after the Detroit Pistons offered him a tryout on Twitter after he posted a video of him practicing.
Patriots coach Alan Major was happy with the performance of his professional debutant, despite his own apparent frustrations.
“I talked to him in the locker room – I said, ‘I am so proud of you,’ because he was very frustrated with himself,” he said.
“He had a couple of turnovers. I said, don’t put too much pressure on yourself – the only mistake he can ever make is to just not to try again.
“Our guys have embraced him, he has embraced them – and the beautiful thing about him is just wants to be a basketball player. He is not interested in being an entertainer in this event, he just wants to be a basketball player.”
Cole is expected to play between three and six games in total for the Patriots in the BAL depending on their progress in the tournament. There’s a total of 12 teams playing in the tournament starting with an 18-game group phase.
The top eight teams from the group phase will then progress to the playoffs which will include single elimination games all the way through to the final. The BAL Final will be played on Sunday, May 30.