Preview: Riders v Rocks

Season So Far – Riders

The table-topping Riders started the season 4-0, after battling past the Sheffield Sharks in their first road game of their title defence. Their patented Patenostro defence has clicked into gear, giving up a league-low 70.5 points per game through four games. “In the last few games, when you look at the points we’re giving up you can tell we’re in a good place”, said coach Rob after the Sharks win. The Riders enter this game brimming with confidence having won 11 of their last 12 contests.                                                                                 

Leicester won their previous fixture 80-72, led by star trio Geno Crandall, Marc Loving and Mo Walker’s combined 60 points. Loving’s 17.5 points per game leads his team in the early stages of the season, having led two games in scoring with 32 points against Cheshire and 23 against Sheffield. “He’s a heck of a player and he lets the game come to him. When you’re a coach and have a player that talented that lets the game come to him it’s a joy to watch, because he doesn’t need to force his way into the game.”                                                                              

Season So Far – Rocks

The ‘showtime’ Rocks have been lighting up the BBL this season, featuring in six of Hoopsfix’s top 10 plays from Week nine’s action. Their high-flying, highlight creating play has earned them two wins on the bounce, after an opening day loss to the Manchester Giants. They get their chance for payback in the BBL Cup, as they face the Giants in the semi-final. They hope to progress to the final, with the chance to win the competition for the first time in their history. 

Glasgow has six players averaging double-digit points through their first three league fixtures, led by Jordan Johnson’s 17.5 a game. The former G-Leaguer, who averaged 16.7 points for the  Rio Grande Valley Vipers, put up a season-high 24 against the Sheffield Sharks in the BBL Cup, and put up a monster 21 points and 15 rebounds later in the group stage against the Cheshire Phoenix. His playmaking ability has been on full display, as he leads the league in assists with 11.5 per game.

Ones To Watch

In a close fixture against the Sharks, with five lead changes in the fourth quarter, reigning MVP Geno Crandall got the Riders over the line with clutch play down the stretch. “I’m big on believing it’s how you finish, so when the time comes and it’s time to put a team away and make a push late, I pride myself on being a guy you can count on to score the ball or make the right pass,” said Crandall postgame. The Gonzaga graduate has started the season as he finished the last, lighting up the BBL with his hypnotising handles, dazzling drives and precise passing. He’s averaging 17 points per game and is second in the BBL in assists with an 8.8 average. 

After signing with his home country team from the Riders last season, Ali Fraser has enjoyed an emphatic start to the season, averaging 17.3 points per game for Rocks. The Falkirk-born big man had a season-high 23 points and 13 rebounds in the BBL Cup group win against the Newcastle Eagles, and has averaged 15 points through the competition. Last year, Fraser joined the Riders from France midseason, and was instrumental down the stretch in their title win with his elite rim protection and post play. 

Previous Fixture

The Riders last faced the Rocks on the penultimate game of last season, getting a vital 93-67 win en route to the league title. Ali Fraser scored 21 points against his current team, while Geno Crandall dished a game-high 11 assists in a double-double performance. 

Riders edge Sharks in tight encounter

The Riders won the first road game of their league campaign, beating the Sheffield Sharks 80-72 to improve to 4-0. Marc Loving led the game with 23 points, taking Leicester to the top of the BBL Championship table. 

The game was contested deep into the fourth, with a late Riders surge enough to tip them over the edge. Geno Crandall came up clutch in the closing stages, scoring four in the final two minutes to conclude a final period with five lead changes. Crandall scored 20 in the game and dished nine assists for a near double-double. 

Leicester attacked the hoop all game long, getting to the line 27 times. Loving knocked down all seven of his foul shots in an efficient game, the Ohio State sniper led his team for the second straight fixture at Ponds Forge. 

The Sharks had all five started in double-digit points in a team effort, but eventually fell short against a battle-tested Riders outfit. Aaron Anderson, who like Crandall attended the University of North Dakota, led his team with 14 points, five assists and four rebounds. 

The Riders fell behind early, getting into a 15-4 hole in the opening three minutes. Facing a Riders defence off the back of their best defensive display of the season against the Scorchers, the Sharks made 10 of their first 11 shots. 

Against the scintillating Sheffield start, the Riders captured momentum late in the first, with six straight points from Marc Loving making it a four-point game. Loving had 13 in the first period, keeping his team in the fixture. 

After the Sharks responded to the momentum shift with a 10-2 run, Leicester bounced back with a 15-2 run of their own, this time coming back to take their first lead since their opening shot. Crandall began to attack, scoring seven in the quarter including a go-ahead fastbreak bucket. 

Matched up against 38-year-old Sharks veteran Mike Tuck, Mo Walker got to work down low. Tuck had no answer for the bruising Canadian, as Walker cooked his opponent with his full bag of post moves. Walker had 12 points by halftime, as Conner Washington’s three marked the last Riders points before Leicester entered the locker rooms up 43-42.

As the sides traded buckets to start the second half, the Riders walled off the paint with elite interior defence, emphasised by shot-stopping swats by Walker and Zach Jackson. The Sharks edged a low-scoring third quarter 15-12, with the teams entering the fourth quarter with the game in the balance. The score: 57-55 in Sheffield’s favour. 

Loving kicked off the final quarter with a lead taking three. The shot was the start of a back and forth battle, as the teams traded blows until deep in the day. Neither team led by more than a point six minutes into the fourth. Leicester earned an inch of breathing room, making it a six-point game with two and a half minutes left. The lead was enough to make it a game of free throws, and Crandall knocked down his foul shots to seal a hard-earned road win. 

“I’m big on believing it’s how you finish, so when the time comes and it’s time to put a team away and make a push late, I pride myself on being a guy you can count on to score the ball or make the right pass,” said Crandall postgame. 

“We’re still meshing, so to be able to pull out games like this when we’re not at our best is important for guy’s confidence.” 

“We’re a team now. We’ve won 11 of 13 games, and we believe in ourselves” said coach Rob Paternostro. “This is an experienced group that don’t fear a close game. In crunch time we made the right plays when we needed to.”

“We believe in ourselves. Even though they were scoring for fun early we all knew if we buckled down we could get some stops. When you look up at the board and it’s another 72, you can tell we’re in a good place.”

The Riders return home for their next fixture, where they will face the Glasgow Rocks on Friday. 

Preview: Riders at Sharks

Season So Far – Riders

Starting the season 3-0, the Riders have played exceptional team basketball to start the season. Averaging 26 assists a game, the second-most in the BBL, Leicester’s elite ball movement and team-first style generates consistent open looks, allowing them to shoot 51% from the field and 43% from three. Led by league MVP Geno Crandall’s 16 points and nine assists per game, the Riders have five players averaging double-digit points, sharing the wealth among an abundance of offensive weapons. 

In their previous fixture, it was their defence that won the contest. They held the Surrey to a season-low tally of 61 points, forcing the short-handed Scorchers to shoot just 30% from the field and 21% from three. Crandall led Leicester with 24 points and nine assists in just 23 minutes, the Gonzaga graduate caught fire from three to knock down seven of his 10 attempts.

Season So Far – Sharks

The scintillating Sharks have started the league season emphatically with a 3-1 record. After falling short in a challenging BBL Cup quarter-final to the London Lions, losing 100-68, Sheffield has impressed through the opening stages of the season. An efficient outfit, shooting 50% from the field and 40 % from three, the Sharks make the most of every possession, of which they have many, turning the ball over just 10 times a contest. Second-year pro out of Illionois Kipper Nichols leads his side with 14 points and five rebounds a game, improving on his 10 point average from last season at Ponds Forge.

The Sharks dispatched the Newcastle Eagles on Sky Sports in their most recent game. They forced the Eagles into 44% shooting, while they torched Newcastle to make 43% of their three-point attempts. San Fransisco graduate Jordan Ratinho led the way in this department, hitting four of seven threes, and scoring a game-high 22 points. 

Ones to watch

In his second Riders season, off the back of a season-ending injury last year, Zach Jackson has returned better than ever. He is averaging 13 points, five assists and a steal while shooting 40% from behind the arc. The Omaha graduate led his college in scoring in his junior and senior years, averaging 18 points before going pro. He started his professional career in Ukraine for Kharkivski Sokoly, averaging 12 points per game, before taking his elite scoring and defensive talents to the Riders last season. The 6’7” wing lifted the roof off the Morningside Arena with a monster dunk against the London Lions, showcasing his ability to hurt defences in an abundance of ways. 

Kipper Nichols has taken the helm of the Sharks roster in the opening stages of the season. The 6’5” two-guard’s team-high 14 points per contest has led them to a winning start, after his successes as a rookie last year. The Cleveland native helped the Fighting Illini to a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten in college, graduating from the University of Illinois after averaging ten points in his junior year. Nichols is an elite scorer who can play both ends, averaging 1.5 steals and a block per game while knocking down 52% of his shots on the year. Nichols will hope his step forward from last season can lead the Sharks to success. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders have won four of their last five meetings with the Sharks, their only loss coming in the BBL Cup group stage as they listed a roster of Charnwood and Loughborough prospects. Their previous fixture was on Valentines Day, and it was Leicester who felt the love after a 107-93 victory. Captain Darien Nelson-Henry led the game with 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists, the Penn graduate scored 90% of his ten shot attempts. 

Riders beat Scorchers to open the weekend

The Riders blitzed the Scorchers with a 90-61 win to improve to 3-0 in the BBL Championship. Geno Crandall bested the game with 24 points and nine assists in just 23 minutes, his team leading wire to wire. 

The win is the 32nd on the bounce for the Riders over Surrey, their most recent loss dating back to 2012. This is the second-longest streak against an opponent in BBL history, after Leicester’s 33 game run against Plymouth. 

Leicester’s defence merited them the victory. They forced Surrey into shooting 30% from the field and 21% from three, stealing the ball 11 times and blocking four shots to hold the visitors to their lowest points tally of the season. 

“We want to keep improving on that end of the floor. We talked about how last week was a major improvement, and we’ve got to keep that going,” commented coach Rob Paternostro postgame. 

In his game leading effort, Crandall exploded from three, making five of his seven attempts. 

“He’s a guy that can hurt you in so many ways, and what’s noticeable this year is his three-point shot. He’s close to 40% from range, and while last year teams dared him to shoot it, this year if you give him that opportunity, he’s going to take it”. 

Offensively, the Riders enjoyed an efficient night, shooting 50% from the floor and 38% from deep. Accompanying Crandall’s performance, Mo Walker’s 14 points and five rebounds in 15 minutes marked a solid display from the big man. Walker anchored the Riders defence, protecting the paint to great effect in his battle against 7’1” Legend Robertin. 

Paternostro enjoyed his center’s performance: “When he’s around the basket he’s tough to go by, and he’s really strong. He did a lot of nice things out on the floor.”

Shorthanded Surrey’s struggles came in the absence of Lamar Hamrick and Stanley Davis Jr. Despite 27 points between Scorcher’s tandem Tayo Ogendengbe and Martelle Mclemore, the Scorchers fell into a hole early and never recovered. Surrey legend Ogendengbe had 11 by halftime but couldn’t replicate his successes in the second as he shot 41% on the game. 

To start the contest, Crandall hit back to back threes to get the Riders on the board early. They stamped their authority in the opening stages courtesy of two Walker blocks, bolting out the gate to take a double-digit lead. The Riders’ stifling defence set the tone, with five team steals leading to nine fast-break points in the opening period. 

Jubril Adekoya dominated defensively in the second quarter; his IQ was on full display as he covered every inch of the court. He earned two steals with his efforts, helping hold Surrey to four points in the opening five minutes. 

The Riders held their opponents at arm’s length, subduing a Scorcher resurgence led by six from Ogendengbe, maintaining a double-digit lead. Crandall cooked, once again hitting consecutive threes to start the game 4/4 from distance. The Gonzaga graduate scored 10 in the quarter and 18 in the half, as the Riders entered the locker rooms up 46-32. 

Eight Walker points to start the second half allowed the Riders began to extend their advantage. An 11-2 run put the hosts up 20, affording Leicester a comfortable final period, which they entered with a 69-45 lead. 

Canadian guard Kimbal Mackenzie got the fourth underway with a three, starting a quarter in which the Riders cruised to victory. Their lead allowed playtime for Loughborough and Charnwood prospects Joe Bielak, Louie Jordan and Victor Ndoukou. All three gained valuable experience against a BBL outfit. 

After the win, Leicester remains one of two undefeated teams in the league, positioning themselves strongly ahead of a long season. Next, they head to Ponds Forge for their first road fixture of the campaign, facing the Sheffield Sharks. 

On the game ahead, Paternostro said, “we’ve got a game this weekend against a really good team. Our defence will be tested on Sunday”. 

Foundation leads Menphys basketball session

On Friday evening, Leicester Riders Foundation led a coaching session for Leicestershire charity Menphys.

The session was part of a weekly one led by the Riders Foundation, for people between the ages of 12 and 25 with learning difficulties. This week, there were eight young people there learning the basics of basketball.

The group, hosted at The Menphys Hub in Leicester, allows the participants to get involved in group activity based around sport.

The course is inclusive to anyone in that age group, regardless of basketball ability, or having any experience of playing sport. The hope is to get them into sport and engaging in enjoyable exercise and returning week-on-week.

The interaction and teamwork is aimed at helping bring them out of their shells, and currently the majority of participants are returning each week.

Riders Foundation coach Dominic McDonaugh said: “They get an outlet that’s enjoyable, that gives them the opportunity to do something different, and give them a provision to something they don’t usually get. 

“I enjoy the session, I find it rewarding and hopefully they all enjoy it.”

The course is part of the Leicester Riders Foundation’s aims to promote and engage through basketball across Leicestershire.

To find out more about the Leicester Riders Foundation’s inclusion projects, email [email protected]

Foundation delivers basketball session for REMIT

On Thursday, two coaches from the Riders Foundation led a coaching session for adults on Leicester City Council’s Adult skills and learning programme.

The 12-week course is for adults on the REMIT programme- a community education programme for adults with mental health difficulties. The course allows the adults to work on a range of skills across a number of sports. 

The course offers a safe space for those suffering from mental health difficulties, many of whom have also struggled with the isolation and loneliness bought on by lockdown, while others have to deal with being full-time carers as well. 

The course is inclusive for all, regardless of age and background, with the ages ranging from people in their 20s, to those in their 70s. The sessions are focussed on getting them to enjoy sport, exercising, communicating and interacting with others. 

On Thursday, they were working on various skills in basketball, including passing, dribbling and shooting. The course accommodates for those with all level of skills, including those who have never played basketball, or any form of sport before. 

The session also features parts of competition, keeping everyone engaged and involved in what is going on. 

The course is part of the Leicester Riders Foundation’s aim to offer opportunities to all, and promote and deliver sustainable programmes that promote health and well-being. 

To find out more about the Leicester Riders Foundation’s inclusion projects, email [email protected]

Preview: Riders v Scorchers

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders have enjoyed a flawless start to their title defence, beginning 2-0 with two comfortable wins. They enter this tie having won back to back games against the Cheshire Phoenix, one of which saw them advance to the BBL Cup semi-finals. The Riders have shot the lights out through their opening two league games, going 45% from three. Their team-first attitude and ball movement contribute to wide-open shots, their BBL best 26.5 assists a game generating excellent looks to Leicester’s shooters. 

In their previous fixture, the Riders dispatched the Phoenix with a monumental fourth-quarter effort. They won the final period 32-12, their defence in the second half described by coach Rob Paternostro as “the best we’ve played all year”. Marc Loving set his best Riders points tally with 32, the Ohio State sniper going 6-10 from three and grabbing six boards. 

Season So far- Scorchers

The Scorchers are enduring a challenging set of opening fixtures, having faced the Newcastle Eagles and London Lions to tip-off their league campaign. They have battled admirably but ultimately fallen short, entering this game with an 0-2 record. Surrey’s offence has struggled to generate points early in the year, putting up a BBL worst 76.5 points against elite opposition. 

Against the Lions, the Scorchers hung in the game for long periods, keeping the tie within single digits until early in the fourth quarter. However, the fixture ultimately got away from them, as they lost 72-85. Lemar Hamrick led Surrey with 17 points. The Portland State graduate playing in his first pro season was his side’s third-highest scorer in the BBL Cup, with 14.6 points per game.  

Ones “`To Watch

Surrey legend Tayo Ogedengbe achieved the monumental feat of 5000 career points in his previous fixture. The seven-year Scorcher had 11 points in the game, along with five rebounds and assists. Ogedengbe has been a fan favourite at Surrey Sports Park since his arrival in 2015, after having gained experience in British Basketball with the London Lions and Guildford Heat. The 6’5” wing is a versatile offensive player, with an abundance of shots in his arsenal and elite playmaking ability. 

Following his 32 point performance in his previous game, Marc Loving comes into this fixture in blistering form. Through two league games, Loving is shooting 63% from three and 59% from the field, on his way to 19 points per game. Rob Paternostro called him a “very intelligent basketball player” after his game against the Phoenix. Loving’s basketball IQ allows him to defend every position, fit seamlessly into any lineup and take efficient shots for hot shooting nights. 

Previous Fixture

The sides last met in the BBL Cup group stage, a game that the Riders won 94-89 in Surrey. Geno Crandall went off for 27 in the encounter, getting to the line repeatedly to male 16 of 18 free throws. For Surrey, Ogedengbe enjoyed a solid outing, putting up 19 points and eight rebounds, going a red hot 4 for 7 from deep. 

Hot fourth quarter sees Riders defeat Phoenix

The Riders’ continued their league title defence with a 94-72 win against the Cheshire Phoenix, improving to 2-0 to start the season. In a fiery second half, the Riders exploded to nail seven threes in the fourth quarter, which they won 32-12. Marc Loving had a monster 32 point performance, going 6/10 from three to lead the game. 

Ohio born Loving hit three straight triples to seal the game late. The Riders took just a two-point lead into the fourth, but took over in the final ten minutes in front of a deafening home crowd. After struggling from deep in the first half, going 33%, the BBL’s best three-point shooting team reverted back to their usual self in the second, finishing the tie making 45% of their attempts. 

The Riders forced Cheshire to wait for their first league win of the season, as their visitors fall to 0-5. GB guard Teddy Okereafor led the Phoenix with 17 points, but his side could not rise from the flames after being blown out of the sky in the fourth. 

Following a close encounter in the previous fixture between the teams, played out a week ago, this game started equally close. Patrick Whelan got the Riders going to start the game. The GB sniper scored nine of the Riders’ 19 first-quarter points, two of which came from an early highlight-reel play. Geno Crandall assisted Whelan behind his back on the fastbreak, gifting his teammate an easy bucket at the rim as the Riders finished the first quarter trailing by two. 

The Riders’ three-ball started to fall in the second, as they nailed three straight deep shots to hang in the game. Ben Mockford followed up his 30 point performance in the previous fixture with 14 points in the first half, as the teams continued to trade buckets until the buzzer, entering the locker rooms with the score 44-41 in the Phoenix’s favour. 

In the midst of a fiery third quarter, with emotions running high, Leicester climbed out of an eight-point hole after a couple of Phoenix baskets. An 11-3 Riders run gave the hosts the lead before Phoenix big man Radwan Bakkali saw himself ejected after a verbal exchange with Kimbal Mackenzie. His following protest sent the Morningside Arena into a fever pitch in support of their team. 

Back to back Riders threes kicked off the final quarter, as Leicester extended their lead backed by an explosive crowd. The hosts caught fire, nailing seven triples in six minutes to build an 18 point advantage. Loving cooked in the fourth, making three straight deep shots to secure a commanding win. 

“We had a pretty close game with this team last time, so we wanted to come out, play hard and not make it close this time,” said Loving post-game. “We’re both very competitive teams, and it got a bit chippy in the third. We just tried to get back to playing basketball and sticking to our game. I’m very happy with how we responded in the fourth. We came out playing hard, and it gave us a 20 point advantage.”

“Marc’s a good all-around basketball player.” said coach Rob Paternostro post-game. He doesn’t go hunting his shot and plays the game the right way. I love his floor game, and tonight he was outstanding. He’s a very intelligent basketball player that helps us in many ways.”

Paternostro was happy with his side’s efforts after the game: “After playing two games in a row, it’s gonna be a competitive battle. I thought both teams were aggressive and showed they really wanted to win the game. I thought the difference was our defence in the second half. To hold them in the twenties was the name of the game.”

Leicester’s homestand continues on Friday. They will take on the Surrey Scorchers at the Morningside Arena. A win would see them remain flawless through the opening stages of the season, with three straight victories to start their BBL Championship campaign.  

Riders Foundation hosts teacher networking event

On Friday night, the Leicester Riders Foundation held an event for teachers prior to the Riders’ fixture against Cheshire Phoenix.

The event was attended by 40 teachers from schools, colleges and community organisations. It was an opportunity to network, and learn about the work done by the Riders Foundation, and how they could get involved.

The teachers then stayed on to watch the Riders defeat the Phoenix 94-72 in a thrilling game in the BBL Championship. 

Jo Bradley, who attended the event, said: “Thank you so much for a great teacher event and looking after us. Found out so much about the amazing schools and community work that Leicester Riders Foundation are doing.”

The Riders Foundation aims to promote basketball across Leicestershire, and through working in schools, we aim to reach as many young people as possible. 

To learn more about our work in schools, contact [email protected]

Preview: Riders v Phoenix

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders tipped off their league title defence in emphatic fashion, beating age-old rivals Newcastle Eagles 100-77 on Sky Sports. Zach Jackson went off for 26 points, draining four threes to lead the Riders to the perfect start to their league campaign. Jackson has enjoyed a blistering start to his second Riders season, averaging 13.5 points and making 40% of his threes. 

In the BBL Cup, Leicester has progressed to the Semi-Finals, beating the Phoenix in their previous game. The Riders are the BBL Cup’s best three-point shooters, knocking down a red hot 41% of their attempts. Geno Crandall leads the Riders in the competition, the Gonzaga graduate scoring 17.2 points per game and dishing 7.6 assists. 

Season So Far – Phoenix

After crashing out of the BBL Cup in the quarter-finals, the Phoenix turn their attention to the BBL Championship, where they have endured a rocky start. They are winless through their first four games, losing 109-81 to local rivals Manchester Giants in their previous league fixture. Former Rider Nahmon Wright went off for 28 in the game, but Cheshire gave up 53 bench points as the Giants had seven scorers finishing with double-digit points tallies. 

Wright’s scoring leads the Phoenix, his 19.3 points per game the most in the BBL for those who have played multiple games. Despite Wright’s performances, Cheshire has struggled on the road this season, going 1-7 in all competitions. They will need to turn their road form around in this one, as they travel to the Morningside Arena for the second time in as many weeks.

Ones To Watch

Ohio born marksman Marc Loving has settled quickly into Leicester life, making 50% of his threes on his way to 13.5 points a night. Loving’s versatility on both ends has proved a valuable asset in the power forward position, his ability to defend any position on the court contributing immensely to the Riders defensive prowess. Loving is competing in his first European season and has adapted to life across the Atlantic seamlessly, following two seasons in the NBA G-League. His size and length give him a strong defensive foundation, while his elite shooting ability combined with his 6’7” frame make him a dangerous weapon on offence.

GB center Michael Ochereobia has dominated inside for Cheshire to start the season. ‘Big Mike’ crashed the glass relentlessly in the BBL Cup, leading the league in rebounds with 12.3 per game. Ochereobia is playing in his second Phoenix season, after putting up a solid seven points and six rebounds last year. The 6’8” big man graduated from Western Illinois, averaging nine points as a senior, and has gained experience with the GB youth setup having played for the under-20s. At 32 years old, Ochereobia brings a wealth of expertise to Cheshire. 

Previous Meeting

The sides played out a thriller in the BBL Cup Quarter-Finals. The Riders got the better of their visitors after a Jubril Adekoya go-ahead basket won the game 85-84. Crandall led the Riders in the game with 24 points and seven assists, his final assist coming in the closing seconds, as he dished down low to Adekoya for a bucket at the rim. For Cheshire, GB sharpshooter Ben Mockford caught fire, scoring 30 points and making eight threes as his team fell just short of an underdog win. 


Tickets are still available for Friday’s game, CLICK HERE to book yours now!

Riders fight back to keep cup run alive

The Riders keep their BBL Cup run alive, beating the Cheshire Phoenix 85-84 to advance the semi-final. Jubril Adekoya layed in a bucket for the win with two seconds on the clock, assisted by Geno Crandall who led the game with 24 points and seven assists. 

The Riders showed fight and determination as they found themselves in a tightly fought contest, coming back from three big deficits to win. Leicester struggled from deep, but found other ways to get a result, locking down defensively in key moments to stay in the tie. They play the London Lions in the semi-final, as they attempt to win the competition for the first time since 2014. 

Crandall duelled with GB sniper Ben Mockford in the closing stages, as the reigning MVP scored six points in the final two minutes to keep it close. Mockford dropped 30 for Cheshire, making eight of his 12 threes and five clutch points late. 

Off the back of a heavy defeat the day before, Cheshire came out hot and performed well. Coming into the tie, the Phoenix were the worst three-point shooting team in the league, but made 41% of their deep shots in this one. 

“When a team gets beat like that, you know the next night they’re gonna come out with something to prove”, said Rob Paternostro. “In these knockout games, you’ve just got to find a way. It’s not about how pretty it is, it’s about the W. As the game went on we found our urgency, and it was important for us to play with passion.”

In the first quarter, Jackson got the Riders on the board with six points in the first five minutes. The 6’7” wing out of Omaha University had success driving into the lane, displaying delicate touch at the rim to finish. Jackson’s early buckets kept the score close despite a hot Phoenix start, the visitors starting the contest with 28 points against the Riders’ BBL best defence. 

11 straight points from Crandall cut the Phoenix’s 12-point lead to three in the second. The reigning MVP took over the game in isolation against Cheshire’s Kyle Carey, nailing a three in his face before making an and-one play on the next possession. After Crandall cooked Cheshire to make it close, Jackson hit a floater at the buzzer to tie the game, completing a first-half comeback. 

Mockford caught fire to start the second half, draining four threes in as many minutes to reestablish the visitor’s double-digit lead. The Riders responded by locking down defensively, holding Cheshire to four points in five minutes as they climbed back into the tie. Back to back threes from Crandall and Marc Loving meant the Riders entered the final quarter down 64-59.  

Conner Washington took over the opening stages of the fourth, making a four-point play for his seventh points in two minutes to make it a two-point ball game. Washington’s play kickstarted a 9-0 Riders run, as Whelan made a three with seven minutes on the clock to give the Riders their first lead since the opening quarter. 

The team’s traded buckets down the stretch, setting up a thrilling finale. Mockford and Crandall engaged in a back and forth battle, scoring 11 points between them in the final two minutes. With 10 seconds remaining, former Rider Nahmon Wright took it hard to the hoop and was fouled, making both free throws to put the Phoenix up 84-83. 

The Riders had their chance to win it, getting the ball into Crandall at the top of the key. Crandall drove inside and dished to Adekoya, who laid it in to give the Riders the lead with 2 seconds left. The Phoenix’s opportunity to respond with two seconds left, but Wright left his three short, earning Leicester a hard-earned win. 

This game is a back to back against the Phoenix. The sides will face off again on Friday, as the Riders resume their BBL Championship title defence. Leicester enters the game hoping to improve to 2-0, continuing their hot start to the season. 


Leicester Riders moved to 3-2 in the WBBL Championship with an 83-54 win over the Caledonia Pride at Loughborough University on Saturday night.

Riders were made to weather a Pride onslaught at the start of the game as the visitors came out firing to lead 17-3 after less than 5 minutes. The hosts responded with a 12-2 run of their own as Hannah Robb and Oceana Hamilton shared eight unanswered points as they closed the quarter trailing 17-23.

Riders were able to assert control from that point on as they won the second and third quarters by a combined score of 48-12 as Hamilton and Louise Rouse proved problematic inside for the Pride team.

Hamilton finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists & 3 steals. Hannah Robb again excelled with another great all around performance with 16 points, 8 assists & 6 steals while Louise Rouse and Anna Lappenkuper both had good scoring nights with 17 & 15 respectively.

Head Coach Marg Jones was delighted to get her first win since taking over the reins:

“I was really pleased with how we were able to tighten up our defence after the first quarter and push through a few offensive issues that we had at the start of the game. Our defence was definitely what turned it around for us and as the girls settled into the new system, they began to show a lot of confidence and composure.”

“With the changes that have happened over the last week, the girls have been amazing. They have been patient and incredibly supportive as we try to tweak some of our systems. Tonight we had a great energy from everyone on the bench.”

“We have a break now before our next game and we have lots to work on. We will use it as a mini camp to try to get a better understanding of what some our offensive strengths are and to tighten up on our defensive strategies.”

Riders are not in WBBL action again until November 21st when they host the Gloucester City Queens. You can buy your tickets HERE

Preview: Riders v Phoenix

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders cruised through their BBL Cup group, winning six straight to qualify for the knockout stages with a 6-2 record. They are locked in defensively, holding their opponents to a BBL best 77 points per game, and have played fluidly on the other end of the court, their offence ranking second in the league. With a three-point percentage of a red hot 42%, the Riders are the best deep shooting team, helped by their ball movement, which generates a league-best 24.5 assists per contest. The Riders have a well-balanced roster, performing well in the absence of starting big man Darien Nelson-Henry. 

Their most recent game, an 83-97 loss to the London Lions, wrapped up their BBL Cup group. GB guard Conner Washington led the game with 20 points off the bench, in a fixture with opportunities for Leicester’s young stars. Charnwood’s Victor Ndoukou and Louie Jordan played significant minutes, with Ndoukou granted a starting role in the vacancy of Marc Loving due to injury. The pair had 13 points between them, performing excellently against elite competition. The Riders hope for a deep run in the BBL Cup, attempting to win the trophy for the first time since 2014. 

Season So Far – Phoenix

The ‘Nix endured a rollercoaster of a BBL Cup group stage, finishing third with a 4-4 record. They struggled to find consistency, never stringing back-to-back wins, but their home form secured their spot in the knockouts. The Phoenix won three of their four games in Cheshire, holding their opponents to a stifling 79 points per game. However, they will have to carry their home form on the road to progress in the Cup as they prepare to face the Riders at the Morningside Arena. 

Cheshire has enjoyed less success to start their BBL Championship season, starting 0-3. Their most recent game was a 76-68 road loss to the Bristol Flyers, in which their offence struggled, shooting 41% from the field. Josh McSwiggan led Cheshire with 12 points and eight rebounds; the former Charnwood forward was one of just three Phoenix players to tally double digits. After suffering back-to-back losses last weekend, Cheshire enter the Riders game looking to snap a three-game losing streak. 

Ones To Watch 

Former Rider Namon Wright has led the Phoenix through their BBL Cup group, averaging 18 points and five rebounds a game. The American guard is cooking from deep, making 42% of his attempts from three-point range. Wright is a Colorado graduate, who averged eight points per game in his two year tenure with the Buffaloes. Playing in his third professional season, Wright is a scoring machine, able to breeze past defenders off the dribble with his lightning speed and pull up to score from anywhere on the court. 

Catching fire off the bench in his previous game, 11 year Rider Conner Washington has been an integral part of the Riders roster for over a decade. Against the Lions, Washington scored 20 points in just 21 minutes, going 6/9 from deep in a red hot shooting night. The Bedford born point guard is a fan favourite, known for his elite playmaking ability and deadeye shooting, averging 37% from deep last season. Washington’s ability to run the offence off the bench is vital to the Riders success, adding strength in depth for the reigning league champions. 

Previous meeting

Champagne was sprayed and celebrations were thrown the last time these sides faced, as the Riders secured the BBL Championship title at the Cheshire Oaks Arena with a 97-65 win. Captain Darien Nelson-Henry led the team with 19 points, before lifting the trophy for the fifth time in the club’s history.


Tickets are still available for Saturday’s game, CLICK HERE to book yours and get behind the Riders as they look to advance to the BBL Cup Semi Finals.

Spirited Riders fall to Lions

The Riders finished second in their BBL Cup group with a 6-2 record, following a 97-83 loss to the London Lions. The Riders cut a 15 point deficit to one in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t complete the comeback in a spirited performance. GB guard Conner Washington led the Riders with 20 points off the bench, knocking down six straight threes before his first miss. 

Coach Rob Paternostro demonstrated faith in his youth, with Charnwood prospect Victor Ndoukou granted a starting spot in the absence of Marc Loving. 

The 6’8” 18 year old rewarded Paternostro’s confidence with a stifling defensive effort, holding seven-foot big man Kylor Kelley to four points while Ndoukou was on the court. 

“Being a young guy on the team and going against a good player like that really helps my development”, said Ndoukou post-game. “I felt I did a good job today. I played solid defence and played hard. It felt good being out there with the guys”. 

For London, Italian sniper Lorenzo Cugini was on hot form, making four threes for 20 points. The 6’7” wing, who competed in the Spanish second division last season, went 53% from the field in an efficient showing. 

Both sides came out hungry in the first, the teams trading big blows as the scoreline swung back and forth. Back to back threes from Crandall got the Riders’ offence cooking before an and-one from Whelan’s fastbreak jam brought the house down midway through the period. Whelan led the Riders through the opening quarter, scoring seven, as his team trailed 28-25. 

Charnwood young-gun Louie Jordan kicked off the second quarter with a triple, as Lions’ shooting tandem Julian Washburn and Cugini built the visitors’ lead with 15 points between them. The Riders battled back to keep the game within reach, Crandall’s seven quarter points helping cut a 15 point deficit to 12, a Conner Washington buzzer-beater sending the teams into the locker room with the Riders down 59-47. 

The Riders fought their way back into the tie in the third quarter, recapturing momentum to cut the lead to single digits. A fastbreak putback from Mo Walker made it a five-point game, as Leicester went on a 10-0 run. The hosts locked in defensively, holding the Lions to ten straight possessions with no score and just 14 points in the third, their lead shortened to seven entering the final stanza. 

Back to back Washington three’s cut the game to one to start the fourth, the Riders close to completing their comeback. However, former G-League guard Isaiah Reese scored six points in two minutes to reestablish the Lions’ seven-point lead. Both offences’ dried up, with the game not seeing a score in three minutes before four quick London points sealed the game. 

With the BBL Cup group stage complete, the Riders focus on the knockouts, where the Cheshire Phoenix await them in the quarter-finals. The game will take place on Saturday 13th November,  9the Riders hoping to kick on and win the competition for the first time since 2014. 

Preview: Riders v Lions

The final BBL Cup South Group game between the Riders and the Lions will determine the top spot of the group, the winner taking home-court advantage to the knockout stages. 

Season So Far – Riders

Leicester have dominated their BBL Cup Group, entering the final game with a 6-1 record. They possess the best offence in the BBL, scoring 90 points a game, and hold their opponents to the fewest points, allowing just 74 points per game. The Riders have won seven games on the bounce in all competitions, after beating the Newcastle Eagles 100-77 in their league opener in front of the Sky Sports cameras. 

Zach Jackson led the team with 26 points, his season-high tally. The 6’7” wing has cooked from deep through the BBL Cup group stage, making 39% of his threes on his way to 12 points per game. Jackson’s deep shooting has been indicative of Leicester’s season. They lead the league in three-point percentage with 43%. 

Season So Far – Lions

The Lions possess the same 6-1 record as the Riders entering the final game of the group, their only loss coming at the hands of Leicester. They have the second-best defence in the league, in part thanks to their BBL best rim protection, blocking 5.6 shots per game. Kylor Kelly leads his team in this department, the former G-League big man blocking three shots per game in the BBL Cup. 

In Europe, London made history, beating dutch side Donar Groningen 85-67 to become the first British team since 2002 to advance to the second round of the FIBA Euro Cup. The Lions went undefeated through the group stage, but may feel the effects of extra travel and game time in the BBL. 

Ones To watch

Promising prospect Victor Ndoukou has gained valuable minutes in the BBL Cup this season, the GB wing getting large chunks of floor time in the first half of games. Ndoukou represents Charnwood, averaging 13 points and shooting 40% from three last season. The 18-year-old first picked up a basketball just four years ago and has made strides towards his professional career since, with the experience of travelling and playing for the Riders. Standing at 6’8”, Ndoukou has a versatile offensive game, able to score inside and out as well as run the offence with his playmaking skills. 

Dirk Williams has lit up the BBL in his second Lions season, leading the BBL in scoring with 22.5 points per game. The 6’5” two guard is getting his points at an efficient clip, enjoying a 50/40/90 season through the BBL Cup group stage. Williams is a danger to opposing defences all over the court, his shooting ability opening up lanes to the rim where he can finish strong. The UAB graduate averaged 18 points per game last season and has taken big leaps forward early in the year. 

Previous meetings

The Riders handed the Lions their first loss of the season in their previous encounter, beating London 93-76. Jackson’s monster slam over two defenders in the fourth quarter gave Leicester momentum to seal the game, in which Geno Crandall led the team with 20 points. The Riders dished 28 assists, 11 more than their opponents, generating good looks to shoot 51% from the field. Williams led the game with 30 points for the Lions, exploding to shoot 12-18 from the floor. 


Tickets are just £5 for Sunday’s game, book yours now and get behind the Riders as they look to claim top spot in the BBL Cup South Group.