The BAL: Rwandan Side Patriots beat Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers to Win Opener

The Patriots overpowered Rivers Hoopers to win the first BAL game. All photos by Plaisir Muzogeye

Rwandan side the Patriots Basketball Club beat Nigerian side 83-60 to win the opening game of the inaugural Basketball League Africa (BAL) at Kigali Arena on Sunday.

The game saw American rapper Jermaine Cole, known as J. Cole, make his Basketball Africa League debut as a player for the Rwandan side, scoring 3 points.

Star player Brandon Costner scored 20 points while Prince Ibeh, who scored 11 points and Dieudonne Ndizeye rallied the Patriots, who had a slow start, to claim the lead in the second quarter of the game, eventually beating the Nigerian side 83-60.

Former NBA players Talen Valdis Sullivan and Ben Uzoh scored 15 points and 12 points respectively but the Nigerian side could not match the Rwandan side which won all 9 qualifying games, while Rivers Hoopers qualified as champions in their country.

All eyes on J. Cole

All eyes were on rapper J. Cole to see how he would fair in his first professional appearance. The rapper came on in the first quarter and immediately got onto the scoreboard with a putback after a fast break.

Cole was able to play for 17 minutes, during which he played a role in the team build up and later scored his only free-throw after a technical foul was called against him.

J. Cole in the thick of the action.

The rapper seemed to struggle at some point, missing a lay up and a three pointer while he got away with a few turnovers. His display drew mixed reactions with some on social media suggesting that they were not moved by his performance. However, Cole, 36, was recognised for playing a role in the Patriots first win.

On Monday, May 17, Senegalese side AS Douanes will take on Algeria’s GS Petroliers while Egyptian champion Zamalek will take on Mozambique’s Ferroviario Maputo.

A total of 12 African teams will be battling it out in the first edition of the BAL, with the final slated for May 30.




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