Riders crowned BBL Cup Champions

Leicester Riders were crowned 2022 BBL Cup winners with a 83-69 win against the Manchester Giants. Geno Crandall was named Final MVP, after he put up 26 points, six rebounds and five assists in a monumental effort. 

Despite two of the competition’s top three offences clashing head to head, a low scoring game earned Leicester their first BBL Cup win since 2014. The Riders entered the tie as the BBL Cup’s best defence, and showcased their prowess by holding their opponents to 38.5% shooting. 

Texas Southern graduate Tyrik Armstrong led a valiant Giants effort with 18 points and four assists. Manchester lost an early advantage in the second quarter, and despite cutting it close in the final stages, could not climb back into the game. 

With the team’s trading blows to start the game, it was the Giants who had the best of the early running, taking a nine point lead lead by six from GB captain Dan Clark. Marc Loving steered Leicester through their difficult offensive start with seven points in the first quarter, pulling up from everywhere on the court. 

The Ohio state graduate’s play kick started a 6-2 Riders run to end the period, which Manchester’s Armstrong concluded with a pair of free-throws to make it 20-15 in his team’s favour. 

The Riders continued their fightback in the second, taking their first lead of the game courtesy of Crandall’s midrange jumpshot. Last season’s BBL MVP took the roof off the building on the following play, taking flight to block Armstrong’s layup. 

Crandall blew wind into the Riders’ sails, scoring 12 in the quarter to stretch the lead. His dazzling display led Leicester on a 30-8 second quarter performance. The half ended fittingly, with captain Darien Nelson-Henry beating the buzzer to put the Riders up 45-26. 

Crandall picked up in the second half where he left off in the first, snatching the ball from Armstrong and laying the ball in for two. The quarter exploded into life after five minutes, with the teams trading baskets back and forth. The Giants climbed back into contention, with Jordan Whelan’s three cutting the game to nine. 

In response, Loving went to work down low, twisting and turning against Armstrong before hitting a jump shot fading away for an and-one play. Loving scored four straight to reestbalish the Riders advantage, getting to the line again on the next play after a Zach Jackson steal. 

With under a minute remaining, Manchester’s GB wing Will Saunders picked up his second technical foul out of frustration, seeing him ejected from the game. Two quick scores in the final seconds from both teams meant the sides entered the final stanza with the score 60-51, the game on a knife edge. 

The sides bolted out the gate in the fourth, with momentum swinging back and forth at a tremendous pace. Crandall once again took the reigns, scoring tightly contested shots for six points in the first five minutes of the period. Kimbal Mackenzie came up with two huge threes after a Giants 5-0 run to keep Manchester at arm’s length, and Mackenzie’s string of late free-throws sealed the Riders’ fourth BBL Cup. 

Riders: Crandall 26, Mackenzie 15, Loving 12, Jackson 9, Whelan 6, Nelson-Henry 4, Walker 4, Adekoya 4, Washington 3, Wild, Walshe, Jordan

Giants: Armstrong 18, Artison 12, Anderson 9, Steel 9, Clark 8, Whelan 7, Lewis 4, Hudson 2, Saunders, Nwagboso, Ulph, Jones

Riders add Lewis to the Roster.

Leicester Riders are pleased to announce the signing of US guard Alison Lewis.

Lewis will be added to the roster and make her debut this Saturday in the Riders WBBL Championship clash in Scotland against the Caledonia Pride.

Alison played 50 games for the University of Delaware and after leaving the Fightin Blue Hens she has gone on to have successful pro spells in both Norway and Luxembourg.

She arrives in the East Midlands having averaged 25.3ppg, 8.7rpg, 3.9apg during a 15 game spell with Les Sangliers Wooltz in the Luxembourg-LBBL.

Lewis commented:

“I’m very excited about joining the Riders and I look forward to contributing to a winning season. I plan to bring energy and scoring to help the team continue in their successes on the court”

Coach Marg Jones added:

“We are delighted to welcome Alison to the Riders program. She has been training very hard with us for a week now following her season in Luxembourg and is settling in great.”

“Alison brings additional perimeter scoring to our team along with being a tenacious defender, so obviously fits in very well with the Riders style of play. We’re really looking forward to having her on court with us this weekend against Caledonia”

BBL Cup Final Preview: Riders v Giants

The 2021/22 BBL Cup reaches its climax on Sunday, as the Riders take on the Manchester Giants in the final. They head to the Utilita Arena Birmingham, hoping to win their first BBL Cup since 2014.

Journey To The Final – Riders

The Riders tipped off their season with the BBL Cup group stage, which they progressed through with a 6-2 record. Six straight wins in the group saw them advance to play the Cheshire Phoenix in the quarter-final.

Leicester was faced with a tough outing against Cheshire, with the game coming down to the final possession. They saw the tie out in the clutch, courtesy of Jubril Adekoya’s go-ahead layup with seconds remaining, winning 85-84. 

In the semi-final, two of the BBL’s premier outfits collided, as the Riders took on the London Lions over two legs. After winning the first game on the road 99-96, the Riders defence locked down in front of a raucous Morningside Arena, as they bested the Lions 79-74 in the second leg.  

Reigning MVP Geno Crandall leads Leicester in the BBL Cup with 15.6 points, 8.6 assists and 2.7 steals per game. The point guard sets the tone for his side, who average the most assists and steals in the competition. 

A win would see the Riders lift their fourth BBL Cup, and their first for seven years. With a 10-0 record in the BBL Championship, their best-ever league start has a shot at getting even better. 

Journey To The Final – Giants

Three wins in a row saw the Giants progress through the BBL Cup group, as they finished top of the table. They blew out the Newcastle Eagles 111-73 to finish off the group stage, Martaveous Mcknight leading the Giants with 20 points.

The quarter-finals saw the Giants take on the Surrey Scorchers, as Manchester hosted a thriller. The game came down to the final possession, with the hosts winning 99-96. 

Surrey’s Lamer Hamrick hit a three with two seconds left to cut the game to a possession, but the Giants survived the late Scorchers’ charge to advance. 

The Glasgow Rocks met the Giants in the semi-final, and rocked them in the first leg with a 102-92 win. The Giants hosted the second leg, pulling off the comeback to win 92-79, 184-181 on aggregate. 

Tyrik Armstrong hit the game-sealing free-throws for Manchester, and led the game with 25 points to help his team to the final. This is the Giants’ first shot at a BBL Cup in their 10-year history, and a win will see the franchise win their first piece of silverware. 

Ones To Watch

With silverware on the line, this game features a battle between brothers, with the Riders’ Patrick Whelan facing off against the Giants’ Jordan Whelan. 

This will be the first time the brothers will face each other in professional basketball, with the BBL Cup final providing a fitting arena. 

With the pair both lining up in the shooting guard position, Jordan and Patrick are likely to end up face to face in the game, guarding each other as they go back and forth. 

Patrick enters the game on red hot form for the Riders, having led his team in scoring in their previous two fixtures. The William Jewell graduate is shooting a scorching 47.8% from three, the third-best high-volume percentage in the BBL. 

Jordan’s season-high came in the BBL Cup group stage against the Glasgow Rocks, where he scored 15 points and stole the ball four times. Jordan is capable of a big performance on any given night, having scored in double digits on seven occasions this season. 

Previous Meeting

This game will be the first between these teams this season. They last faced off last season in the BBL Championship, in a game that was contested from wire to wire. The Riders edged the game 90-87, after Jordan Whelan missed a three at the buzzer to tie. 

Darien Nelson-Henry came up huge for Leicester with a double-double, putting up 18 points and 10 rebounds. For the Giants, Whelan went off for 18 points and five rebounds as his team came up just short. 

Hot second half sees Riders defeat Phoenix

The Riders made it 10 straight league wins to start the season, beating the Cheshire Phoenix 76-59. Reigning MVP Geno Crandall stuffed the stat sheet with a triple-double, putting up 13 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.

The tie was tightly contested through three quarters, before the Riders’ BBL best defence locked in. They held the Phoenix to just two points in the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter, and exploded from three late, hitting five shots from deep to seal the win. 

Patrick Whelan led Leicester for the second straight game, scoring 16 points from just eight shots. He was one of four Riders players to score in double digits, with Kimbal Mackenzie and Darien Nelson-Henry getting in on the action off the bench. 

Cheshire fought tooth and nail throughout the game, led by former Rider Nahmon Wright’s 15 points. Leicester held the Phoenix to their lowest scoring tally of the season after they entered the tie having won five of their last seven league games. 

It wasn’t smooth sailing throughout, however, as Leicester fell victim to a hot 8-0 Phoenix start. GB sniper Ben Mockford hit his first two threes to get Cheshire on the board, as the Riders endured turnover troubles, ending the first with seven. 

Entering the second quarter down 18-10, the Riders tidied up their offence to climb back into the game. They got to the foul line effectively, with Nelson-Henry and Mackenzie knocking down their free-throws to cut the game to five. 

The Riders duo combined for the highlight play of the half, as Mackenzie threw a perfect lob to his big man who jammed the ball down two-handed. Their momentum play sparked a 9-1 Riders run which cut the game to one. 

With two minutes remaining in the first half, Zach Jackson bolted out on a fastbreak, laying it in to give the Riders their first lead of the night. Nelson-Henry scored eight in the quarter to lead the comeback, the Penn graduate’s dunk concluding a low scoring first half with his side up 31-30. 

A back and forth battle kick-started the second half. There were eight lead changes in the third quarter, before the Riders found their flow. Getting into their rhythm late in the period, Leicester took an eight-point lead, their biggest of the game. 

Whelan led the Riders on their run, scoring eight points in the third to help Leicester to their advantage entering the fourth. 

There was a nearly four-minute wait for the first score of the final period, with both sides locking down with the game on a knife’s edge. It was the Riders who broke the deadlock, with Mackenzie knocking down a three after Crandall spectacularly swatted a Phoenix lob attempt. 

Mackenzie caught fire to hit three straight deep shots, putting Leicester up 13 late in the game. His clutch play sucked the life out of the Cheshire crowd, sealing the game for the league champions. 

The Riders won the fourth quarter 19-9, starting the period with a 17-2 run. Charnwood’s Louie Jordan concluded the game with a corner three, capping off a dominant final period.

The Riders no turn their attention to their biggest game of the season so far, the BBL Cup final. They head to Birmingham where they will face the Manchester Giants, hoping to lift the trophy for the first time since 2014. 

Preview: Riders at Phoenix

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders top the BBL Championship table with a 9-0 record, their form making them the team to beat heading into the second half of the season. They have the league’s best offensive and defensive record, scoring 96.4 points per game while giving up just 68.4. 

Marc Loving has led the Riders through the opening stages of their league campaign, averaging 16 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. The 6’9” Ohio native is an efficient scorer, shooting 51.1% from the floor and 45.5% from three on the year. 

Last time out, the Riders dominated the Bristol Flyers on the road, beating their hosts 92-64. Sharpshooter Patrick Whelan led the team for the second straight game, scoring 25 points after a 16 point first quarter effort. 

The Warrington-born two-guard is guarding against overconfidence for the rest of the year: 

“It’s nice to be 9-0 now, but a lot of these guys have been in a similar position and it can go wrong really quickly. We’re taking it game by game.” 

Season So Far – Phoenix

Despite starting the season with five straight losses, the Phoenix enter this tie on a good run of form, winning five of their last seven league games. They sit fourth in the BBL Championship table with a 5-7 record, having played the most fixtures in the league. 

Cheshire comes into this game off the back of an impressive 107-87 win against the Glasgow Rocks. Former Rider Nahmon Wright led the game with 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists. 

Wright is the Phoenix’s leading scorer this season, averaging 17.3 points and 5.7 rebounds a game. The 6’5” American guard scored a season-high 28 points against the Manchester Giants and has scored over 20 in the league on five occasions. 

One To Watch – Riders

After missing a large portion of the start of the season due to injury, Darien Nelson-Henry has been at his brilliant best after returning to the Riders squad. 

The big man out of the University of Pennsylvania is averaging 13.3 points and 6.8 rebounds in just 20 minutes a game, shooting 64.7% from the field. This comes after Darien averaged 12 points and seven rebounds last season in a productive year.

The American born big man is a fan favourite, leading with respect and passion for Riders basketball. He captained the team to their 2020/21 BBL Championship, making his experience and leadership integral to their title defence this year. 

One To Watch – Phoenix

Team GB guard Teddy Okereafor has enjoyed domestic and international success this season, after helping GB qualify for EuroBasket 2022.

In his 50th consecutive GB appearance, Okereafor led GB to a famous win over Greece, ranked 32 places above them. He recorded 19 points, four rebounds and three assists, nailing all four of his three-point attempts. 

In the BBL, Okereafor is his side’s leading playmaker, dishing 6.6 assists per game. He’s scoring 11.5 points on the season, and he enters the Riders fixture on hot form, having scored a season-high 19 points in his previous game. 

The VCU graduate is an experienced eight-year pro, having played in Greece and Italy. The 6’3” point guard is an elite playmaker and shooter, knocking down 39% of his three-point attempts this season. 

Previous Meeting 

The sides last met earlier in the league campaign, with the Riders emerging as 94-72 victors. Marc Loving led the game with his season-high 32 points, catching fire from three to go 6-10. 

For Cheshire, team GB guard Teddy Okereafor with 17 points and 12 rebounds, as the Riders forced his team into 19 turnovers on the game. Leicester shot 50% from the floor and 45.2% from three in a comfortable home win.  

Foundation set to lead PL Kicks sessions

Over the coming months, the Leicester Riders Foundation will lead a number of Premier League Kicks sessions in partnership with Leicester City Football Club.

The free basketball sessions will be held for young people coming from underprivileged areas, and people who may not have this kind of opportunity elsewhere.

The Foundation will host four sessions, with the aim of getting more young people engaged in basketball. The coaches will be aiming at getting everyone involved and having fun, and trying to build a community feel amongst the group.

Attendees will be taught by the foundation’s basketball coaches, who will teach basic skills, leading into some gameplay.

The sessions are part of the Foundation’s aims to promote basketball to people across Leicester and Leicestershire, regardless of prior experience.

Book on our February Half Term Camp

You can now book on our February Half Term Camp!

The camp takes place between the 14th and 17th of February, and is held from 10pm to 4pm.

The camp is held at the Morningside Arena, and is open to anyone between the ages of 8 and 16, regardless of basketball experience and ability.

The cost is £20 per day, and there is a reduction to £65 for the full four days.

Riders bounce back with victory over Flyers

The Riders continued their undefeated league streak, beating the Bristol Flyers 92-64 to improve to 9-0. Sharpshooter Patrick Whelan led Leicester for the second straight game, scoring 25 points after torching Bristol with 21 in the first half. 

Whelan’s first-half effort gave the Riders a comfortable advantage entering the second half, allowing them to see the game out in the second. Leicester’s number 1 ranked BBL defence held its opponents to 33% from the floor, and 19% from three. 

Reigning MVP Geno Crandall was all over the box score, with six points, 12 assists and nine rebounds. The Gonzaga graduate demonstrated his ability to be effective without scoring, finishing with a +/- of 19. 

Despite cutting the game to within a score in the third, going on a run to start the second half, the Flyers struggled to get their offence clicking against the stifling Riders defence. Antwain Johnson led the Flyers with 17 points, the 6’2” American going 6-17 from the field. 

Whelan exploded out the gate for Leicester with 16 points in the opening seven minutes. The William Jewell graduate made momentum-building plays, making two and-ones to put Leicester up 25-15. 

A Flyers run to end the quarter made it 27-21 at the end of the first. Their momentum carried into the second, as they cut the lead to four courtesy of Antwain Johnson’s basket, forcing a Riders response. 

Crandall scored four straight to rebuild the lead, rebounding his own free-throw for a putback. Building on his teammate’s play, Canadian/British big man Mo Walker took the game over inside, scoring two straight buckets and going on to score 10 in half. 

With a 16-8 run to conclude the half, the Riders entered the locker rooms with a commanding 48-35 lead.

Bristol came back into it to begin the third with a 15-5 run, cutting the lead to three. Marc Loving stole back the momentum with a huge three, kick-starting an 8-0 Riders response, led by five from Loving. Kimbal Mackenzie concluded the third with a banked-in jump shot, putting Leicester up 68-54.

The Riders exploded for six straight points to start the fourth, getting up 20 with eight minutes left in the tie. Their advantage allowed Leicester to sub in Evan Walshe for his BBL debut. Walshe impressed, scoring four in two minutes of play. 

Leading the team for the second straight game, Whelan is on top form at this stage of the year:

“I’d love to take all the credit for myself, but it’s because all the other guys are really good scorers. It makes my job so easy. Usually I’m wide open when I shoot it, so it’s really a team effort.

“It was definitely a point of emphasis to be the enforcers here today. It’s nice to be 9-0 now, but a lot of these guys have been in a similar position and it can go wrong really quickly. We’re taking it game by game”. 

The Riders continue their road trip in their next fixture, heading to Cheshire to take on the Phoenix. A win would keep them top of the BBL Championship table with a 10-0 record. 

Alex to continue journey in the US

Alex, who has been at the academy since 2016, has left the Leicester Riders to move to America, where he will continue his basketball journey.

Alex has shown great commitment in his time with the Riders, playing for our U12 and U14 teams, as well as participating in our community sessions. He has always given 100% effort, and both coaches and players have voiced how Alex made a real impact both on and off the court.

He will now continue his basketball journey in America, and although he will be greatly missed by everyone within the Riders Family, we wish him nothing but success in with his future both on and off the court in America.

Coach Dom said: “Having coached Alex over the past four years it has been great to watch him develop not only as a basketball player but also as a person. Alex has been a significant contributor on every team at various age groups. He was in the first team I coached, and althoughwe are sad to see him leave the club, we are excited for the adventure that Alex and his family are embarking on moving to the USA. We wish Alex and his family the best of luck.”

Foundation leads REMIT session

Leicester Riders Foundation have led a session for the REMIT group as part of the United Leicester partnership.

The session, aimed at improving wellbeing, saw the group take a walk Abby Park, alongside Riders coaches Dom and Aaran, before stopping for refreshments. 

The session, which will now be held weekly, is aimed at helping the attendees to relax, get to know one-another, make the most of the fresh air, and feel free to talk about any issues they may be facing. In future the sessions may be paired with a sports session after.

The activity is part of the Leicester Riders Foundation’s work within the United Leicester Partnership, part of which is to provide weekly activities to help support adults with their mental and physical wellbeing.

Preview: Riders at Flyers

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders have enjoyed a flawless start to their title defence, sitting top of the league table with an 8-0 record. It’s their best start to a season since 2016, when they went on to win the title by eight points. 

In the BBL Cup, Leicester awaits their first BBL Cup final since 2014, after beating the London Lions. They won with an aggregate score of 178-170 after Zach Jackson’s 15 points and six rebounds led them to a 79-74 second-leg victory.

Ohio State star Marc Loving has hit the ground running in Leicester, leading the Riders in scoring in his first Riders season. The former G-League forward is averaging 16.4 points on 53.8% shooting and is making 46.8% of his threes. 

Season So Far – Flyers

The Flyers have enjoyed a solid start to their league season, getting off to a 4-2 start. Bristol won three straight to rise up the standings, before taking an 84-87 nail-biting loss against the Glasgow Rocks in their previous league fixture. 

Bristol’s early success has come from their defensive prowess, as they hold the second-best defensive record in the BBL. They give up 73 points a game and lead the league in steals, averaging 9.2. 

Malcolm Delpeche has led the Flyers in the opening stages of the season, scoring 17.5 points per game, the 5th most in the BBL. The 6’8” big scored 26 on the opening day of the season, not looking back since. 

Most recently, the Flyers faced the Riders in the BBL Trophy, winning 71-68 to progress to the second round, led by Raphell Thomas-Edward’s 18 points. 

One To Watch – Riders

Picking up December’s BBL Player of the Month Award, Marc Loving has come into his own in recent games. Loving averaged 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds a game over the festive period, as he now leads the team in scoring with 16.4 points. 

Loving signed with the Riders midway through the preseason, having gained experience in the NBA G-League with the Delaware BlueCoats and Agua Caliente Clippers.

The Ohio State sniper averaged 13 points and five rebounds per game across his junior and senior years, and is shooting 46.8% from three for the Riders. 

Loving provides a well-balanced arsenal, his size and length giving him a strong defensive foundation, while his elite shooting ability combined with his 6’7” frame makes him a dangerous weapon on offence.

One To Watch – Flyers

Trejon Jacob has been on a tear this season for the Flyers, averaging 14.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.8 steals. His rebounding tally ranks third in the league, while his steals tally leads the Flyers. 

Jacob is a first-year pro out of Florida International University, averaging 12.2 points from 38% from behind the three-point line. He scored 451 points during his first year with the Panthers, the second-most by a sophomore in school history.

Jacob dropped a season-high 21 points against the Riders on the opening game of the BBL Cup group stage, going 8/16 from the field. He will hope for another efficient shooting performance in this one. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders get an immediate opportunity for revenge against Bristol, after they knocked them out of the BBL Trophy in their previous fixture. The Flyers came away with a 71-68 win, after a Riders 15 point fourth-quarter comeback fell just short. 

Raphael Thomas-Edwards led Bristol with 18, while William Jewell sharpshooter Patrick Whelan knocked down four of his eight three-point attempts, scoring 16. 

Riders knocked out of the BBL Trophy by Flyers

The Riders fell short of a 15 point fourth-quarter comeback, exiting the BBL Trophy with a 71-68 loss to the Bristol Flyers. 11 points in the fourth from Patrick Whelan came close to rescuing the tie, as he led the team with 16 on the game. 

Leicester had two shots to tie at the end, despite entering the fourth down 59-44. Their offence struggled through the first three quarters, but came to life in the fourth as their three began to fall. 

They charged back into the tie with 12 unanswered points, tying the game at 64 midway through the fourth. In the clutch, the Flyers came out the better of a back and forth finale, sealing the game after an inspired Leicester comeback. 

Reigning  MVP Geno Crandall took the Riders’ reigns, leading the offence with 16 assists. Seven of those came in the fourth, as Crandall scored or assisted on eight of Leicester’s nine field goals in the final period.

For Bristol, Raphell Thomas-Edwards led them through the game with 18 points, the Leicester born wing making seven of his 14 shots. The Flyers are ranked first in steals in the BBL, and stole the ball nine times in this one to disrupt the Riders offence. 

Despite scoring just 10 in the opening quarter, the Riders’ BBL best defence kept the game close by holding their opponents to 16. Zach Jackson hit back to back floaters to get the Riders on the board against a gritty Flyers start.

Darien Nelson-Henry was a spark off the bench in the first quarter, checking into the game to make two momentum-building plays. The second, a monster slam to make it a two-point game midway through the first. 

The Flyers’ lead grew in the early stages of the second, with Marcus Evans’ deep three putting them up nine. In response, Riders big man Mo Walker took over the game with six points in the period to keep the score close. 

After his team struggled offensively through much of the first half, Ohio born Marc Loving threw down an aggressive fast-break jam to kick the Riders into gear. Flying in on the fastbreak, Loving threw the ball down one-handed for the highlight of the half. 

Following up Loving’s slam, Crandall hit a deep buzzer-beating three to close out the first half. The triple cut the deficit to 38-34, a manageable scoreline entering the second half. 

Bristol came out of halftime firing, going on a 16-3 run led by five points from Trejon Jacob. The Flyers run put them up 17, forcing a Riders timeout. 

Coming out of the timeout, the Riders closed out the quarter with a 7-2 run of their own. A pair of Flyers trips to the free-throw line meant the teams entered the final quarter with the score 59-44. 

Nelson-Henry got the fourth off with a bang, throwing it down two-handed to kickstart the comeback. Whelan hit the Riders’ first three of the second half to make it seven Leicester points unanswered, cutting the Flyers lead to eight. 

The Riders run continued following a Bristol timeout, with Whelan hitting his second three to cut the game to a possession. Whelan’s shooting opened the floodgates for Riders triples to start falling, as the Riders hit four in five minutes to start the fourth. 

Whelan’s fourth-quarter heroics continued with a breakaway slam to tie the game at 64 with four minutes remaining. After a couple of buckets from the Flyers, Jackson’s clutch steal from a Bristol inbound gave the Riders the opportunity to send it to overtime. 

Loving found himself with space in the corner, but his three was just off as Leicester fell short of a heroic comeback. 

The Riders have the chance to bounce back immediately, returning to Bristol next Friday in the league. A win will maintain their undefeated league record, keeping them at the top of the BBL Championship table at 9-0. 

Evan Walshe joins Riders programme

British guard Evan Walshe has been added to the Loughborough University roster ahead of the NBL sides’ D1 game this Saturday.

Walshe who started this season in the Spanish third league with Aquimisa Carbajosa has joined the Riders programme and will be available to play for Will Maynard’s side this weekend.

The former Oaklands Academy players and Surrey Scorcher will join the programme and in the future he would like to study a masters at Loughborough University, and he arrives with a good pedigree having spent his college years in the NCAA with Barry University, Florida.

“We are really happy to add Evan to our roster. He is someone we have spoke to previously to join the programme and I believe he’ll be a great asset to the organisation and we are thrilled to be able to create a great situation where he can play Div 1 and BBL”, commented Managing Director Russell Levenston.

“I think what goes on here is special and something that I’ve always wanted to be a part of.”

“I grew up watching the Riders dominate in the BBL, it’s a great honour to be able to put on a Riders uniform.”

“Having the opportunity to play both D1 and with the BBL side for the remainder of this season will firstly allow me to still get plenty of game time but also be able to learn from the senior guys who have made such a footprint in the BBL like Geno, Conner and Zach. I’m looking forward to the challenge, and ready for the opportunity I’ve been given.”

Preview: Riders at Flyers

The Riders tip-off their BBL Trophy campaign on the road to Bristol, where they will take on the Flyers.

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders sit atop the BBL Championship table with an undefeated record through eight games. They possess the league’s best offensive and defensive record, scoring 97 points a game while giving up just 69. 

In the BBL Cup, the Riders are gearing up for their first final since 2014 after beating the London Lions in the semi-final. They won with an aggregate score of 178-170 after Zach Jackson’s 15 points and six rebounds led them to a 79-74 second-leg victory.

Ohio State star Marc Loving has hit the ground running in Leicester, leading the Riders in scoring in his first Riders season. The former G-League forward is averaging 16.4 points on 53.8% shooting and is making 46.8% of his threes. 

Last time out, the Riders handed the Sheffield Sharks the heaviest home defeat in their history, winning 100-62. Darien Nelson-Henry led the team with 19 points, as Leicester’s big man trio of Nelson-Henry, Jubril Adekoya and Mo Walker combined for 38. 

Season So Far – Flyers

The Flyers have enjoyed a solid start to their league season, getting off to a 4-2 start. Bristol won three straight to rise up the standings, before taking an 84-87 nail-biting loss against the Glasgow Rocks in their previous fixture. 

Bristol’s early success has come from their defensive prowess, as they hold the second-best defensive record in the BBL. They give up 73 points a game and lead the league in steals, averaging 9.2. 

Malcolm Delpeche has led the Flyers in the opening stages of the season, scoring 17.5 points per game, the 5th most in the BBL. The 6’8” big scored 26 on the opening day of the season, not looking back since. 

One To Watch – Riders

Big man Mo Walker bolted out the gates with a dominant start in his previous game. The Canadian/British University of Minnesota graduate scored eight points in the first five minutes, with no match in the paint. 

Walker scored 11 points and seven rebounds a game in his senior year at Minnesota, earning him an All-Big Ten honourable mention selection before he progressed into his professional career.

This season, Walker has scored 10.4 points a game on 63.6% shooting, the most efficient percentage of all BBL players who have taken over 35 shots. 

One To Watch – Flyers

Leading his team with 17.5 points per game, Malcolm Delpeche has continued his season-to-season improvements since he signed his first professional contract. 

He played college basketball in the NCAA division three with Bates, averaging 13 points in his senior year before signing with the Flyers with his twin brother, Marcus. 

After a season with the Flyers, Delpche took his talents to the German third division, playing three seasons with Muenster. Scoring 10 points across his three seasons in Germany, the 6’8” big man returned to the Flyers. 

Delpeche is an athletic big, capable of highlight plays and posters on any given possession. He is elite on both ends, averaging a block and a steal a game through the beginning of the year. The Riders big men will need to perform to the highest standard to slow Delpeche down.  

Previous Meeting

The sides last met in the BBL Cup group stage, splitting the two games. Their most recent fixture was a 75-67 Riders road win. 

Geno Crandall and Zach Jackson led the Riders with 13 points each in a balanced team effort, while Malcolm Delpeche led the game with 18 points, going 8-14 from the field. 

Coach Rob picks up monthly award

Head Coach Rob Paternostro has been named the Coach of the Month for December by the BBL having posted a perfect month.

Riders won all five of their games in December, taking them to 8 and 0 in the BBL Championship and a BBL Cup Semi Final win over London Lions.

As a result, Paternostro will lead out his team in the BBL Cup Final for the fourth time – against Manchester Giants at the end of this month.

Riders ranked #1 for points for averaging 98 over the month and ranked #1 for points against averaging 75.6. Riders biggest win of the month came over Plymouth City Patriots when they ran out 106-60 winners.

Riders have now picked up 3 of the monthly awards, Geno Crandall and Marc Loving winning the Player of the Month award for November and December respectively.

Loving named Player of the Month!

Marc Loving has been named the Player of the Month for December! Riders had a perfect month with five wins from five games including two wins over London Lions in the BBL Cup Semi finals.

In the league, Loving hit 20 points against Glasgow Rocks, 14 a piece against Newcastle Eagles and Plymouth City Patriots. Over both legs in the Semi Finals, Loving totalled 28 points and 18 rebounds and 6 assists.

For the month Loving averaged 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds a game, 3.8 assists a game.

With a fine start in both league and cup, Loving has been a perfect addition to the Riders line-up this season. The award is the second Riders player this season to pick-up the honour, Geno Crandall having won it in November.

Riders open new year with victory over Sharks

The Riders tipped off 2022 with a win, cruising past the Sheffield Sharks 100-62. Darien Nelson-Henry led Leicester with 19 points in 21 minutes, going 9-14 from the floor. 

The win maintains the Riders undefeated league record, as they sit top of the BBL Championship table with an 8-0 record. 

Nelson-Henry dominated the glass in the game grabbing 10 rebounds, four of them offensive. The Riders outrebounded the Sharks 44-28, outhustling and outmuscling their hosts. 

The Riders bolted out the gates and never looked back, scoring 50 in the first half for the ninth time this season. Entering the game as the BBL’s best three-point shooting team, they shot the lights out yet again to go 9-18. 

The Riders also maintained their BBL best defensive record, holding their opponents to the 60s for the third time this league campaign. They forced Sheffield into 15 turnovers, stealing the ball 13 times as the Sharks shot 38% from the field. 

Leicester handed the Sharks their biggest ever home defeat. This was their first game since December 8th as they looked to shake off some rust. Uni of San Fransisco graduate Jordan Ratinho led the game with 21 points, making five of his seven threes. 

Mo Walker got off to a dominant start down low, scoring eight points in the first five minutes of play. The big man’s play led the Riders on a charge out the gate, as they bolted out to a 19-9 lead after Marc Loving’s triple. 

The Sharks responded with three threes from Jordan Ratinho and Kipper Nichols to get back into the game. The Sheffield explosion made it a four-point game to end the first. 

The Riders dominated the second quarter, locking in to hold the Sharks to 14. 

Kimbal Mackenzie took the reigns of the offence to start the quarter, scoring eight quick points to reestablish the Riders lead to 14. The Bucknall graduate attacked the teeth of the Sharks defence, getting to the free-throw line to great effect. 

The Riders lead continued to grow, as they hit three straight threes to put them up 20. Mackenzie hit a buzzer-beater to conclude the half with Leicester taking a 57-34 lead into the locker rooms. 

The Riders kicked on in the third, continuing their defensive dominance to hold the Sharks to 12 points. Late in the quarter, Crandall dished an audacious no-look assist to Darien Nelson-Henry, who put Leicester up 30, before finishing the quarter with a mid-range jumper. 

With a 30 point lead, Leicester comfortably saw the game out in the fourth. Nelson-Henry scored nine in the quarter to complete an emphatic win. 

“It helps in any game to start off strong, our starting lineup has done an amazing job of throwing the first punch for the most part”, said Mackenzie post game. 

“We feel good. We’re trying to keep it rolling, keep everyone healthy and keep getting better every day.”

The Riders continue their road trip on Friday, as they head to Bristol to take on the 4-3 Flyers. A win would improve Leicester’s record to 9-0, putting them in good stead to defend their league title. 

Preview: Riders at Sharks

The Riders face the Sharks in their first fixture of 2022, hoping to improve to 8-0 in the BBL Championship. 

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders finished 2021 with an undefeated league record, sitting top of the BBL Championship through seven games. 

They come into this fixture on a 12 game winning streak, having progressed to the BBL Cup final in their previous game with a 79-74 win against the London Lions. 

Leicester entered the tie with a three-point advantage after the first leg, and did enough in the second to progress to their first BBL Cup final since 2016, led by 15 points and six rebounds from Zach Jackson. 

Reigning MVP Geno Crandall leads Leicester in the league with 17.1 points and 6.6 assists; the 6’0” Gonzaga guard is top 10 in the BBL in both categories. 

Season So Far – Sharks

Sheffield enter this game with rested legs, having not played since December 8th due to fixture cancellations.

When they were last in action, the Sharks took back to back wins against the Plymouth City Patriots, improving their record to 5-2, good for third in the BBL Championship table. 

Their most recent win took place at the Plymouth Pavillions, where the Sharks bested the Patriots 66-61. Rodney Glasgow Jnr led the visitors with 18 points, going 7-12 from the floor. 

Glasgow Jnr leads the Sharks in the league with 13.3 points per game; the Virginia Military Institute graduate is shooting 53.5% from the field and 44% from three on the year. 

One To Watch- Riders

In the BBL Cup semi-final against London, Jubril Adekoya came up big in the clutch with two late buckets. The 6’7” Valparaiso graduate has provided size and hustle off the bench all season long. 

Coach Rob Paternostro sang the praises of his player after the win: “Jubril was excellent today. His pick and roll defence in the second half was a real difference in the game. He’s been a real unsung hero for us this year.”

Adekoya has stepped up in the biggest moments this season, scoring a game-winner against the Cheshire Phoenix. 

After the Lions win, Adekoya said: “I pride myself on being ready. I try to be prepared and bring something to the team. It’s cool if it’s two minutes or 40 minutes. I just want to bring something to the team.”

Having played the last four seasons in the Spanish second division, Adekoya brings much-needed experience and grit to this Riders roster.

One To Watch – Sharks

Sheffield was recently forced to replace combo guard Jonathan Williams after his departure to Poland. They signed American wing Devante Wallace to fill the hole in the roster. 

Wallace signed from Romania’s division A, where he averaged 13.8 points per game, shooting 43% from deep. 

Standing at 6’5”, Wallace is a versatile offensive talent, able to take defenders off the dribble and get to the hoop, or use his quick release to pull up for three. 

Defensively, Wallace likes to jump into the passing lane to steal the ball, generating fastbreak opportunities for his team. He averaged 1.7 steals a game in Romania, forcing his opponents to throw lose passes at their peril. 

Previous Meeting 

The sides last met in late November. The game was also played at Ponds Forge, and was won 80-72 by the Riders. 

The Sharks stayed in the game until deep into the fourth, before being dispatched by Leicester in the closing minutes. 

Marc Loving led Leicester with 23 points from just 10 shots, while Aaron Anderson scored a team-high 13 points for Sheffield.