Riders see out clutch win against Scorchers

The Riders saw out a 77-72 nailbiter against Surrey Scorchers, improving their record to 12-5. 

Marc Loving led the way with 22 points, scoring nine in the fourth to seal a clutch win. His teammate on the wing, Zach Jackson, closely followed with 20 points. 

Jackson turned the tide in the third quarter with six points and two steals, earning the Riders a lead they didn’t surrender. 

The win makes it 37 undefeated against Surrey, the longest streak against an opponent in the BBL. The Riders’ defence held the Scorchers to 16% from deep, and 44% from the field. 

The Scorchers have now lost eight games within 10 points this season. They proved they could hang with the league’s best, but were unable to get over the hump in tonight’s fixture. 

Their young star Padiet Wang finished up with 24 points, followed by Quincy Taylor’s 18. 

The Riders started hot, jumping out to a 7-3 lead after four quick points from Darien Nelson-Henry. 

View the full box score here!

Surrey hit back via Wang, who scored five in response to take the lead for his side and set the stage for a closely fought first quarter. Wang scored 12 in the first quarter, exploding the rim with his elite athleticism. 

Whelan got himself going midway through the period, hitting a three for his first points of the evening. His triple snatched momentum for the Riders, who built a seven-point lead. 

Aaron Menzies put an exclamation point on the run, slamming it down one-handed at the rim. 

The Scorchers found form in the second, which they started on a 12-2 run. Andrew Lawrence’s back-to-back midrange jumpers took the lead, which Surrey stretched to nine five minutes in. 

The Riders halted the visitor’s run, cutting it to six by halftime led by six points from Kimbal Mackenzie. 

Jackson got the second half underway with five points in two minutes, hitting a three with Taylor in his grill. He took the challenge of guarding Wang, who scored 18 in the first half. The Omaha graduate quickly came up with two steals, leading the charge on both ends. 

Conner Washington’s three tied it up at 53 with two minutes remaining in the period. Whelan then took the lead with a pair of free throws, putting the Riders up going into the fourth. 

Loving got the final period underway with four points, cooking defenders with his silky dribble. Jackson followed up his teammate with back-to-back tough finishes at the rim, earning the Riders a seven-point lead. 

Loving took the fourth quarter over, scoring nine points in five minutes, concluded by a three from the corner. 

The Scorchers fought back, as Wang strung together some buckets to take momentum back for his team. Surrey made it a three-point game with two and a half minutes remaining after Wang’s layup. 

However, the Riders saw the game out in the clutch, as Nelson-Henry found Jackson on back-to-back plays to seal an important win. 

The Riders are back on the road for their next BBL action. They head to Bristol to take on the Flyers, hoping to build on tonight’s win.

BBL Championship Preview: Riders vs Scorchers

The Riders welcome the Surrey Scorchers to the Morningside Arena for the first time this season. 

Bounce back game for Leicester 

The Riders enter this one off the back of their first home loss in 25 games. They fell just short of a spirited comeback against the London Lions after falling down 19 by halftime. 

However, they couldn’t snatch the win despite cutting the deficit to six midway through the fourth. 

Zach Jackson led the way with 14 points, closely followed by the Premier Logistics player of the game, Kimbal Mackenzie, who bagged 12.

Read our full report here.

The loss leaves Leicester second in the league standings with an 11-5 record. Their strength lies from deep, as they lead the BBL in three-point percentage, and have the two best high-volume three-shooters in the league in Patrick Whelan and Jackson.

The pair are the Riders’ two highest scorers this year. Whelan leads the team with 15.7 points per game, shooting 46.7% from three. 

His best game of the season, a 25-point double-double, came in early December, and he will hope for another performance like that to see the Riders past Surrey. 

Surrey try to turn performances into results

The Surrey Scorchers have struggled to convert performances into wins so far this season. Seven of their 13 losses so far have been within 10 points, but they sit out of playoff contention midway through the year with a 1-13 record. 

Their record has not reflected their performances so far, as the talented team has yet to find form late in games to get over the hump. 

They are led by new man Ryan Martin, the GB big man putting up big scoring performances since his arrival in Surrey. He’s scoring 13 points per game, and put up 20 points in his debut against the Newcastle Eagles, getting it done down low.

Their previous fixture was a closely fought battle against the Bristol Flyers. They were up four with five minutes remaining, but could not stop a late Flyers surge, losing 93-85 by the buzzer. 

Andrew Lawrence and Padiet Wang led the scoring for Surrey with 17 each. Wang is having a solid second pro season, putting up 12.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. 

With experienced BBL head coach Llyod Gardner at the helm, who led the Manchester Giants to the BBL Cup final last season, the Riders will have to be at their best to take on Surrey.

Key matchup  

24-year-old two-guard Padiet Wang has exploded into BBL life in his second professional season. His 12.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game are vital contributions to the Scorchers, grabbing the second most rebounds on the team at just 6’4”. 

Wang played the back end of last season for Cobra Sports Club in the Basketball African League. He scored 15.4 points per game on 43.5% shooting, before taking his talents to Surrey. 

Wang is a relentless slasher, attacking the rim from the backcourt before rising for monster jams. He uses his athleticism on both ends, rising high to deny shots at the rim. 

Taking him on is Riders’ leading scorer and GB international, Patrick Whelan. The Warrington-born sharpshooter is a two-way threat in the shooting guard position and is one of the BBL’s hottest talents. 

Whelan’s play was recognised last season with a place on the BBL Team of the Year, after leading the team in scoring with 15.3 points per game. His treble-winning efforts also earned a spot on the GB roster for Eurobasket 2022. 

The battle in the backcourt between Whelan and Wang will be a decisive one, with the winner earning a significant edge for their side in the fixture. 

Where to watch

The game tips off at 7:45 pm at the Morningside Arena Leicester. Get your tickets here! 

It will be streamed live on the British Basketball League Youtube channel, starting at 7:30 pm.  

Riders fall short of a comeback against Lions

The Riders fell to the London Lions 81-75, bringing their record to 11-5. Leicester was down 19 at the half before commencing an immense comeback, but fell just short of the win late. 

Zach Jackson led the Riders with 14 points, scoring nine points in the third quarter to launch the comeback. He was backed up by 13 points from Kimbal Mackenzie off the bench, who put up double-digit points for his second straight game. 

Leicester’s defence played to an elite level in the second half, holding London to 34 points. However, the Riders, who entered the game as the best three-point shooting team in the league, found their deep shots just off the mark. 

Sam Dekker led the Lions, their top scorer adding another 21 points to his season tally. The former NBA forward went 7-16 from the field, and pulled down seven rebounds.

The Lions had the best of the early stages, hitting four of their first five threes to jump out to a 19-10 lead. Luke Nelson hit two of the deep shots to get the visitors underway. 

Jackson made the Riders’ first highlight of the evening, throwing down a two-handed slam on the fastbreak to cut into the deficit, sparking some momentum for the hosts. Patrick Whelan followed up with a pull-up three to make it a six-point game. 

But the Lions made a run to the end the period, which finished up 31-19 after a Dekker buzzer-beating fadeaway. 

The Riders stalled the Lions’ progress in the second period, led by elite defence from Jubril Adekoya. The Valparaiso University graduate’s hustle and energy made an immediate impact. He took a charge, snatched a steal and made a flashy assist diving out of bounds in just a few minutes. 

At the back end of the quarter, London found some offensive form to stretch their lead. Kosta Koufos and Dekker combined for eight points in two minutes to make it an 18-point game. 

Josh Ward-Hibbert concluded the half with a corner three, making it 47-28 at the half. 

Jackson got to work to start the second half, bagging seven quick points to get the Riders rolling. Leicester made it a 12-point game four minutes into the third after Patrick Whelan ran the floor for two points. 

Jackson’s nine points in the quarter brought the Riders back into contention. Young Riders star Blake Bowman concluded the third with a tough layup inside, making the score 65-52 with one to play. 

The Riders cut it to single digits early in the fourth, as Whelan ran the floor for an and-one to make it 68-60. Mackenzie, following a deep pull-up three two minutes earlier, made back-to-back plays to win the ball back, giving Leicester a shot at the comeback. 

Mackenzie then pulled up from midrange to cut the deficit to six, sending the crowd into a frenzy. 

London responded with two quick buckets, rebuilding their lead to double digits after a Vojtech Hruban layup. The Lions saw the game out from there, leaving the Riders just short of the comeback win. 

Leicester fought until the buzzer, as Mackenzie’s free-throws cut it to four with 20 seconds remaining, but the clock proved their ultimate opponent. 

The Riders are back in action on Friday, taking on the Surrey Scorchers on December 30. Tip-off is at 7:45 pm, and tickets are available here

BBL Championship Preview: Riders vs Lions

The 11-4 Riders take on the 10-2  London Lions in a highly touted top-of-the-table clash. The winner will seize the top spot of the BBL Championship table, as Leicester look to even the season series to 1-1. 

Table-topping Riders

After emerging 89-82 victors of an overtime thriller against the Manchester Giants, the Riders were top of the league at Christmas. They have won 12 of the last 13 games in all competitions, including a BBL Cup semi-final against the Caledonia Gladiators. 

They will face the Lions in the final, the second meeting in a final between the teams in the last two seasons. The Riders won the last one, a BBL Playoff final at the O2 arena, to win Leicester their third trophy of the treble. 

They rank among the league’s best in all scoring categories this year. Patrick Whelan leads the Riders, scoring 15.9 points per game, and his teammate on the wing, Zach Jackson, is close on his heels with 15 a game. 

Jackson led them against the Giants with 21 points, dominating at the rim. He finished with a +/- of 21, demonstrating his immense impact on winning. 

The Riders will need every ounce of production of their star men in this crucial clash. Should the Riders win, they will have just one less loss than the Lions going into the rest of the season.

Lions show their claws

The star-studded Lions, with a roster consisting of GB internationals and former NBA and European stars, are currently in pole position to take a franchise-first BBL Championship, with three games in hand on the reigning champion Riders. 

They’re led by Sam Dekker, a six-year NBA forward who ranks second in the BBL scoring charts putting up 20.2 points per game. The 28-year-old small forward has put up big numbers in both the BBL and EuroCup, where the Lions currently possess a 4-5 record. 

Their previous two fixtures came against the Bristol Flyers, the other BBL side contesting the top spot of the league table. They won a league and a Cup fixture emphatically, Dekker leading them through the fixtures averaging 22 points. 

The Cup win saw them through to the final, where they will face the Riders in Birmingham.  This game will preview the faceoff while remaining vitally important for the fight for the league title. 

The Lions will look to step inside the arc, as they enter the game shooting the best two-point percentage in the league, so the Riders’ interior defence will need to be on top form to slow down London’s stars. 

Key matchup 

The Lions’ leading scorer, Sam Dekker, will be one to watch in this pivotal clash. Dekker spent last season in Turkey’s top division with Bahcesehir, following six years in the NBA. 

Dekker was drafted in 2015 by the Houston Rockets, putting up 6.5 points per game in his second pro season. Seven years on, Dekker is in his physical prime and is proving a force in the paint. 

He is scoring on 73% of his two-point looks, attacking the rim with force. He runs the fastbreak often and is capable of highlight plays every time he drives to the hoop. 

Dekker leads the BBL in usage percentage, holding the ball 30.44% of the time, and is, therefore, key to the Lions’ offensive success. 

Charged with the task of slowing Dekker down is second-year Rider and two-way star Zach Jackson. Jackson is scoring 15 points per game on offence while taking on tough defensive assignments on the other end. 

Jackson is a three-level scorer, making explosive plays at the rim, pulling up in the midrange and nailing shots from deep. He is shooting a red-hot 48.6% from three this season, second-best in the BBL behind only his teammate, Whelan. 

The Omaha graduate averaged 10 points per game last season, shooting 49% from the field while playing elite defence on the other end. 

Throughout his second Riders’ season, Jackson showcased his ability to take over games, scoring 10 straight points in the playoff quarter-final to see the Riders progress to the semis.

Expect a battle throughput between two of the best wings the BBL has to offer. 

Where to watch

The game tips off at 7:45 at the Morningside Arena, Leicester. Tickets are selling fast, so get yours here! 

If you cannot attend, it will also be streamed live on the British Basketball League channel! 

Report: Riders win overtime thriller against Giants to go top for Christmas

The Riders moved to the top of the BBL Championship table with an 89-82 overtime thriller against the Manchester Giants. 

The teams were locked at 75 after four quarters, but the Riders saw out a clutch win led by 21 points from Zach Jackson. 

Kimbal Mackenzie led the team in overtime with five points, stepping into the starting five following Derryck Thornton’s absence. His clutch free throws sealed the win late, after his ice-cold corner three to make it a two-score game. 

The win improved Leicester to 11-4 on the season, putting them top of the league table for Christmas. 

Marc Loving supported Jackson with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Mackenzie bagged a season-high 15 points. The Riders shot 36% from the field in the game, but they found a way to “win ugly”, in the words of Mackenzie after the tie. 

The Riders had one day of rest to prepare for the fixture but found enough in the legs to see it out. “Great teams win these games” was the message from coach Rob Paternostro to his team going into the extra period, and Leicester found a way to win it.  

The Giants got off to an energetic start, hitting two quick threes to jump out to a six-point lead. The Riders recovered quickly, getting to the hoop effectively to take an 11-9 lead, with four Riders starters getting on the board in four minutes.

The opening period was played at an electric pace between two heavy-hitting offences. Whelan had the best first quarter of any player, scoring seven points to lead the Riders to a narrow 21-19 advantage by the buzzer. 

The game continued to swing back and forth in the second, as the Riders got gritty on the offensive glass to keep the scoreboard ticking. Jubril Adekoya had two offensive boards alone to generate second-chance points, putting up seven points in the process. 

It rained threes midway through the second, as the sides traded bombs from deep. Marc Loving hit back-to-back deep shots, before Kimbal Mackenzie followed up his teammate from the corner to put the Riders up four. 

Loving’s threes kicked off a 13-4 Leicester run, earning them their biggest lead of the evening after Zach Jackson’s and-one play. Jackson continued attacking the rim, running the fastbreak for a monster jam after driving past Manchester’s Nick Lewis. 

The Giants’ fought back to close the half, pegging the Riders’ nine-point lead back to five to end the half 49-4 in Leicester’s favour. 

Jackson got the second half underway with a triple from the wing after some fluid Riders ball movement found him open. Leicester scored back-to-back buckets to stretch their lead to double digits. 

The Riders started the third period on a 13-2 run, led by a dominant eight-point stretch from Jackson. He relentlessly attacked the teeth of the Giants’ defence, getting points at the rim and at the foul line to put his team up 15. 

The Giants’ caught fire to end the third, cutting the lead back down to seven by getting to the free-throw line. Tajh Green had the best of the action at the line, bagging five points. 

The Giants’ continued their surge, hitting back-to-back threes to make it a one-possession game heading into the final period. 

It was an intense beginning to the fourth, with neither side able to find the basket two minutes in. Loving broke the seal from the free-throw line, but the game remained within a possession with seven minutes left. 

Darien Nelson-Henry amended this, getting to the line on back-to-back possessions to generate some offence for his team, cooly knocking down all of his foul shots. 

Two-time BBL MVP Rahmon Fletcher reached into his bag for Manchester, making tough buckets from range to keep the hosts in contention. His pull-up three tied the game at 70 with four minutes on the clock. 

Following an exchange of baskets, Adekoya’s free throw tied the game with seconds remaining. Mackenzie drove to the rim, but Green blocked his effort to send the game into overtime. 

Dirk Williams got overtime underway for Manchester, hitting a three on the first possession. Loving and Whelan responded with four points between them, retaking the lead for Leicester. 

Mackenzie followed up with a corner three to send the Riders fans into a frenzy, and put Leicester up two scores with two minutes left. He followed up his bucket with clutch free throws, sealing a hard-fought Leicester win.

The Riders return after Christmas to take on the London Lions in a top-of-the-table clash. A win would see them extend their lead in the BBL Championship, so get your tickets here to support your Riders! 

BBL Championship Preview: Riders at Giants

The Riders return to BBL Championship action, hitting the road to take on the Manchester Giants. A win would see them improve to 11-4 on the season, earning them the top spot in the league table. 

Riding high

The Riders enter the game off the back of a momentous win in the BBL Cup semi-final, beating the Caledonia Gladiators 89-68. Riders’ star trio of Marc Loving, Patrick Whelan and Zach Jackson combined for 49 points, led by 18 from Loving. 

They have a quick turnaround going into this one, with just one rest day before hitting the road to Manchester. It’s a significant stretch for Leicester, as they gear up for a congested Christmas schedule

They’ll take confidence from their efficiency on offence this season. They lead the league in field goal, three-point and free-throw percentage, led by the BBL’s sharpest shooter Whelan.

Whelan is hitting threes at a 50% rate this season, leading all deep shooters. He’s the Riders’ highest scorer, putting up 16.4 points per game, following up his BBL Team of the Year selection last season. 

He returns to his home city in this one, where he has had success. Last season, he put up his first career double-double in Manchester and will look for another game-leading performance in this one. 

Giants gearing up for winter 

With games in hand on the rest of the BBL, the Giants are positioned to make a run up the table over the winter period. They are set to play five fixtures over the next two weeks, and will be eager to see how they can build on their current 6-5 record. 

Their last game took place on December 16, when they beat the Sheffield Sharks 92-83 on the road. The Giants’ talented scoring trio of Tajh Green, Dirk Williams and Nick Lewis each scored 20 points, Green leading the way with 24 points and 10 rebounds. 

Green is the league’s leading scorer this season, putting up 20.6 points per game. The first-year pro has lit up the BBL since joining in the offseason, the athletic 6’8” forward coming up with the play of the season so far earlier in the year. 

His play has led his team to the best offence in the league, scoring 90.2 points per game. Their success has come from attacking the rim, averaging the most free-throw attempts and second most two-pointers. 

The Giants will be a tough task for the Riders’ defence, who will need to wall off the inside to slow them down. 

Key matchup

Former Rider William Lee will suit up in Manchester green in this one, following his signing to the Giants in the offseason. Lee played Leicester basketball during the 2020/21 season, helping bring the BBL Championship title to the Morningside Arena. 

The “Alabama slammer” is a high-flying phenom, rising high above the rim for explosive plays to take the roof off arenas. On the defensive end, he is the University of Alabama’s all-time leader in blocked shots and has proved a force at the rim this season, averaging two blocks per game. 

Lee is averaging a double-double this season, putting up 18.4 points and 10.1 rebounds. He’s getting it done from all over the court, shooting 49% from the field and 38% from three, putting up a season-high of 23 points on two occasions earlier in the year. 

Charged with the tough task of guarding Lee will be Ohio forward Loving, who like Lee, is playing to an elite standard on both ends this season. He complimented his 18 points in his last game with two blocks and a steal, dominating all facets of the game. 

Former G-Leager Loving is a second-year Rider, where he signed after a successful college career at Ohio State.  He averaged 13 points and five rebounds per game across his junior and senior years, and 12 points for the Riders last season to make his name in Leicester.

Loving has the physical and technical ability to trouble Lee. He’s shooting 33% from deep this season, which can force Lee to guard him on the perimeter, and he has the size and length to contest him in close. 

Get set for an intense battle between the two power forwards! 

Where to watch

The game is live on Sky Sports Mix and the Sky Sports Youtube channel, tipping off at 7:45 pm.

BBL Cup Report: Riders through to final!

The Riders booked their place in the BBL Cup final for the second straight season, beating the Caledonia Gladiators89-68 in the semis. The holders have the opportunity to defend their title in Birmingham, meeting the London Lions at the Utilita Arena. 

Get your tickets here!

Leicester led wire to wire in the game, seeing off spirited Gladiators’ comeback attempts to seal the win. Marc Loving, Zach Jackson and Patrick Whelan combined for 49 points, Loving leading the trio with 18.

GB big man Aaron Menzies dominated the glass of the bench, putting up nine points and 10 rebounds in 17 minutes of action. Jackson also had a double-digit rebounding effort, going off for a 14-point double-double. 

The Riders caught fire from deep in the game, the league leaders in three-point percentage going 13-22 led by Jackson’s four makes. On the other end, they locked down the perimeter to hold the visitors to 25% from three. 

Patrick Tape led the Gladiators with 21 points, the first-year pro putting up a season-high effort. Caledonia cut the game to six in the third period, but could not get over the hump to challenge Leicester late.

The Riders came out firing, bolting out to a 15-4 lead after drilling their first three threes. Their defence locked in from the tip-off, holding the Gladiators to just two makes from their first eight attempts as they built an early double-digit advantage.

Marc Loving helped set the tone on defence, sending Jeremiah Bailey’s shot back with authority midway through the first quarter. Loving ended the period with nine points to pair with his block, as the Riders continued their dominance to go up 30-13. 

7’3” Menzies got to work on the glass to start the second, coming up with two second-chance baskets inside. 

But the Gladiators stalled the Riders’ surge in the early stages of the quarter, cutting the lead to 11, led by eight points off the bench from Jordan Burns. 

The Gladiators had momentum through most of the second quarter, but the Riders had the best of the running going into halftime. They exploded with two minutes remaining, scoring 10 straight points to re-establish their advantage, topped off with an Evan Walshe and-one. 

In an attempt to get back into the tie, Caledonia came out firing to a 16-5 start to the second half. Tape put up nine points to make his game total 19, the 6’10 center getting to the basket effectively. 

The visitor’s run made it a six-point contest midway through the third period, triggering another Riders response. Kimbal Mackenzie led the run, scoring five straight points to get it underway, including a tough three off the dribble. 

The quarter ended 66-56 to the Riders, with a Walshe corner three concluding the action. 

Leicester carried their momentum through to the final period, scoring seven straight points to get it underway. The points made it an 18-7 after the Gladiators cut it to six in the third.

Having started the fourth the better of the teams, the Riders saw out the game professionally to advance to the final. Derryck Thornton and Zach Jackson’s late threes sealed a hard-fought Riders victory. 

The Riders now face a quick turnaround, as they face the Manchester Giants on the road on Friday. A win would put them top of the BBL Championship standings with an 11-4 record. 

BBL Cup Preview: Riders vs Gladiators

The Riders host the Caledonia Gladiators in the BBL Cup semi-final. A win would see them advance to the final in Birmingham, as they look to defend last year’s crown.

Reigning champion Riders

With a change of format of the BBL Cup being implemented this season, the Riders are just two wins from back-to-back BBL Cup winning campaigns. 

The semi-final has been reformatted from two legs to one, meaning a game against the Caledonia Gladiators is all that stands between Leicester and the final in Birmingham. 

However, this is no small task, as the Gladiators have proved a stern test to their opponents this season. They have beaten the Riders twice so far, but the Riders saw out their most recent game at home in dominant 100-67 fashion. 

Patrick Whelan led the team with 25 points. The GB sharpshooter has been on a scoring tear of late, averaging 24.5 points in his previous two fixtures. Whelan ranks eighth in the BBL in scoring and is the best three-point shooter in the league, hitting 50.6%. 

Whelan’s three-point shooting is indicative of the entire Riders’ offence, which leads the league in three-point and field goal percentage, and ranks second in points per game.

 A win in this one would make it 10 wins from the Riders’ last 11 games; the reigning champions are rolling through the mid part of the season. 

Caledonia back again

The Gladiators find themselves in their second BBL Cup semi-final in as many years as they look to go on and lift the trophy for the first time in their history. Last season they fell to the Manchester Giants in the semis, who would go on to fall to the eventual champion Riders. 

In the league this season, the Gladiators are enjoying a successful run of form, having moved their record to above .500 in their previous game. It was a 117-96 win against the Cheshire Phoenix, which was the second of back-to-back wins that brought them to 7-6 in the league. 

Jeremiah Bailey exploded for a season-high 36 points, the first-year pro being one of two major scoring threats on the Gladiators roster. The other, David Sloan, is third in the BBL in scoring with 20.2 points per game and has already put 37 points on the Riders earlier in the year. 

Sloan and Bailey have helped their side generate the third most efficient offence in the BBL, shooting 47% from the field. They will hope for every bit of production in this one, as they hope to make their first Cup final since 2019. 

Key matchup 

The BBL’s third-leading scorer David Sloan has averaged 22 points a night against Leicester this season. The East Tennessee State graduate has torched the league with his scoring so far and can go off for huge numbers every night. 

Sloan scored 12.6 points per game in his final college season and dished five assists per game. The Louisville native ranked third in his conference in assists, showing off his ability to both score and facilitate. 

Sloan possesses all the qualities needed to score in the backcourt. He’s a quick, athletic ball handler with crafty moves and a quick release, keeping defenders alert for all 40 minutes.

Charged with the task of guarding Sloan is Riders point guard Derryck Thornton. Thornton was an early season addition to the Riders’ roster, and enters this one on a run of good form. 

The California native has scored double-digit points in his past four appearances, including 16 points and four assists in his last showing against Caledonia. 

Thornton played four years of college before going pro, competing for Boston College in his senior year. He scored 12.7 points per game in the NCAA division one, then took his talents to Serbia to play for Borac Cacak. 

Derryck adds explosive energy to a stacked Riders backcourt, as he looks to go toe to toe with the talented Sloan. 

Where to watch

The game tips-off at 7:45 pm at the Morningside Arena Leicester: Get your tickets here! 

It will be streamed live on the British Basketball League YouTube channel, starting from 7:30 pm.

Riders see out clutch win in Newcastle

The Riders secured a clutch 91-87 win against the Newcastle Eagles, improving to 10-4 on the season. 

Their wing duo of Patrick Whelan and Zach Jackson went off for 24 and 22 points respectively to get the team over the hump. It was Whelan’s second straight 20-point game, the GB international putting up seven rebounds and six assists in a well-rounded performance. 

It was a red-hot deep shooting night for the Riders, who lead the BBL in three-point percentage. They knocked down 50% of their threes, led by Whelan, who hit four. 

The Riders were up by as many as 16 points in the game, but a spirited Eagles comeback made it close. Javion Hamlet led the charge for the hosts, the 6’4” guard scoring 25 points, including 13 in the final period to take a one-point lead late. 

But Whelan and Jackson put the ball in the hoop to retake a narrow lead, before Derryck Thornton hit a foul shot to seal the win. The Riders now move to second in the BBL Championship table following Bristol Flyers’ loss to London Lions.

The Riders hit the ground running, bursting out to a double-digit lead in five and a half minutes, led by six points from Thornton.

The Riders started 9-13 from the field, exploding for 30 points in the first quarter to stamp their authority on the game. Whelan had eight in the first, picking up the scoring load following his point guard’s early play.

The Eagles stemmed the tide in the second period, keeping their deficit around ten. 15 year Eagle Darius Defoe checked into the game and scored six quick points to keep his side competitive.

Jackson took the Riders offensive reigns in the second quarter, going off for 12 points as the sides traded buckets. 

Jackson dominated inside, cutting from the perimeter for strong finishes at the rim. However, his outside shooting concluded the half’s action, draining a three to bring his scoring tally to 16 and put Leicester up 56-42. 

Hamlet scored six quick Newcastle points out of the locker rooms to cut into the Riders’ lead. The Eagles’ leading scorer this season used his quick handles and body control to get buckets at the hoop, but the Riders’ response retook the momentum.

Evan Walshe’s three concluded a 9-2 Leicester run following Hamlet’s buckets, giving them a 16-point advantage. They were Walshe’s eighth points of the evening, and he would go on to score a season-high 12 in the game. 

The Eagles fought back to close the third, concluding the quarter on an 8-2 run led by Donovan Johnson to cut the game to eight going into the final period. 

Newcastle made it a six-point game with a quick basket in the fourth, and the teams traded baskets until late, with the Riders holding a narrow advantage. 

With three minutes remaining, Hamlet drew a foul in close, making his free throws to make it a one-possession affair. A minute later, he drove to the rim again and took the lead with a layup. 

Jackson responded on the next possession, hitting two free throws to put Leicester ahead. After a defensive stand, Whelan made it a three-point lead with a tough layup against two defenders. 

Following another basket from Hamlet and two free throws from Whelan, it was a three-point ball game with 21 seconds remaining, the hosts with the ball. The Riders forced a turnover from Hamlet, and Thornton’s knocked one down at the line to seal the win. 

The Riders turn their attention to the BBL Cup, as they take on the Caledonia Gladiators in the semi-final.

A win against a talented Gladiators team would give them an opportunity to defend their Cup title in Birmingham, so get your tickets here to get behind the Riders!

BBL Championship Preview: Riders at Eagles

The Riders are gearing up for BBL Championship action, heading to the North East to take on the Newcastle Eagles! They look to make it nine wins out of their last 10, to improve their league record to 10-4. 

Riders on the road 

This game will be Leicester’s ninth away fixture of the year. They’ve won 50% of these games, positioning them third in the BBL Championship standings after a recent run of good form. 

A win in this one would make it four on the bounce in all competitions, with the Riders’ offence executing with elite efficiency on this winning streak.  

They lead the BBL in field goal, three-point and free-throw percentage, their offence producing the second most points in the league. 

Their shooting form was on full display in their previous game, as they scored 100 points against the Caledonia Gladiators. Leicester shot 57.6% from the field and 42.1% from three, led by Patrick Whelan’s emphatic 25 points and 10 rebounds.

READ MORE: Riders secure big win vs Gladiators 

The Riders last faced the Eagles in the BBL Cup quarter-final, booking their spot in the semis with a 94-75 win. Marc Loving’s 27 points led the team to the next round, where they will take on the Caledonia Gladiators on December 21. 

Get your tickets here! 

Loving went 10-12 from the floor and 5-5 from three, and will hope for another elite performance in this fixture! 

Eagles’ season so far

Facing their historic rivals is a golden opportunity for the Eagles to get their season on track after a 2-9 start. They enter the game on a four-game winless streak but will take encouragement from their previous fixture. 

It was a closely fought encounter against a talented Caledonia Gladiators team, resulting in an 81-77 loss. The Eagles were up double digits with 7:30 on the clock, but the Gladiators finished strong to secure the win. 

Newcastle was led by Darius Defoe, the most decorated player in BBL history with 27 trophies to his name, who scored 20 points in the tie. The 15-year Eagle rolled back the clock in a vintage performance, as the big man dominated inside to make 66% of his shots. 

The Eagles can take confidence from their ball-sharing ability, as they average the third most assists in the BBL this season. They’ll aim to display their best brand of team basketball to secure a win from the reigning league champions. 

Key matchup 

GB international Patrick Whelan is leading the Riders in scoring for the second straight season, putting up 15.9 points per game on a red-hot 49.3% from deep. 

The Warrington-born shooting guard was named to the Molten BBL Team of the Year last season and has continued his form into his second Riders year. His 25 points in his previous game was a season-high points tally, earning him a place in the BBL ALL-Star Five last week. 

“Pat’s a great player. When he lines up a three-point shot I think it’s going down, and more importantly, he thinks it’s going down,” said coach Rob Paternostro after the game.

“He’s a confident player who’s a team-first guy, and he does a lot of little things. His teammates did a great job of finding him tonight.”

Facing up against him in the backcourt is Newcastle’s leading scorer on the season, Javion Hamlet. The American guard is scoring 19.2 points per game for the Eagles this season and is the fourth-highest scorer in the BBL. 

The former North Texas Mean Green was a two-star recruit coming out of high school but proved all doubters wrong in his college career when he put up 15 points per game as a sophomore. He is an automatic scorer at all three levels and will look for a big scoring night against the Riders. 

Hamlet went off for a season-high 31 points against the Plymouth City Patriots in October and has scored over 25 points on three other occasions this season. 

The 24-year-old can go off for huge numbers on any given night, so Whelan and the Riders will have to bring their best defensive effort against him to slow him down. 

Where to watch

Tip-off is at 7:30, and will be streamed live on the British Basketball Youtube channel! Coverage begins 15 minutes before tip-off. 

Riders secure big win vs Gladiators

The Riders improved to 9-4 in the BBL Championship with a blowout 100-67 home win against the Caledonia Gladiators. Patrick Whelan led the scoring with a season-high 25 points, his first double-double of the year. 

Leicester burst out to a big lead late in the second and never looked back, feeding off the home crowd to extend their advantage. They shot the lights out, going 58% from the field while locking down the Gladiators to hold them to 35%.

The Riders’ defence held the BBL’s leading scorer, David Sloan, to 10 points in the game, their perimeter pressure keeping the first-year pro off the scoresheet at his usual high rate. His backcourt opponent, Derryck Thornton, had a 16-point showing to help Leicester to a big win. 

Little separated the sides through the opening stages, as five Riders got on the scoresheet to edge a closely contested first quarter. Whelan’s seven-point burst to end the period edged the Riders ahead, with the score 21-20 by the buzzer. 

Whelan had 10 at the end of the first, Leicester’s leading scorer on the season starting out with a hot hand. Jubril Adekoya took over the scoring load from the GB international in the second, bagging seven straight points to maintain the Riders’ narrow advantage. 

Following Adekoya’s baskets, the Riders exploded out to a 15-2 run to build the first significant lead of the tie. Thornton led the run with six points and an assist, finishing it off with two foul shots. 

With a firm grip on the tie, the Riders entered the locker rooms with a significant advantage, up 51-35 by the half. 

The second half started how the first half ended, with the Riders on a 5-0 run. The teams traded buckets once again after a hectic Riders surge, the lead remaining around 20 for much of the third period. 

The Riders had the best of the action to close the period, hitting back-to-back threes courtesy of Zach Jackson and Whelan. Whelan hit another from the corner with 20 seconds left to extend the lead to 26 points. 

Leicester burst out the gate in the final quarter, starting 4-0 to make it a 30-point affair. Aaron Menzies capped off a dominant display with a monster fourth quarter, swatting shots and throwing down a thunderous jam to send the Riders fans home happy. 

The Riders face off against the Gladiators again in their next home game for the BBL Cup semi-final! Get your tickets here to catch the action live!

Before then, the Riders head on the road to take on the Newcastle Eagles in BBL Championship action on December 16. A win would improve their record to 10-4, as they continue to build momentum in the season.

Good For The Sole

Leicester Riders Foundation are delighted to announce that we are launching the “Good For The Sole” shoe donation programme.

The aim of the programme is to provide basketball shoes for young people in order to help kickstart their basketball journey.

Tracey Hallam a Trustee of the Foundation hopes that the Riders family will get behind the initiative. “With the cost of living putting increasing financial pressure on families, Good For The Sole is allowing children and young people to access suitable footwear to enable them to play basketball. This is such a great initiative from the Leicester Riders Foundation, I hope the community can get behind this campaign and show your support.”

To donate your shoes either come to the Foundation office and dunk them in the Good For The Sole donation bin or CLICK HERE to donate via our just giving page.

BBL Championship Preview- Riders vs Gladiators

The Riders take on the Caledonia Gladiators as BBL Championship action returns to the Morningside Arena. They currently sit third in the league table with an 8-4 record but are level on points with the top of the table. 

Riders bouncing back 

Following their first loss in six games three weeks ago, the Riders responded with back-to-back wins to continue their winning form. Most recently, Leicester emerged victors on the road against the Surrey Scorchers. 

Six Riders finished the game with double-digit points, led by Darien Nelson-Henry’s 16. It was a hard-fought win against an improved Scorchers side, whose new addition, Josh Jefferson, went off for 16. 

“We made the defensive stops when we needed to, had great balance and did a great job on the free throw line,” said head coach Rob Paternostro after the result. 

The Riders shot 39 foul shots in the game, dwarfing their season average of 20.2 per game, and made 33 of them. 

“We wanted to attack the rim. We always want to go inside-out, and I think we did a good job of that. We didn’t settle for shots, and we eliminated defenders to make plays.”

Read our report here! 

The Riders are the most efficient team in the BBL, leading the league in field goal, three-point and free-throw percentage. Zach Jackson has paved the way with this trend, shooting 57% from the field and 51% from deep, on his way to 14.3 points per game. 

Tonight’s opponents have challenged the Riders this season, winning both of the meetings so far. Both the games were played in Caledonia, and the Riders will look to make the most of their home-court advantage in this one. 

Caledonia finding form

The Caledonia Gladiators enter this one in-form, having won three straight in all competitions. They booked their place in the BBL Cup semi-final with a 77-68 win against the Sheffield Sharks, and beat the Riders and Patriots in back-to-back league games. 

Their winning streak has moved them to 5-5 in the BBL Championship, making a run up the league standings. They play consistent, efficient offence, turning the ball over the least in the BBL while ranking third in field goal percentage. 

Their offence is spearheaded by David Sloan, who is leading the BBL in scoring with 21.8 points per game. One of Sloan’s two 30 point games this season came against the Riders, as he put up 36 in a monster performance in October. 

“We know who our opponents are, and we know they’ve beaten us twice this season,” said Zach Jackson. “We don’t need any more motivation than that, and it’s going to be important to bring all our energy.”

“It’s going to be nice to play at home,” said Rob Paternostro. “We’ve been on the road eight times out of 12 this season, so when we get a home game, it’s like Christmas morning!

“They’re playing good basketball, and they’re a great team,  so we’ve got to play better defence and look after the ball.”

Key matchup 

The BBL’s highest scorer David Sloan will look for a similar performance to his 36-point showing against Leicester. The East Tennessee State graduate has torched the league with his scoring so far and can go off for huge numbers every night. 

Sloan scored 12.6 points per game in his final college season and dished five assists per game. The Louisville native ranked third in his conference in assists, showing off his ability to both score and facilitate. 

Sloan possesses all the qualities needed to score in the backcourt. He’s a quick, athletic ball handler with crafty moves and a quick release, keeping defenders alert for all 40 minutes. 

Facing up against Sloan off the Riders’ bench will be Kimbal Mackenzie, who has given the Riders key minutes down the stretch recently. He went to the foul line three times late in the recent win in Surrey, knocking down his free throws to seal the game.  

Kimbal’s college career was spent in the NCAA D1 for Bucknall. He enjoyed a sensational senior year, scoring 17.6 points per game, the seventh-most in a season in college history.

Mackenzie can play either guard position effectively on and off-ball offensively. He can score from anywhere on the court, making 37% of his threes in his senior year in college. His skill set allows him to fit seamlessly into any Paternostro lineup.

Where to watch

The game will be televised live on Sky Sports, tipping off at 7:45 pm. It will also be streamed on the Sky Sports Youtube channel!

Logan Rooney formally signs with Loughborough Basketball in the NBL

American 6’6 guard/wing, Logan Rooney joins Loughborough Basketball as the latest signing for the Division 1 Men’s programme. Rooney, who graduated in 2021 from Saint Martins University in the US is familiar with British basketball, having played for Newcastle University last season. During his time at Newcastle, Rooney graduated with his Masters degree in International Marketing and picked up a BUCS championship along the way. 

“I am really excited to be joining a great group of guys and a winning program here at Loughborough. I am expecting big things this season and can’t wait to get to work.”

Coach Will Maynard on his latest signing: 

“Logan’s going to be a great addition to the team. I love his versatility that he brings to the group and he adds another layer of depth to the team. He’s been with us at practice for a while now and has really gelled with the rest of the guys so I’m looking forward to integrating him into game play.”

Coming Up…Division 1 Men are on the road to Derby for round 5 of the National Cup round, Tuesday 6th December. 

BBL announces Aaron Radin as CEO

Following an extensive recruitment process carried out by the league’s board of directors, Radin’s appointment comes at a crucial moment for the BBL as the league looks to accelerate its growth to achieve its full potential.

Radin moves to the BBL after compiling a successful track record across a 30-year professional career. He has held increasingly senior-level positions at a multitude of sports, media and tech organisations such as the NBA, The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal and Meta. His extensive knowledge of the commercial landscape surrounding the sport will help take the league to exciting new heights.

Alongside his professional background, Radin has been significantly involved in his community for over 20 years through volunteering as a basketball coach, and helping to lead a grassroots program which helped generate opportunities for hundreds of inner-city youth to expand their educational and professional opportunities through the sport.

Speaking on the appointment, British Basketball League Director, Lenz Balan said:

“We are thrilled to be welcoming Aaron to the BBL. His professional achievements, and passion for and understanding of the sport, make him the ideal leader to take British Basketball to the next level during this exciting period of growth.

“It has been a truly remarkable year for the league and Aaron’s appointment highlights our commitment to accelerating the commercial growth of the BBL and the longer term success of our clubs, players and partners both domestically and in Europe.”

Speaking on his arrival as the league’s CEO, Aaron Radin said:

“I am thrilled to join the British Basketball League at this critical point in its history. Between the new investment of capital into the league, the creation of new broadcast partnerships and the return to European competition, the BBL is just beginning to deliver on its goal to generate joy for its fans and value for its marketing and distribution partners. I am excited for the challenge to help the league fully deliver on that promise and I look forward to working with our clubs, owners and investors, as we join forces to become one of the most competitive and exciting basketball leagues in the world.

“We are committed to continuing to attract the most talented players to the British Basketball League from across the globe, as well as providing a platform for British athletes to fulfil their potential here in the UK as well as on the global stage.”

Riders secure road win

The Riders improved to 8-4 after a 90-81 road win against the Surrey Scorchers. 

They had six double-digit scorers in a solid team display, led by 16 points from their captain Darien Nelson-Henry. His 16 was his second-highest scoring game of the season, the Penn graduate going 6-7 from the free-throw line and shooting 62% from the field. 

Leicester jumped out to an early lead and held on throughout, going up double digits early in the second quarter. Surrey climbed back into contention in the second half, but could not get over the hump to cut their deficit to below seven in the game. 

They were led by new signing Josh Jefferson, who made an emphatic impression on his new team. The American guard scored a team-high 15 points, making two of his five three-point attempts. 

The Riders got the game underway by attacking the hoop, getting four buckets in close to jump out to a quick seven-point lead. Through the first eight minutes, all the Riders’ points came at the rim or from the free-throw line executing their game plan effectively. 

Leicester had eight different scorers in the opening quarter, demonstrating their strength in depth. They stretched the lead to double digits early in the second after Aaron Menzies’ rolled to the rim and made a shot in close for two. 

They continued to blow the game open in the second, getting to the free-throw line effectively. They shot 21 foul shots in the first half, and held the Scorchers to 34 points to make it a 17-point advantage by the break. 

The third quarter was a back-and-forth affair, as the Scorchers started the second half hot in an attempt to climb back into the tie. They went 12-7 through the first five minutes of the third quarter, cutting their deficit to 12, before the Riders came up with a response. 

Attacking the rim, Zach Jackson made a tough and-one finish to swing momentum back in Leicester’s favour.

His play was followed up by another and-one play by Nelson-Henry to reestablish the lead built in the opening half. But the Scorchers hung in the game, winning the third period 25-20 to remain in contention. 

The Riders kept their opponents at arm’s length through much of the final period, as their lead remained in the double digits. Surrey’s 4-0 run cut it to seven with a minute remaining, but Kimbal Mackenzie’s late free-throws secured a win for Leicester. 

The Riders return home for their next fixture, as they host the Caledonia Gladiators in front of the Sky Sports cameras. Tip-off is at 7:45 pm, as Leicester looks to continue their pursuit of the top spot of the BBL Championship table. 

BBL Championship Preview- Riders at Scorchers

The Riders take on the Surrey Scorchers on the road in a return to BBL Championship action. A win would see them improve to 8-4, having won six of their last seven in all competitions going into this one. 

Sharpshooting Riders sinking shots 

The Riders’ offence has clicked into gear in recent weeks, leading the BBL in all major shooting efficiency numbers. Their three-point shooting, which is a BBL-best 37.5%, helped them to a significant BBL Cup quarter-final win against their long-standing rivals, the Newcastle Eagles. 

They went 10-23 from deep in the game, led by Marc Loving’s red-hot 5-5. The Ohio-born power forward went off for 27 points, accompanied by seven rebounds and six assists. Loving leads the team’s scoring in the league this season, scoring 15.6 points per game. 

“I thought we played really good defence tonight, and we took care of the basketball really well. It was a good performance from us,” said coach Rob Paternostro. 

“Turnovers have been important for us all year. When you look after the ball and play defence the way we can play it, you have a really good chance to win.”

Leicester’s 7-4 record is good for third place in the league standings, as the reigning champions sit four points behind the league-leading Bristol Flyers. A loss to the Caledonia Gladiators in their previous league game broke a five-game Riders’ winning streak, which saw them shoot up the league table. 

Scorchers searching for offensive rhythm 

In contrast to their opponents, the Scorchers have struggled to get consistent points on the board so far this season, ranking last in the BBL in scoring. Their defence put them in a position to win their most recent game, holding the Sheffield Sharks to 60 points, but couldn’t find the bottom of the basket to grind out a win. 

Surrey did secure their first win of the season a game prior to the Sharks defeat, beating the Newcastle Eagles 79-74. New man Ryan Martin scored 20 points to lead the team, the former London Lion putting on a show in front of the Sky Sports cameras. 

The Scorchers have been plagued by injury early in the year, starting with their captain Tayo Ogendengbe going down just a game into the season. They currently have five players recovering from injury, including leading scorer Andrew Lawrence. 

“They’ve had a lot of injuries, so they’ve been mixing and matching quite a bit,” said Paternostro. “We’ve been down there already this season, and we know it will be challenging.”

Key matchup 

Having played two games with his new team, Ryan Martin has hit the ground running in Surrey. He averaged 16 points over the fixtures, kicked off by his 20-point effort against the Newcastle Eagles. 

Last season, Martin signed with the London Lions, and his eight points per game helped them to the BBL Playoff final. The seven-year pro moved back to his home country after five years competing in Europe, most recently scoring 13 points per game in Denmark for the Bakken Bears. 

The 6’11” big man is a force down low, scoring at a high percentage at the rim. New Riders’ big man Aaron Menzie will meet him in the paint, the 7’3” center looking to lock down his opponent. 

A GB international, Menzies signed for the Riders in mid-November from German second-division side Dresden Titans. He averaged 8.6 points and six rebounds in Germany after spending his first two seasons in Spain.

Menzies is a force at the rim, using his height and frame to swat shots away and grab offensive and defensive rebounds. He is effective in the pick and roll, helping ball handlers attack the rim, and plays well with his back to the basket to get his own points.

Menzies and Martin’s battle in the paint will be an intriguing part of this fixture as Menzies looks to slow Surrey’s new man down.  

Where to watch

The game is available to watch on the British Basketball League Youtube channel, tipping off at 6 pm. The stream is scheduled to start 15 minutes before tip-off.

Cup Semi date confirmed

Leicester Riders will host Caledonia Gladiators in the BBL Cup Semi Final on Wednesday 21 December, 7.45pm tip.

Riders will be looking to use home advantage with a big crowd, to help take them back to Birmingham after defeating Manchester Giants in last years’ final. This years’ format means that the semi final is one leg with the outcome decided on the night.

Tickets are now on sale via this link.

All home cup games are included for Riders season ticket holders.

In the other semi final, Bristol Flyers host London Lions on Monday 19 December.

Dodici Otto X Riders

Leicester Riders have partnered with fashion brand Dodici Otto to produce a Limited Edition jersey.

The Leicester-based brand launched a similar collab with Chelsea FC earlier this year, but this is their very first venture into basketball.

Each shirt features a graffiti style marking the 19 trophies and all the players from this season on the back.

The shirts were done on a limited run of 10, individually numbered. All the profits raised will go to the Riders Foundation.

To buy a shirt from our online store click here!