Jermaine Cole, the US rapper better known as J. Cole, is set to make his debut for Rwanda Patriots, an African basketball team.

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The team will face Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers on Sunday in the opening game of the first-ever Basketball Africa League (BAL).

According to ESPN, the rapper had arrived in Rwanda on May 8 to sign with the team in order to play in the 12-team league.

Alan Major Cole, Patriots coach, had released the roster of 13 players on Friday, which includes the rapper.

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Cole will wear jersey number 15 for the team representing Rwanda in the BAL, the coach said.

Marc Spears, a journalist with ESPN, posted a video of J. Cole practising with the team, and a picture of the roster on his Twitter page.

Haydee Ndayishimiye, Patriots chief operations officer, told AFP that: “J. Cole is a very good shooter. We picked him because he has a really high IQ for the game.

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“He has a history of playing the game … We just thought that he is a great fit with the team and as we have seen in practice he is gelling well with the team. While they are practicing with him, they are looking good out there. He really compliments the team.”

The BAL, first NBA-sponsored professional league outside the US, will run until May 30.

The first edition of the 12-club event was scheduled for 2020 but had to be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Amadou Fall, BAL president, said the league “will provide a platform for elite players from across the continent to showcase their talent and inspire fans of all ages”.

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J. Cole, a North Carolina native, had longed for the opportunity to play professional basketball for years. In 2020, he was contacted by Detroit Pistons, US basketball team, for a tryout.

The 36-year-old rapper recently released ‘The Off-Season’, his sixth studio album.



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