Riders through to the semis!

The Riders saw themselves comfortably through to the BBL Playoff semi-finals with a 153-140 aggregate win against the Sheffield Sharks.

They entered the game needing to hold onto their nine-point advantage from the first leg, and won the second leg 74-70 to advance through the first round. 

Zach Jackson took over the tie to stretch the Riders’ lead at the midway point. He finished with 25 points and nine rebounds in a dominant showing. 

The Riders attacked the rim relentlessly in the game, which got them to the free-throw line 19 times. They outrebounded the Sharks 32-25, winning the interior battle. 

Riders’ captain Darien Nelson-Henry was a huge part of that, putting up an 18-point double-double with 11 rebounds. His second-chance points, from four offensive boards, were key to Leicester’s early success in the game, allowing them to build from the inside. 

He led the game out the gate, scoring the team’s first six points, bagging eight in the first period as Leicester built a lead. 

It was a dominant start, with the hosts holding an 18 aggregate. They started 8-12 from the field, with both Nelson-Henry and Jackson starting 3-3.

The Sharks fought back through Devearl Ramsey, who put six on the board, but the first ended 22-17 to Leicester. 

The second went back and forth but resulted in the Riders maintaining their lead. Nelson-Henry extended his tally to 14 by halftime. Meanwhile, eight points in the second for Jackson made it 14 for him as well. 

The Sharks tied it up midway through the second, but a run to end the quarter saw the Riders enter the locker rooms up 42-34 in the game and 122-105 on aggregate. 

Jackson quickly got to 20 points in the third quarter, taking over proceedings out of halftime. He scored the Riders’ first seven points of the half as the Riders continued to extend their lead. 

The Sharks hung around in a low-scoring third quarter, however, and a Ramsey and-one to end the period made it a 13-point game going into the fourth. 

Nelson-Henry refound his scoring form in the final period, scoring back-to-back baskets. But the Sharks made it a one-point game on the night, forcing the Riders to see it out in the clutch. 

Leicester snatched momentum through Kimbal Mackenzie, who attacked the hoop on two straight plays for four points. He then set up Patrick Whelan for an open three, as the Riders took firm control of the tie with a 7-0 run. 

From there, they saw the game out to progress to the next round. They will face either the Bristol Flyers or Newcastle Eagles, depending on the result of the Eagles’ fixture against the London Lions tomorrow evening.

Five Takeaways from the Quarter-Final First Leg

The Riders will take a hard-earned nine-point advantage into the second leg of their BBL playoff quarter-final following a 79-70 win over the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks.

Here are five things to take away from a tense first leg.

Building an early lead proved crucial

After trailing by five very early in the contest, the Riders took control of the game and built a lead to defend.

Leicester ended the first quarter 28-17 to the good and only allowed Sheffield to get within one basket on a couple of occasions.

Playoff ball requires a hard push for a double-digit lead early so it can be defended rather than chased.

The Riders understood this and used a three-point range finder from Marc Loving to dominate the final five minutes of the quarter.

Two more deep balls by Loving and Patrick Whelan backed up by an unstoppable Kimbal Mackenzie did the damage and the rest of the game was about keeping the Sharks at bay.

Leicester won the battle of the boards

If there was one area where the Riders dominated the Sharks on Friday night, it was rebounding.

The road team outrebounded their opponents 46-30, allowing for plenty of second chances to score the ball.

Leicester ended the game with nearly three times as many second-chance points as Sheffield and the nine-point difference shows it.

Loving, who has been a matchup nightmare for Sheffield all season, snagged 11 boards on his way to yet another double-double, and wing forward Zach Jackson pulled down the same amount, recording a double-double of his own.

When asked whether the impressive rebounding numbers was centred around a specific gameplan, coach Rob Paternostro said: “Not really. Those guys saw the opportunities and they took them really well.”

Loving and Jackson are proof that big-time players rise in big-time moments.

Riders Must Shoot the Ball Better

If Coach Rob was happy with the rebounding, the same can’t be said for the shooting performance, especially from deep.

“I liked the way we played but we didn’t shoot the ball well,” said Coach when quizzed about his initial thoughts on the game. He added: “(We) didn’t exactly shoot the three well.”

The numbers tell the story as the Riders shot just 40% from the field and 24% from downtown.

Yes, the excellent rebounding limited the damage, but efficiency certainly must improve if the Riders are to see a winning end to the season.

One place the team were deadly accurate from was the free throw line, where they posted 91% on 21 attempts.

Mackenzie, once again a spark off the bench, hit every one of his 11 free throws, continuing a reputation as one of the best in the league from the line.

Limiting Turnovers is Key

Looking ahead to Sunday’s second leg, Coach Rob noted that, “taking care of the basketball is very important”, something the Riders excelled at during the first quarter.

The dominant run that saw Leicester build an 11-point lead only contained a single turnover.

Sheffield were forced to hit contested shots against a defence that was often set and rarely on the back foot after a steal.

The tight ball control seeped away as the game wore on, but the damage done in the first gave the Riders an all-important buffer.

Every team in the BBL can cause problems on the fast break, and with Sheffield openly wanting a faster offence than earlier in the season, ball retention is more important than ever.

Good Defence Wins Games

Sunday’s deciding leg in the Morningside Arena will be predicated on defence.

Keeping the Sharks below their offence season average of 74.78 PPG vastly improves the Riders’ chances of advancing, especially with the nine-point hurdle they face.

Leicester have one of the most dynamic offences in the league with players who get clean looks and show great on-court instincts – but as Coach Rob stated after Friday’s win: “Defence is the name of the game.”

The Riders kept Sheffield’s high-flyers, Jalon Pipkins and Saeed Nelson, relatively quiet in the first 40 minutes.

They need more of the same in the second.

Continuing to suppress Sheffield’s premier scorers’ ability to get into a rhythm will be at the top of the objective board.

Where to watch

The second leg is at the Morningside Arena Leicester, tipping off at 5:15 pm. Get your tickets here!

It will also be shown live on Sky Sports, and their youtube channel, starting at 5 pm.

Riders take lead into second leg

The Riders take a nine-point advantage into the BBL Playoff quarter-final second leg, beating the Sheffield Sharks 79-70 on the road. 

Kimbal Mackenzie led the game off the bench with 19 points, going 11-11 from the foul line. He was backed by Marc Loving’s 18 points and 11 rebounds, the Ohio-born forward dominated the glass for a double-double. 

Leicester outrebounded the Sharks 46 to 30 in the game, playing with intensity and physicality inside. But Sheffield remains in the tie going back to Leicester, in part thanks to the Riders shooting 6-25 from three. 

Bennet Koch led the Sharks with 17 points and five assists. Their defence in the second half saw them climb back into the game after falling down big early in the third quarter. 

The Riders exploded to an early lead. A hot 3-6 start from three made it 17-9 in their favour after seven minutes, as Loving’s triple forced a Sharks timeout. 

Kimbal Mackenzie’s free throws concluded a dominant Riders first quarter, putting the visitors up 28-17. 

Leicester maintained their lead through to the half. They built the lead to as much as 18 after Carrington Love battled for an offensive board and laid in a two. 

The Sharks fought back to cut it to 10 going into the locker rooms, the run started by back-to-back dunks from Saeed Nelson and Kipper Nichols. 

Sheffield came storming back in the second half, Jalon Pipkins making it a one-possession game with an and-one play. 

The Riders found a response, going on a 10-4 run to rebuild their lead. Evan Walshe put his body on the line to end the third, taking a charge on Jordan Ratinho to maintain Leicester’s 13-point advantage going into the fourth. 

The fourth was a stalemate, with the lead hovering around double-digits until the buzzer. Loving led the effort with five points in the period. Jubril Adekoya then concluded the action with a air of free throws. 

The performance on the road puts the Riders in a strong position going into the home fixture.

The second leg is on Sunday at the Morningside Arena, tipping off at 5:15 pm. The winner will progress to the semi-final, one step closer to the final at the O2 Arena.

Get your tickets here!

LRF deliver first United Leicester Resilience Day

Last Wednesday Leicester Riders Foundation delivered our first United Leicester Resilience day at Taylor Road Primary School in Leicester City Centre.

United Leicester is a partnership delivered by the community foundation of each Leicester sports club, Leicester Riders Foundation, Leicester City in the Community, Leicester Tigers Foundation, Leicestershire CCC in the Community, and Leicester Hockey Club.

The morning began with an ambassador assembly delivered by professional players Mo Walker and Kirsty Brown. Mo and Kirsty spoke to the students about their path to professional basketball as well as key characteristics such as respect, resilience and teamwork that can be related to life both on and off the court.

Following the assembly the years 3 and 4 students were split with one year group heading to the classroom for a resilience workshop and the other group heading outside for a basketball session. The resilience workshop involved a presentation, examples of resilience in professional sport and a group task on healthy eating and physical activity. We then focused on passing, shooting and dribbling in our basketball session which also put the resilience of the students to the test as they learnt new skills.

Neal Ruparelia from Taylor Road Primary believes that the resilience day left a positive impression on all of the students. “A fantastic day with inspirational, dedicated, and enthusiastic staff who truly care to make a difference to young people in the city. Thank you for leaving smiles on the faces of all children at Taylor Road Primary School.”

Darren Kay, Leicester Riders Foundation’s Head of Education and Schools Sport was delighted to see the students so engaged. “On behalf of The Leicester Riders Foundation – We was delighted to host our first United Leicester session at Taylor Road Primary School. The students was really engaged and provided much learning for our staff too with their good answers around their physical health and how to overcome challenges in their personal and school life. They showed the key skill taught of resilience in abundance. We are super proud of them!”

“I felt that both sessions were well thought out and appropriate to the ages of the pupils. I know there was much interest from the children about what you all do and this was particularly reflected in the children’s questions, particularly in the Key Stage 2 assembly.” Said Anna Grant-Thomas, Headteacher at Taylor Road “I was also very impressed by the answers from both Mo and Kirsty and felt that they did a fabulous job around the bullying question; it was answered so thoroughly and clearly, I don’t think any of the staff in school could have answered it better!”

Taylor Road Primary was the first of three resilience days, this week we visited Whitehall Primary school and in May we are at Stokeswood Primary.

BBL Playoff Quarter-Final Preview: Riders vs Sharks

The quarter-final round of the BBL Championship Playoffs pits the #2 Riders against the #7 B. Braun Sheffield Sharks.

The two teams last met in the playoffs back in 2018, with Leicester coming out on top.

Despite finishing the season under .500, the Sharks may prove to be a tricky opponent for the Riders, who have been bested by their rivals on two occasions this year.

Riders’ Path to the Playoffs

One word can sum up the Riders’ 2022/23 season: consistency.

Last season’s treble-winners began the season in fine fettle, going 8-4 in their first 12 games and continued in that vein until the final tip-off last Sunday.

The Riders’ ability to keep the win column ticking over resulted in a 25-11 record and 50 points, good for second place in the championship standings.

Leicester have matched up well with nearly every team in the BBL this season, recording a clean sweep over the likes of Manchester, Plymouth and Surrey.

Tougher tests have come against fellow playoff squads like Caledonia and Bristol, but the Riders still posted a .500 record in those series’.

The largest obstacle in the Riders’ way this season has been a 32-4 London Lions squad, who are yet to be bested by Rob Paternostro’s men.

The Riders will not face the Lions unless they make it to the playoff final, and there is plenty of basketball to be played between now and then.

Featured on BBL social media this week, Coach Rob described his players as “mentally locked in” and “full of playoff experience”.

They will need to draw on that knowledge of knockout ball if they are to push through to the next round.

Sharks’ Path to the Playoffs

Unlike the Riders, the Sharks have been anything but consistent this season.

Following a decent 6-6 start in the opening 12, Sheffield toiled through a 2-10 winter period that saw them fighting for the final playoff place.

Then came the turnaround.

A 92-74 demolition of the Surrey Scorchers saw the Sharks romp to a 9-3 record down the final stretch, pushing them into the conversation for a top four seeding.

Two late-season losses to Bristol and the Riders kept them as the #7 seed, but in current form, they could be as dangerous as any matchup in the BBL.

Perhaps the most surprising – yet impressive – feature of Sheffield’s season are the two victories over the Lions.

The Sharks triumphed over London 87-81 and 82-80 and – along with Bristol – are the only side to have registered a win against the league’s #1 seed.

Sheffield have based their season around a stifling defence that often restricts the opposition to less than 80 points.

Expect that intense D to ramp up to another level come the QF tip-off.

Season Matchup

Watching the Riders and Sharks this season has been like watching two world-class prize fighters going blow-for-blow in the boxing ring.

Leicester’s versatile offense and the Sharks’ impenetrable defence has been evident in nearly every contest – especially during spring once Sheffield’s form had improved.

The first couple of games early in the season both told similar stories.

Riders’ dominance from three-point range and ability to get to the free-throw line could not be matched by their opponents, and the games ended with comfortable victories for Leicester.

A mid-season BBL Trophy game between the two told a different story though.

Leicester uncharacteristically struggled from downtown, allowing Sheffield to hit the offensive glass hard and put back some second-chance points.

The tight contest ended 79-78 to the Sharks.

At the beginning of the final stretch of games, the teams met again. Once again, Sheffield got the better of things, scoring an eight-point victory: 72-64. Guard, Saeed Nelson put in an all-action display, leading his team with 14 points, 7 rebounds, 4 dishes and 3 steals.

Finally, last Friday, the teams tipped off for the final time in the regular season. A close game full of spectacular dunks and tough defence finished 84-76 to the Riders after they pulled away in the fourth.

Key Players

If there is one player the Sharks should fear most, it is combo forward, Marc Loving.

Listed at 6’9” and incredibly long, Loving is a matchup nightmare for any team – against Sheffield he is destructive.

The Ohio native is averaging 17.2 PPG and 8.2 RPG in his five outings against the Sharks this season, three of which have been double-doubles.

Perhaps Loving’s most spectacular performance came in the final meeting last week, where he dropped a cool 25 points and regularly ghosted into the paint to grab 10 rebounds.

Loving always plays with a calm head and regularly finds space on the court that others do not.

The Sharks will need to try something new if they are to slow down #4.

A player that the Riders need to keep tabs on is Sheffield fan-favourite, Kipper Nichols.

Described by Coach Atiba Lyons as being able to “score at will”, Nichols is averaging 14 PPG against Leicester this season, including a 20-point effort in October and a 19-point game in February.

The Riders have done a decent job of keeping the third-year 6’6” forward under control, but he has still managed to put up double-digit performances in four of the five games.

Nichols may not be the obvious danger man this weekend, but so often it’s the unseen man that defences need to be wariest of.

Where to watch

The first leg will be streamed live on the British Basketball youtube channel, starting at 7:15 pm.

Final Word

The season series between these two squads has shown the BBL community how entertaining a clash of styles can be.

Fate, it seems, had a part to play in matching them up in the playoffs.

It is going to be epic.

Golden Ball Treasure Hunt!

The British Basketball League (BBL) has announced the launch of the ‘Golden Ball Treasure Hunt’, a campaign designed to drive engagement and awareness around the end-of-season Play-Off Finals, and give eight lucky individuals the chance to each win a pair of tickets to be at the final.

The treasure hunt begins on Monday 24th April whereupon a golden ball will appear in the each of hometowns of the eight qualifying teams: London Lions, Bristol Flyers, Leicester Riders, Manchester Giants, Caledonia Gladiators, Sheffield Sharks, Cheshire Phoenix and Newcastle Eagles. For the next two weeks, the ball will embark upon a journey across Leicester, visiting schools, local landmarks and many more places. Individuals looking to take part in the fun will need to keep their eye on the Riders social media where they will be sharing clues regarding the ball’s whereabouts.

To enter and be in with a chance of winning the tickets, those who come across the ball will be encouraged to take a picture with the ball and upload it onto either Instagram or Twitter tagging @BBLOfficial and using the hashtags #NowYouKnowRiders and #GoldenBall.

The golden ball will come to a halt at each of the team’s home leg of the quarter-finals, where those attending the game will also have a chance to enter the competition.

Eight winners will be selected at random on Monday 8th of May and the individuals will receive a pair of tickets to attend the BBL Play-Off Finals at the O2 Arena in London on Sunday 14th May.

Commenting on the campaign, British Basketball League Head of Marketing and Communications, Joe Edwards said:

“We are really excited to be launching our Golden Ball activation as we continue to build upon the #KnowOurName and #NowYouKnow campaign and drive continued awareness of the British Basketball League. The purpose of this campaign is to galvanise support in local communities, engage with existing and new audiences, and ultimately reward fans for their support across the season.”

Season Tickets 2023-24

Leicester Riders Season Tickets are now on sale for the 2023-24 season. Riders are delighted to announce that the season ticket price has been frozen!

Adults £295
Child £65
Concessions £215

Current season ticket holders have been contacted directly and are able to retain their existing seat if booked before 12th June 2023.

All Season Ticket purchasers will earn Loyalty points. These points will be just part of our new Members scheme, which will provide new benefits to our Season Ticket holders. We intend the launch of the Members scheme in May.

If there are any issues in securing your booking, please contact us on 0116 326 9700, or write to [email protected]

If you are purchasing a season ticket for the first time online please follow this link.

Riders fall in Cheshire

The Riders fell to the Cheshire Phoenix in the final game of the BBL regular season. 

With the Riders’ playoff seeding secured prior to the game, coach Rob Paternostro took the game as an opportunity to give minutes down the bench. 

They played the Phoenix close throughout, led by Kimbal Mackenzie’s 17 off the bench. He was backed by 15 points from Evan Walshe and 13 from Blake Bowman in a game that came down to the final possession. 

The Riders had the chance to win or tie with seconds left, but the ball was stolen by Larry Austin Jr, who hit two free throws to win it. 

The Phoenix overcame a short six-man rotation with big numbers from their starters. Each of the starting five scored double digits, led by Amorie Archibald’s 26 and Austin Jr’s 22. 

Austin Jr scored six to start the game, putting the Riders in a 13-2 start three minutes in. 

They stormed back into the game in a high-scoring quarter, which finished 28-27 to the Phoenix. Leicester had seven scorers in the first, giving key minutes all the way down the bench. 

It was the Riders’ young star, Bowman, who led the charge. He gave the Riders their first lead with his 11th points, lighting up the game. He went 3-4 from three to start the game, cooking from deep. 

The second went back and forth, and it was a two-point game in the host’s favour entering the locker rooms. Cheshire’s Archibald scored seven in the quarter, leading the game with 16 points by halftime. 

Loving took the reigns to start the second half. He scored nine straight points out of the locker rooms, but neither side built a significant lead. 

Mackenzie hit a layup at the buzzer to tie it at 75 going into the fourth. 

It was a one-possession game deep into the final quarter, with neither side able to pull away late in the game. 

The Phoenix found late form, and back-to-back threes from Maceo Jack built them a seven-point lead. Walshe hit back with a three of his own, keeping the Riders in contention as the clock ticked down. 

The Riders had a chance to win or tie with 14 seconds left, but Austin Jr came up with a steal, leaving the Rides just short of a win following his free throws. 

The Riders tip off their postseason campaign against the Sheffield Sharks in the quarter-final. 

BBL Championship Preview: Riders at Phoenix

Two days on from securing the second place seeding in the BBL Championship Playoffs, the Riders travel west to Cheshire to take on the Phoenix.

The tip-off at 5:30 pm will be the last of the 2022/23 regular season. Both teams go into the game with their playoff spot secure and will have an eye on the quarterfinals next week.

Riders’ Season So Far

After grinding out a win at home to the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks on Friday, the Riders sit on 50 points with a 25-10 record. Should they claim victory on Sunday, Leicester will finish the regular season with their highest number of wins since 2017, albeit as part of a 36-game season.

The 85-76 win over the Sharks was a much tighter affair than the nine-point margin suggests – the Riders pulled away in the final minute thanks to reliable free throw shooting in the clutch.

After a low-scoring first half, which ended 32-29 to the home team, the second stanza became a back-and-forth tussle with both teams holding a lead on multiple occasions.

Both the Riders and Sharks were playing ferociously on defence. Even talented scorers like Patrick Whelan and Zach Jackson were struggling to get buckets at the clip they are used to.

Smooth operator, Marc Loving, was the Rider who really stepped up to the challenge of Sheffield’s lockdown defence.

The silky forward took the game by the scruff of the neck, finishing the night with 25 points, 10 rebounds and a plus/minus of +11.

Loving’s performance illustrated perfectly how much of a mismatch he can be at his best, something Coach Rob will want to exploit during the post-season.

Phoenix’s Season So Far

The 18-17 Cheshire Phoenix have enjoyed a fairly light end-of-season schedule, having not played since an 85-68 victory in Plymouth on April 16.

Coach Ben Thomas’ squad have cemented fifth place in the playoff seedings and will play the Caledonia Gladiators in next week’s QF’s, the team they lost to in the BBL Trophy final back in March.

As their record suggests, the Phoenix have had a mixed bag of a season, often trading wins and losses on a one-to-one basis.

Their Achilles heel has been the top three teams in the BBL, with Cheshire failing to record a single win against the best teams in the league.

However, against the rest of the BBL they have gone 18-5, proving their worth as the #5 seed.

The Phoenix are a squad that plays on-ball defence tenaciously. Expect the Riders to prioritise ball security against a Cheshire team that makes 9.45 steals per game.

One may be lulled into thinking that the intensity will drop on Sunday, but the chance to snag a first victory over a top-three team should be more than enough motivation for the home side.

Key Players

The cornerstone of Cheshire’s aggressive defence is two-guard, Larry Austin Jr.

The 6’2” American is an energetic scorer on offense and a Pitbull on defence, leading the BBL with 2.59 SPG.

Austin brings a wealth of experience to the court, having played professionally in Turkey and Portugal after a successful collegiate career with Xavier, Vanderbilt and Central Michigan.

As well as his sticky defence, Austin leads the Phoenix in scoring and rebounding, averaging 15.19 PPG and 6.14 RPG.

The Springfield native is a true star of the BBL.

Facing up to the task of quelling Austin’s effectiveness will be Riders’ own emerging star, Carrington Love.

The American has had a hand in everything good the Riders have done in recent weeks and is finding his feet in the BBL, following his mid-season move from Germany.

Now in a starting role at point guard, Love has been serving up more dishes than a restaurant, dropping 11.42 assists per 40 minutes.

He is the only player in the BBL to average over 10 in that category.

The Green Bay graduate also has an eye for the steal, bagging 2.97 per game during his senior year and setting a programme record in the process.

The victor in the battle between Austin and Love could well decide the fate of their respective teams.

Key matchup

The game will be streamed live on the British Basketball League channel, starting at 5:15 pm.

Thank you, Darien!

Darien Nelson-Henry has announced that he will retire from professional basketball following the 2022/23 season. 

In three and a half seasons, the Riders’ captain led the club to four pieces of silverware, including a treble last year. He was named to the BBL Team of the Year in 2021 and 2022, following back-to-back league titles. 

Nelson-Henry played seven professional seasons after a four-year college career at the University of Pennsylvania. He led Penn in scoring, rebounding and blocks as a senior on his way to an All-Ivy second-team selection.  

He led Lake Washington to their best-ever state tournament finish in high school. His successes earned him State 3A Player of the Year and King County MVP to cap off a lucrative senior year.

“As you can all imagine, a lot of thought has gone into my decision to retire after this season,” said Nelson-Henry. “Although my love for the game has not diminished, my priorities have changed, pushing me to seek new challenges. 

“I am so very appreciative for the opportunities that the Riders have offered me – not only with playing basketball, but also setting me up for a future beyond the arena. As a player and captain, it has been my pleasure to be a part of the Riders family. 

“The staff, the fans, the sponsors, and the community have truly made this a home away from home, and I cannot express my ultimate gratitude enough. Unfortunately, we have not won anything yet this season, but there is still one more on the table! 

“Despite that, the success I have shared with my teammates, coaches, and the entirety of Leicester comprise memories that will last my lifetime. Thank you all for everything, and go Riders!”

Head coach Rob Paternostro said: “Darien has not only been a great player for our club but a wonderful ambassador who has made an impact throughout the Leicester community.

“I have really enjoyed working with Darien. His talent, intelligence, and team-first attitude have been a driving force for all our success.” 

Managing Director Russell Levenston commented:

“Darien has been a fantastic ambassador for all things Riders basketball. A great player on the court and a tremendous figurehead for us off it.”

“He has represented our club amazingly well and we will miss having him here next season. We wish him all the best for the future and look forward to Darien leading us in the Playoffs this season.”

The club wishes Darien every success in all of his future endeavours. He retires as an integral part of the club’s history, and will forever remain part of the Riders family. 

Riders see out gritty win

The Riders battled for an 85-76 win against a stubborn Sheffield Sharks team, in a tightly contested game wire-to-wire.

Marc Loving led the game with 25 points and 10 rebounds, his double-double coming from 53% shooting from the field. He scored eight in the final quarter to see the game out. 

The Riders shot 47% from the field in an efficient shooting effort. The game was in the balance entering the fourth, but Leicester won the final period 28-21 to secure the win.

Four Sharks scored 12 points, led by Jalon Pipkins, who grabbed seven rebounds in the process. Pipkins electrified the game with his explosiveness at the rim, but his high-flying plays did not prove the difference for the Sharks. 

The win improves the Riders’ record to 25-10 with one game remaining in the BBL Championship season, securing the second-seed for the postseason. 

It was a gritty affair from the tip, with the sides managing 30 points between them through the opening quarter. The Riders led 16-14 through one after Loving’s corner three concluded the period.

Loving then got the second underway with another three, as the Riders stretched their lead to nine a minute in. His explosive jam midway through the period capped off an 11-2 start to the quarter.

The Riders’ offence stalled going into the locker rooms, producing two points in three minutes near the end of the half. This allowed Sheffield back into the game, cutting the Riders’ lead to three, but the hosts still had the lead by halftime, led by 12 points from Loving. 

The sides jockeyed for the lead throughout the third, with neither able to build a significant advantage. Kimbal Mackenzie scored seven points in under a minute to build Leicester’s momentum, and the score at the end of the third was 57-55 in their favour. 

The Riders played aggressively to start the final period, putting the Sharks in the bonus just three minutes in. They took advantage of this, finding their offensive form to jump out to a nine-point lead. 

They kept the Sharks at arm’s length throughout the rest of the quarter, as Loving’s eight points in the period led them to the win. Jalon Pipkins cut it to four for the visitors with a minute remaining, but Loving’s free throws put the seal on a hard-fought win. 

The Riders are back in action on Sunday, playing their final game before the postseason on the road against the Cheshire Phoenix. 

Class of 2023, Lamarana Diallo commits to Ellsworth Panthers and Ellsworth CC for the 2023/24 season.

Lamarana Diallo, 6’5 forward has committed to Iowa based Ellsworth Community College for the 2023/24 academic year. Diallo will continue his basketball journey within the Ellsworth Panthers Men’s Basketball programme in JUCO Division 2. 

Diallo, originally from Luton, joined the Charnwood Riders Academy in 2020 and was part of the EABL Championship side in 2022. During his time within the academy, Diallo has balanced his EABL and NBL Division 2 commitments alongside his academic studies at Charnwood College. 

Lamarana Diallo on his time within the Charnwood Riders Academy:

“Firstly, I want to thank God. Without God I wouldn’t be here today. I also want to thank my family and friends that been rocking with me from the start and who have helped me to achieve this amazing goal. I’m well aware that this opportunity doesn’t happen for everyone so I’m very grateful. I appreciate all my teammates for challenging me and making me better every day, I want to thank all the coaches that have helped me become the player/man that I am today. I’m thankful for the Charnwood Organisation for bringing me in and supporting my goals and aspirations. Now onto new and bigger things in the states. I’m grateful for this opportunity; I plan to make the most of it and give 100%.”

Charnwood Riders Academy Head Coach, Louis Chamberlain:

“Coaching Lamarana this year has been awesome! He’s brought a competitive spirit to the group every time he has stepped on to the floor. I can’t wait to see how he’s going to continue to develop in his next chapter.”

The club would like to wish Lamarana all the best for his move to the US and we look forward to seeing him progress his basketball career over the coming years.

BBL Championship Preview: Riders vs Sharks

The Riders will begin the final weekend of the BBL regular season on Friday when they host the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks.

Victory for Leicester should wrap up a second-place finish in the championship standings and will taste even sweeter after the 72-64 loss to Sheffield on March 24.

Riders’ Season So Far

The Riders currently sit in second place in the BBL standings on 48 points, just two points ahead of a Bristol Flyers squad they have battled with all season.

The narrow lead over Bristol came after Leicester willed their way to an 83-82 triumph in Manchester last Sunday.

The enthralling contest boiled down to one last play for Manchester, but Rahmon Fletcher’s drive to the basket was thwarted by a number of tireless Riders defenders, and he missed his shot.

Defeat to the Giants seemed entirely possible at half-time, Rob Paternostro’s men staring down a 12-point deficit, having only scored 31 in the first 20 minutes.

But with their coach’s impassioned words ringing in their ears, the Riders turned things around to claim a famous road win.

Point guard Carrington Love was ever-present (as he has been so often in recent weeks) dropping 17 points, snagging six rebounds and dishing out just as many assists.

His do-it-all display was backed up by the starting trio of Patrick Whelan, Zach Jackson and Darien Nelson-Henry, scoring 15, 13 and 10 points respectively.

Nelson-Henry, the Riders’ captain, bagged himself a double-double, matching his points haul with 10 rebounds.

The clutch victory was Leicester’s 24th on the season, taking their winning record to an impressive 24-10.

Sharks’ Season So Far

Much like the Riders’ last opponents, the Sharks are embroiled in a tight mid-table battle, tussling for playoff seedings with a 17-17 record.

Their form, however, has been good since the short winter break as they have manufactured an 11-6 record in all competitions.

One of the wins came against the runaway leaders in London and two came against the Riders, including a BBL Trophy quarter-final win at the Morningside Arena.

Sheffield pride themselves on a formidable defence that concedes 74.73 PPG, second only to the London Lions.

The Sharks’ smart defensive play sees them rarely get into foul trouble, and players like Devearl Ramsey pressure the opposition into mistakes. Since his arrival in Sheffield, Ramsey has been one of the most tenacious on-ball defenders in the league.

The Riders will need to keep things clean on offense if they are to defeat a team that has gotten the best of them more than once this season.

Key Players

Sheffield are a team that likes to play slowly and methodically on offense, backed up by their stifling play on the opposite end of the court.

One player that has broken that mould this season, especially when facing off against the Riders, is forward, Kipper Nichols.

The American has dropped double-digits on Leicester every time they have played this season, including 19 points in the BBL Trophy QF back in February.

The Ohio native is somewhat of a fan favourite up in Sheffield, having plied his trade there for three seasons.

Nichols is averaging 12.1 PPG, 3.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists. His ability to score inside will likely keep Zach Jackson and Marc Loving busy all night.

Sheffield’s defensive hustle makes it tough to see any clean looks at the basket, but they do slip to middle of the pack when it comes to giving up the deep ball.

Enter Patrick Whelan.

Whelan’s abilities from beyond the arc are well known, so look for them to be on show again come Friday night.

The Warrington-born guard is currently second in three-pointers made with 72. The Sharks only need to give him a glimpse of the basket and Whelan is likely to take the shot.

Whelan is averaging 13.7 PPG and shooting nearly 44% from deep.

There aren’t many chinks in Sheffield’s armour, but it’s a strong possibility that Patrick Whelan will find them.

Where to watch

Tip-off is at 7:45 pm at the Morningside Arena Leicester.

Get your tickets here!

The game will also be shown live on Sky Sports and streamed live on Sky Sports youtube, starting at 7:30 pm.

Riders secure clutch win

The Riders saw out a clutch 83-82 win in Manchester. 

The game came down to the final seconds after Kimbal Mackenzie put Leicester up one with a minute left. Manchester’s Rahmon Fletcher missed a tightly contested layup at the buzzer, as the Riders saw out a hard-fought win. 

Carrington Love led the team with 17 points, six assists and six rebounds, keeping the team in contention with key buckets in the fourth. 

The battle on the boards went a long way to deciding the game, as the Riders outrebounded the Giants 47-41, despite the absence of their GB big man Aaron Menzies.

For the Giants, Green led the game with 21 points, hitting big shots throughout in a back-and-forth battle. All of Manchester’s starters scored double-digit points, but could not get over the edge late. 

Leicester’s captain led the Riders out the blocks, as Darien Nelson-Henry scored six points inside three minutes. Former Rider William Lee countered with seven points of his own to keep Manchester in it, and nothing separated the sides through the early stages. 

It was 17-17 by the end of one, Lee’s seven leading the game. 

The Giants jumped out to a lead in the second period. The BBL’s third-leading scorer Dirk Williams caught fire to score 11, including three threes, to make it 32-20 four minutes into the quarter. 

Mackenzie responded for the Riders with back-to-back threes from the corner. He followed up his buckets with a midrange, his eight quick points snatching back momentum. 

The Riders remained within touching distance by the half. Mackenzie and Nelson-Henry had eight each going into the locker rooms, with the score 43-31 to Manchester. 

Leicester came out into the second half gunning. They scored 11 straight to cut it to one possession, capped off by Jackson’s two-handed slam on the fastbreak. 

Jackson took the lead for the Riders four minutes into the third, battling inside for two. With the Riders back in it, the score remained close going into the final period. The Giants found form to close, entering the fourth up 65-58. 

The Riders, once again, found a response. Whelan’s three cut it to one midway through the fourth, setting up a tense finale. 

Patrick Whelan, attacking the hoop for two, took the lead for the Riders with three minutes remaining. Following up his teammate, Mackenzie followed up the Giants’ response with a midrange pull-up, putting Leicester ahead with just 60 seconds remaining. 

It came down to Rahmon Fletcher in the final seconds, who drove to the hoop as the clock ticked down. Love contested at the rim along with Jubril Adekoya and Jackson, forcing the miss as the buzzer sounded. 

BBL Championship Preview: Riders at Giants

The Riders will complete a quickfire weekend turnaround as they travel north to Manchester to face the 17-17 Giants.

Coach Rob Paternostro’s squad haven’t seen Sunday’s opponents since February 17 and will want to make a strong statement against a team they may face in the upcoming BBL Playoffs.

Riders’ Season So Far

Travelling supporters should expect plenty of offensive flair in Manchester as was demonstrated during Friday night’s 111-68 demolition of the Plymouth City Patriots.

The Riders appeared to ball with a freedom that only comes when the entire team is enjoying their basketball – freedom that resulted in every player on the floor scoring points.

A 4th quarter alley-oop to a cutting Blake Bowman summed up Leicester’s performance in one play. Bowman rose weightlessly to the basket and stuck the jam with authority to get the Morningside Arena rocking.

In a game where big individual performances weren’t a necessity, Patrick Whelan and Kimbal Mackenzie stood out.

Whelan took full advantage of some soft defence to drain five three-pointers on his way to 22 points, while Mackenzie came off the bench to record an efficient 20-point game.

Mackenzie appears to be relishing in the sixth man role, bringing energy and leadership off the bench, shown by a +34 plus/minus on Friday night – the highest of any Rider.

No victory comes easily in the BBL, so Leicester will want to bottle this feeling and draw on it throughout the rigours of the playoffs.

The win over Plymouth sits the Riders in second place in the BBL standings, level on 46 points with the Bristol Flyers.

Giants’ Season So Far

Manchester have dipped a little in form recently, going 1-4 in their last five games, which has dropped them to 7th in the standings.

They currently sit level on 34 points with Sheffield and Cheshire, only two points behind Caledonia in 4th.

The mid-table log jam means that every game is crucial for the Giants, who will be hoping to enter the playoffs with as high a seeding as possible. Every team in the lower playoff places will be wanting to avoid a quarter final against the likes of London, Leicester and Bristol.

Friday night’s trip to Sheffield wasn’t a successful one, the Giants falling 80-71 without ever having a lead in the game.

It was an uncharacteristically poor offensive performance by Manchester, who have the most prolific attack in the BBL, averaging 90.14 PPG.

The Giants play fast and rarely miss an opportunity to score the ball early in the shot clock. The Riders will want to tighten up and force ill-advised shots as the 24 seconds runs down.

Defensively is where the Giants show chinks in their armour.

They are currently allowing over 90 PPG to the opposition, the most of any team in the championship.

If the Riders can play like they did on Friday, expect another three-digit scoring output.

Key Players

When game planning for the Giants there are two names to focus heavily on – Dirk Williams and Tajh Green.

A veteran of the BBL, Williams is averaging an impressive 19.46 PPG and is by far the best three-point shooter on his team.

The 28-year-old shooting guard has scoring in his DNA, and has only been held to less than 10 points on two occasions this season.

His 35-point manhandling of the London Lions on April 9 shows how dangerous he can be.

Fresh out of college, Green is a double-double machine, averaging 19 PPG and 9.5 RPG on the season.

A star of Benedict College in NCCA Division 2, the high-flyer has been ever-present for Manchester since he arrived last summer.

Going toe-to-toe with the Giants’ talented duo will be Patrick Whelan and Marc Loving, both supremely gifted in their own right.

The 6’5” Whelan will be there to answer any deep ball Dirk Williams hits with one of his own, matching him on the season with a 44% hit rate from three-point land.

Whelan routinely drops most of his points from downtown, so we could be in store for a heat check battle come Sunday.

Not afraid of the long shot himself is the silky-smooth Marc Loving.

Loving is coming back from a wrist injury sustained a couple of weeks ago, but looked sharp on Friday against the Patriots.

He will have his hands full with the athletic Green, but the former’s guile and experience could see him win that battle.

Back in February, the Riders held Williams and Green to 15 and 14 points, respectively.

Expect more of the same come Sunday evening.

Where to watch

The game will be streamed live on the BBL Official youtube channel, starting at 4:45 pm.

Riders record dominant win

The Riders won 111-68 in a dominant win against the Plymouth City Patriots.

Patrick Whelan hit five threes to lead the team with 22 points. He hit two triples early, getting the GB sharpshooter in a rhythm to lead the team to a blowout. 

The Riders bolted out to a lead in the second, winning the period 33-18. That proved the difference in the game, as they did not look back the rest of the way, building their advantage until the finish. 

They shot 50% from three and 56% from the field in a hot offensive performance. Defensively, the Riders suffocated their opponents into 22 turnovers in a complete effort on both ends. 

For the Patriots, former Riders Hassan led the game with 25, getting it done inside to go 12-19 from two. The Patriots had two 20-point scorers between Hassan and Jules Dang Akodo, but managed just 48 points in three quarters as they fell in a hole. 

The win improves the Riders’ record to 23-10 as they look to hold on to second in the BBL Championship.  

Plymouth hit their first three deep shots to take an early lead. Ralph Bissainthe’s two early buckets secured their narrow advantage in a back-and-forth start. 

The Riders went on a 13-4 run to end the first to take the lead into the quarter’s end. Patrick Whelan’s eight points led the game, his two threes getting the game off to a hot start. 

Aaron Menzies battled down low for eight points to get the Riders going in the second quarter. The GB big man dominated his matchup against Rashad Hassan, which saw the Riders stretch their lead to double digits. 

Menzies’ play inside opened up the perimeter for Leicester shooters, allowing them to go 6-13 from three in the first half. Three of these came from Whelan, who had 14 points going into the locker rooms. 

The Riders won the second period 33-18, taking a 23-point lead into the half. 

Buckets were traded to start the third, the Riders maintaining their dominant lead. All the Patriots’ field goals in the period came in the paint as they looked to build from the inside. 

The Riders began to grow their lead once again to close the third. Kimbal Mackenzie’s midrange jump shot capped off a 10-2 run, which made the lead 28. 

They saw it out professionally in the final period, which they won 30-20. Blake Bowman took the roof off with a monster alley-oop finish, sending the Riders fans home happy. 

The Riders are back in action on Sunday, taking on the Manchester Giants on the road. 

BBL Championship Preview: Riders vs Patriots

The Riders will play their penultimate home game of the season this Friday as they welcome the Plymouth City Patriots to Morningside Arena for the second time in a couple of weeks.

Both teams have plenty to play for as the visiting Patriots want to cement a playoff place, and Coach Rob’s squad will want to make second place their own.

Riders’ Season So Far

Following last weekend’s 87-78 victory against the always competitive Newcastle Eagles, Leicester sit in second place in the BBL championship, level on 44 points with the Bristol Flyers.

The Riders have slowly been reeling in their western rivals during March and April and keeping the loss column at 10 will be of high priority in the remaining couple of weeks.

As will the desire for a winning mentality heading into the post-season, something the team drew on to see off adversity in the Eagles game.

Newcastle dominated the first quarter, deservedly heading into the second boasting a 23-11 lead. The Riders were able to staunch the bleeding in the second, without doing much to address the double-digit deficit.

Then, the second half happened.

Led by an inspirational 35 minutes from Zach Jackson, Leicester rode the wave of excitement sent by the home crowd and surpassed their rivals.

Jackson, who seems to be peaking at exactly the right time, dropped 29 points on an eye-watering 76% FG percentage. Helped by Carrington Love (13 assists) who was throwing more dishes than a circus performer, the guard/forward put the Riders on his back.

Both Jackson and the rest of the Riders’ squad will know that a repeat of those numbers may be needed in the playoffs.

Patriots’ Season So Far

After winning against the Surrey Scorchers and surrendering a first half lead to Caledonia, the Patriots fell to a frustrating 85-80 loss at the hands of the Gladiators.

Despite getting double-digit scoring from four of their key players, Plymouth sit in the final playoff place with an 11-21 record after the loss.

The Patriots hold a six-point cushion over the Eagles, but with Newcastle’s form improving towards the end of the season, it is still all to play for.

Rather poetically, the Patriots face the Eagles in the final game of the season, which could be a winner-take-all classic.

The latest loss against the Glaswegians came despite a brilliant 18-point, 11-rebound effort by experienced center, Rashad Hassan.

Hassan’s 15.3 pts and 6.7 REBs season averages more than prove him to still be one of the best big men in the BBL, and Plymouth’s lynchpin.

Key Players

The names of Zach Jackson and Rashad Hassan have rightfully already been discussed in this preview, but beyond their talents, the role players will be tussling for supremacy.

Coming off the bench, both Riders’ Jubril Adekoya and Patriots’ Otas Iyekekpolor bring an extra dimension to the court.

The powerful Adekoya is a big who can do everything well. Whether it be scoring down low – the forward is hitting 57.1% of his attempts from that area – boxing out fellow ‘bigs’, or dishing a couple of flashy assists, Adekoya causes problems for the opposition.

He has even found some range this season, knocking down over 50% of his three-pointers when he takes them from a central position.

The rangy Iyekekpolor is a player from a different mould to Adekoya but equally as effective.

More at home hitting mid-rangers and from three than twisting and turning down low, the 6’8 Canadian is hitting 60% from the centre three area.

He is also active on the glass, pulling down 4.25 rebounds per game, including an impressive 12 in his BBL debut back on March 12.

Neither of these players are headliners, but when they inevitably share the court on Friday night, the clash of styles will be a joy to watch.

The winner of that battle could turn the momentum of a game in their team’s favour.

The Riders know well the power of momentum after last week’s comeback win over the Eagles.

Where to watch

The game tips off at the Morningside Arena, Leicester at 7:45 pm.

Get your tickets here!

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

Riders win a close encounter

The Riders saw out a hard-fought 87-78 win against the Newcastle Eagles, winning the fourth quarter 27-17 to see it out. 

It improves them to 22-10, as they move level on points with the second-placed Bristol Flyers. 

Zach Jackson led the game’s scoring with 29 points, leading a comeback after the Riders fell down 10 in the first quarter. The Eagles had two 20-point scorers in the game in Javion Hamlet and David Cohn, but did not have enough firepower to get over the hump. 

The Riders shot 48% from the field and 39% from three in an efficient offensive display. They dished 25 assists in a complete team performance, led by 13 from point guard Carrington Love. 

The Eagles got off to a better start, building a 10-2 lead from the tip. Four of their starters got on the board early to jump out to an advantage. They carried their lead through the quarter, and led by David Cohn’s six points they were up 23-11 by the buzzer. 

Aaron Menzies took charge of the Riders’ scoring load in the second period, sinking back-to-back baskets. He played aggressively throughout the quarter to jumpstart the offence. 

The Eagles maintained their double-digit advantage, however. Cohn continued to hit big shots throughout, running the game from the point. They led 49-39 going into the locker rooms, leaving Leicester with work to do. 

A 5-0 start to the second half got the Riders straight back in it. Jackson’s three, for his 18th points of the night, got the run underway, setting up the comeback. 

The Riders continued their run to take their first lead of the game through Jackson’s turnaround hook shot. 

The sides traded baskets to finish off the third, setting up a tightly contested finale. Javion Hamlet concluded the third with free throws to make it 61-60 to the visitors. 

The Riders edged ahead in the fourth through Evan Walshe’s five quick points off the bench. His energy fired up the Leicester offence as they pulled away late. 

Walshe baskets kicked off a 9-0 run, which Jackson concluded with a banked-in midrange to force an Eagles timeout. 

Out of the timeout, Newcastle fought back. Javion Hamlet made free throws to cap off the response, cutting it to a one-possession game. 

But the Riders saw the game out in the clutch. They hit back with 10 straight points, kicked off by a bucket from Carrington Love. A Jackson corner three iced it, seeing out a hard-fought game. 

The Riders return to action on Friday, facing the Plymouth City Patriots at home.

Get your tickets here!

Retro night preview: Riders vs Eagles

Today sees the Riders return to Morningside Arena after their southern road trip to tip off against the Newcastle Eagles.

Leicester have the chance to go equal on points with Bristol in the BBL championship, after both teams suffered defeat on Friday night.

Sunday’s contest will carry added flavour for fans as it is one of this season’s ‘Retro Nights’. Old school tunes will be playing, BBL legends will be making an appearance and the Riders will be donning their 1987 jersey’s worn during the first ever BBL Championship.

It promises to be a fantastic celebration of the club’s history.

Riders’ Season So Far

Friday proved to be an exhilarating yet ultimately frustrating night for the Riders, who came back from a 20-point deficit to push the London Lions to the final shot in an 83-81 loss.

Leicester’s players proved their resilience and had the chance to send the game to overtime in the final seconds, but Carrington Love’s shot bounced off the rim at the buzzer.

The starting point guard led the team in scoring on the night, racking up 17 points and six assists in an all-action, attacking display.

With Marc Loving sidelined through injury, Blake Bowman answered the call to start at forward. The young Brit performed well, dropping five late points after a solid defensive display in which he pulled down six rebounds, snagged one steal and rose for a block.

Strong bench performances came from Kimbal Mackenzie and Evan Walshe, both notching double-digit point totals.

Despite sustaining their 10th loss of the season, the Riders will feel confident that they can go toe-to-toe with the best the BBL has to offer during the final stretch of the season.

Eagles’ Season So Far

Newcastle’s record sits at 8-23 after Friday’s 82-71 loss in Sheffield to the in-form Sharks. The Eagles allowed Sheffield to build a double-digit lead early and were simply unable to claw their way back into the game.

Kyle Johnson had a great day ball-in-hand, putting up 26 points at a 64% clip, but the Eagles lacked much support from their bench.

Lack of offensive firepower that performs consistently has affected the Eagles for most of the season.

They have the players on court to trouble any team in the BBL – they just need to put it all together more often, especially now the chance is there to catch Plymouth in the last playoff position.

The recent two-game series between the Eagles and the Riders was split one apiece.

Leicester know that a full 40-minute performance is needed to see off Newcastle’s challenge.

Key Players

Currently, no player is catching the eye on the Eagles’ roster as much as the aforementioned Kyle Johnson.

The guard has dropped over 15 points in his last four outings including the 26 he posted against the Sharks.

Standing at 6’5”, the Brit brings power and athleticism to the guard position, as well as a tenacity that has seen him snag over 10 rebounds in a game when playing at small forward.

A player with the size, strength and attitude to match up against Johnson is the Riders’ action man, Zach Jackson.

Jackson has the tools to go basket-for-basket with Johnson, something he has demonstrated over the last three games where he is averaging over 20 PPG.

The 6’7” American combines speed with a soft touch and – at his best – is possibly the most devastating scorer in the BBL.

Fans attending the Morningside arena on Sunday can’t predict the result. What they can predict is that Jackson and Johnson could have an almighty battle of buckets.

Where to watch

The game will be streamed live on the British Basketball League youtube channel, starting at 3:45 pm.

Riders fall just short on the road

The Riders lost a close one at the Copperbox, falling 83-81 to the London Lions.

A 20-point comeback in the second quarter saw the Riders surge back into the game, but they couldn’t get over the hump to end it. 

Carrington Love had a chance to tie it on the buzzer but didn’t find the basket through contact. 

Love led the team with 17 points and six assists in the game, finding success driving to hoop to go 5-7 from two. He was backed by Evan Walshe off the bench who scored 14, leading the comeback with 13 in the first half. 

Defence set the tone in the opening stages, as the teams combined for six points in the opening three minutes. In this stretch, the Riders held London to two points before they went on a run to build a lead. 

The Lions’ threes started to fall as they went up 16-9. Josh Ward-Hibbert’s shot capped off the run, their fourth triple of the game. 

The Riders got to the free throw line effectively to remain in the game. They went 9-11 from the foul stripe in the opening quarter, led by Walshe’s 6-7. 

However, all but one Lion found their way onto the scoresheet, the hosts ending the first period up 14 led by Luke Nelson’s nine. 

Walshe and Jackson connected for threes early in the second to find the Riders’ offensive rhythm. Walshe led the game with 13 half way through the quarter as Leicester chipped into the lead. 

Jackson cut the defecit to nine with free throws with two minutes remaining in the half. The Riders held the Lions to two points in five minutes to charge back into the game, going on a 24-3 run to end the half. 

Leicester won the second period 32-17 to make it a game. The run, capped off by Jubril Adekoya’s three which saw the Riders take the lead into halftime. 

Neither side broke out to a lead to start the second, as the score remained within a possession through the first four minutes. The Lions edged out to a four point advantage through a 6-0 run midway through the third, but their momentum was stopped through a Kimbal Mackenzie three. 

London finsihed the third strongest, stretching their lead to six, but Mackenzie and Blake Bowman concluded the quarter with free throws to make it 68-65.

The sides, once again, traded buckets in the fourth, neither able to break away. The Lions built a seven point lead five minutes in, but the Riders hit big shots to keep in it. 

Midway through the period, Olumiye Oni fouled out after finding continual success finding the basket in the fourth. The Riders capatilised, as Jackson cut it back to three on the fastbreak. 

Jackson then fouled out also, forcing the Riders to see the game out without their star forward. 

And they almost did, the game coming down to the final shot. Love drove inside but couldn’t hit his layup which would have sent it to overtime. 

The Riders are back in action on Sunday, hosting the Newcastle Eagles. 

BBL Championship Preview: Riders at Lions

The Riders will play the second game of their southern road trip on Friday as they tip off against the championship-leading London Lions.

Leicester hopes to continue a late-season winning streak with victory over the Lions, who recently lost to a Bristol squad that the Riders beat handily last week.

Riders’ Season So Far

After a three-game week in which the Riders scored victories over Bristol and Plymouth (twice), they have had the luxury of a full week of practice to get ready for London.

Last week’s results should ensure confidence and morale is high throughout the squad, and the 99-85 triumph over the Patriots on Sunday afternoon demonstrates that.

Now sitting at 21-9, the Riders knew that defeating Plymouth would keep them in the driving seat for second place with the Flyers.

Zach Jackson led the scoring for the second time in as many games, dropping 24 points in a smooth display where he shot 100% from the free throw line.

The Patriots are one of the more foul-heavy teams in the championship and Jackson took advantage, hitting all eight of his FT attempts.

Patrick Whelan supplemented Jackson’s scoring efforts with a hard-earned 15, and Jubril Adekoya had a nice night of his own.

Standing out every time his trainers touched the pine, the strong forward flashed his way to seven points, five rebounds and two assists.

Lions’ Season So Far

The London Lions’ season has undoubtedly been a success.

With last week’s win against Surrey, the Lions clinched the league title, currently holding a 10-point lead after amassing an impressive record of 27-4.

Despite the deserved accomplishment, London come into their game vs Leicester off the back of a loss – an 87-82 defeat at the hands of the Bristol Flyers.

In an exciting game that needed overtime to decide a winner, London went back and forth with the hometown Flyers before fading in the last minutes of OT.

American guard Jordan Taylor was the pick of the London players, knocking down six shots on his way to 19 points.

Taylor was a bright spark in an uncharacteristically disjointed display by the Lions, who were dominated on the glass, allowing the Flyers to snag 54 rebounds.

London are the best rebounding team in the BBL, so expect that issue to be fixed when they meet the Riders this Friday.

Much like their hustle to get to a missed shot, the Lions put everything into forcing the opposition to work hard on the offensive side of the ball.

London are the best in the BBL at getting a hand in the eye-line of scorers, currently boasting the lowest FG% against them for both 2-point and 3-point shooting.

The Riders know that clever off-the-ball movement and crisp passing will be crucial if they want to unlock London’s defence.

Key Players

If Leicester want to stop London, they need to limit the effectiveness of their ball distributors.

The previously mentioned Jordan Taylor and his British fellow guard, Luke Nelson, are two of the most prolific in the BBL when finding the killer pass.

The two backcourt generals are respectively dishing out 8.64 and 8.17 assists per 40 minutes which is good for second and third in the championship.

This combination of vision, passing ability and the movement of the shooters means that lockdown on-ball defence is crucial.

If the Riders can direct Taylor and Nelson into trouble, they have a chance of stopping the pass before it has left a hand.

One player the Riders can lean on when they need a key defensive stop is 6’1” guard, Carrington Love.

The American is currently pilfering 1.46 steals per game and is one of the best at picking his opponent’s pocket in the league.

Love has been a hugely influential presence for the Riders over the past couple of weeks, churning out energetic performances full to the brim with flashy assists and tenacious defence.

He and the rest of the Riders will have to be at their defensive best if they want to slow the Lions’ ball movement and force low-percentage shots.

The prospect of second place in the championship will be more than enough motivation to hit that goal.

Where to watch

The game will be streamed live on the BBL official youtube channel, starting at 7:15 pm.

Academy Trials 2023

Following the conclusion of the 2022/23 NBL season we’re now focusing our attending on preparation for the new season. We’re hosting trials for new players on both our boys and girls teams on the last 2 weeks of June at the Morningside Arena.

U12 & 14s – Saturday 17th June, 10am-3pm @ Morningside Arena

Successful players will be invited to attend the next stage of trials on Sunday 18th June 10am-3pm at Morningside Arena.

U16s & 18s – Saturday 24th June, 10am-3pm @ Morningside Arena

Successful players will be invited to attend the next stage of trials on Sunday 25th June 10-3 at Morningside Arena.

If you are looking to trial CLICK HERE to book your place.

Riders pick up road win

The Riders beat the Plymouth City Patriots 99-85 on the road. They took a double-digit lead in the first quarter and never surrendered their advantage to improve to 21-9. 

Zach Jackson led the team for the second straight game, scoring 24 points after putting up 28 on Friday. He was followed up by Marc Loving’s 22 points and eight rebounds, but the Ohio-born forward played just 25 minutes after picking up a wrist injury in the third period. 

It was an efficient display from the visitors, who shot 50% from the field and went 25-27 from the free-throw line. Loving went 4-6 from three to stretch the lead, which the Riders saw home professionally.

The win sees them claim second place in the BBL Championship standings in the final month of the regular season. 

The Patriots’ Elvisi Dusha’s 19 points were not enough to win the tie, as the hosts missed 10  foul shots in the game. That proved the difference, as Plymouth now sit just two wins ahead of the Newcastle Eagles in the final playoff spot after their win this afternoon. 

The Riders jumped out to a lead early through a hot offensive start. They looked to get out in transition, running the fastbreak often to score plenty of points in the first. Leicester ended the quarter up 25-16, led by Patrick Whelan and Jackson who had six points each. 

Kimbal Mackenzie took over the scoring load to start the second with back-to-back threes.

Little separated the sides through the period. Former Rider Rashad Hassan found success finishing at the rim to keep his side in it, but the Riders were up going into the locker rooms after Loving’s 12-point half. 

The Patriots had the better start to the second half, cutting it to a one-possession game after a fastbreak slam from James Hawthorne Jr. The Leicester response was immediate, and Jackson’s drive to the rim capped off a 5-0 run from the visitors to rebuild their lead. 

The three ball started to fall for Leicester, as Loving and Whelan hit in to make it a 14-point advantage. Meanwhile, Jackson got himself to the free throw line consistently to keep the scoreboard ticking over. 

The Patriots also got to the foul stripe, shooting eight free throws in the third quarter to stay in it. Blake Bowman drove to the hoop for Leicester to put them up 11 with one to play. 

Jubril Adekoya took over the game with his playmaking ability to start the fourth. He dished a pair of no-look assists to get the Riders’ offence hot. 

After Adekoya got them going, the Riders comfortably saw the game out to secure their third win on the bounce. He went for six points, two assists and two rebounds in the fourth to see it home. 

The Riders remain on the road for their next fixture, taking on the London Lions on April 7.

BBL Championship Preview: Riders at Patriots

The Riders begin the final month of the regular season with a long trip south-west to play the Plymouth City Patriots.

Confidence should be high throughout the squad that they can conquer the quick turnaround between games and build off a superb performance against Bristol as well as Tuesday’s win over the Patriots.

Riders’ Season So Far

Following last night’s statement win over the Bristol Flyers, Leicester have closed the gap on second place, sitting just two points behind Friday’s opponents with a 20-9 record.

The 106-89 scoreline does nothing to flatter the Riders’ players, who played with a focus and desire that saw them put on arguably their best game of the season.

Most of the pre-game talk concerned the battle on the boards, with Bristol coming into the game as the best offensive rebounding team in the BBL.

The Riders met the challenge head on, outrebounding the visitors 35-34, allowing maximum opportunity for the shooters to do what they do best.

And they did.

Four Riders dropped 16 points or more with most of the offensive firepower coming at the hand of wing, Zach Jackson.

The third-year Rider scored a season-high 28 points in a powerful display in which he hit 75% of his field goals. Something about the Flyers must light a fire inside Jackson, who tallied the same number of points in a season’s best performance against Bristol last season.

Kimbal Mackenzie, Marc Loving and Patrick Whelan also had their eye in, but accurate shooters are nothing if the ball doesn’t find them.

Enter Carrington Love, who racked up 10 assists and was only one point short of a double-double.

Love’s court awareness and ability to find the right pass may be crucial tomorrow afternoon in a game that will surely be a test of the Riders’ ability to think clearly when stamina is low.

Patriots’ Season So Far

Plymouth are too having to navigate a three-game week, losing to the Manchester Giants 109-69 on Friday after Tuesday’s narrow defeat by the Riders.

The Patriots’ poor run of form has continued since their recent visit to Leicester, but confidence should be buoyed by the chance to play at home where they recorded their last win on February 19.

The 40-point defeat to Manchester was a game that escaped Plymouth’s clutches after the first quarter, so revisiting their narrow 92-89 loss to the Riders is a better game to judge the test that they will present Leicester tomorrow.

With better accuracy from the free throw line, it was a game that the Patriots could have won after attacking Leicester on the inside.

Plymouth took nearly double the number of 2-point shots as the Riders, hitting 47.14% of them which resulted in 48 points in the paint.

The front court duo of Rashad Hassan and Otas Iyekekpolor had good success, knocking down 35 points between them.

This strategy to utilise the big men inside the paint nearly worked for Plymouth last time.

Leicester need to be ready for more of the same.

Key Players

When previewing Tuesday’s game vs Plymouth, the focus was on the well-documented talents of center, Rashad Hassan.

The former Rider lived up to his reputation, dropping 21 points in a dominant display on the inside.

Today, a man still getting used to the BBL is under the microscope: Otas Iyekekpolor.

The 6’8” Canadian has only played five games in the UK’s premier basketball competition but has already shown flashes as an effective rebounder and deadly three-point shooter.

Plymouth typically like to hit shots in the paint, but Iyekekpolor helps them spread the floor as an outside threat, currently hitting 55.56% of his shots from beyond the arc.

He isn’t the primary scoring outlet yet, but don’t be surprised to see him pull up from deep at least four or five times.

Rather than fighting fire with fire against the Patriots’ big men, the Riders could well want to use their guards.

A player like Patrick Whelan could easily have a big game against a Plymouth squad that gives up the most three-pointers of any team in the championship.

Whelan, who is currently in the BBL’s top five for three-point shooting percentage with 44.37%, should relish the opportunity to launch from deep as he may be given more space than usual.

The Patriots are also giving opposing teams a lot of chances at the free throw line, so expect Whelan and the all-action Kimbal Mackenzie to drive to the basket when given half a lane.

Both players are swishing over 85% of their free throws.

A higher FT% proved crucial the last time these teams met. It could be a deciding factor yet again.

Where to watch

The game will be streamed live on the BBL Official youtube, starting at 2:45 pm.