Riders fall short of Cup Final comeback

The Riders fell short in the BBL Cup final, losing 71-79 to the London Lions. They pulled a 14-point deficit back to four in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get over the edge to retain their Cup title. 

Captain Darien Nelson-Henry led the charge back into the game with six straight points, leading by example. Patrick Whelan led the team with 15 points in the game, as the Riders finished with four double-digit scorers. 

Sam Dekker was named Molten Final MVP with a 22-point performance. He scored eight in the final period to slow the Riders’ momentum, falling back on his seven years of NBA experience. 

Led by six points from Kimbal Mackenzie, who sent Luke Nelson to the floor with his silky handles five minutes in, the Riders kept it close through the opening stages. 

With 7’3” Aaron Menzies inserted into the starting lineup for the first time as a Rider, they played solid interior defence to keep the score low. But the Lions closed the first period strong, as Nelson hit a three with a minute left in the midst of a 6-2 London run. 

The Lions started the second quarter with five straight points to make it a double-digit Riders deficit. But the Riders’ response was immediate, as Patrick Whelan’s layup cut the game back to six after the Leicester defence came up with consecutive stops. 

Throughout the period, the Riders found a way to get the ball in the hoop against the BBL’s best defence, keeping the scoreline manageable going into the half. 

Mackenzie made back-to-back baskets, scoring five points in the second quarter to lead the game’s scoring by halftime with 11.  

Jordan Taylor beat the buzzer for London to make it a 41-32 Lions lead going into the locker rooms. 

The Lions found whistles through the early stages of the third period, stretching their lead to 12 after free throws from Nelson. Marc Loving led the Riders’ attempts at a comeback with two quick buckets, but by the end of the third, the Lions held a 14-point lead lead

The Riders came storming back into the tie to start the final quarter, going 8-0 to cut it to six. Darien Nelson-Henry capped off the run with a putback play to make it a game. 

Dekker responded, making back-to-back baskets to rebuild the Lions’ lead. But Nelson-Henry hit back, finishing off a lob pass thrown up by Mackenzie. 

But the Riders could not get over the edge, and the Lions closed the game out professionally with tough defence, preventing the comeback. 

Riders fall in Cup Final

The Riders fell a game short of a second BBL Cup title, losing to the London Lions 95-42 in the final. 

Oliana Squires led a valiant Riders’ effort against an established European outfit, but could not prevent the Lions from lifting the trophy for the second straight year. She led the game with 23 points, giving everything on the court. 

Young GB star Holly Winterburn was awarded Molten Final MVP, putting up 16 points and eight assists. Every Lions player got in the scoring column in a complete team performance, led by 19 from Mikiah Herbert Harrigan. 

Squires got the Riders on the board to start the game, knocking down three free throws after being fouled from behind the arc. 

Squires scored eight points in the first five minutes, getting off to a hot start. However, two early threes from the Lions’ Katsiaryna Snytsina helped London to an early 16-10 lead. 

Squires continued her first quarter clinic, getting Holy Winterburn off her feet with lightning-quick handles before laying in a tough finish. She scored 10 of the Riders’ 15 first-quarter points, keeping them in the tie. 

Beth Sarson got the Riders on the board in the second period, cutting the Lions’ lead to seven. But London responded with seven straight to extend their advantage. 

The Riders chipped into their deficit midway through the second, as Ashley Arlen put up four straight to make it a 13-point game. London then hit back-to-back threes courtesy of Winterburn and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan to reclaim the points. 

The Lions rode their momentum to close the half, going on an 8-0 run to go up 20. They went into the locker rooms with the score 48-26 in their favour. 

Squires continued her scoring form in the second half, driving to the hoop to draw a foul a minute in. But the Lions won the first five minutes of the third quarter 12-4, getting to the free-throw line effectively. 

The Lions rode their momentum to close the half, going on an 8-0 run to go up 20. They went into the locker rooms with the score 48-26 in their favour. 

Squires led the Riders in the quarter with five points, hitting a three with a minute left, but they held a 38-point deficit with a period remaining. 

Arlen got the fourth underway with a finish inside, as the Riders showed heart to start the final quarter 5-0, following a three from Squires. 

The Lions saw the game out comfortably, becoming the first team in WBBL history to win multiple BBL Cups. 

WBBL Cup Final preview: Riders vs Lions

The Riders are set to take on the London Lions on the big stage, as they fight for the BBL Cup in the Utilita Arena Birmingham. 

Riders look to beat the undefeated

This game features the top two sides in the WBBL this season, as the 8-1 Riders face the 9-0 Lions. The Riders’ only defeat this season came against London, but they look to tie the season series on their way to much-desired silverware. 

Leicester are fighting to reclaim their BBL Cup title from two seasons ago against last season’s quadruple winners. The winner of this one will become the first WBBL side to lift multiple BBL Cups. 

This will be no small task for the Riders, as they attempt to be the first side to beat the Lions domestically since they got the better of them on April 24 2021. 

Bossing the boards

The Riders’ success this season has come on the glass, as they pull down the second most rebounds in the WBBL and the most defensive rebounds. Not allowing second possessions has been key to the eight-game winning streak they take into this one. 

They’re led in this department by former Cup Final MVP Ashley Arlen, who is averaging 8.6 rebounds per game. The Riders have four players grabbing at least six rebounds per game, as gang rebounding has dominated the paint for this physical Riders side. 

Rebounding’s importance will be emphasised in this one, as the Riders face the league’s most efficient shooters in the Lions, who shoot at a red-hot 47.8% from the field this season. Leicester won’t be able to afford to give the ruthless Lions’ offence extra chances in the game. 

Key matchup

Oliana Squires has been in hot scoring form over recent games, averaging 14.2 points over her last four fixtures. She put up a season-high of 26 against the Caledonia Gladiators earlier in the year and has averaged 15.7 points per game in the league thus far. 

The American guard is a first-year pro, having spent four years of college at Montana State. There, she averaged 11.3 points and 1.7 steals, scoring 20 points four times as a junior. 

Squires is a shifty guard, using her agility and handles to find space at the rim or outside, where she can knock down shots effectively. She is shooting 56% from two and 34.7% from three this season, getting it done at all three levels.

Taking on Squires in the backcourt from London is former Rider Holly Winterburn, the three-time WBBL young player of the year. The British guard is putting up 15 points per game in the league this season in her second Lions year. 

Winterburn is one of Britain’s top prospects and was named to the WBBL British Team of the Year on the last three occasions. She is a GB international and won the WBBL Trophy Final MVP last season after a 16-point effort. 

Winterburn is a professional scorer and is elite at slashing to the basket and getting points in close. Her three-point shots keep defenders honest, and finds her teammates open for buckets often, averaging five assists per game. 

Expect fireworks between these two guards in this one.

Where to watch

The game, taking place at Utilita Arena Birmingham, tips off at 12 pm on Sunday, January 29. It will be televised live on Sky Sports and streamed live on the Sky Sports Youtube channel.

After the game, the BBL Cup Final takes place between the Riders and Lions, tipping off at 3 pm.

Read our preview here!

BBL Cup Final preview: Riders vs Lions

The Riders are a game away from retaining their BBL Cup title as they take on the London Lions in a highly anticipated clash! 

Rivals meet again

“It’s definitely a rivalry game,” said Riders’ veteran point guard Conner Washington, previewing this fixture. The two sides were last season’s premier outfits in the BBL, and this year seems no different. 

They met in last year’s BBL Playoff final, in a game where the Riders sealed the treble on the game’s final possession. But the Lions have won both meetings between the sides this season, including Leicester’s only home loss. 

“We haven’t beaten them yet this season, but we’re going to be aggressive and come out swinging punches,” said Washington.

Head coach Rob Paternostro seconded this notion: “The two times we’ve played them, they’ve really jumped on us early. We have to find a way to avoid a huge deficit early. They’re as good as it gets in this league, so we’ve got to figure out a way to slow them down.”

The Lions have earned their reputation as the top dogs this season. They sit top of the BBL Championship table with a 16-2 record and became the first British team to record five Euro Cup wins, recently beating Italian side Trento. 

But the Riders, led by star trio of Marc Loving, Zach Jackson and Patrick Whelan, led by 16.6 points per game from Loving, will back themselves to go blow for blow with London.

Since their last outing, the Riders have added talented point guard Carrington Love to their roster. Love will make his Riders debut in the Cup final, as the 29-year-old looks to get the Riders over the edge in this one.

Previous meeting

This fixture was previewed in late December, and the Lions took home an 81-75 win from Leicester. The game was closely contested late, but London had enough to hang onto their lead until the buzzer. 

After falling down 19 by halftime, the Riders rallied back into the game in the second half. Kimbal Mackenzie led a fourth-quarter charge, scoring nine points to cut the deficit to four. But Sam Dekker’s free throws with 20 seconds remaining sealed the win for the visitors. 

The Riders will take encouragement from their second-half efforts, where they scored 47 points against the BBL’s best defence. Should the Riders start off better in this one, they will have every chance of lifting the Cup. 

Read our full report here! 

The numbers

This game is a clash between the BBL’s top two offences. Per 100 possesions, the Riders have outscored the Lions 112.9 to 111.8 this season, and both rank in the top two in effective field goal percentage, the Riders leading the league shooting 56%.

On the other end, the Lions boast the BBL’s best offence, holding teams to just 93.5 points per 100 possessions. They hold their opponents to the worst field goal percentage, 39%, while the Riders rank second in this category, holding their opponents to 43.3%.

Read the full stats breakdown here!

Key matchup

The Riders will highlight former NBA forward Sam Dekker as the main danger man. He led the Lions in the previous meeting between these teams with 21 points, and will look for a similar effort in this one. 

Dekker is dominating the paint this season, shooting a league-best 80% from in close. He spent last season in Turkey’s top division with Bahcesehir, following six years in the NBA. 

The Wisconsin native 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.

Dekker ranks second in the BBL in usage rate, so is, therefore, vital to the Lions’ success. Charged with the task of slowing him down is Riders’ star wing, Zach Jackson. 

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, taking place at Utilita Arena Birmingham, tips off at 3:30 pm on Sunday, January 29. It will be televised live on Sky Sports and streamed live on the Sky Sports Youtube channel

Before the game, the WBBL Cup Final takes place between the Riders and Lions, tipping off at 12 pm.

Read our preview here!

From Riders with Love!

Leicester Riders are thrilled to have agreed terms with American point guard Carrington Love.

The 29-year-old averaged 16.6 points and 5.8 assists last season in the German division two, playing for Eisbären Bremerhaven. He shot 47.4% from the field and 36.1% from three, finishing the year with a 16-13 record.

Love is a Green Bay graduate, having spent four years with the Phoenix between 2012 and 2016. He showed improvement every year, scoring a team-high 17.3 points per game as a senior. 

In his senior year, he ranked third in NCAA in steals with 2.57 per game, setting a programme record with 95 steals in a season. 

Since then, Love has taken his talents to Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium before landing in Leicester. He also has experience on the European stage, putting up 10 points per game in the Europe Cup for Donar Groningen in 2019. 

Love’s ties to Leicester makes him a seamless fit to the roster.

“I’m excited to join the Riders! I’ve only heard great things about the city, the coach, the players and the club!” commented Love.

“Knowing Jubril and Darien prior to my arrival has already made me comfortable with the team, and it’s a major plus having former Rider Justin Hedley and my godson Will nearby!

“I’m just excited to get on the floor with the guys and try to win as many games as possible!”

The Milwaukee native is a confident three-point shooter, able to knock down deep shots off the dribble, and with a defender in his face. He can take defenders off the dribble to attack the hoop, where he finds open teammates effectively or finish himself. 

“We’re excited to get a player like Carrington at this stage of the season,” said head coach Rob Paternostro.

“He is a multi-year European professional, who has played very well throughout his career

“Carrington is a player who can play both guard positions, and has shown the ability to score and play make from many different spots on the floor.”

Love has signed for the remainder of the season. Riders can confirm we have been granted special dispensation from the league, following the injury to Devonte Bandoo, to enable Love to suit up for Sunday’s BBL Cup Final!

Welcome to Leicester Carrington! 

LRF Staff Visit Leicester City Police

As part of our continued work with Leicester City Police our staff took the short trip to Mansfield House Police Station for a workshop with PC Millie Barton on Child Criminal Exploitation and County Lines.

The workshop helped the team to both gain a better understanding of Child Criminal Exploitation and County Lines, how to spot potentially vulnerable children and how to deal with any issues that rise when working with young people.

“Thank you to the Leicester Riders Foundation for coming to Mansfield House Police Station today to receive an in put on Child Criminal Exploitation and County Lines.” Said PC Millie Barton. “The Riders do a lot of work in the community with young people involved in crime and having knowledge around CCE and CL really shows their commitment to helping young people.”

Laura Shephard, General Manager of the Riders Foundation is delighted that the Foundation’s relationship with Leicester City Police continues to go from strength to strength.

“Working with the PC Barton and the team of offficers at Mansfield house has been greatly beneficial for our team and developing the opportunities that LRF are able to offer in our community, engaging all young people. Relationships are key in working in the community and the power of working together is evident here. It’s been fantastic to learn and gain new perspectives from the officers at Mansfield house to empower our LRF team to continue to work and develop our programmes.”

Keep and eye on our social media channels (@RidersBF) for all updates on our work with Leicester City Police in the coming weeks.

Riders win big against Phoenix

The Riders improved to 13-6 in the BBL Championship with a 100-82 home win against the Cheshire Phoenix. 

Patrick Whelan led the game with 20 points, going 3-4 from three and 5-6 from the field. The Riders’ bench came up big in the game, with Conner Washington, Aaron Menzies and Jubril Adekoya all scoring in double digits.

 A strong end to the third put the Riders in firm control of the game, which they led since midway through the first quarter. The Riders scored 100 points against the third-ranked defence in the league, shooting a red-hot 62% from the field.

For Cheshire, Larry Austin Jr. continued his hot form, scoring 19 points on 61% shooting. But the Phoneix defence could not slow down a potent Riders offence, which had seven double-digit scorers. 

Former Rider Jamell Anderson maintained his hot hand to start the game, following his season-high 30 points in his previous outing. He drained his first two shots for five quick points, giving his team the early lead. 

The Phoenix hit four threes in as many minutes, helping them to an early eight-point advantage. But the Riders found their feet defensively, stringing together consecutive stops before Zach Jackson tied the game up at 15. 

To close the quarter, the Riders caught fire to burst out to a lead. They went on an 11-4 run in four minutes, led by threes from Whelan and Adekoya, to finish the first up 28-21. 

Menzies started the second period with a bang, pulling down an offensive board and slamming it down, plus the foul. The 7’3” big man finished the first with a +/- of 10, demonstrating his impact on the game. 

Leicester went on an 8-0 run, kickstarted by Menzies and finished off by an Adekoya three, as the Riders went up 15. The Phoenix responded with threes from Tahjai Teague and Marcus Evans to cut it to single digits, setting up a back-and-forth end to the half. 

The Riders had the better of it, rebuilding their lead to 13 points by halftime, led by 10 points from Jackson. They held the Phoenix to two points in the final two and a half minutes and scored 29 points in the quarter for a 57-point half. 

The teams traded blows to start the second half, scoring 10 each through the first four minutes. The Phoenix then found some form to cut into their deficit, as Larry Austin Jr. ran the fastbreak for four points to make it a seven-point game. 

But Leicester finished the quarter strong, as Washington hit back threes to retake momentum. Menzies concluded the third at the free throw line, making it 77-65 going into the final period of play. 

Marc Loving and Menzies took over the action to start the fourth, scoring eight between them to make it a 17-point lead. The Riders saw out the win professionally from there, led by five points from Jackson. 

The Riders are set for a huge occasion in their next fixture, heading to the Utilita Arena Birmingham for the BBL Cup Final. There, they take on the London Lions, hoping to retain their Cup title from last season. 

Loughborough Basketball Triple Header!

Loughborough Basketball is hosting the prestigious BIG MATCH! 3 of our top teams will play at the Sir David Wallace building at Loughborough University in front of a bumper crowd! We’ll have DJs, give-aways and much more!

Wednesday 25th January
Doors: 15:30

  • Adult Tickets: £8
  • Concession Tickets (applies to: Students, Loughborough Staff, U18, Over 65, Blue Light and NHS.): £4

Tip-off: 16:00 M2 v Birmingham City M1
Tip-off: 18:00 W1 v Northumbria W1
Tip-off: 20:00 M1 v Northumbria M1

Arena availability – Jan 21st-30th

Unfortunately due to an event being held at the Morningside Arena from January 21st-31st we are able to run any of our Academy or Community sessions at the venue.

Sessions will resume as normal from Monday January 30th.

Although we are unable to offer any Arena sessions during this period we are still running a number satellite sessions.

CLICK HERE to book onto our satellite sessions.

BBL Championship Preview: Riders vs Phoenix

The Riders return to BBL Championship action on Friday with a fixture against the Cheshire Phoenix. They will host the Phoenix at the Morningside Arena, the game tipping off at 7:45 pm. 

Get your tickets here!

Home sweet home

The Riders are 12-6 in the league this season but have lost just one game at home. The Morningside Arena has proved to be a fortress over past years, and the Riders will attempt to continue this trend in their first home fixture in 2023. 

They enter the game following an overtime thriller in the BBL Trophy against the Manchester Giants. They battled through to get a 114-107 win on the road, led by a monster 32 points and 13 rebounds from Marc Loving. 

Read our report on the action here! 

Loving has led the Riders scoring in all competitions this season, putting up 16.6 points per game. The second-year Rider has stepped into a leading role, putting up seven 20-point scoring efforts on the year. 

In the league, Kansas-born Zach Jackson has outscored Loving, averaging 15.6 points. Jackson closely pursued Loving’s performance in Manchester, scoring 25 points in the tie. 

The Riders’ offence has ranked among the BBL’s best this season, ranking top two in points per game, field goal percentage and three-point percentage. They needed all of their offensive prowess in their recent win in Manchester, and proved they can outscore anyone on any night. 

A win to improve them to 13-6 would keep the Riders challenging at the top of the league table, maintaining momentum in their season. 

Phoenix season so far

The Phoenix were the only team to beat Leicester to a piece of silverware last year, winning the BBL Trophy during the Riders’ treble-winning season. 

They beat the London Lions in the final, securing the fifth BBL Trophy in their history, and their second piece of silverware in 12 seasons. 

Over the offseason, Cheshire looked to fellow North Western club, the Manchester Giants, for their most significant acquisition: GB international Jamell Anderson. The former Rider has discovered a new scoring form, putting up back-to-back 20-point games to start the year and logging a career-high scoring average. 

The Phoenix are one of four teams over .500 in the league this season, with a 10-9 record. They enter this one off the back of a 129-80 win against the Nottingham Hoods, seeing them through to the second round of the BBL Trophy. 

Anderson scored a season-high 30 points in the game, going a red-hot five for nine from deep.

They possess the third-best defence in the BBL, holding teams to 79 points per game, and will look to slow down the Riders’ firepower as they chase a rare win in Leicester. 

Key matchup 

Leading the Phoenix’s scoring this season is 6’2” American guard Larry Austin Jr, who is putting up 14.4 points per game in his second year in Cheshire. 

Austin enters this game after back-to-back 20-point efforts in the league, and an 18-point game in the Trophy against the Hoods. He is shooting 51.7% from the field this season, and is clamping defenders on the other end to average 2.3 steals. 

Last season, he scored 23 points in the BBL Trophy final against the London Lions, earning the Final MVP for his efforts. He has been a major piece since his arrival in Cheshire and will be a tough defensive task for Riders’ new man Devonte Bandoo.

Bandoo arrived in Leicester last week, signing from the Saskatchewan Rattlers in his home country of Canada, where he averaged 16.1 points per game. 

The Ontario native spent his final two college seasons at Baylor University, after leading Hutchinson Community College to a national championship as a freshman.

He was named the Big 12 Conference Sixth Man of the Year as a senior, helping the Bears to a school-record 23-game winning streak which saw them top the NCAA rankings for five straight weeks.

Bandoo will look to make a positive impact in his first game in front of the Riders’ faithful, as he takes on Austin in the backcourt! 

Walking Basketball February Block Booking

Walking Basketball makes a return in February as we launch our first 6 week block booking.

Walking basketball is fun and social session with the chance to look at playing games against other groups around the country. The session is aimed at all levels from beginners to skilled players and is perfect for players who are rehabilitating injuries and looking to get back into playing.

CLICK HERE to book onto our Walking Basketball sessions.

Help us break the WBBL attendance record!

Riders host Sevenoaks Suns on Saturday 4th March at the Morningside Arena, and we’re calling on the support of the Riders nation to help break the WBBL attendance record!

This International Women’s Day game is expected to sell out quickly! Students can secure a ticket for just £5!

You can secure your tickets below:

Baby Ballers February Block Booking

Following the success of our first Baby Ballers block booking the session makes a return on Thursday February 2nd as we begin another 6 week block.

The sessions take place 10-11am at the Morningside Arena (LE1 3UL) and our coached by our Leicester Riders Foundation coaches. Baby Ballers is a family session; you are welcome to bring family members/ friends/siblings to watch.

CLICK HERE to book your child onto our next block.

The Riders win overtime thriller!

The Riders advance to the second round of the BBL Trophy, winning an overtime thriller against the Manchester Giants. They emerged 114-107 victors, led by a monster 32 points and 13 rebounds from Marc Loving. 

Loving was supported by 25 points from Zach Jackson and 20 points from Patrick Whelan, the star trio going off to secure a hard-fought victory. Kimbal Mackenzie came up with his season high of 18 points in the game, scoring five in overtime to steer the team home. 

For Manchester, their star forward Tajh Green exploded for 38 points and 14 rebounds in his team’s defeat. The first-year pro’s best professional game was not enough to see the Giants to the next round of the Trophy, as the Riders captured late momentum in overtime. 

Leicester shot a red-hot 50% from three in the game, led by seven from Loving. But their free throw shooting saw them edge the tie, going 9/10 from the line in overtime. 

The Riders got going with three threes from their leading scorers, Jackson, Loving and Whelan. They jumped out to an early lead, holding the BBL’s highest-scoring offence to six points through the first five minutes to go up seven points. 

Leicester hit five threes in the first quarter, helping them to 28 points. One came from new man Devonte Bandoo, who hit his first shot from the corner to introduce himself to the Riders’ faithful. 

Manchester caught a hot streak to start the second, capped off by a deep Dirk Williams three to cut the Riders’ lead to four. Leicester responded after a Rob Paternostro timeout with back-to-back threes from Loving, which kickstarted an 11-2 Riders run. 

Loving led the game with an emphatic 25-point first half, torching the Giants through 20 minutes. The Ohio-born forward went 6-7 from three, dominating the game from deep. 

The Giants hung in the game, keeping their deficit to four by the break. Anthony Roberson concluded the second-quarter action for Manchester with a finish inside. 

The sides traded bombs to start the second half, as 13 points in two minutes between the sides did nothing to change the four-point difference in the score. 

Jackson led the Riders through the first five minutes of the third with nine points, taking over the visitors’ scoring load to maintain their narrow advantage. 

Manchester went on an 8-0 run near the end of the period to take their first lead of the game, capped off by a fastbreak slam by Tajh Green. 

But Jackson responded with five points to end the quarter, edging the Riders back ahead going into the final period. 

The Giants started the fourth the better of the sides, but a four-point play from Jackson re-tied the game, setting up a tense finish. 

Much of the fourth quarter was fought at the free-throw line, with 23 foul shots being taken in the quarter. Roberson got to the line for Manchester to make a free-throw, making it a one-point Riders lead with 2:29 remaining. 

The teams traded free throws down the stretch, as Jackson knocked down two shots with a minute remaining to give the Riders a late advantage. 

10 seconds later, Whelan drove the fastbreak following a William Lee miss, attacking the hoop to put Leicester up four. But Dirk Williams responded, finding a whistle on a three-point attempt to cut it back to two before a whistle on the resulting rebound gave the Giants’ one more. 

Fletcher attacked the rim with seconds remaining, tying the game with 2.9 on the clock with a left-handed layup, and Mackenzie’s attempted game-winner was blocked to send it to overtime. 

The sides went back and forth to start the extra period, resulting in a two-point Riders lead with 1:44 on the clock. Conner Washington then drove hard against Lee, getting to the line to make it a two-score affair. 

Loving followed up his teammate to make two foul shots of his own, putting Leicester up six with 44 seconds remaining. Mackenzie then sealed the game with a tough fadeaway, sending the Riders through to the second round. 

The Riders return home for their next fixture, taking on the Cheshire Phoenix in the BBL Championship. A win would improve them to 14-6, as Leicester looks to chase down the top spot of the league table.

Get your tickets here to support your Leicester Riders!

BBL Trophy Preview: Riders at Giants

The Riders are set to compete in the first round of the BBL Trophy, taking on the Manchester Giants on the road. It’s win or go home for the Riders in this knockout competition, which they last won in 2018. 

Tip-off is at 5 pm at the National Basketball Performance Centre. It will be available to stream free on the BBL official Youtube channel, with coverage starting 15 minutes before tip-off. 

Riders season so far 

The Riders enter this game off the back of their sixth loss of the season, making their league record 12-6. It was a 91-84 road loss to the Bristol Flyers, which was closely contested until late.

Leicester had a chance to tie with seconds remaining, but could not find the net. Marc Loving and Zach Jackson combined for 55 points, Loving leading the way with 25. 

Read our report here. 

The Riders can bounce back with a third win against the Giants this season. They last played them on December 23, resulting in an 89-82 overtime win. Jackson led the team with 21 points, going 7-14 from the field. 

Jackson leads Leicester on the season, averaging 15.6 points. The Riders have three scorers putting up 15 points per game this season, as Loving and Patrick Whelan closely follow Jackson, scoring 15.2 and 15, respectively. 

Since the previous game, the Riders made an exciting addition to their roster: 6’3″ sharpshooting point guard Devonte Bandoo!

He is set to make his debut in Manchester, as he sets foot in European basketball for the first time.

In addition, Victor Ndoukou returns to Riders red in this game, having signed his first professional contract earlier in the week.

A win in Manchester would be a perfect response to the Riders’ recent loss, as they look to challenge for the fourth BBL Trophy in their history. 

Close battles in Manchester 

The Manchester Giants’ last six fixtures have finished within single digits, and two of the last three games have been decided by a single score. They are 3-3 over this period but fell 103-95 to the Bristol Flyers in their previous fixture. 

Dirk Williams’ free throws made it a six-point Giants’ deficit with just over a minute remaining, but Manchester was unable to complete a comeback late. 

Williams put up a monster 36 point performance in the game, making four threes on his way to his season-high points tally. 

The Giants’ are 8-8 in the league this season, putting them fifth in the table. 6’8” American Tajh Green leads the team with 19.6 points per game in his first professional season, making him the BBL’s third-ranked scorer. 

Green’s play has helped the Giants to become the best offence in the BBL, putting up 91.2 points per game. 

Should they go on to win the competition, it would be Manchester’s first BBL Trophy since 1999. 

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 near double-double this season, putting up 16.6 points and 9.1 rebounds.

He’s getting it done from all over the court, shooting 48.3% from the field and 38.5% 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 25 points in his last game with a block and a steal, knocking down four of his six three-point attempts also. 

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 35% 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!

Ndoukou signs first pro contract

Leicester Riders are delighted to have signed young British talent Victor Ndoukou on his first professional contract.

The young forward has signed a 4 and a half year deal which will see him as part of the BBL team through to the end of the 2026-27 season. Ndoukou will also be studying a Loughborough University on a scholarship through the Loughborough College Elite pathway with the Riders, and will be eligible to suit-up for the D1 roster and BBL.

“We really enjoyed working with Victor while he was at Charnwood College over the last few seasons,” commented Head Coach Rob Paternostro.

“He is a player with good size and skill who has a lot of potential.” 

“The partnership with Loughborough University and Loughborough College has been invaluable and very influential in developing our young British players over the years .”

Ndoukou will be a familiar face to Riders fans as he first joined our pathway in 2019.

“I feel grateful to be given the opportunity to play for the Riders,” reflected Ndoukou. “I am very thankful for the opportunity the Riders pathway gave me and for the support from Loughborough University & Loughborough College. I really can’t wait to get my professional career started.”

The 19-year-old is a 6’7″ athletic wing, who averaged 15.5 points per game for Charnwood College in the 2021/22 season. He is widely regarded as the best British talent of his age, winning the MVP award in the EABL final last year.

Riders sign Devonte Bandoo!

Leicester Riders are excited to announce the signing of Canadian point guard Devonte Bandoo.

The former Baylor Bear competed in his home country last summer, averaging 16.1 points for the Saskatchewan Rattlers. 

He spent his final two college seasons at Baylor University, after leading Hutchinson Community College to a national championship as a freshman.

The Ontario native was named the Big 12 Conference Sixth Man of the Year as a senior, helping the Bears to a school-record 23-game winning streak which saw them top the NCAA rankings for five straight weeks.

The 6’3″ sharpshooter was Baylor’s leading three-point shooter as a junior, going 39% from behind the arc. Bandoo shot 66% from deep in his first NCAA tournament appearance, a win over the prestigious Syracuse University. 

“I’m excited to join the Riders organisation, and to be able to play with new teammates and coaches,” said Bandoo.

“We are looking forward to working with Devonte. He is an exciting, explosive player who can make plays in many different ways,” commented head coach Rob Paternostro.

“Devonte’s ability to shoot the ball off the catch or off the dribble from distance is really impressive and should be a welcome addition to our club.

“He had a very good summer in Canadian CEBL, where he was able to showcase both his playmaking and scoring against high-level talent”

Bandoo will look to suit up for the Riders for their upcoming BBL Trophy clash against the Manchester Giants.

Buy your tickets here to see Bandoo in action!

LRF launch Positive Futures Project

The Leicester Riders Foundation are launching the Positive Futures project in collaboration with Leicester City Police funded by Street Games.

The Positive Futures programme aimed at reaching young people at risk of involvement with anti-social behaviour crime & violence is using basketball and life skills as a tool to better their future.

The children on the programme will participate in a number of sessions involving mentoring, life skill classes and basketball sessions led by Leicester Riders Foundation staff & Riders professional player Mo Walker.

PC Millie Barton of Leicester City Police is delighted to be able to continue their work with LRF. “We are proud to be working with the Leicester Riders Foundation on the Positive Futures program, a project set up to work with young people who have been involved in antisocial behaviour, criminal behaviour or are at risk of committing crime and ASB. The Leicester Riders Foundation have been instrumental in providing a support network alongside engagements, interventions and educational inputs to assist in reducing criminal activity in the Leicester area.”

Leicester Riders’s Mo Walker added “Growing up in my community there was a lot of violence and distractions. I was fortunate enough to have positive role models and structure provided by my parents and basketball coaches. I know how important it is for kids to have positive influencers in their lives, as well as some structure or just safe place where they can have fun, interact with others, and stay out of trouble”.

Ricardo Silva the Foundation’s Community Project Officer hopes the programme allows the young people to develop skills for life.”The programme will allow all the participants to gain a variety of skills and experiences. We hope to use our knowledge and experience to help them develop their life skills. I want the Leicester Riders Foundation to be a point of contact for kids at high risk of involvement with anti-social behaviour, crime and violence. We are here to provide opportunities for young people to grow and develop.

Keep and eye on our social media channels (@RidersBF) for all updates on our Positive Futures project in the coming weeks.

If you would like to refer a young person to join the programme please email [email protected].

Development Day: Friday 20th January

Join us at the Morningside Arena on Friday 20th January for our Development Day prior to the Leicester Riders BBL Championship fixture v Cheshire Phoenix.

The Development Day involves a hour and a half coaching clinic, food before the game and a ticket to Leicester Riders v Cheshire Phoenix all for just £15.

CLICK HERE to book your place!

*Minimum booking of 5 places.

Riders fall to Flyers on the road

The Riders fell short in a clutch battle, losing to the Bristol Flyers 91-84. They had a chance to tie it with 30 seconds on the clock, but could not find the net to send it to overtime.

The loss means the Riders fall to 12-6 in the standings.

Their wing tandem of Marc Loving and Zach Jackson combined for 55 points in an effort to get the Riders over the hump. Loving led the team with 25 points and seven rebounds, going 10-15 from the field on a hot shooting night. 

The Flyers got to the free-throw line to shoot 30 shots to the Riders’ 11, but converted 53% of them to keep Leicester in the game. VJ King led the game with a monster 30-point performance, the former G-Leaguer going 60% from the field. 

The Flyers’ elite defence stalled the Riders’ offence in the early stages, as they jumped out to a 12-6 lead after five minutes. Loving took the lid off the basket with a corner three in response to the hosts’ hot start, cutting into the narrow deficit.

Conner Washington checked into the game after missing a large part of December due to injury and made an immediate impact with a long two. The Riders tied the game at 17 with 30 seconds left in the first period. 

The second quarter was closely fought. Washington’s three gave the Riders their first lead of the game three minutes in, but the Flyers fought back with seven points from King, who helped put his side up 37-30 five minutes into the period. 

Back-to-back Riders threes from Jackson and Loving kept the scoreline manageable for the Riders in the first half. Loving scored 15 first-half points, cooking from range to make three shots from behind the arc. 

Four straight missed free throws from the Flyers also aided the Riders late in the half. The score was 43-41 by the buzzer, as Jackson concluded the Riders’ second-quarter action with a layup in close. 

Bristol once again seized the advantage to start the second half, King making it an eight-point game with a three from the top of the key. But Leicester fired back, as Patrick Whelan’s three cut the game back to a possession. 

Aaron Menzies’ defence on Malcolm Delpeche proved pivotal in the quarter, the 7’3” center making his presence known in the paint against the BBL’s top offensive rebounder. Menzies had a +/- of eight by the end of the third period, the best of any player on the court. 

Kimbal Mackenzie drove to the rim to end the third, making it 67-64 to Bristol entering the final quarter. 

Jackson took over to start the fourth, making three straight baskets and tying the game. The score was locked within one score through the first five minutes of the fourth. 

Big shot-making kept the Riders in the tie, as Loving and Washington hit huge threes throughout the fourth quarter.

But the Flyers got to the free-throw line often to edge ahead. 

With two minutes remaining, Jackson exploded for the play of the game. He ran the fastbreak and threw down a monster jam over King, who sent him to the line for one more. 

On the other end, Delpeche made a layup in close to put the Flyers up three with 30 seconds on the clock. The Riders could not find a response, and the hosts took the win. 

The Riders take a break from league action in their next fixture, which is a BBL Trophy tie against the Manchester Giants. It’s a win-or-go-home scenario on the road as the Riders look to progress out of the first round of the competition. 

BBL Championship Preview: Riders at Flyers

The Riders head to Bristol for the second time this season, where they will take on the Flyers at the SGS Arena. 

The game tips off at 7:30 pm and will be streamed live on the BBL Official Youtube channel, starting at 7:15 pm. 

Riders thrive through Christmas schedule 

The Riders faced a brutal schedule through the Christmas period, playing three games in seven days. They emerged 2-1 through the fixtures, beating the Surrey Scorchers in the last of them. 

It was a 77-72 victory, which was fought all the way through to the final stages. Marc Loving led the team with 22 points, scoring nine in the fourth quarter. 

Read our report here! 

The win improved the Riders’ record to 12-5 in the BBL Championship, good for second place in the standings. They’ve won five of the last six games in the league, launching them up the table. 

They’re led by Patrick Whelan, the GB international who is scoring 15.4 points per game while shooting 45.7% from three. The Riders have five players averaging double-digit points this season, so they are able to hurt teams in any number of ways. 

Leicester ranks third in the BBL in points per game, and lead the league in field goal and three-point percentage. They’ll need to remain their efficient selves in this game, against tough opposition in a hostile building. 

Bristol flying high 

The Flyers rank among the BBL’s elite this season, possessing an 11-6 record. They beat the Riders earlier in the season and held the league’s top spot early in December. 

Back-to-back defeats against the London Lions, in the league and then the cup, saw momentum in their season take a hit. However, they bounced back with two straight wins.

Bristol does enter this fixture in need of another bounceback, having fallen to the Surrey Scorchers 78-73 in Surrey. Their away form strongly contrasts their home form, as they possess a 3-4 record on the road. 

But the Flyers are back in Bristol for this one, in an arena which has proved an imposing setting for visiting teams. Their physicality has been key to their success, as they lead the BBL in offensive rebounding with 12.4 per game. 

Malcolm Delpeche sets the tone in this department, topping the BBL’s offensive-rebounding standings with 3.1 per game. The 6’8” big man achieved the same feat last season and continues to be a force of nature in the paint. 

The Flyers will look to feed off his physicality in front of their home fans, to get another home win against the reigning champions. 

Key matchup

The man leading the scoring for the Bristol Flyers this season is former NBA G-Leaguer and first-year Flyer VJ King. The graduate of the esteemed University of Louisville played for the Westchester Knicks in his first two pro seasons, before taking his talents to the BBL. 

King is scoring 17.8 points per game so far this year, ranking seventh in the league. He’s putting up 6.6 rebounds per game, matching his team’s physicality on the glass.  

He scored 8.8 points per game in his second NBA G-League season, along with five rebounds per game. He’s a physical two-guard who attacks the rim with force and finishes inside with an instinctual feel for finding the net. 

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.

Whelan enters the game off the back of facing up against another athletic slasher, Padiet Wang, from the Surrey Scorchers. He can use his experience from facing Wang in an attempt to slow down the dangerous King. 

Forge Your Career in Sport with SMB College Group and Leicester Riders Foundation!

Leicester Riders Foundation are proud to be working alongside SMB College Group to launch a brand new Sport programme that allows young people to combine basketball with a Level 3 college course in Sport. 

Based at the college’s 850-acre Brooksby Campus in Leicestershire, the programme will give students the opportunity to develop vital career skills through sport whilst gaining their Level 3 qualification in Sports Coaching and Development, benefitting from a specialised timetable encompassing their academic studies, basketball coaching, strength and conditioning sessions, performance analysis and more. 

Open to all students who wish to study Level 3 Sports Coaching, this programme aims to enable students to develop a wealth of transferrable skills to set them up for progression into a career within sport, or within a variety of other industries. 

When speaking about this exciting new programme, Andy Graham, Director of Curriculum at SMB College Group’s Brooksby Campus said ‘Working with such an impressive and well-established organisation enables us to broaden the student experience, increasing the breadth of learning and sports that students can get involved with.

‘Whilst students are now able to play basketball wrapped around a full time programme of study, this partnership has a particularly important focus on careers in elite sport and the transferable skills and advantages that this can give our students, no matter which industry they eventually choose to work in. Through working with Leicester Riders Foundation, we wanted to develop a course that will open the door to a career in sports for anyone, even if they have never picked up a basketball – and this programme does just that. We can’t wait to enrol our first students in September!’ 

Laura Shepherd, General Manager at the Leicester Riders Foundation, added ‘We are delighted that we are able to partner with SMB College Group to provide an alternative pathway for those to wish to excel in a career in sport.

‘It is so important to provide opportunities, and to highlight the importance of all roles and opportunities that are available within sport. The skills and attributes that can be developed by those who work in sport and coaching is a unique set of transferable skills that are valuable in a variety of roles and open the door to a wide variety of careers and opportunities.’

Students will study at the college’s £3.6million Sports Science complex at the Brooksby Campus, which includes a full-size sports hall, a strength and conditioning gym, an outdoor gym and sports science facilities with a range of performance analysis equipment.

The Leicester Riders Education Programme comes as a welcome addition to the SMB College Group’s other sports partnerships, through which they offer rugby and football programmes with Leicester Tigers and Future Elite Sports, respectively.

Applications for September 2023 are now open! To find out more and register for a Brooksby Campus Open Day, visit the college website at www.smbcollegegroup.ac.uk.

For those interested in this programme, accommodation is available on-site at the Brooksby Campus, in addition to a range of college bus routes and great public transport links across the county.

SMB College Group is a Leicestershire-based Further and Higher Education college with three unique campuses – Stephenson, Melton and Brooksby. The college offers a variety of courses for students aged 16 and over, spanning a range of subjects from Sport to Agriculture to Construction to Performing Arts, and many more.