The Riders battled out a road win against the Manchester Giants in last night’s British Basketball League Championship action.
Here’s what we can take from the win…
Defence Wins Championships
A hallmark of Rob Paternostro’s sides is suffocating and stifling defence, and that was on full display last night.
The Riders entered the game with the second-highest points allowed per game in the British Basketball League (89) but went on the road and held their opponents to under 80 points for just the third time this season.
Their intense ball pressure forced 22 turnovers out of the Giants, allowing them to show their speed in the full court and get buckets on the break.
Manchester were held to 42% from the field and 22% from three against the Riders’ defence.
“Defence was the name of the game, and we are really happy with what we held them to,” said Paternostro postgame.
“We really ground them out, and we thought it was important to stop them running the fastbreak. They’re a team that likes to run, and we got bodies back and defended.”
Captain Kimbal finds form
Kimbal Mackenzie has made an impact on the scoring column on back-to-back performances, finding scoring form as we approach the midpoint of the season.
The GB international scored 16 points on 5-9 shooting, going 2-3 from deep and pulling down 4 rebounds.
This came off the back of a 19-point outing against the Gladiators last time out, making it two straight games where he has ranked second in the team in points behind the red-hot Teddy Allen.
“I’m just being aggressive and being myself,” said Mackenzie when asked about his recent scoring form.
“When I’m looking to score everything else opens up, and my teammates trust me to make plays.”
Winning on the road
Having lost the last seven games on the road, the Riders were in need of an away win to build momentum going into the new year.
They did so in confident fashion, leading for the entirety of the second half in a game that was in little doubt in the fourth quarter against a team that had won their last three at home.
“It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but to come on the road and beat Manchester who have been playing really well at home was a good win,” added Mackenzie.
“We were pretty gritty. Our effort and attention to detail was good tonight, and we hung in there and did what we had to do.”
The Riders now return home to the Morningside Arena Leicester for back-to-back games, looking to bring their record to above .500 to start 2024.
“We needed a road win,” said Paternostro. “We’ve been in a lot of close games where we haven’t got the job done, so that was really important.
“Now we’re looking forward to getting back to the Morningside. We want that place rocking on the 28th!”
The Riders face the Bristol Flyers next on December 28. Get your tickets here!