The Riders punched their ticket to the British Basketball League Trophy Final Four, after beating the Newcastle Eagles in a win-or-go-home matchup.
The team has built momentum in recent weeks, putting in good performances in high-pressure matchups to progress out of Group B.
Here’s what we learned from the group phase…
The Riders are rolling
The Riders have hit a rich vein of form in the Trophy, winning by an average margin of 17.6 points on their way to a 3-1 record.
Their loss came to the league-leading Lions on the road, but they bounced back emphatically with consecutive wins to progress to the final four.
The Riders did so by making the most of every possession. They rank second in assists, second in scoring and third in field goal percentage through the Trophy phase, led by scoring savant Teddy Allen.
Allen leads all scorers in the Trophy through four games with a 21.5 average. His gravitational pull on offence has opened up the court for all of the Riders scorers, allowing them to click into gear as they go for silverware.
The team are peaking at the right time, and will take confidence in their performances heading into Birmingham.
Strength in depth
Leicester’s bench is what saw them to their momentous win against the Newcastle Eagles last night, mustering 37 points from the sideline.
They have six scorers averaging double-digit points in the Trophy, but no one has impressed more of late than big man Samuel Idowu.
Idowu led the charge out of the gate in Newcastle, going off for 12 first-quarter points and 17 on the game. He is the team’s second-leading scorer in the competition behind Allen, with an average of 13.8.
“It was a real team effort. We have guys giving contributions all over the court,” said Head Coach Rob Paternostro after the win against the Eagles.
“We’re pretty deep now, we have guys in every position, and we’re locked in. We’re especially locked in on the defensive end, which has been a real positive for us recently.”
Defence wins championships
As has been the trend for Paternosto teams over the last decade, the Riders have hung their hat on their defence.
They lead the Trophy in blocks, with 6.3 per game, led by TJ Lall’s 1.5 per outing, laying down a gauntlet at the rim and forcing teams to shoot over them from deep.
Another strength of the team is closing defensive possessions. The Riders rank second in the Trophy in defensive rebounding with 30 a game, allowing their opposition little opportunity for second chance points.
The Riders’ defence will need to remain locked in should they want to lift the silverware in Birmingham.
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