The Basketball Africa League, a partnership between the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA), is a new professional league featuring 12 club teams from across Africa.
The inaugural season tipped off on Sunday in a matchup between the Rwanda Patriots BC and Rivers Hoopers BC, which was headlined by the professional basketball debut of Grammy award-winning artist J. Cole, the reserve shooting guard for the Patriots.
MORE: Fast facts on the BAL | J. Cole signs deal with Rwanda Patriots
To this point, only six of the 12 teams in the BAL have completed their first game. Which teams came away with wins? And how did Cole look in his debut?
We have you covered with takeaways from the first games below.
Rwanda Patriots BC 83, Rivers Hoopers BC 60
In the first game, the Rwanda Patriots BC defeated Rivers Hoopers BC handedly, 83-60.
Patriots big man Brandon Costner led the team with 20 points, while forward Prince Ibeh notched a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Brandon Costner's 20-point performance for @PatriotsBBC earned him @theflutterwave Player of the Game award #theBAL pic.twitter.com/HxRJC0YDJC- Basketball Africa League (@theBAL) May 16, 2021
For Rivers Hoopers, Taren Valdis Sullivan had 15 points and six rebounds and Benjamin Chukwukelo Uzoh had 12 points and three boards.
How did J. Cole do in his BAL debut?
The story of the game was Jermaine Cole, fresh off of the release of his latest studio album "The Off-Season," making his debut.
Cole got some warm-up jumpers up to his own track...
J. Cole warming up to his own music. A flex. pic.twitter.com/gBVR0GXiFS- Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) May 16, 2021
...before going for three points, three boards and two assists in his first-ever pro basketball game.
He had one nice pocket pass to set up a teammate for an easy (missed) layup...
Beautiful pocket pass from J. Cole off the sideline out of bounds play pic.twitter.com/FWwxanp4HS- Eric Fawcett (@Efawcett7) May 16, 2021
...and his lone basket came on an offensive rebound for a putback, hustling with his teammate on a fastbreak.
J. Cole's first bucket with the Patriots BBC‼️- ESPN (@espn) May 16, 2021
📺: ESPN+ pic.twitter.com/GtI8E1mc5k
Cole played 17 minutes in his debut. He and the Patriots will take the floor again on Wednesday, May 19 at 2 p.m. ET.
Association Sportives des Douanes 94, Groupement Sportif des Pétroliers 76
Association Sportives des Douanes had four different players score double-figures, led by Mamadou Lamine Diop's 18 points and nine boards.
Mamadou Lamine Diop's 18 PTS, 9 REB performance for #AS_DOUANES earned him the @visitrwanda_now Player of the Game award #theBAL pic.twitter.com/b7CMDVHLef- Basketball Africa League (@theBAL) May 17, 2021
Mamadou Faye (15 points), Cheikh Bamba Diallo (14 points) and Cheikh Ahmet Kamara (10 points) helped lead Sportives des Douanes to victory.
For Groupement Sportif des Petroliers, Mohamed Harat went off for 28 points and nine boards, the best individual performance in the BAL thus far.
Zamalek 71, Ferroviàrio de Maputo 55
Walter Wallace Hodge had a strong showing of 17 points and eight rebounds to help Zamalek pick up an Opening Day win, but he couldn't do it without the help of teammate Michael Olayinka Fakuade's double-double of 11 points and 10 boards.
Fukuade also threw down the dunk of the game on this putback:
This Michael Fakuade HAMMER for #ZAMALEK_SC is your @WilsonBasktball Play of the Game #theBAL pic.twitter.com/G8uZQ0jftz- Basketball Africa League (@theBAL) May 17, 2021
Álvaro Masa's 22 points and 11 rebounds led Ferroviario de Maputo, while Congolese-Canadian basketball star Myck Kabongo had three points, three rebounds and two assists in his BAL debut.
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