Blake Bowman: “I want to be a part of something great”

Last summer, highly touted young British star Blake Bowman put pen to paper to join the Leicester Riders. 

Now a second-year Rider, Bowman’s performances early in the year have caught the attention of coaches, players and fans alike. 

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He was instrumental in the Riders’ season opener in getting the team back into the tie, hitting two big three-point shots which saw the team cut it to one possession. 

His improved shooting from distance is the result of hours on the practice court.

“I was working with the coaching staff on the basics,” said Bowman. “There wasn’t too much to change from my form, but we worked on hand position and rhythm. 

“I worked on it each day before and after practice and carried on during the summer. Being able to focus on it more during the summer was really helpful. There was no practice, so I could really put in the hours. 

“It’s a result of a lot of hard work for a long time, and I feel like I have a better feeling for finding the hoop.”

Bowman is feeling the benefits of the step up into professional basketball. Surrounded by professional coaches and elite players has allowed him to expand his knowledge of the game. 

“It made me realise how much there is to know about basketball. Learning from Coach Rob and the veterans we had made me understand the game at a deeper level.

“It’s not every day you meet people with such a great understanding of the game, so I see it as my responsibility to pick their brain.”

Bowman’s play has earned him a larger role and more opportunities. And a change from the backcourt to the frontcourt has helped him feel more comfortable in his role.  

“I’m shooting the shots I’m supposed to be taking, and I feel more involved in the offence. Playing from the two to the four is very similar in our system. Going to the four has given me more responsibility in the offence and allowed me to focus on the areas of the game I do best.”

But, of course, that takes nothing away from what the Derby Trailblazers did for Bowman before his arrival in Leicester. He played through their youth system since their Under-10s, growing up with the team and winning silverware in his final season in the L Lynch Trophy. 

“It was a family. I grew up with the team, went to college with them and won a trophy with them in my final year. We’d all been together for so long, so to win something together was amazing. Not many people can say they’ve won a trophy with their best friends.

“Head Coach Matt Shaw did a lot for me in giving me the opportunity to play and make mistakes. He’s a great guy that I can talk to about anything.”

His affiliations with Derby made his relationship with the Riders programme a competitive one growing up. 

Despite his family ties with the club, his father Barry Bowman and Uncle Marc Hawley both suiting up for the Riders in the past, he saw them as a rival after his battles with Charnwood College. 

“Being from Derby and growing up playing for them, I had a rivalry with Charnwood my whole life! My teammates were happy for me, but they definitely pulled my leg about moving here. But it was definitely a great decision!”

In year two, and with a brand new group surrounding Bowman, the goal remains the same: contribute to winning basketball in any way he can. 

“I don’t have personal goals when it comes to numbers. The work I put in will show, and I want to contribute to winning. I want to be a part of something great.”

Want to see Bowman in action?

Get tickets to our next home fixture!

3 things we learned from Riders vs Patriots

Leicester Riders secured their first victory of the season on Friday, beating the Plymouth City Patriots 88-81. 

Here’s what we can take from the fixture.

Riders have heart 

The Riders had to dig deep in the game, coming back from a double-digit deficit to get one in the win column. 

The score was 61-51 in the visitor’s favour with five minutes remaining in the third, before Miryne Thomas’ three kick-started a run that would see Leicester take their first lead since the opening quarter two minutes into the fourth. 

It was a closely fought encounter down the stretch, as the Riders demonstrated their composure in the clutch to see the game out. 

After having difficulty putting the ball in the hoop through the first three quarters, Leicester captain Kimbal Mackenzie found form when it mattered, leaning on his experience to see out the win from the free-throw line. 

Head Coach Rob Paternostro’s side demonstrated their ability not only to fight back into a game but to see it out in the clutch. 

Success attacking the basket

During the comeback, the Riders found success in close, driving and attacking the hoop to get points on the board. In the fourth quarter, 18 of their 29 points came at the rim, and eight at the free throw line. 

High-flying Blake Bowman set the tone, using his speed and athleticism to find a way to the teeth of Plymouth’s defence and finish strong. The Riders have players up and down the roster who can find holes in defences, opening them up with dribble penetration. 

Combined with the post-play of Samuel Idowu, Bralen Bridges and TJ Lall, who allowed Leicester to dump the ball down low and let them go to work, the Riders found consistent methods of keeping the scoreboard ticking over. 

Asberry’s impact

Making his professional debut, Caleb Asberry returned to the gameday squad after missing the season opener through injury. 

Asberry made his presence known, playing a pivotal role in the lineup that got the Riders back into the game.

Subbing in with 3:52 left in the third, the Riders went 26-15 until Asberry’s exit from the tie with 3:12 left in the game. His layup early in the fourth cut it to one, and his ability to hunt down loose balls and secure rebounds was on full display. 

The 6’3” guard grabbed four rebounds in 13 minutes of action, injecting the energy and effort the Riders needed to come back and win the tie. 

“I thought Asberry gave us some really good minutes. He hasn’t played in a while, and defensively he was really solid,” said Paternostro after the game. 

“Caleb adds a lot. He’s quick, and he wins the ball. When the ball is loose, he has a talent for finding it. He can really shoot and make plays on the other end. He was in the lineup that turned the game around.”

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home fixture!

Last season’s matchups: Plymouth City Patriots

The Riders face off against the Plymouth City Patriots on Friday for their second game of the season, looking to even up their record at 1-1. 

Here, we look back at last season’s series between the two sides. 

Season sweep

The Riders took the season sweep against the Patriots last year, winning all four of their games against the South Westerners. 

Kimbal Mackenzie in particular had success in the matchup, putting up two 20-point scoring nights, including a 23-point and seven-assist performance in late March. 

Leicester averaged over 100 points against the Patriots last season, Rob Paternostro’s side finding the holes in Plymouth’s defence consistently. 

They concluded the season against Plymouth with a 111-68 win, with Mackenzie putting up 20 points in the game. 

Nailbiting finish

The Riders needed every point of Mackenzie’s 23-point outing in March, as the Riders and Patriots played out a game wire-to-wire. 

It was a 92-89 Leicester win at the Morningside Arena come the final buzzer, with the game was in the balance throughout. 

Mackenzie finished the fixture with a pair of free throws to put the Riders up three, before Elivis Dusha’s three-point attempt was blocked by Marc Loving to conclude the action. 

But Plymouth’s Rashad Hassan who put a late scare into his former team with a minute left, making a layup to cut it to one and coming up with a block on the next possession to give the Patriots a chance to take a late lead. 

The Riders saw the game out through a clutch steal from Jubril Adekoya and Mackenzie’s free throws, and went on to secure second place in the league table. 

Battle of the backcourt

This season featured revamped rosters on both sides, making Friday’s action a different task for the Riders than they faced last season. 

The matchup in the backcourt remains the same, however, as Mackenzie faces up against Plymouth captain Elvisi Dusha. 

Dusha had a pair of team-leading performances last season, putting up 24 points in the first matchup between the sides and 19 points later in the year.

Both games were in Plymouth, so Dusha will look to see his performances translate to the Morningside Arena floor to challenge Mackenzie in this one. 

Get tickets to the Riders’ Friday night fixture against Plymouth City Patriots!

AU Coaching Opportunities

Loughborough Basketball is offering coaching opportunities to established and aspiring basketball coaches.

Coaching development programme

Loughborough University is excited to offer its Coach Development Programme for aspiring basketball coaches.

The programme provides mentoring, qualifications and coaching experience in a first-class sporting facility.

Apply here!

BUCS Coaching Opportunities

We have coaching roles open for our BUCS programme! We are recruiting five volunteer head coach positions across our Men’s and Women’s programmes.

We’re looking for Head Coaches with previous coaching experience, or a high basketball IQ and strong leadership skills, to run 1-2 sessions per week during term time and approximately 10 games across the season.

Coaches will be integrated into a system where they will receive mentorship from senior staff, and receive the opportunity to mentor novice coaches over the course of the season.

The full job specification is below.

Duties and responsibilities

  • Involvement in running a 2-week pre-season for returning BUCS players
  • Shared responsibility in the selection of players during the trials process
  • Planning and running of two one and a half hour on-court sessions per week during term time
  • Coaching 10 BUCS games over the course of the season, in addition to a cup run of 1-5 games
  • Oppurtunity to attain Level 2 coaching qualifications
  • Long-term potention to attain Level 3 coaching qualification
  • Mentorship from professional coaching staff
  • Development and progression opportunities in the Loughborough performance programme and Leicester Riders programme
  • Coaching attire and coaching supplies
  • Priority assignment of paid officiating opportunities at BUCS and NBL games

The following roles are available:


Apply here!

Officiating, coaching and events courses

For anyone interested in upskilling and gaining qualifications, Loughborough University are offering courses for officiating, coaching and event management in basketball.

Express your interest here!

AU Basketball Trial Dates

From October 1, Loughborough University is hosting BUCS trials for both University and College students.

The trials will take place at the Holywell Fitness Centre. For more information, click the application links below.

Application links

Women’s Loughborough College Students

Women’s Loughborough University Students

Men’s Loughborough College Students

Men’s Loughborough University Students

Only college students eligible to play for Loughborough University in the British Universities and Colleges Sports League can apply.

Application closes on September 30 at 9 pm. Late applications will not be accepted due to the short turnaround between the Sports Bizarre and Open Trials.

For more information, please get in touch with the relevant email below.

Men’s: [email protected]

Women’s: [email protected]

Coach development programme

Loughborough University is offering our Coach Development Programme for aspiring basketball coaches.

The programme provides mentoring, qualifications and coaching experience in a first-class sporting facility.

Apply here!

BUCS Coaching Opportunities

We have coaching roles open for our BUCS programme! We are recruiting five volunteer head coach positions across our Men’s and Women’s programmes.

We’re looking for Head Coaches with previous coaching experience, or a high basketball IQ and strong leadership skills, to run 1-2 sessions per week during term time and approximately 10 games across the season.

Coaches will be integrated into a system where they will receive mentorship from senior staff, and receive the opportunity to mentor novice coaches over the course of the season.

The following roles are available:

BUCS 3rdsBUCS 3rds
BUCS 4thsBUCS 4ths
BUCS 5ths

Apply here!

Officiating, coaching and events courses

For anyone interested in upskilling and gaining qualifications, Loughborough University are offering courses for officiating, coaching and event management in basketball.

Express your interest here!

Edward Hands and Lewis Solicitors continue sponsorship of Riders

Leicester Riders are delighted to continue their relationship with Edward Hands & Lewis Solicitors. 

 Edward Hands and Lewis are dedicated to providing top-quality legal services to clients in the East Midlands.

Their team of experienced solicitors is here to assist you with a wide range of legal matters, from conveyancing and wills to personal injury and family law.

Paul Stubbs, director of Edwards Hands and Lewis, commented: “Edward Hands and Lewis Solicitors has been a proud sponsor of the Leicester Riders for many years, and we are to support them again this season.  

“Our staff and our clients continue to enjoy their on-court successes and the development of the Morningside Arena and fan experience.”

For more information on partnering with the Riders, please contact [email protected], or read more about our sponsorship opportunities here!

Sean Kilmartin on the success of USA Select

USA Select are in the midst of a gruelling European Tour. Over 22 days, they will play 19 games of basketball, on a tour spanning four countries and 18 cities. 

The team is made up of rookies straight out of college. For some, it’s an opportunity to showcase their talents on the European stage, hoping to secure their first professional contract. For all, it’s a life-changing life experience. 

“It’s brutal, but it’s fun,” explained Sean Kilmartin, Head Coach and General manager of USA Select. 

“We don’t frame this as a mental burden, we frame it as an opportunity. They have the chance at an experience that their friends may never receive.”

Kilmartin has personally scheduled each and every camp. He directly organised in excess of 500 games with professional teams all over Europe. He has booked every hotel, flight, train, and bus ride for hundreds of players on tour. 

He has personally spoken to each and every one of their players, and helped negotiate every contract for every player signed professionally.

“All the coaching staff have other careers, and the tour costs us money every year. It’s completely self-funded. We take the cost of our trip, divide it by the amount of players, and that’s how much we charge. The coaches pay their own way every year.” 

The coaching challenge alone is mammoth. With limited time, Kilmartin and his staff turn a brand new group of young men into a functional team, ready to take on professionals overseas. 

And they only have 10 hours of training camp before flying them over the Atlantic. Every player undergoes an intense three-game training camp before the final squad is picked.

Top of the agenda when selecting the team is who will respect the programme’s outstanding reputation. This is taken so seriously that Kilmartin sends coaches to eavesdrop around his camp to decipher who is the right fit for the tour. 

“We have three or four people in plain clothes acting like they’re on their phones, but they’re listening to guys between games. How are they acting? How are they talking to their teammates? How are they talking about their teammates? We’re doing character assessments throughout.

“If we think there are going to be issues, it’s just not worth it to us. Our reputation is so much more valuable to us than that. We would never recommend someone to a club that we don’t think will represent us and our values. During our camp, we take the screening process very seriously.” 

The process is such that in 25 years, USA Select has never sent a player home for behavioural issues. Every player selected for the tour is a representation of the exemplary standard USA Select sets. 

It’s a process that began in Leicester, at the start of Kilmartin’s career. 

“The Riders organisation is indirectly the lineage of our first USA select player 40 years ago. When I graduated college, I played in Great Britain. Ricky Pitts was my friend in college, who reached out to me and asked if I could help him play over here. 

“I got him in touch with the Riders, and the rest is history. That was in 1987: Our first USA Select player was with the Riders.”

USA Select has been a mainstay on the Riders’ pre-season schedule for a number of years. It’s a thriving relationship between the two organisations, with an immense amount of mutual respect.

“Leicester Riders, like so many other clubs in the UK, has been phenomenal for us over the decades, which is why I never miss the UK out on these tours,” said Kilmartin, reflecting on the relationship between his programme and the club.

“People sometimes turned their noses up at British Basketball, but it’s a great league, with great athletes and a great fanbase, and people are beginning to recognise that. The league has been better than people have given it credit for a decade. I’ve been saying that publicly for a long time.” 

The time playing against professional organisations is invaluable to the USA Select team, as Kilmartin explained:

“Leicester are professionals on so many levels. They have a great youth infrastructure with Loughborough and Charnwood, whose programmes are first-class, and a top educational system through the University. 

“Then you get to the club, and its vision in a sport that was always under the radar and never truly appreciated in the UK. The Riders have changed the way people look at basketball in the country. Their venue is the first of its kind, and it set the bar for the other clubs in the league.

“When my players can see all that, they see what professionalism looks like. They see how professionals put pride in their job, and their humility when they put their jerseys on for the fans.

“The Riders fanbase is amazing. The love and respect we get from those fans is humbling. They really get it.”

The relationship between USA Select and the Riders has thrived in no small part thanks to Head Coach Rob Paternostro. Coach to coach, the respect Kilmartin has for Paternostro is evident. 

“If there were a backgammon tournament or a thumb wrestling contest, he’d be competitive in that. That’s what I respect about him. From the tip to the buzzer, he’s your mortal enemy, but when the game is over, he’s got your back.

“We always have a player or two that has what it takes, and Rob is always one of the first to make an email or a call or help these guys get a start. A word from him, one of the most respected coaches in the game, can change the trajectory of their lives.”

And changing the trajectory of young people’s lives has been the mission of USA Select for decades. They’ve had great success in doing it. 

Two head coaches in the British Basketball League have come through the ranks of the programme: Sheffield’s Atiba Lyons and Machester’s Brian Semonian. They represent just a fraction of those who have gone on to enjoy successful careers. 

“Sometimes people think they have to be high-level ballers to join the tour. This isn’t the case. If you want the opportunity to play in high-level professional arenas and experience something new, there’s a place for you here. 

“From there, you can go be a good middle-school coach, a good father and a good person. That’s where the real success of our programme lies. The most successful people from USA Select use the experience to close the playing chapter of their lives, and go on to do great things.

“We still get phone calls from guys that did our camp in the 90s telling us how we’ve impacted their lives. That’s empowering. Now we have a history of helping young athletes, so that gives us a tangible, realistic opportunity for these players to build a career.

“A lot of these young men have never been coached at the level as Rob coaches the Riders. Our goal is to develop them along the way, whether they become professional or not. This experience will stay with them their whole lives”

As the Riders welcome USA Select through their doors once again, it will be an experience for the group that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Want to see USA Select in action?

Get tickets to our preseason home opener against USA Select here!

Campbell commits to Howard College

Former Loughborough and Charnwood Rider Lane Campbell has committed to Howard College. 

The 6’0” guard joins the Hawks after being part of the Riders programme since 2019. He spent four seasons with Charnwood College, averaging 17.6 points in the EABL last season. 

Campbell also put up 7.6 points per game in the NBL D1 last season for Loughborough.

This summer, he represented Great Britain Under 20s in the FIBA European Youth Championships, becoming the fourth GB player to record at least 10 assists in a single game in the Championships. 

Campbell follows in the footsteps of Charnwood alumni Blaize Sanga, who previously committed to Howard.

Loughborough Basketball Head Coach Will Maynard commented: “It was awesome to see Lane’s development over the three years he was at the Charnwood programme.

“I had the pleasure of coaching him at all different levels during his time here. I’m really excited to see his progress over in the States. We will all be rooting for him!”

Riders sign Peeples

Leicester Riders are thrilled to announce the signing of Rayven Peeples from St John’s University. 

The 6’3” forward started all 32 games for the Red Storm, and ranked sixth in the conference with 8.7 rebounds per game. She put up 6.7 points and 1.2 points in her final season in the Big East conference. 

In 2021/22, Peeples averaged 8.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, once again leading the team on the boards.

Prior to St Johns, Peeples played for North Carolina A&T as a freshman, then Northwest Florida State College. She led the Northwest Florida Raiders in scoring with 14.0 points per game, and ranked fourth in the country in field goal percentage, shooting 64.2%. 

Peeples commented: “I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to play for this organisation. Everyone has been very welcoming since the day I decided to sign. I’ve heard nothing but positive things about the team, and I’m really excited to be a part of a winning programme”

Head Coach Ben Stanley added: “We’re really looking forward to having Rayven here. She’s an elite defender and rebounder, and her physicality in the paint will be a great asset for us. 

“Her intangibles are going to be just as important to us as her physical abilities and skill set. Rayven has a high IQ on both ends, and I think she’ll see a lot of growth as the season progresses.”

Image credit: St John’s Red Storm

Preview: Riders at Loughborough

The Riders get their pre-season underway in our annual “Red vs Purple” game against Loughborough University. 

Here, we take a look at everything you need to know about the fixture…

Fixture information

Leicester Riders at Loughborough Basketball

Sir David Wallace Sports Hall, Loughborough University 

Friday, August 25, 7 pm

Tickets available here

New Riders era

A breathless offseason has seen a plethora of fresh faces coming through the doors of the Morningside Arena. 

Seven new Riders were added to the roster, as the club enters a new era seeking to add to its rich history. 

READ MORE: Riders 2023/24 roster

This offseason, therefore, is a key chemistry-building period for a new collection of players ahead of an intense British Basketball League schedule. 

Among the returners is Kimbal Mackenzie, off the back of a successful summer in the CEBL for the Niagara Rivers Lions, where he made the championship weekend alongside new teammate TJ Lall. 

He will play a key role in gelling the team with their Riders’ experience from previous seasons.  

 “While the results don’t matter in the long run, ultimately, you want a team that is going to play hard and try and win every possession,” said Head Coach Rob Paternostro, when asked about what he looks to get out of this year’s preseason fixtures.

“These games were important for getting a feel for the rotation and understanding how to play different lineups. The more preseason games, the better in that sense.

“We don’t look too far ahead at this stage of the season, other than wanting to be in great condition. We want to be in great shape to deal with the season, and we want to be a group that loves playing basketball.”

Loughborough- continuity is key

It’s been a busy week of announcements for the Riders’ opponents, as they announced their roster for the 2023/24 season. 

Among their returners are American guard Elijah Bailey, Welsh international Ben Woog and German-born Justin Hedley. 

READ MORE: Loughborough confirms retained core ahead of 2023/24 season.  

As confirmed by Head Coach Will Maynard, the majority of these returners enter their final year, and they look to give last season’s BUCS champions a fitting send-off.  

“We have four or five guys in their final year, and they’re determined to go out and have a great season,” said Maynard.

“Seeing them flourish and seeing what life after Loughborough holds for them will be super rewarding.” 

Accompanying the returns are new additions such as 6’4” guard Pannos Karras, who joins from Notre Dame College, and Torran Phillip out of Central Wyoming College. 

They will be met immediately with the stern test of two preseason fixtures against British Basketball League opponents, also taking on the Cheshire Phoenix on September 2. 

“It will give us some confidence going into the season, no matter the score,” explained Maynard.

“We know we can’t match their talent, but having the opportunity to go up against professionals before our regular season will tell us where we’re at and what we need to work on.” 

Loughborough looks to build on its BUCS glory from last season, and continue to challenge in NBL D1, where they finished with a 15-11 record last season. 

Played for both- Conner Washington

Loughborough basketball holds especially fond memories for Riders’ legend Conner Washington, who started his Riders journey at the University.

Alongside Head Coach Will Maynard, he helped Loughborough to their first BUCS title in 22 years, earning Final MVP in the process.

Washington is a shining example of the thriving partnership between the Riders and the University, who have since become a powerhouse in BUCS basketball, winning five of the last six Men’s titles.

In summary…

Following the offseason, preseason games are vital for both sides to get game time in their legs, and chemistry on the court.

Meanwhile for the fans, “Red vs Purple” is a celebration of the thriving partnership between the Leicester Riders and Loughborough University, and always provides great entertainment. 

Leicester Riders Mezzanine Hospitality

Leicester Riders offers action-packed entertainment in an electric atmosphere in the very heart of the city.

Our excellent gameday package includes the use of one of our mezzanines overlooking the playing court and provides a unique gameday hospitality

This new hospitality experience provides a panoramic view of the game, catering, and private bar facilities as well as opportunities to meet the Riders team.

The Mezzanine Hospitality includes:

  • Private use of one of our two mezzanine areas for up to 80 guests
  • Pre-game hot buffet dishes include; curry lasagne; chilli con carne; all served on the mezzanine
  • Tickets to watch the game from the mezzanine or in seats
  • Private cash bar and toilet facilities
  • Complimentary season guide and game day team sheet

Discounted Mezzanine Hospitality is also available at £25 for our preseason fixture against USA Select.

Read about all of our hospitality offers in our corporate brochure.

Interested in a game sponsorship, or want more information? Please contact [email protected].

Loughborough confirm the return of Onyia and Curran

Loughborough Basketball are thrilled to confirm the return of Edward Onyia and Oscar Curran for the 2023/24 season. 

17-year-old Onyia, who was new to the Charnwood Riders Academy programme last season, will balance his playing commitments within the academy EABL league and the NBL while studying at Charnwood College. 

Curran who is in his third and final year with the Charnwood Riders Academy programme, will also be balancing his time competing in the EABL and NBL this season.

The 6’2” guard will continue to build on the exposure he had within the NBL last season while he studies Mathematics, Physics and Physical Education at A-Level. 

Both Onyia and Curran will suit up for Charnwood’s EABL and Loughborough’s NBL D1 sides with coaches looking for both players to bring their NBL playing experience and leadership to academy games. 

Onyia commented: “I am grateful and excited to be able to play and develop within a bigger role on this team for the upcoming season and use all the things I learned last year and during the summer to help the team win.”

Curran commented: “I am really excited to play for the team this year, and I hope to learn a lot throughout the season.”

Head Coach Will Maynard commented: “We love having Academy players involved with the programme, and we are excited about what Oscar and Edward can bring to the group. 

“Both of these guys had previous experiences within the group last year, but I am hoping for them to have bigger impacts this year. They both bring some younger energy to the group and when this is controlled in the right way, it can have huge benefits to the team.”

Phillip joins Loughborough Basketball

Loughborough Basketball is delighted to welcome 6’4” wing Torron Phillip ahead of the 2023/24 season.

The 20-year-old joins from Central Wyoming College, where he competed in the NJCAA Division One. Prior to this, he played a season at Panther Hoops Prep and two years at Haringly Hawks, where he won the 2020 National Cup Championship and EYBL Central Division Championship. 

Phillip will combine playing with his studies at Loughborough University, working towards his BSc in Applied Sport Science with Management. 

The 6’4 shooting guard will suit up for Loughborough’s NBL D1 and BUCS teams. 

Phillip commented: “I’m looking forward to playing at Loughborough and competing at such a high level. I hope to add more success to the great history of Loughborough University.”

“I’m looking forward to working with Torron. I think he can be an exciting addition to the group who will definitely bring a lot of energy to the team,” added Head Coach Will Maynard

“He has been in the States over the past couple of years, so it’s exciting to see what he can bring to the table. Before the States, Torron was part of Haringey Hawks, so I know he will come to the programme with a great attitude both on and off the court.”

Karras joins Loughborough Basketball

Loughborough Basketball are thrilled to welcome Panos Karras ahead of the 2022/23 season. 

The 21-year-old signs with Loughborough from Notre Dame College in the NCAA Division Two. Prior to Notre Dame, Karras played for Cardiff Met Archers II in the NBL Divison Three. Karras was named an EABL Hoopsfix All-Star in 2021.

Karras will combine playing with studying for a BSc in Accounting and Finance at Loughborough University. 

The 6’4 guard will suit up for Loughborough’s NBL D1 and BUCS teams. 

Karras commented: “I’m thrilled to be stepping on the courts and in the classrooms at Loughborough University. It’s the perfect opportunity to combine my love for basketball with a top education.”

Head Coach Will Maynard commented: “Panos is a great pick-up for us. He is joining us with some really good experiences, including playing for the national team and spending two years in the States at an NCAA D2 programme.

“He is a high-character person and player and looking forward to what he will bring both on and off the court.”  

Coach Will Maynard on BUCS glory

Will Maynard played on the Loughborough BUCS team which won its first championship in 22 years. Last year, he accomplished the same feat as head coach, leading the University to its fifth title in the last six seasons. 

“Coaching is way more stressful than playing,” said Maynard, comparing the two accomplishments.

“Winning as a player was special because we hadn’t won in so long. There was no pressure going up against a great Newcastle team. That was a huge difference from when I came in as a coach. We were expected to win.

“We had such a stacked team, and losing the year before in the semi-final, we felt pressure to get back on top. We had Kimbal Mackenzie, Conner Washington, Jubril Adekoya, Patrick Whelan, Blake Bowman and Evan Walshe from the pro team. We couldn’t afford to lose that game.”

They were crowned the Men’s basketball champions with a 86-75 win over the University of West England Bristol. Mackenzie was named MVP after scoring 27 points on 10-of-12 shooting. 

“Credit to UWE. They made it hard for us! We were down double digits early, and Kimbal dug us out of the hole. They had a few professionals as well and made it a good game.

“To win it for the Division One guys who hadn’t won anything up to that point was really special. I’m super proud of all of them: they put in so much work over the season.”

Having risen through the ranks of the Loughborough pathway, it was an especially proud moment for Maynard to come back and win as a coach.  

Maynard came up through the Charnwood programme, going on to play for Loughborough’s Division Three team above his age, then attending American college for a season. He returned to a Loughborough team attempting to establish themselves on the UK scene. 

“I came back from the States after one year, and I joined as Russell Levenston (Leicester Riders managing director) was trying to make Loughborough into a well-renowned university programme, which there weren’t many of at the time. The year I came back, they recruited well and got a lot of guys in.

“My first year was with Drew Sullivan, which was an amazing experience. I learnt so much from him. I was lucky enough to practice with the Riders’ first team, which helped me develop as a player.”

Sullivan, two-time BBL MVP, helped establish Loughborough as a top-tier programme and aided Mayard’s understanding of the game immensely. 

“Being around a professional team and seeing how they worked was massive for me to understand the game at a different level,” Maynard reflected.

“I was never the quickest or most athletic, so I really benefited from learning from Coach Rob, Drew and so many others. Learning the game from them allowed me to take the next steps in my career.”

The Riders’ association with Loughborough University is of great benefit to any player, from those looking to further their development, set themselves up for life after basketball, or anything in-between. 

“I loved getting the experience of the university lifestyle and playing loads of basketball. I played BUCS, D1 and practised with the professional team. We had so much going on, and I loved everything about it.

“The Riders association with Loughborough attracts all types of players. Tyler Bernardini and Darien Nelson-Henry are guys that spring to mind who earned a really good degree alongside playing. It sets you up brilliantly for life after basketball, which is something that really sells. 

“The players have first-class facilities available to them. Having access to the physios, equipment, and courts is great for the players. The Riders’ partnership with a world-recognised university is really attractive for players looking to further their career.”

This current cohort of Loughborough University talent faces a tough test this preseason, facing off against British Basketball League opponents in Leicester Riders and Cheshire Phoenix. 

Maynard believes this will set them up for a successful season, and an important season for this group of players. 

“It will give us some confidence going into the season, no matter the score. We know we can’t match their talent, but having the opportunity to go up against professionals before our regular season will tell us where we’re at and what we need to work on. 

“It also gives our guys a chance to show British Basketball League coaches what they can do, as they look to further their careers. That’s the biggest reason we wanted to do it.

“I can’t wait to give all our guys in their final year a great send-off. We have four or five guys in their final year, and they’re determined to go out and have a great year. Seeing them flourish in their last year and seeing what life after Loughborough holds for them will be super rewarding. 

“The continuity we have in our group excites me, so playing the same guys as last year with a couple of new faces is great. The aim is another BUCS championship. 

“I’m so thankful to be involved with the Riders as a young coach.”

With Maynard at the helm, who has already brought so much success to Loughborough since his arrival over a decade ago, the programme is in safe hands.  

Want to see us in action?

Get tickets to our preseason fixture against Leicester Riders here!

Get tickets to our preseason picture against Cheshire Phoenix here!

Get tickets to our preseason picture against USA Select here!

Conner Washington: Riders Legend

Conner Washington has returned for his 11th year in Riders Red! The club legend and fan favourite has helped pack the Morningside Arena trophy cabinet during his time in the East Midlands.

We take a look back through his storied career!

Loughborough University: Where history began

Washington started life in the Riders programme in 2012, finding success with Loughborough University in the BUCS Championship. 

He helped win Loughborough’s first BUCS title in 22 years, alongside now Assistant Coach Will Maynard and former Rider Anthony Rowe. 

He was named MVP of the BUCS final, leading the University to a historic win.

BBL Breakout year

After lifting the first of his 14 pieces of BBL silverware in 2014, Washington went off for a breakout year in the 2014/15 season. 

He was named to the BBL British Team of the Year, averaging 7.3 points per game on the season and shooting a red-hot 40% from three. The Bedford native put up double-digits on eight occasions and scored a season-high of 23 points. 

Washington made a name as an integral part of the Riders’ roster going forward. 

Double award winner

The following season, Washington’s performances on the season saw him named on both the BBL British Team of the Year and the BBL Defence Team of the Year. 

He helped the Riders to the Championship and Trophy titles, the fifth and sixth pieces of silverware for the Riders under Head Coach Rob Paternostro. 

Washington scored 13 points in the Trophy Final, putting up four rebounds and four assists and going 4-8 from the field, making his presence known on the big stage. 

Winning his first treble

In the 2016/17 season, Washington won the first of his two trebles in his Riders career. The team lifted the BBL Trophy, Championship and Playoff titles, with Washington contributing another 40% three-point shooting season to the team. 

His three-point shooting was on full display at the back end of the season, draining five threes on his way to 18 points against the Plymouth Raiders. 

Washington was once again named to the BBL British Team of the Year and the Defensive Team of the Year for his performances on the season, now established as one of the League’s best homegrown talents. 

2021 league title

On his way to the 2021 BBL Championship title, Washington enjoyed his finest statistical season for the Riders. 

He put up 10.4 points per game on 47.4% shooting from the field and 38.4% shooting from three, earning him a spot on the BBL British Team of the Year for the fourth time. 

The Riders needed every point from Washington that season, winning the title by two points with a record of 24-6. It was the start of back-to-back seasons with one of the most successful Riders squads in the club’s history. 

2022 treble

The following year, Washington won his second treble with the Riders. They took home the BBL Cup, Championship and Playoffs, losing only two games on their way to the trio of silverware. 

It was a dominant season, where Washington made an electric impact off the bench behind back-to-back MVP Geno Crandall. He put up 20 points in the second leg of the playoff semi-final, sending the Riders to the O2 Arena. 

In the playoff final, Washington drained four threes on his way to 12 points, winning his 14th piece of silverware in his ninth season with the Leicester Riders. 

Want to see Conner in action?

Get tickets to our season opener against the Cheshire Phoenix!

Get tickets to our preseason opener against Loughborough University here!

Get tickets to our preseason home opener against USA Select here!

B&E Boys to sponsor the Riders for 2023/24 season

The Leicester Riders are delighted to continue their long-running relationship with B&E Boys. 

B&E Boys and the club have partnered for successful projects in the past, most notably the construction of our home, the Morningside Arena Leicester, in 2016. 

This season, Leicester Riders are happy to welcome B&E Boys as sponsors for 2023/24.

John Boys, director of B&E Boys, stated: “We built a strong working relationship with Leicester Riders since we started the building project at the Morningside Arena back in Spring 2015.

“We are extremely pleased to continue that relationship and have proudly become a team sponsor. B&E Boys wish the Leicester Riders every success this season.” 

For more information on partnering with the Riders, please contact [email protected], or read more about our sponsorship opportunities here!

Riders sign Holmes

Leicester Riders are thrilled to announce the signing of Jaren Holmes to their 2023/24 roster. 

The 6’4” guard comes to Leicester as a rookie, having spent his final season of college eligibility at Iowa State. He led the Cyclones in scoring with 13.3 points per game and was one of two players to start all 33 games.

He was named to the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team and received an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, playing under Assistant Coach and former Rider JR Blount. 

Three years at St. Bonaventure University proceeded Holmes’ year at Iowa State. He scored over 1000 points for the Bonnies, putting up 13.5 points, five rebounds and 3.6 assists in the 2021/22 season. He was named to the Atlantic 10 Second Team All-Conference in 2021. 

Holmes spent his first college season at Ranger Junior College, the same as Riders guard Caleb Asberry.

He helped the Rangers to a berth in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I championship game, starting all 33 games as a freshman, averaging 12.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 steals as the Rangers went 31-4. 

Holmes commented: “It is truly an honour to have the opportunity to play for this historic organisation! 

“This opportunity comes once in a lifetime. I am really looking forward to the chance to embrace the culture of Leicester and add to their winning culture.” 

Head Coach Rob Paternostro added: “We are all looking forward to working with Jaren. He is a versatile guard who can play multiple positions on both sides of the ball. 

“We really love the energy he brings to the floor. That type of play can really lift teammates and fans alike. 

“After a very good career at St Bonaventure, it was impressive how well he played in his one season in the BIG 12 and was able to show his skills at the highest level of college hoops.”

Want to see Jaren in action?

Get tickets to our preseason opener against Loughborough University here!

Get tickets to our preseason home opener against USA Select here!

Photo credit: Iowa State Cyclones

Riders revisited: Tony Windless on his Leicester Riders career

“I really enjoyed being here. We have some of the best fans in the league!”

Riders legend Tony Windless reflected on his time with the Leicester Riders, and how the club has grown since his arrival in 2008. 

Windless was there for the start of the Riders’ revolution. The 6’5” guard signed to now legendary Head Coach Rob Paternostro’s first Riders roster, having spent time in France and the BBL for the London Lions. 

He hit the ground running, putting up 12.7 points and 6.4 rebounds in the 2008/09 season. The Riders went 21-12, good for third in the BBL Championship standings and improved from a 10-23 record the season before. 

Windless would remain on the Riders roster until 2011 when he announced his retirement from professional basketball. 

He is remembered as a key fixture in the team that kick-started the Riders winning culture under Rob Paternostro. 

He sat down with us to talk about his Riders career, and the growth of the club.

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our preseason opener against Loughborough University here!

Get tickets to our preseason home opener against USA Select here!

Riders sign Ashby

Leicester Riders are thrilled to announce the signing of Sam Ashby on a two-year deal. 

The 5’9” Australian joins the club following her college career at the University of the Pacific. She scored 10.9 per game in her senior year with the Tigers, earning an All-West Coast Conference Honourable Mention selection. 

Ashby finished led the team in minutes played, free throw percentage and steals, and finished second in rebounding.

Prior to Pacific, the Perth native played for three years at her hometown Newman College, where she helped her team to three Associated and Catholic Colleges titles. 

She was named MVP in 2017 and earned Most Outstanding Female Basketballer honours in 2016 and 2017.  In 2018, she led Newman to the Marist Grand Final in Sydney.

While at Newman, Ashby set the program record for career free throws made and is second all-time in scoring.

Ashby will also compete for Loughborough University while she completes her master’s. The club would like to extend their thanks to the University for their support. 

Ashby commented: “Signing with Leicester brings me so much excitement. I couldn’t be more grateful to have the opportunity to play professionally in another country as well as meet some amazing new people!”

Head Coach Ben Stanley added: “We’re extremely happy to have Sam sign at Riders and Loughborough. She’ll bring grittiness to the team from her experience from Australia, but she is also a real offensive threat with her shooting and ability to get downhill.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing her in Riders red!”

Riders sign Thomas

Leicester Riders are delighted to announce the signing of Myryne Thomas for the 2023/24 season. 

The 6’8” forward is set to play in his rookie year after averaging 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds for Kent State in the NCAA Division One last season.

Thomas, a Cleveland native, averaged double-digit points in his final two college seasons, transferring from Ball State to Kent State for his final year of eligibility. 

He averaged 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds over his five-year college career. 

“I’m really happy to be part of the Riders,” said Thomas.

“I spoke to Coach Rob, and it sounded like the team was building something really special! I’ll be bringing lots of friends and family to the arena, and I hope to light it up with some dunks and threes!”

“I can’t wait to see you all!”

“We are excited to work with Miryne next season,” commented Head Coach Rob Paternostro. 

“He is a very talented all-around player who combined athleticism with skill and plays with great confidence and energy on the floor.

“He has great length and is a versatile defender who can defend in the paint or on the perimeter and play in multiple positions on the floor.

“We really enjoyed watching him play. He is a competitor who plays hard and has played in big games for a very good team last season.”

Want to see Miryne in action?

Click here for tickets to our home preseason opener against USA Select!

Image credit: Kent State Golden Flashes

Shahd Abboud: Breaking down barriers

Shahd Abboud faced a challenging road to professional basketball. Since her rise to the top division of Israeli basketball, she became the first Arab-Israeli to play in the women’s Premier League and the first Arab-Israeli captain in both the men’s and women’s leagues.

Culturally, financially and logistically, Abboud navigated obstacles from the jump to pursue her dream.

“I grew up as a minority. Being an Arab in Israel is challenging in a lot of ways. I’ve always felt like I had to do more to get a fair opportunity.

“I grew up in Nazareth, and when I was in seventh grade, I was recruited by a team in a different city. It was a difficult decision because I was going to be the only Arab girl on the team. I’d be away from my parents and didn’t speak Hebrew very fluently.”

Abboud comes from a basketball family. Her parents coached and played while raising a young child, meaning she grew up on the court. Since birth, she has lived and breathed hoops. 

“When I was born, I used to be at practice all the time. I was in the gym at a young age. Seeing my parents in that environment made me want to be there. Them having basketball as their career also helped them to be able to support me and my dreams.

“I’m lucky to be surrounded by amazing people in my career who gave me a platform to succeed. My parents drove an hour and a half to my games growing up to come to watch me!”

Due to a lack of funding in many Arab communities in Israel, sporting opportunities were limited for Abboud. 

She has used her platform to amend this, setting up basketball camps with her father in underfunded areas to allow a pathway for more children to devote their careers to basketball. 

“Due to the gap in funding, Arab teams don’t have anywhere to play in the summer. My dad and I wanted to provide the kids with an opportunity to play. 

“We’re now thinking of how best to integrate the Arab and Jewish communities in our camp. It’s really important for them to get to know each other at an early age, so they can begin to relate and understand each other.

“That’s the best thing about sports. There’s no colour, religion or race. You’re all teammates with the same goal. I was always around incredible people, I never felt different or unwelcome. Sport can be used for a lot of good.”

Abboud finds herself in a unique position, and one she is grateful for. She can represent the Arab community on the international stage, competing for the Israel national team from an early age.

Young children can now look to her, as Abboud looked to her parents as sporting role models. 

“I’ve always been the only Arab girl on the team, but that’s really important so I can show young girls that it’s possible. We always feel like we need to be better to get a fair chance, and a lot of people focus on school.

“I showed them a different way: that you can follow your dreams and still get a degree. I got my master’s while at the top level of basketball. 

“Representation is really important. For kids to see someone who is like them, grew up like them and shares similar views and values. To see her accomplish things makes it easier for them to dream. I’m blessed and honoured to be in a position to set an example.

“I get a lot of kids that want to talk to me and a lot that come to my games. Arab cities now have buses to our games. After the game, I see these kids, and just to see how excited they are and how much they can aspire and dream about getting to the top feels great.”

The Nazareth native’s journey to the top level took her to the other side of the world. It was always her dream to play in the NCAA, which was almost unprecedented for girls growing up in Israel. 

But an unlikely stranger helped to make her childhood dream a reality.  

“I was playing at Israel under-20s, and a stranger approached me and asked if I was interested in playing in America. I said yes, gave him my highlights tape, and he said he’d contact some colleges.

“I thought he was joking! I was just a kid, and I didn’t know him. To this day, I don’t know who he was! But I started getting emails from different schools asking me to come and play! Thank you to that man, wherever you are!”

She earned a spot at Jacksonville Junior College. But as a young girl on the other side of the world, the experience was daunting. 

“It was completely different to what I was expecting. I came expecting a huge school, but of course, it was a junior college, so much smaller. My mum came with me to see it, and even asked if I wanted to go home!

“But I didn’t, and it turned out to be the best experience ever. In JUCO, you have to keep working hard to prove yourself and get to the next level, so I got my work ethic and understanding of what it takes to get better from Jacksonville. I met amazing people who are friends for life.”

And get to the next level she did. Abboud was a NJCAA Academic All-American named to the NJCAA Region 14 All-Academic Team. This caught the eye of Northwestern State, where she spent her final two college seasons. 

Reflecting on her early college experience, Abboud draws parallels to her move to Leicester. 

“It feels the same now! I feel the same excitement and nerves, and I’m 28! I have the same feelings: I’m giddy and excited. It’s a great feeling that reminds me of when I first went to the States.

“I’m at a point in my career where I’m ready to expand my horizons. I think Leicester and Loughborough University will be great places to try something new, see a new country and still play basketball.”

Years removed from college, now a seasoned professional, Abboud is ready to bring veteran leadership to the Riders. 

“Throughout the years, I’ve really developed my leadership. At the start of my career, I would turn up, do my job, and that would be it. My coaches always wanted more. 

“They always told me: ‘The way you hold yourself accountable is how you have to hold your teammates accountable’. I’ve learned how to set an example and help everyone else improve.

“I look to bring my basketball IQ to the team, and being able to play the game the right way, or Coach Ben’s way! Also, being one of the oldest on the team, I hope to be a figure for the younger players to come and speak to. 

“I love making new relationships and getting to know people. I think it’s the best way to be, to bring the best out of others.”

Previewing the upcoming season, Abboud has a message for the Riders faithful:

“Come watch us! I’ve heard a lot of great things about the fans, so I’m really excited to meet you all. I’ve been getting a lot of love since I signed, and we’re building a team that will be fun to watch. It’s going to be a great season, and I can’t wait to start!”

Riders retain Johnston

Leicester Riders can announce the retention of American guard McKenzie Johnston to their 2023/24 roster. 

Helping the Riders to all three domestic finals last season, she averaged 8.3 points, 6.4 assists and 6.1 rebounds per game in the WBBL Championship. 

Johnston signed a two-year deal last summer to play in the WBBL alongside studying for her master’s at Loughborough University.

The club would like to thank the University for their support. 

“I enjoyed my last season with the Riders, so I’m looking forward to getting back and building on what we built last with a new group,” said Johnston. 

“The team will be different, but Coach Ben is doing a great job of getting the right group of people together to be successful.” 

“We’re very excited to have McKenzie back with us,” said Head Coach Ben Stanley. 

“She’s a proven factor, and there are very few players that are as creative and selfless as her in this league. Her impact as a leader is also unquantifiable for us, and I’m really looking forward to working with her.” 

“Hard work beats talent”- Caleb Asberry on his journey to the pros

In 2018, Caleb Asberry came fresh out of Pflugerville High School to play junior college hoops. Through grit, hard work and elite play five years later, he was starting in the BIG 12 for Oklahoma State. 

“Hard work beats talent,” Asberry told us. “I had to play super hard to get on the court in college. I have to work hard to prove to people that I belong.”

After a season at Ranger College, putting up 10.5 points per game on efficient 48-43-89 splits, the Texan earned a spot at Texas State in the NCAA Division One. 

There, he fought his way into the starting lineup. He started five games as a sophomore, the final 19 as a junior, then became the only Bobcat to start all 29 games in his senior year. 

Asberry was named to the NABC All-District 23 Second Team and All-Sun Belt First Team, winning the conference twice. It was then time to take his talents to Oklahoma State. 

But once again he had to earn his spot. His early play in the BIG 12 saw him achieve a starting role. 

“My proudest basketball moment so far was making my first Oklahoma State start. It was a huge progression from starting in JuCo to starting in the BIG 12. It was a massive deal for me.

“All I could think when I got the call was: ‘don’t mess it up!’”

As he had throughout his college career, Asberry made the most of his opportunity. He scored 9.7 points per game in his final year of eligibility, more than holding his own in the BIG 12 conference and impressing Riders’ Head Coach Rob Paternostro.

“He had a decorated career at Texas State,” said Paternostro. “It was enjoyable to watch him play, and it was impressive how in his final season he went to a new team in the BIG 12 and made a significant impact.”

Having signed for the Riders, he is set to make his first venture into Europe. 

“I’ve only been outside America once, so I’m so excited to get over there. I feel so lucky to be able to go over there and play basketball for a living. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and expanding my horizons.”

The 6’3” guard is set to bring his skillset to the BBL.

“I’m going to add energy. I’m a loud person, and I’m going to bring the noise! I can also shoot the ball pretty well. 

“But above everything, I’m about defence, defence, defence. That’s something that’s ingrained in me from my coaches in college.

“The pros are a whole new ball game. The speed of the game and the physicality are something that is going to be ramped up, but I’m ready for that.”

As the seventh man named to Paternostro’s 2023/24 roster, Asberry is ready to give everything in Riders red. 

“I want to thank the Riders for the opportunity and for taking a chance on me.

“At Texas State, we won conference twice, and we were the first team to miss the tournament as a senior. It has fueled my desire to win even more.

“The Riders are a hugely successful club, and I really want to add to that. To start my career off with some silverware would be incredible.

“Im ready to give everything, and I’m ready to win. I’m excited to meet you all, and I can’t wait for the whole experience. Thank you all for bringing me in, and I’m ready to bring you all in too!”

Want to see Caleb in action?

Get tickets to our home preseason opener against USA Select!

TJ Lall to compete for $1 million in ESPN’s “The Basketball Tournament”

Riders’ recent signing TJ Lall is set to suit up to compete for $1 million in The Basketball Tournament (TBT)!

TBT is a 64-team, single-elimination open tournament where the winning team takes home a prize of $1 million.

Teams will play through six rounds of knockout basketball until an eventual winner is crowned.

TJ will compete for India Rising, his first game tipping off on the 26th of July. All the games are available to watch on the ESPN player.

“It’s a great opportunity to be able to play for India Rising in TBT,” said Lall.

“I’m looking forward to the experience. Thank you to Gautam and the Brown Ballers for making this happen!”

Want to watch TJ live in action?

Get tickets to the Riders’ preseason home opener against USA Select!

Ben Stanley takes the reins!

Leicester Riders are thrilled to announce the appointment of Ben Stanley as head coach.

Stanley was named NBL women’s Coach of the Year last season after a league-winning campaign with Team Solent Kestrels. 

Prior to Solent, Stanley had a near decade-long association with Nottingham Hoods, as a player from 2013 and as head coach until 2022. 

Along with coaching the WBBL Riders, Stanley will coach the Loughborough University team in BUCS competition.

“I am incredibly excited to be joining Riders,” commented Stanley. 

“The programme has such a history, and to be a part of that is a real privilege. I can’t wait to get started with the Ladies and see what we can build both this season and into the future.”

Managing director Russell Levenston commented: “Ben is an experienced coach that everyone at the club is excited to work with as we continue the growth of our women’s programme.

“We have a lot of work to do and I’m really looking forward to him starting. Ben really bought into the long-term aims and objectives of the club as we continue to improve every day.

“We would like to thank our partners at Loughborough University for their ongoing support. Ben will prove a fantastic coach across both WBBL and Loughborough programmes.”

Ian Knott, Head of Sports Development at Loughborough Sport added: “We are thrilled to welcome Ben into the Loughborough Sport family. 

“We are very proud of the achievements of the basketball programme and its longstanding partnership with Leicester Riders.  We are very excited for the season ahead with much to do.”

Stanley has been signed to a three-year deal, committing to the team for multiple seasons. 

Photo credit: Kai Johnson

Samuel Idowu: Top Performances

Riders’ new man Samuel Idowu is a three-year professional, with experience playing in the NCAA D1 and across Europe.

The 6’8″ big man brings size and physicality on both ends to the Riders’ frontcourt, capable of going off for big games on any given night.

We take a look at some of the biggest performances in his college and professional career.

December 12, 2020 vs Svenborg Rabbits: Dominating the paint for the win

In a midseason game against Svendborg, Danish outfit FOG Naestved needed every point of Idowu’s monster performance in the paint to see out a hard-fought victory. 

In only 25 minutes he put up 24 points and 13 rebounds, shooting a dominant 72% from the field. Naestved entered the game big underdogs, but Iwodu led the team to an upset 86-83 road win. 

The big man put in a two-way scoring effort, adding two steals and a block to the box score. 

It was one of nine games Iwodu led his side in scoring on the year and his second-biggest scoring tally of the season. 

February 19, 2021 vs Randers Cimbria: Idowu catches fire from deep

His highest-scoring performance in his season with Naestved came just a few months later. Idowu went off for 25 points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes, beating Cimbria 83-78. 

In yet another efficient showing, Iwodu shot 76.9% from the field, showing his range to go 4-5 from three. His performance led Naestved to a statement win against the eventual league winners. 

On defence, the New York native recorded yet another block and a steal, making his presence known on both ends. 

During the season, Idowu led the team to a 16-4 record, just a win behind the top spot in the regular season standings. Performances like this went a long way to establishing themselves as a contender.

November 2, 2019 vs Den Helder Suns: Career-high scoring night

Just months into his post-college career, Idowu announced himself on the professional stage with a career-high 30-point performance against Den Helder. He went off for 30 points and 11 rebounds for Dutch side Aris Leeuwarden in just his eighth game as a pro. 

The game resulted in a 74-63 loss, but Idowu’s game-leading effort showed his ability to put the scoring load on his back and dominate. He hit the ground running with Leeuwarden, leading the team’s scoring in seven of their first eight games. 

Idowu got his points in only 33 minutes, shooting 12-20 from the field. He would go on to be his team’s second-leading scorer in his rookie year, averaging 16.1 points and 7.5 rebounds. 

January 31 2019 vs Rider University: Idowu writes his name in college history

Idowu was a defensive force in college, and the record books show as much. He became just the fourth player in St Peter’s history to surpass 100 career blocks. And he did it in style.

Playing against the Rider Broncs, Idowu swatted a monster six shots to get over the century mark. The game remains his career high in blocks for the rim-protecting savant, establishing himself as a top defensive prospect.

Idowu averaged 1.8 blocks per game as a senior with the Peacocks, leading the team with 59 on the season.

December 4, 2019 vs Leiden: Career high on the glass 

Idowu grabbed his career-high in rebounds as a rookie for Leeuwarden. He went off for 18 points and 14 rebounds, outmuscling Leiden for a huge 10 offensive boards. 

The second-possesions Idowu earned his side kept them in the game, but they ultimately fell 73-62. 

Idowu averaged a block per game that season, by far the most on the Leeuwarden roster. His shot-blocking has become a staple of his game. The towering forward has averaged at least a block a game for the last six seasons. 

The former GB u20 will look to bring his interior defence to the Riders roster this season. 

Riders fall in Playoff Final

The Riders fell 57-41 to the London Lions in the WBBL Playoff final. 

They remained in touching distance until the fourth quarter, keeping the Lions off the scoresheet effectively. A second-half surge from the league winners saw them complete the clean sweep of silverware this season. 

Fiona O’Dwyer led Leicester’s offensive efforts with 10 points, hitting key shots throughout to keep her team in contention. It was a one-point game midway through the period, but London found their offensive rhythm late on. 

London’s Ty Battle was named Final MVP, putting up eight points and a dominant 15 rebounds.

The Riders made it a defensive game early, keeping London’s offensive sets in the halfcourt and keeping them to one possession by crashing the glass. They built a lead with their physical play, O’Dwyer’s three making it 8-4 after four minutes. 

After missing a lot of their early looks from range, the Lions attacked the paint to bounce back. Ty Battle’s back-to-back buckets kickstarted a 13-0 London run midway through the first.  

Battle’s free throws ended the quarter with London up 19-10. 

The Riders fought back to start the second. Hannah Robb put on the moves in the post, breaking Holly Winterburn’s ankles to cap off a 10-2 run. The run cut the game to one: the Riders back in the tie. 

The Lions regained control of the tie, ending the half 10-3, but the Riders were within touching distance going into the locker rooms led by seven from O’Dwyer. 

In a low-scoring third, London edged ahead. It was a 6-2 period in London’s favour after seven minutes, and the game went without a score for five of those. O’Dwyer hit a three near the end of the third to give the Riders an outside chance at the comeback.

But London came storming out the gates in the final quarter, starting  5-0 to jump out to a 19-point lead. They saw the game out professionally from there, taking their lead to the final buzzer to win the Playoff title. 

The game concludes the Riders 2022-23 season. Thank you for your incredible support all year. 

WBBL Playoff Final Preview

The Riders are set to face off against the London Lions in a final for the third time this season. Making three finals in a season is a franchise record for the club, but they hope the third time is the charm in this one to take some silverware back to Leicester. 

Road to the final 

After finishing third in the league standings with a 17-5 record, the Riders were faced with two opponents standing between them and the O2 Arena. 

The first was the Essex Rebels, who played the Riders to an overtime classic. They entered the fourth down 10, but back-to-back threes from Fiona O’Dwyer kicked off an inspired comeback. 

Ashley Arlen and Oliana Squires won it at the free-throw line at the end of overtime, progressing them to the semi-finals against the second-placed Caledonia Gladiators. 

This one was more straightforward, as the Riders dominated a 19-point road win against their Scottish contemporaries. 

Squires led the game with 25, but it was their defence which won them the day. Leicester held the Gladiators to 30% shooting from the floor, and outrebounded them 39 to 30 in the win. 

Familiar foes

These teams are well-versed in competing at the top level of domestic basketball. They have faced twice this season in finals, the Lions coming out victors on both occasions. 

The first was a tough outing for the Riders. The Lions dominated the WBBL Cup final, winning 95-42 led by Final MVP Holly Winterburn’s 16 points and nine rebounds. 

Squires’ attempt to inject rhythm into the Riders’ offence resulted in a game-high 23 points, but the game was never in doubt. 

The WBBL Betty Codona Trophy final was a different matter. The Riders had the game within five points midway through the fourth quarter thanks to a finish at the rim by Hannah Robb. 

Lions’ American forward Ty Battle responded with six straight to see the game out, but the Riders will take confidence from being in the game late, minutes away from winning the Trophy. 

It took a monumental 33 points from Lions’ GB star Mikiah Herbert-Harrigan to win it. The Riders were led by 22 points and 14 rebounds from star forward Arlen.

Key matchup 

Arlen enters this game on a high, having been named to the WBBL Team of the Year earlier in the week. 

The American forward averaged 14.7 points and 8.1 rebounds this season, shooting 42% from the field, and has continued to demonstrate her elite abilities in the postseason. 

Arlen put up 18 points and 14 rebounds in the Riders’ overtime victory over the Essex Rebels in the quarter-final and 12 in the semi-final against the Caledonia Gladiators. The Riders’ will need a performance like the Trophy final from their frontcourt. 

Facing up against Arlen and vying for her second final MVP of the season is Herbert-Harrington. “Kiki” started her post-college career in the WNBA, where she was drafted sixth overall in the 2020 draft by the Minnesota Lynx.

She finished her rookie season playing in 21 games averaging 3.8 ppg and shooting 42.2% from 3. The next season, Herbert-Harrigan signed for Turkish basketball Team Kayseri Basketbol before singing in London this year. 

Herbert-Harrington led the Lions this season with 18.7 points and 5.2 rebounds a game, her points tally ranking second in the WBBL. The Riders will have their work cut out to slow her offence down. 

Where to watch

The game is live on Sky Sports and on their youtube channel, starting at 1:15 pm. It will take place before the BBL Playoff final, also between the Lions and Riders. 

Arlen named to Team of the Year!

Ashley Arlen has been named to the Molten WBBL Team of the Year!

The American forward averaged 14.7 points and 8.1 rebounds this season, shooting 42% from the field. She led the team to third place in the WBBL Championship standings with a 17-5 record.

Her season high was 25 points and 11 rebounds came on the season opener, and was one of seven double-doubles the Iowa native put up this season.

Arlen has continued to demonstrate her elite abilities in the postseason. She had 18 points and 14 rebounds in the Riders’ overtime victory over the Essex Rebels in the quarter-final and 12 in the semi-final against the Caledonia Gladiators, which saw them advance to the final in the O2 Arena.

Congratulations Ashley!

Riders duo named to British Team of the Year

Star Riders pairing of Kimbal Mackenzie and Patrick Whelan have been named to the Molten BBL British Team of the Year!

Mackenzie has enjoyed a breakout year, putting up 12.6 points and 3.8 assists, shooting 49.1% from the field. The fans recently voted him as the player of the season.

His play earned him a GB call-up for the first time, establishing himself as one of the country’s elite guards.

Meanwhile, his backcourt teammate Whelan is the BBL’s most efficient three-point sharpshooter at 45.1%. He is named to the British Team of the Year for the second year running, having averaged 13.5 points per game.

The news comes a week before the Riders compete in the BBL Playoff Final at the O2 Arena.

Riders take a lead back to Leicester

The Riders beat the Bristol Flyers 84-77 in the first leg of the BBL Playoffs semi-final. 

They led by as many as 26 in the game, but the Flyers showed heart to get back into the fixture going back to Leicester.

Led by Zach Jackson’s 14 points and eight rebounds, the Riders had six scorers in double digits in a complete team display. They shot well from three, going 38%, and went 20-26 from the free-throw line in an efficient showing. 

VJ King exploded for 26 points off the bench for the hosts. He made big shots throughout to snatch back momentum for Bristol, his scoring runs keeping the Flyers in it. 

The Riders leapt out to an early advantage, taking control of the game from the first quarter. Making his return from injury after being sidelined since mid-April, Aaron Menzies made his presence known on the inside.

His interior defence was pivotal in holding the Flyers to 11 first-quarter points, and he put up seven on the other end, including a monster jam. 

The Riders went on an 11-0 run to end the period, putting them up 15 after a Menzies finish inside. 

Leicester’s early dominance continued into the second. They started it 8-0, making it 19 points unanswered to go up 26. The Riders’ defence held Bristol scoreless for nearly seven minutes of play, suffocating the hosts.  

The Flyers found form towards the end of the half. They exploded for a 12-0 run, led by five from King, to cut it to 13 by halftime. 

The sides traded three-point bombs to start the third. Bristol hit four, Leicester hit three, and the Riders’ lead was cut to 10 five minutes in. 

Evan Walshe found the bucket to score five straight for Leicester, stemming the tide. The Riders held an 11-point advantage with one to play. 

A 7-3 Riders run to start the fourth rebuilt the lead. Menzies battled inside four two quick buckets as the visitors found momentum. 

But again, Bristol battled back. They found a way to cut the game back to eight through nine straight points from King. 

The sides exchanged big buckets down the stretch, but the Riders maintained their lead. A layup from Thomas Bell ended it, Leicester taking a seven-point lead back to the Morningside Arena.

The home leg takes place on Sunday, tipping off at 5:30 pm in front of the Sky Sports cameras. 

Get your tickets here to see your Riders battle to book their place in the O2 Arena.

BBL Playoff Semi-final Preview: Riders vs Flyers

It is time for the BBL championship playoff semi-finals, and this weekend has the #2 Riders tipping off against the #3 Bristol Flyers.

Both teams will head into this matchup brimming with confidence after dominant performances in last week’s quarter-finals.

Leicester and Bristol last met in the playoffs in 2021, with the Riders dominating both games. Expect this season’s contest to be a much tighter affair.

Riders’ Road to the Semis

Last week’s playoff quarter-finals saw the Riders put on a defensive clinic as they bested the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 153-140.

Significant leads built in the first half of both games proved to be the winning formula for Leicester, who knew that their chances would skyrocket if they could make Sheffield chase the game.

The Riders’ knew that they would have one foot in the next round if they could restrict the Sharks to 75 points or less, and that’s exactly what they did.

The first leg, taking place in Ponds Forge, saw forward Marc Loving show his class as he dropped an 18-11 double-double – his fourth against the Sharks this season.

Kimbal Mackenzie once again provided a bright spark off the bench, hitting 19 points of his own at a perfect 100% clip and helping the Riders to a 79-70 first leg lead.

The second chapter was all about captain Darien Nelson-Henry and forward Zach Jackson.

Nelson-Henry and Jackson lit up the scoreboard with 18 and 25 points respectively, the former claiming a hard-earned double-double with 11 boards.

Jackson also managed to snag nine rebounds from his wing position and, at certain points of the game, looked unstoppable.

With Loving and Mackenzie both having a difficult night shooting the ball, the performances from the two showed that any player on the Riders roster can take over a game.

For their outstanding contributions, Nelson-Henry and Jackson made it onto the BBL ‘All-Star 5’ – for #21 it was a superb seventh appearance.

Flyers’ Road to the Semis

Heading into the playoff quarter-finals as the third seed with an identical 25-11 record to the Riders, the Bristol Flyers matched up against a high-scoring Manchester Giants squad.

One of the keys to the round would be whether Bristol could keep Manchester’s Dirk Williams and Tajh Green quiet.

The offensive ‘giants’ were held to an average of 11.5 PPG between them, and both were kept in single digits for one of the legs.

The Flyers did an excellent job of neutralising Manchester’s main threat and the tie was heavily in favour of the #3 seeds after a 97-71 first leg.

The only further requirement was for the Flyers not to capitulate in the SGS College Arena and they would go through to the semis.

A solid 82-81 home victory in the second leg proved that the Bristol squad could hold their nerve, and they were able to celebrate progression.

Guard Tevin Olison was the player of the round, shooting his way onto the ‘All-Star 5’ with a game-changing 29 points in Manchester.

Bench point totals of 31 and 27 also showed how well-rounded the Flyers’ squad is – a large part of the reason why they are ranked at #3.

Season Matchup

As expected, the Riders and Flyers have tied the season series, winning two games apiece.

Even more predictably, both teams have triumphed on home court, although the Riders’ average winning margin is 17.5 points compared to Bristol’s 6.5.

One major component that has determined victory in all this season’s contests has been the play of the bench. Both starting line-ups appear evenly matched, so it is no surprise that in all four games, the winning team has benefited from significantly more bench points.

The first two battles came way back in October, with Bristol taking an initial 91-85 victory on the back of a 17-point performance by Thomas Bell III.

Bell didn’t dress for the second game on October 28, and despite VJ King’s 24 points, the Flyers missed the American’s scoring and fell 91-73.

Weekly matchup nightmare, Marc Loving, went off in that game, draining six threes on his way to a tasty 34 points.

The following two games were much more spread, with Bristol hosting the Riders on January 6 and then visiting the Morningside Arena on the final day of March.

Once again, King showed off his offensive repertoire, hitting 12 FGs and 30 points to help the Flyers win, 91-85. He was assisted by savvy guard, Mike Miller, who chipped in with 10 dishes.

March 31 brought with it another blowout in Leicester; the trio of Jackson, Loving and Patrick Whelan all producing memorable games.

The Riders dominated and claimed a 106-89 victory.

The pattern shows that both teams carry a slight advantage on their home court. Margin of victory could become a huge factor when determining who makes it through to the big dance.

Key Players

When teams have so many great players in their squad, it becomes very difficult to pick a matchup that stands out among the rest.

One area that is worth zeroing in on however, is the tussle between the on-court generals – Riders’ Carrington Love and Flyers’ Mike Miller.

Both starting point guards are often the premier ball-handlers on their teams and regularly dictate the pace of play.

Second-year Flyer, Miller, has been ever-present this season, playing in 37 games across all competitions.

The American is averaging 9.51 PPG and 6.94 assists per 40 minutes, good for eighth in the BBL.

Whilst not a sharpshooter from beyond the arc, Miller does posses scoring ability and uses his 6’3” frame to overpower his opposition guard.

It will be imperative that Love stays strong when sticking to his man and does a good job of getting in the way of passing lanes.

The Riders’ point guard himself has shown flair when scoring the basket and intelligence when dealing the killer pass.

Since joining Leicester mid-way through the season, Love is averaging 7.89 PPG and a delicious 10.63 assists per 40, putting him top of the league in that category.

The 6’1” American had also shown quick hands in defence, currently pilfering 2.44 steals per 40.

Neither Miller nor Love are the biggest bodies on the court. That doesn’t mean that they won’t carry the biggest impact when all is said and done this Sunday evening.

Where to watch

The first leg will be shown live on the British Basketball League’s official youtube channel, starting at 7:30 pm.

Final Word

This weekend, fans will be treated to a contest worthy of a BBL semi-final. Expect it to be tight. Expect it to be high in quality.

Both teams have played a season deserving of a place in the BBL Finals.

The Riders hope they will be the team that claims the honour.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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 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.

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.

Riders record dominant win

The Riders pulled off a dominant 106-89 win against the Bristol Flyers, in a key fixture in the fight for second place. 

Led by a monster 28 performance from Zach Jackson, who went 9-12 from the field and 9-9 from the free throw line, the Riders jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. They shot 45% from three and dished 27 assists in a complete team performance. 

Four Riders scored over 16 points, and Carrington Love put up nine points and 10 assists, as players contributed up and down the roster. The win sealed the season series between the sides, putting Leicester in the driving seat in their pursuit of the second seed. 

VJ King scored 25 for the visitors, but the problems lay on the other end of the floor for Bristol. The Riders shot 60% on their defence, as they gave up their second-highest points tally of the season. 

The Riders charged out the gate to a 19-5 lead. Their offence began at an electric pace as they ran in transition for buckets at the rim. On the other end, Carrington Love set the tone with lockdown perimeter defence, then hit his first three of the night to the team’s 19th points. 

The Flyers’ offence found its rhythm midway through the quarter to stem the Riders’ run, led by Thomas Bell’s seven points. Jackson’s seven led the Riders through the opening period, which they won 29-17. 

An 11-8 start to the second rebuilt the lead to 15, capped off by Patrick Whelan’s fastbreak bucket. Whelan scored five quick points to bring his game tally to 11. 

Leicester’s first half was an offensive clinic, as they went into the locker rooms with three starters already hitting double-digit points. The team put up 56 in the first half, leading by 17. Jackson’s six-point quarter brought him to 14 by the half. 

Back-to-back trips to the free throw line made the Riders lead 20 as they got the second half underway. Jackson continued his hot first half form, following up the foul shots with a corner three for his 20th points. 

Marc Loving too over proceedings midway through the third with back to back threes. His aerial bombardment marked an 18-8 start to the quarter. 

An 8-0 run from the visitors pegged the Riders’ lead back to 18, before Jackson’s two finished off the period. The Riders held a commanding lead entering the fourth. 

And the hosts continued to charge in the final quarter. They scored five quick points as Jackson drove coast-to-coast, getting a bucket and a foul. 

Mackenzie got hot, scoring eight points in six minutes, including a midrange jumper to score the Riders’ 100th points of the evening. He scored 12 in the quarter to see it home in style. 

The Riders have a quick turnaround for their next game, heading to the South West on Sunday to take on the Plymouth City Patriots. 

The game tips off at 3 pm, streamed live on the BBL Official youtube channel. 

BBL Championship Preview: Riders vs Patriots

The Morningside Arena will be buzzing with activity on Tuesday night as the Leicester Riders host the Plymouth City Patriots for the first time this season.

The Riders will want to get back to winning ways in the BBL after Friday’s game at the home of the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks did not fall in their favour.

Riders’ Season So Far

Leicester’s record now stands at 18-9 following the 71-62 loss to the Sharks.

They sit comfortably third in the BBL standings, six points behind the Bristol Flyers and four points ahead of a Manchester Giants team that are finishing the season strong.

If the Riders are to claim victory over the Patriots and close the gap on the Flyers, they must shoot better than last Friday.

Leicester hit 36% of their shots against the Sharks as well as 61% from the free throw line – numbers that have been a rarity for the Riders this season.

Controlling ball possession will also be a key factor against Plymouth after the Riders gave up 27 points from 23 turnovers last time out. Premier ball handlers like Kimbal Mackenzie and Carrington Love should lead the way, both finishing Friday night without coughing up a single ball to the opposition.

The top of the stat sheet against Sheffield belonged to versatile forward, Marc Loving. Loving finished the game with a double-double, dropping 18 points and snagging 11 rebounds in a defiant display.

His late three-pointer brought the Riders level in the fourth quarter, but accurate shooting from the Sharks saw them pull away in the final four minutes of the game.

Patriots’ Season So Far

The Patriots sit in eighth place in the BBL standings with a 10-17 record.

They are currently working through a rough patch in their season, last winning a game on February 19 at home to the Newcastle Eagles.

Plymouth’s latest matchup came when they welcomed the Cheshire Phoenix to Plymouth Pavilions, the home side falling 67-90 to their neighbours.

Solid free throw shooting and good production off the bench was not enough to secure a win for coach Paul James’s men, who (like the Riders) shot under 40% from the field.

The best performance came from Plymouth’s newest signing, Otas Iyekekpolor, a 6’8” forward who has played in leagues across Europe.

The Canadian dropped just six points but his 10 rebounds were the most of any player on the court.

His ability on the boards will be crucial if Plymouth hope to halt their current skid and overturn the 101-79 scoreline that occurred when they last met the Riders.

Key Matchup

Not known for their three-point shooting, the Patriots may pose a more telling threat inside the paint. Aggressive around the rim, Plymouth are one of the best teams in the BBL at infiltrating the interior and drawing fouls.

The key man in the middle for Plymouth is former Leicester Riders center and BBL veteran, Rashad Hassan.

The 6’8” American can take over a game with his close-range skills and has dropped over 20 points on seven occasions this season, including 32 on the Bristol Flyers.

Hassan is averaging 14.73 PPG over a 30-game span, bucketing close to 70% of his shots when around the basket.

He has also been useful on the boards, pulling down 6.67 RPG, most of any Patriot who has played more than 10 games.

Tasked with fronting up against Hassan will be a combination of Riders’ captain – Darien Nelson-Henry – and the 7’3” GB international, Aaron Menzies.

The experience and endeavour Nelson-Henry brings to the front court and Menzies’s pure shot-blocking ability should be key to limiting the effectiveness of the Patriots’ center.

Menzies is averaging 0.68 BPG, good for second on the Riders, and will need all of that 7’3” frame to affect Hassan’s looks in the post.

The former Dresden Titan has never shied away from using his length on the defensive end of the court, setting a Seattle University record for blocks with 79 in his junior season.

Stout defence inside and a more efficient shooting display from the Riders than displayed in the last couple of games should see them in the best position for victory.

Where to watch

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

If you can’t make the game, it will be streamed live on the BBL Official youtube channel, starting at 7:30 pm.

Betty Codona WBBL Trophy Final Preview: Riders vs Lions

The Riders take on the London Lions in their second WBBL final of the season, battling for the Betty Codona Trophy. 

It would be the fourth time the Riders have lifted the Trophy, most recently in 2020. 

Season so far: Riders

The game is a first vs second clash, as the Riders currently sit a place from the top spot in the WBBL Championship. They possess a 12-2 record and are level on points with their final opponents. 

They’re an efficient outfit, ranking top four in field goal, free throw and three-point percentage, and dominate the defensive boards, ranking second in the league. 

Ashley Arlen leads the scoring for the team this season, putting up 16.1 points per game. The veteran forward’s eight rebounds a game leads the team also, as she leads the front line for Leicester. 

The Riders will look for a big game from Arlen in this one! 

Season so far: Lions 

The league-leading Lions hold a 12-1 record this season and enter this one on a three-game winning streak.

They’re the league’s top scorers, putting up 95.6 points per game, 12 points more than the second-highest scorers. But last month, the Caledonia Gladiators came up with a winning formula against the Lions with a 68-67 road win. 

It was the first domestic defeat for London in two seasons after the Riders beat them in April 2021. 

The Lions won the previous meeting between the sides in the WBBL Cup final, taking home the first piece of WBBL silverware of the season. 

Since then, London have seen a change of personnel in the head coaching role, with Greek international Stella Kaltsidou taking the helm. It remains a tough test for the Riders as they go for the trophy. 

Road to the final: Riders

The Riders fought through three games to reach the final, winning them by an average of 30 points.

They started their campaign against the Oakland Wolves, winning in a dominant 104-55 fashion. Oliana Squires led the game with 24 points in a game the Riders held the lead since early in the first quarter. 

The quarter-finals was a hard-fought 54-44 win against the Caledonia Gladiators. The Riders held a one-possession lead going into the final quarter, but a 7-0 run to start the fourth allowed them to jump out to a double-digit lead, which they held until the buzzer. 

They took a trip to the North East for the semi-final, as they booked a place in the final with a 91-63 win against the Newcastle Eagles. Kirsty Brown’s 18 topped the team’s scoring tallies, as Leicester went 15-16 from the free-throw line to dominate the Eagles. 

Road to the final: Lions

The Lions progressed through the Trophy’s three rounds thus far confidently, dismissing the Brent Bulls, the Cardiff Met Archers and the Sheffield Hatters

.Paulina Hersler’s 25 points led a first-round win against the Bulls, as the Lions took a 98-42 win. They forced 33 turnovers from their opponents with suffocating defence. 

The Lions then beat the Archers 104-55, led again by Hersler who scored 20. Hersler went 9-17 from the field, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots, dominating inside. 

Lions’ duo Mikiah Herbert Harrigan and Holly Winterburn took over the semi-final with 26 points each, blowing out the Hatters 112-77. London went just 3-14 from three and still dominated the game, making 45 field goals. 

Where to watch

The game will be shown live on Sky Sports, and the Sky Sports Youtube channel. 

Tip-off is at 1 pm, with coverage starting at 12:30 pm. 

Riders fall on the road

The Riders fell 71-62 on the road to the Sheffield Sharks. 

They came back to tie the game late, after trailing by 10 going into the fourth. But the Sharks took the late momentum to win the game. 

Marc Loving led the team with 18 points, including five in the fourth to get the Riders back in it. The Riders bounced back from a low-scoring third quarter, but could not make their deep shots in the tie, shooting 26%. 

Rodney Glasgow Jr. led the Sharks with 15 points off the bench. His late three all but won the game, as he went 3-6 from behind the arc in the game. 

The Sharks jumped out to an early lead after explosive plays at the rim. A Kipper Nichols layup triggered a Rob Paternostro time-out, as the Riders found themselves down 16-8 with seven minutes played. 

Carrington Love checked into the game to generate scoring from the backcourt, scoring five quick points late in the first. Despite their point guard’s play, the Riders were down seven at the buzzer. 

The Riders made in-roads as the clock ticked down in the half. Patrick Whelan and Marc  Loving connected with a minute to go, making it a one-possession game. The Riders came up with a stop on the next possession, and the deficit was three going into the locker rooms. 

The Sharks regained control in the third with an 8-3 run, in a low-scoring start to the second half. They once again went up double digits, led by big man Marcus Delpeche, and took a 10-point lead into the fourth. 

The Riders fought back immediately in the final period, cutting it to five following a three from Whelan and a tough finish from Jubril Adekoya. 

Loving’s three then tied the game up with four minutes remaining. Back in the game, the Riders made it a tense affair late. 

But the Sharks got over the line, making tough shots down the stretch. Rodney Glasgow Jr’s three with 35 seconds left sealed it for the hosts. 

The Riders return to action on Tuesday, hosting the Plymouth City Patriots. Get your tickets here to see the Riders attempt to improve to 19-9. 

BBL Championship Preview: Riders at Sharks

The Riders will take a short trip north this Friday to face the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks.

Victory for Leicester would give them three wins in a row following positive results against Newcastle and Caledonia, the latter falling to the Riders 84-81 in a tightly contested game.

Riders’ Season So Far

After the aforementioned result at home to the Gladiators, Leicester’s record stands at 18-8.

The Riders sit third in the BBL Championship, six points behind the Bristol Flyers. Friday’s game is one of four that Leicester have in hand over Bristol, giving them the chance to close the gap.

The Riders hope victory over the Sharks will be a little more comfortable than it was against Caledonia. The Gladiators kept the home team honest throughout the game, which turned into a cat-and-mouse affair.

It needed a fourth-quarter takeover by Kimbal Mackenzie to drive the Riders to success, the energetic guard scoring 25 points including a perfect 12 from the line.

Mackenzie is one of the BBL’s most reliable free throw shooters, hitting close to 88% of his attempts.

If the fourth quarter belonged to #1, the second was all about Evan Walshe. The former Surrey Scorcher brought speed and power off the bench and helped the Riders build an early double-digit lead.

The wing ended with 15 crucial points, rewarded for his hard work, especially on the fast break.

Something the Riders will want to clean up on Friday is their shooting percentage after hitting just 35% of their shots against the Gladiators.

Sharks’ Season So Far

The hometown Sheffield Sharks are currently riding high after an exhilarating 82-80 comeback win over the championship-leading London Lions.

Sheffield have beaten the Lions twice this season and their latest triumph continues a winning run that stretches back to March 5. Their current vein of good form has pushed the Sharks into a playoff place with a 13-16 record.

An efficient shooting night of 49.18% and tenacity on the defensive side of the ball contributed to the win, as well as a final quarter that saw Sheffield outscore their opponents 23-12.

The standout performer was Devearl Ramsey, who dropped 22 points in a high-percentage outing. The American guard finished the game with four buckets from three-point range, the most of any player on the court.

Ramsey is currently putting up 11.79 PPG and is one of four players on the Sheffield roster that average double-digits in points.

That group includes 6’6” forward, Kipper Nichols who finished with 15 points and six rebounds versus the Lions.

A solid scoring night from both Ramsey and Nichols will be important if Sheffield hope to topple a Riders team that averages 14 points per game more than them.

Key Matchup

In a game where crisp passing and limiting turnovers is going to be essential, all eyes will be on the tussle between Kimbal Mackenzie and Sheffield’s top scorer, Sa’eed Nelson.

Nelson, who is currently on a three-game run averaging less than 10 PPG, will have something to prove matching up against one of the BBL’s in-form guards.

The 6’2” scorer has been prolific around the rim since his college days playing for the American Eagles basketball team. He holds the school’s all-time scoring record with 2,116 points and has carried that scoring touch with him to the BBL.

Nelson leads the Sharks knocking down 13.33 PPG, supplementing this with over five assists per game. His aggressive drives to the basket create floor space for the Sharks’ long-range shooters, so keeping Nelson out of the paint is essential.

Potentially going bucket-for-bucket with Nelson will be Leicester’s Canadian-born #1, Mackenzie.

The Ontario native has been in sensational form during the back stretch of the season, scoring more than 12 points in all-but-one game since December 23. This lucrative run includes a 31-point night in Chester and the 25-point performance last Friday.

Much like his cross-court rival, Mackenzie is devastating when given a lane, so look for the Sharks to close in on him on every possession.

The enigmatic combo guard possesses another string to his bow: an accurate three-point shot.

Mackenzie is currently draining 36.11% of his shots from deep and will be looking to improve that percentage further following an uncharacteristic 1-7 performance against Caledonia.

The last time the teams met. Mackenzie shot for 15 points and dished six assists in a single-point loss. He may need to surpass those numbers if the Riders are to halt Sheffield’s winning run.

Where to watch

The game will be streamed live on the British Basketball game, starting at 7:15 pm ready for a 7:30 pm tip-off.

Class of 2023, Alex Shaw commits to Hillsborough Hawks and HCC for the 2023/24 season.

Alex Shaw, 6’1 forward has committed to Florida based Hillsborough Community College for the 2023/24 academic year. Shaw will continue her basketball journey within the HCC Hawks Women’s basketball programme in the NJCAA, on a full ride scholarship. 

Shaw joined the Charnwood Riders Academy in 2020 and has played within the Loughborough Riders WNBL Division One and the WBBL Leicester Riders programme alongside her Academy commitments.

Alex shaw on her commitment to HCC:

“I’m very grateful for this opportunity. I am thankful for the people who have helped get me there, and can’t wait for what’s next and what experiences it brings”

Charnwood Riders Academy Head Coach, Nick Moodey:

“Alex is a great individual both on and off court. Her development over the three years of being within the Riders Programme is a clear indicator that she is dedicated to the sport and is always wanting to improve herself.”

“I’m excited to see Alex’s continued development whilst part of the Hillsborough programme and also for her to show what she can bring to any team” 

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

Riders fall to Eagles

The Riders fell to the Newcastle Eagles on the road 92-85 in the first of a weekend doubleheader against the North Easterners. 

They held a 20-point lead in the first, but the Eagles caught hot form in the second half to come back and win it. 

Zach Jackson led the Riders with 18 points and scored four quick points in the fourth to cut the game to one in an attempt at a comeback. However, the Eagles found enough for a late run to grow their lead. 

Jackson and Patrick Whelan hit threes in the final minute to give themselves a chance at the death, and the Riders forced an eight-second violation for a chance to cut it to one. But the Eagles got over the line in the dying seconds after free throws from Kyle Johnson. 

For Newcastle, Johnson led the game with 21 points and seven rebounds, spearheading the charge in the third quarter. The win is vital for them as they fight for the final playoff spot in the BBL Championship. 

The Eagles’ Hassan French made the early headlines, scoring 10 of his team’s first 13 points to keep the scores even. The Riders’ edged the lead, however, led by GB center Aaron Menzies.

Menzies scored seven in seven minutes, causing a delay after almost bringing the rim down on a ferocious slam. 

Following the stoppage, the Riders broke out to a nine-point lead with a 7-0 run. Justin Gordon responded with a pair of free throws for Newcastle, which concluded the quarter with the score 23-16. 

The Riders rode their momentum into the second period, starting with a 12-1 run led by three threes from young star Blake Bowman. Bowman went off for his career-high scoring tally with 12 in the second quarter, as the Riders blew the game wide open. 

A no-look bounce pass from Kimbal Mackenzie to Darien Nelson-Henry concluded the Riders’ explosive offensive effort for the first half, as they entered the locker rooms up 52-35. 

The Eagles started the more positive of the sides in the second half, bringing the score back to 13 after five minutes. They continued their run, and Jermel Kennedy hit back-to-back threes to make it a six-point game with two minutes remaining in the third. 

Javion Hamlet concluded the quarter with a layup inside, making it 72-69 in the Riders’ favour going into the fourth. 

Newcastle took their first lead of the game since the first quarter to start the fourth, as David Cohn went coast to coast to lay in a two. They stretched it to six points following a Kennedy three shortly after.

The Riders attempted a comeback through the hands of Jackson, but late Riders turnovers saw the Eagles’ lead grow.

Jackson and Whelan scored two quick threes to get back into contention in the final minute. But the Eagles saw out the win in the closing seconds after Johnson’s free throws. 

The Riders return to action on Sunday for the home leg of their weekend doubleheader, once again facing the Eagles.

The game’s tip-off is at 4pm and marks the beginning of a four-game home stretch. Get your tickets here.

BBL Championship Preview: Riders at Eagles

The Riders are back on the road on Friday, heading to the North East to take on the Newcastle Eagles.  

A win would improve the Riders to 17-7 on the season, bringing them four points off second place.

Riders’ season so far

The Riders enter this one in need of a bounce-back game after a difficult result against the London Lions in their previous fixture. It ended up 102-77 to the Lions, whose perimeter defence held the Riders to shooting 4-27 from three. 

This snapped a four-game league winning streak for the Riders as they build form on the back end of the season. Positive results in this weekend’s doubleheader will go a long way to continuing the Riders’ string of good results.

Kimbal Mackenzie’s form has contributed greatly to the run. The point guard’s play earned him Molten BBL Player of the Month for Febuary.

He led the team with 18 points against the Lions, and dished seven assists as he ran the offence. This came off the back of a 31-point effort in a win against the Cheshire Phoenix. 

Despite the Lions’ result, the Riders remain the BBL’s most efficient team, leading the league in field goal, three-point and free-throw percentage this season. They rank second in points per game, relying on their offensive firepower to win games. 

Eagles’ season so far

Newcastle enters this one off the back of a heartbreaker, after they fell late to the Bristol Flyers. Newcastle was up 15 midway through the third quarter, but a late Flyers surge saw them take the lead with 30 seconds remaining, winning 68-66. 

This left the Eagles with a 6-17 record, six points off the playoff places. The loss makes it four defeats on the bounce, as they hope to turn their form around to make a late playoff push. 

Javion Hamlet is leading the charge for Newcastle, ranking second in the league’s scoring charts, putting up 20.5 per game. He led the game with 24 points against Bristol and has failed to score double-digit points just once this year. 

The team have struggled to turn Hamlet’s scoring into consistent offence, however, putting up 79.9 points per game. They’ve shot the ball well from the free-throw line, ranking second in the BBL with 77.8%, so keeping Newcastle off the charity stripe should be a priority for Leicester. 

Key matchup

Entering the game as one of the BBL’s most explosive scorers, Javion Hamlet is a danger man the Riders need to focus on in this one.

The second-year pro played in the NBA G-League for the Texas Legends last season, after shocking the basketball world in his final year of college. He led North Texas to a March Madness upset, putting up 24 points, 12 rebounds and five assists to send fourth-seeded Purdue home. 

His play has translated seamlessly to the BBL, scoring 20.5 points per game on 47.9% shooting this season. He scored a season-high 34 points against the Caledonia Gladiators earlier in the year, and followed up his effort with 33 against the Manchester Giants in his next game. 

Facing up against the 6’4” guard is Riders’ GB two-guard, Patrick Whelan. Whelan returned to action against the Lions after missing two games with a foot injury and enters this game scoring 14.8 points per game. 

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. 

He’s one of the BBL’s hottest three-point shooters, hitting his deep shots at a 45.2% rate. He’s a lockdown defender on the other end, making him one of the league’s top two-way talents. 

The battle between Hamlet and Whelan will go a long way to deciding the outcome of this one. 

Where to watch

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

Arlen wins Player of the Month

Ashley Arlen has been named the WBBL Molten Player of the Month for Febuary!

The Iowa-born forward has averaged 21 points per game in a 3-0 month for the Riders, including a 24-point game against the Cardiff Met Archers.

Arlen leads the table-topping Riders with 16.3 points per game on their way to an 11-1 record.

“Winning player of the month is always a great recognition, mainly for the club and the team,” said Arlen.

“I’ve always said there’s no such thing as an individual award in basketball, so all credit goes to the team and coaches for putting me in a position to succeed and be at my best.

“Febuary was a great month for the team, and we hope to keep building on it for the rest of the season!”

The news comes after head coach Krumesh Patel was named the Molten WBBL Coach of the Month, making it a Riders double!

Congratulations Ashley!

BBL Championship Preview: Riders vs Lions

The Riders take on the London Lions in the BBL Championship following a two-week break from action. 

This is the first time the Riders face the Lions since the BBL Cup final, where the Lions emerged 79-71 victors. The Riders brought the score back to four in the final quarter, but could not get over the hump after a late surge from Final MVP Sam Dekker. 

In their previous game, the Riders secured a dominant 105-91 win on the road against the Cheshire Phoenix. Kimbal Mackenzie went off for a Riders’ high 31 points in the victory, which is Leicester’s fourth on the bounce in the league. 

Marc Loving has led the scoring effort through the season, however, scoring 16.7 points per game in all competitions. He has averaged 22.7 points in his last three league games, establishing himself as one of the BBL’s elite scorers. 

Leicester has the second-highest-scoring team in the league, scoring 88.7 points per game on highly efficient numbers. The Riders top the field goal, three-point and free-throw percentage charts, scoring at the highest rate in the BBL. 

A win against London would be their first against the Lions on the season and would see them move six points behind the table-toppers. 

League-leading Lions

Sitting at the top of the BBL Championship table with a 20-2 record, and already having a piece of silverware in the cabinet this season, the London Lions have established themselves as the team to beat midway through the season. 

They have led through their defence, holding their opponents to under 70 points per game, and enter this one having won their last 13 league games. 

The Riders have run them the closest of any team in recent months, keeping the game to within four points in the final period in their last two meetings. However, the Lions have emerged victors on both occasions, led by one of the leading MVP candidates in Sam Dekker. 

The former NBA forward has put up 18.1 points per game this season, dominating in close to shoot 79% from around the hoop. He scored 22 points in the BBL Cup final, coming up big in the high-pressure moments. 

To get over the edge in this one, the Riders must keep Dekker from the hoop late on. 

Key matchup 

Lions’ British guard Luke Nelson has been on a tear in recent games for London, scoring 18.6 points per game. The 6’3” point guard showed off his scoring and playmaking skills, dishing nine assists in back-to-back games also. 

Nelson arrived in the capital this season with an established European pedigree, having played in the Spanish, German and French first divisions. He scored 8.3 points a game for Le Portel in France last season before signing his first BBL contract. 

Nelson has averaged 10.7 points a game for London this season, going on a recent hot streak. He’s red hot from three, shooting 38.5%, and has picked teams apart all season with his basketball IQ and passing ability. 

Facing him in the backcourt is Kimbal Mackenzie, in the form of his Riders career. He enters this one off the back of a 31 point game vs Cheshire, thriving in his starting role this year.

Mackenzie’s play this season earned him a spot on the GB roster, alongside fellow Riders Patrick Whelan and Aaron Menzies. He’s putting up 11 points per game, and plays a pivotal role in running the Riders’ offence. 

The 6’1” guard is a Bucknall graduate who averaged 17 points per game as a senior. He’s scored in the double digits on 16 occasions this season, stepping up as a consistent starter.

The battle in the backcourt between these two intelligent guards will be a key factor in this clash. 

Where to watch

Tickets are selling quickly for this home fixture, so get them here to be in the arena!

If you cannot get tickets for this matchup, the game will be shown live on Sky Sports, and streamed live on the Sky Sports Youtube channel starting at 7:30 pm. 

BBL Championship Preview: Riders vs Giants

The Riders are set to host the Manchester Giants in BBL Championship action. A win would see them improve to 15-6, as they look to take advantage of three games in hand on the second-placed Bristol Flyers. 

The two teams have treated the BBL to classic matchups this season, as their previous two fixtures were fought wire-to-wire. 

The Riders emerged victors on both occasions, most recently a 114-107 overtime win to see them advance to the BBL Trophy quarter-final. 

Leicester fell out of the competition in their previous game vs the Sheffield Sharks, losing 79-78. They had a chance to win on the buzzer, but could not find the hoop with the final shot of the game

READ MORE: Riders lose to Sharks in Trophy quarter-final

Marc Loving leads the team in scoring this season, putting up 16.2 points per game on 50.2% shooting from the field. His efficient shooting is shared throughout the team, as they lead the league in field goal, free-throw and three-point percentage. 

A win against the Giants would make it a three-game winning streak in the league as the Riders look to close out the season on a hot stretch.

High-powered Giants

The Giants have lit up the BBL on the offensive end, leading the league in scoring with 90.4 points per game. They have two of the top six scorers in the BBL, Dirk Williams and Tajh Green, as they look to their star power to blow teams away. 

Green leads the way with 19.8 a game and 8.8 rebounds, the rookie exploding for big numbers is his first pro season. The high-flying forward has got fans on their feet with explosive plays on both ends. 

Despite Green’s play, teams have matched the Giants’ scoring so far this year, leaving them with an 11-10 league record. Their opponents score 91.5 points per game against Manchester, a BBL high. 

The Giants enter this game well-rested, last playing on Febuary 4. It was an 86-85 road win against the Surrey Scorchers to get them over .500, led by 29 points from Green. 

They will hope to climb the standings going into the postseason, as they sit just one win away from a home playoff game. A win in this game would go a long way to injecting momentum into Manchester’s season. 

Key matchup

Two-time MVP Rahmon Fletcher comes to Leicester, in different colours to what Riders fans have been accustomed to over the previous decade.

The Newcastle Eagles legend moved to the Giants over the offseason, following seven seasons in the Northeast. In that time, Fletcher earned four First-team All-BBL selections, three BBL Cup Final MVPs and a BBL Playoffs Final MVP, along with his two league MVPs. 

This season, Fletcher is putting up 14.7 points and 8.57 assists, his assist tally leading the BBL. He is an invaluable playmaker to the Giants, running the league’s highest-scoring offence. 

Lining up against him will be points guard Kimbal Makenzie, who received his first GB call-up earlier in the week. Mackenzie has stepped into a starting role this season and has prospered running the Riders’ offence. 

READ MORE: Kimbal, Patrick & Aaron in GB 24

Mackenzie is putting up 9.9 points for the Riders this season and has come up huge in the biggest spots. He scored five points in overtime last time out against the Giants, including a late free-throw to seal the win. 

The winner of this duel in the backcourt will go a long way to deciding this exciting matchup. 

Where to watch

The game, tipping off at 7:45, will be hosted at the Morningside Arena Leicetser on Friday Febuary 17. 

Get your tickets here! 

If you can’t get to the game, it will be streamed live on the British Basketball League Youtube channel, starting at 7:30 pm. 

BBL Championship preview: Riders vs Scorchers

The Riders return to league action, hosting the Surrey Scorchers in the BBL Championship. The game tips off at 7:45 pm, on Friday 3rd Febuary.

Get your tickets here!

Leicester enter this one off the back of the BBL Cup final, where they fell just short against the London Lions. It was a four-point game late in the fourth quarter, but the Riders could not get over the hump against a talented Lions team, losing 79-71. 

Zach Jackson led the team with 16 points and four rebounds, going 2-4 from deep.

Read our full report here.

The Riders have three scorers putting up 15 points per game this season, Jackson, Patrick Whelan and Loving. They are led by Loving, who puts up 16.1 points per game in all competitions.

Loving’s play has helped Leicester to third in the standings, with four games in hand on second-placed Bristol. They possess a 13-6 record after beating the Cheshire Phoenix 100-82 to start a three-game league home stretch. 

The Riders are the most efficient team in the BBL, shooting the best field goal and three-point percentage in the league, leading to the second most points. They’ll look to continue shooting the lights out to bounce back in this one. 

Scorchers heating up?

Despite their 2-17 record leaving them bottom of the BBL Championship table, the Scorchers have played teams close throughout the season, unable to convert performances to wins.

11 of their losses have been within 10 points, most recently a 97-92 loss to the Manchester Giants. Josh Steel’s three with 24 seconds remaining cut it to a one-possession affair late, but the Giants’ made their free throws to secure the win.

Ryan Martin led Surrey with 22 points and six rebounds. The GB big is the Scorchers’ fourth-leading scorer with 11.8 points per game this season and has added physicality and size to a guard-heavy roster. 

But it’s one of their guards, Padiet Wang, who has led their scoring this season with 12.2 an outing. Wang was lights out in the previous meeting between these sides, scoring 18 in the first half. 

He will hope for another offensive explosion to help his team past the Riders. 

Key matchup 

GB guard Andrew Lawrence has continued to impress for Surrey this season, during his second year in the BBL. The 6’1” two-guard is scoring 10.9 points per game, shooting a red-hot 38.5% from three. 

Lawrence is an eight-year pro, having played at the top level of European basketball, in Spain and France’s top division. He put up six points per game in Spain for Acunsa Gipuzkoa, playing 23 games. 

Lawrence is having joy attacking the hoop this season, shooting 70% from in close. He comes off the back of a 16-point showing against the BBL’s best defence, the London Lions, and now faces another GB talent in Patrick Whelan. 

Whelan, like Lawrence, is playing in his second straight season for his team. He led the Riders in scoring last year and has continued his hot form into 2023. He’s scoring 15.3 points per game, and is one of the BBL’s top three-point shooters, making 45.5% of his shots from behind the arc. 

Whelan received his first GB call-up last March, and earned a spot on the Eurobasket 2022 roster, after being named to the BBL Team of the Year last season. He’s one of the BBL’s top talents on both ends and will prove a challenge to Lawrence’s offensive skillset. 

Where to watch

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

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. 

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!

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

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:

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!

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!

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. 

BBL Championship Preview: Riders vs Scorchers

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

Bounce back game for Leicester 

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

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

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

Read our full report here.

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

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

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

Surrey try to turn performances into results

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key matchup  

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where to watch

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

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

Riders fall short of a comeback against Lions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BBL Championship Preview: Riders vs Lions

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

Table-topping Riders

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

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

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

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

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

Lions show their claws

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

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

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

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

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

Key matchup 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where to watch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BBL Championship Preview: Riders at Giants

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

Riding high

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

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

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

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

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

Giants gearing up for winter 

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

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

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

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

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

Key matchup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where to watch

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

BBL Cup Preview: Riders vs Gladiators

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

Reigning champion Riders

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caledonia back again

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

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

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

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

Key matchup 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where to watch

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

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

Riders see out clutch win in Newcastle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders secure big win vs Gladiators

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BBL Championship Preview- Riders vs Gladiators

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

Riders bouncing back 

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

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

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

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

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

Read our report here! 

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

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

Caledonia finding form

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key matchup 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where to watch

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

Logan Rooney formally signs with Loughborough Basketball in the NBL

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

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

Coach Will Maynard on his latest signing: 

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

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

Riders secure road win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BBL Championship Preview- Riders at Scorchers

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

Sharpshooting Riders sinking shots 

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

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

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

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

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

Scorchers searching for offensive rhythm 

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

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

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

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

Key matchup 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where to watch

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

Riders fall to Gladiators

The Riders lost their first game in six, falling 92-66 to the Caledonia Gladiators. 

Leicester fell into a 20-point hole in the opening stages, and despite cutting it to single digits in the third, failed to recover all the way. The Gladiators, who lead the BBL in steals, played intense defence to force 25 turnovers from the Riders.

Marc Loving led the attempted comeback with 15 points, going 55% from the field and 50% from three. He made momentum-building plays throughout, but the Riders could not climb all the way back. 

Jeremiah Bailey had a season-high 23 points for the Gladiators, the 6’6” wing grabbing six rebounds and dishing five assists to stuff the stat sheet. The first-year pro found form in key moments in the game to rebuild the hosts’ lead. 

The Gladiators took the ball from the Riders three times in the first three minutes to jump out to a 13-2 lead. Leicester stemmed the tide momentarily, keeping them off the scoresheet for the next few minutes, but ended the first period in a  31-12 hole after a 10-point quarter from the BBL’s leading scorer, David Sloan. 

Zach Jackson hit back-to-back threes near the end of the first, as the Riders tried to find some momentum. 

Loving came out gunning to start the second, making two three-point plays to chip into Caledonia’s lead. Leicester commenced a 14-4 run to cut it to single digits, capped off by a Loving triple. 

Leicester won the second 27-19, as Patrick Whelan hit a pair of free throws to close the half with 11 points, with the score 48-39 to the hosts. 

The Gladiators started the second half with four steals in three minutes, going on an 11-0 run to build their lead back to 20. 

After a tough start to the third, Loving and Jackson snatched back the run of play again, scoring six straight between them to once again chip away at the deficit. Kimbal Mackenzie followed up his teammates to get points in transition, making it 61-47. 

The teams closed the quarter with traded baskets, the difference still 14. But the hosts started the final period the hotter of the teams, hitting three threes in two minutes. They blew the game open to start the fourth and took their lead to the final buzzer. 

The Riders take a break from BBL Championship action on Saturday to take on the Newcastle Eagles in the BBL Cup quarter-final. The game will be played at the Morningside Arena, tipping off at 7:45 pm. 

BBL Championship Preview: Riders at Gladiators

The Riders head to Glasgow for the second time this season, where they take on the Caledonia Gladiators. 

Riders on a roll

Leicester comes into this one having won five on the bounce, finding their rhythm early in the season. They hold a 7-3 record, one behind the league leaders as they climb the BBL Championship table.

A 71-58 home win against the Sheffield Sharks was their seventh of the year. Zach Jackson’s 11-point fourth quarter saw the Riders burst out to a late lead, as Leicester looked to the Kansas native down the stretch, as they have many times this season. 

“Zach’s been awesome this year, night in, night out,” said head coach Rob Paternostro. “He’s a guy that picks his spots, but you know when the money is on the line, he’s ready to contribute.” 

Jackson is averaging 15 points per game this season and is one of three Riders players scoring that many on the season. Marc Loving and Patrick Whelan are also achieving the feat, Whelan leading the team with 15.9 a night, shooting 47.5% from three. 

The team leads the BBL in three-point shooting and is the most efficient team shooting from the field. They score the second most points per game and will hope to continue that trend in this one. 

Gladiators back home

The Caledonia Gladiators possess a 3-5 record, despite having played just one of their first eight games at home. Their only game in Glasgow came against the Riders, where they secured an 89-81 win. 

David Sloan showed out for Caledonia in the game, putting up a monumental 36-point performance. The American point guard made five threes and shot 57% from the field to will his team past the defending champions. 

Sloan has exploded offensively early in the season, his 23.4 points per game leading the BBL. The first-year pro’s 36 against Leicester was still only his second-highest-scoring tally of the season, having hung 37 on Bristol earlier in November. 

The Gladiators look to turn games into gritty affairs, playing at the second-slowest pace in the league. They get their hands in the lane on defence, averaging the most steals, often forcing their opponents into mistakes. 

Caledonia enters this one having lost three on the bounce, but a second-straight win against last season’s treble winners would go a long way to restoring momentum to their season. 

Key matchup

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

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

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

Facing up against Sloan off the Riders’ bench will be Kimbal Mackenzie, who has given the Riders great minutes off late. He did not miss a shot in his most recent game, the win against the Sheffield Sharks, scoring 11 points from five shots. 

“Kimbal’s playing great basketball. He recovered from an ankle injury from last week, and was awesome tonight,” said Paternostro after the game. 

Mackenzie is shooting 51% from the field this season, a steadying presence off the bench. 

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

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

Where to watch

The game will be streamed live on the British Basketball League Youtube channel, tipping off at 7:30 pm! 

BBL Championship Preview- Riders vs Sharks

The Riders take on the Sheffield Sharks at home, trying to make it five wins in a row. A win would improve their record to 7-3, as the reigning champions climb up the league table. 

In-form Riders on the charge

Coming out of the international break, the Riders are looking to build on the momentum they gained and continue their longest winning streak of the season.

They were in full control against the Plymouth City Patriots in their previous outing, outscoring them in every quarter of the game. Finishing the game with a 79-101 win, five Riders players scored double digits for the second game in a row.

Since then, the Riders’ made a major addition to their squad, as GB international Aaron Menzies signed from Germany to join the Leicester frontcourt. The 7’3” center steps in for the injured Mo Walker and looks to make an impact inside. 

“It’s an exciting signing for us. He’s great on the glass, he adds a lot of size and the ability to change the game for us. What’s really exciting for me is that his best basketball is ahead of him. He’s getting better every day, and we’re looking forward to seeing him wear the red.” 

Menzies will join the team for this one, after playing twice for GB in the break. 

This is the second time these two teams will have played each other this season, with the Riders coming out on top in the last game, winning 86-72. Derryck Thornton posted an impressive stat line of 21 points and 4 assists.

They will look to replicate their success to continue to build into a long season. 

Sharks save their season

The Sharks come into the game 5-5, having overcome a poor start to the season that left them 0-4. They look to improve on their 17-10 season last year and gain their first win against the Riders in the BBL Championship since December 7th, 2018. 

Since then, the Sharks have lost 10 consecutive games to the Riders in the league. They enter the game with three players scoring with a double-digit average, Saeed Nelson, Kipper Nichols and Bennet Koch. 

Leading them is Nelson, who has started his third pro season strongly with 13.7 points and 5.6 assists per game. The 6’2” guard exploded for 31 points in his second Sharks game and has scored double-digit points in seven of his ten outings this year. 

Leicester will have to put pressure on the Sheffield offence, as the Sharks enter the game with the least turnovers in the league. They succeeded in their last game, winning the turnover battle in Sheffield 11-8 in their 86-72 win in October. 

The Riders will have their hands full, facing this in-form Sharks team for the second time this season. 

Key matchup 

Kipper Nichols has been on a tear as of late, entering this one having scored over 20 in two of his last three games. The third-year Shark put up 20 points and five rebounds against the Riders last time out, going 9-17 from the field. 

Nichols has shown improvement every year of his young career. He scored 10 points per game last season and was an integral part of his team’s second-placed finish. The Illinois graduate stands at 6’6” on the wing, and uses his shooting touch to score from anywhere on the court. 

Lining up against him is Zach Jackson, who has established himself as one of the BBL’s elite wings this season. He’s scoring 14.7 points per game and led the team to a win against the Patriots with 18 points and eight rebounds. 

The Omaha graduate excels on both ends, able to get his head down and get a bucket and take on a defensive assignment one-on-one. He showed his in a recent win against the Cheshire Phoenix, scoring a go-ahead basket late before locking up former Rider Jamell Anderson to seal it. 

Jackson will need to be at his brilliant best on both ends on this one, as the Riders go for their fifth straight win. 

Where to watch

Tip-off is at 7:45 for this fixture. The game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports, and streamed on the Sky Sports YouTube channel!

BBL Championship Preview- Riders at Patriots

The Riders take on the Plymouth City Patriots on the road, for the second game of a weekend doubleheader. A win would improve their record to 6-3, as Leicester finds its form. 

Riders rolling to the break

Going into the international break, the Riders are on a three-game winning streak. They’re building momentum for the first time this season as they look to climb the standings. 

They fought wire to wire in their previous fixture against the Cheshire Phoenix, pulling out an 89-85 win. Patrick Whelan led the team with 16 points, as five Riders scored in double digits. 

Read our report on the win! 

“This is our third double-header in a row with a Sunday road game, which is a challenge,” said head coach Rob Paternostro after the game. “We’ve got to get some rest, recover, and give it everything because we know we have a break afterwards.”

Leicester’s offence is humming in the opening stages of the season. It ranks top two in points per game, field goal % and three-point %. They’re led by Whelan and Marc Loving’s 16 points per game, as their well-balanced offence has four players averaging 14 points. 

The Riders are familiar with their opponents, having knocked them out of the first round of last year’s playoffs. They won 174-158 over two legs, going on to win it all at the O2 Arena. They will hope for some carry-over into this year, as a win on this long road trip would see them rise to second in the standings. 

A solid start in the South West

A 3-3 start for the Patriots through the season’s early stages marks a respectable record, as they hope to improve on 12-15 from last year. It was chalked up as a successful season for the newly formed Patriots last year, as their record earned them the last playoff place. 

But Plymouth will look to build, taking confidence from their fine form to end last season. They finished the season on a 12-7 run, turning their season around after an 0-8 start. Their highflying sensation Antonio Williams, who led their scoring last season with 18.6 points per game, stayed in Plymouth this offseason to lead them again this year. 

He started the season with a bang, averaging 24 points through his first two league games. His hot form was halted, however, being ruled out with injury for several weeks. He returned in their previous game, playing just 20 minutes in his side’s 93-85 win against the Caledonia Gladiators. 

Plymouth has hung its hat on making defensive plays this season, ranking top two in the league in steals and blocks. On offence, they crash the glass to secure second possessions, grabbing 12 per game. 

Plymouth will look for revenge against the Riders from last season’s playoffs, with a win giving them a winning record for the first time since their opening game. 

Key matchup 

In the absence of Antonio Williams, BBL veteran Rashad Hassan has held down the fort for Plymouth this season with 15 points and 6.3 rebounds per outing. The eight-year pro, and former Rider, is playing in his fourth season in Plymouth and has been the hallmark of consistency and efficiency. 

Hassan has averaged 67.2% from the field this season and has averaged over 60% in seven of his eight pro seasons. The 6’8” big enters this one having averaged 24 points and 7.5 rebounds in his previous two fixtures. 

Lining up against him in the backcourt will be Jubril Adekoya, one of the BBL’s best defenders who rises to any challenge. Adekoya’s defence inside played a pivotal role in his last game, coming up with two clutch steals in the paint. 

Adekoya’s impact on winning was on full display last weekend when the Riders took on the Sheffield Sharks. He earned the Premier Logistics’ player of the game despite not scoring, ending with a +/- of 24. 

Adekoya’s defence on Hassan in this one may once again prove the difference between the Riders and their opponents. 

Where to watch

The game will be live-streamed on the British Basketball Youtube channel, tipping off at 3 pm. 

BBL Championship Preview- Riders vs Phoenix

The Riders host the Cheshire Phoenix in tonight’s BBL Championship action, last season’s 6th-placed league finishers. 

Riders finding form

After an up-and-down start to the season, the Riders have strung together back-to-back wins for the first time this season, against quality opposition. A double header of the weekend, versus the Bristol Flyers and the Sheffield Sharks, moved them above .500 for the first time this season. 

The Sharks result was significant, with their opponents entering the game having won four on the bounce, beating the London Lions in their previous fixture. The Riders had four starters score over 15 points, led by 21 from Derryck Thornton. 

Read our report here! 

“We said before the game that we’re tired of this lose one win one stuff; let’s string some together,” said coach Rob Paternostro after the game. 

“Our offence has been playing well. Statistically, we’ve been up there in the league offensively. That’s a product of the talent we have, and our unselfishness. We played unselfish basketball today, so I feel good about where that’s at.”

Marc Loving leads the Riders’ offence, scoring 18.1 points per game after a 34-point outing against the Flyers. Leicester has been one of the BBL’s most efficient teams, ranking top two in points per game, field goal % and three-point %. 

Winning this one would bring the Riders’ record to 5-3, as the reigning champions look to chase down the top spot. 

Cheshire building on last season’s silverware

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 new scoring form, putting up back-to-back 20-point games to start the year and logging a career-high scoring average. 

With new addition Marcus Evans, formerly of the Bristol Flyers, lining up in the backcourt, the Phoenix built a well-balanced team. But it’s second year Phoenix Larry Austin leading the scoring for Cheshire, putting up 14 points per game. 

Austin led the team in their previous game with 23 points, as they beat the Surrey Scorchers 76-66. The win improved their record to 3-4, after losing back-to-back games previous to the result.

Defence has been key to Cheshire’s success, as they hold their opponents to an average of  71 points on their wins. Their aim will be to keep the Riders’ scoring to a minimum in this one, as they rank in the bottom two in the BBL in points per game, field goal percentage and three-point percentage. 

Key matchup 

The clash on the perimeter may prove pivotal to the outcome of this fixture, as two of the BBL’s best talents face off.

Larry Austin has led the Phoenix in points this season, scoring over 20 in back-to-back games. Meanwhile, last season’s leading scorer for the Riders has cooked from deep early in the season, putting up key points from the wing. 

Austin, a 6’2” two-guard from Springfield, Illinois, is a second-year Phoenix and a four-year pro, having played in Turkey, Portugal and New Zealand. He averaged 14.4 points per game last season, establishing himself as one of the BBL’s elite perimeter threats. 

Austin has active hands-on defence, coming up with steals for quick transition points. He is fast on the break and can run it coast-to-coast himself using his speed and handles. His handles are a weapon in the halfcourt too, with his ability to take on defenders one-on-one forcing elite defenders to take on the challenge. 

Whelan will look to be up for it though, the GB international having received another call-up for his country after playing in Eurobasket in the summer. 

Whelan was named to the BBL Team of the Year last season, averaging 15.3 points per game for the treble winners. The Warrington-born wing picked up where he left off this year, scoring 16 points per game and shooting 44.4% from deep.

Whelan is a deadly shooter from outside, his smooth release keeping defenders honest when guarding him. He’s an exceptional defensive player, and will fancy his chances of stepping up against Austin. 

Where to watch

The game will be shown live on the British Basketball League YouTube channel, tipping off at 7:45 pm.  

BBL Championship Preview- Riders at Sharks

The Riders are on the road for the fifth time this season, taking on the Sheffield Sharks. The Sharks were runners-up in last season’s league table and enter this game on a four-game winning streak. 

Riders looking for momentum 

After an injury-troubled start to their season, playing games without key players Zach Jackson and Derryck Thornton, Leicester are looking to find form and health going into the rest of a long season. 

They hold a 3-3 record, winning both of their home games, including their most recent fixture against the Bristol Flyers. It was a revenge game for Leicester after they fell to their opponents in their third game of the season. 

“We needed to get back on track,” said Riders forward Jubril Adekoya “The way they beat us last time we played left a bad taste in our mouths. We owed them one. It’s still early in the year, but we’ve got to figure out how to start winning these back-to-back games. We’ve got to try and find a rhythm and keep it rolling.”

Read our report from the win!

Leicester’s offence has been ticking nicely through the season. They are one of the most efficient shooting teams in the BBL, shooting a league-best 50.8% from the field and a second-best 39.1% from three. 

They’re led by Ohio-born Marc Loving’s 18.7 points per game. Loving exploded for 34 points, two blocks and two steals in the Flyers game, torching the Bristol defence. 

“Marc was unbelievable today,” said coach Rob Paternostro after the game. “Any time we needed a bucket, he got it, and he’s been incredible all season. I think he’s one of the most underrated players in the league, and on both ends he was awesome.”

A win would see the Riders move over .500 for the first time this season, as they look to make a charge up the league table. 

Gritty Sharks grinding out results

After starting the season 0-4, the Sheffield Sharks have found their identity as a defensive force to win four on the bounce. They gave up 49 points per game through a three-game stretch, including a 62-49 win against the Cheshire Phoenix to get the ball rolling. 

They hold their opponents to 71.8 points per game on the season, the best defensive record in the BBL. On the offensive end, new acquisition Sa’eed Nelson has led the way with 14 points per game, followed by backcourt partner Kipper Nichols with 13.3. 

Nelson and Nichols led the team to a huge win in their previous game, beating the league-leading London Lions 89-81. They had 19 and 22 points respectively, going a combined 14-20 from the field. 

The Sharks look after the ball, not beating themselves. They’re a pass-first team, ranking top four in assists per game, but turn the ball over the least in the league. This reliable form of basketball, matched with their elite defence, makes them a tough prospect to face for the reigning champs. 

Key matchup 

Third-year pro Sa’eed Nelson is leading the Sharks through the opening stages of the season with 14 points per outing. The 25-year-old American played his first pro seasons in the German second division, averaging 13 points in his rookie year. 

This came after four years at American University in the NCAA D1. He scored 20 points per game as a junior, putting up five rebounds and assists as a well-rounded point guard. His scoring ability was on full display on his second Sheffield start, putting up 31 against the Giants. 

Nelson will go head to head with the Riders’ leading scorer of their own, Derryck Thornton. After missing a weekend doubleheader, he returned to the Riders’ most recent game. He is averaging 14.3 points, five assists and five rebounds in a well-rounded start to the year. 

The California native averaged 18.4 points and 5.4 assists per game in the Austrian first division last season, playing for Kapfenberg Bulls. He set the league alight with his flashy handles and electrifying dunks, attacking the rim to set up plays for himself and his teammates. 

The battle in the backcourt may end up as the key to the game, as both point guards are capable of exploding for monster performances any given night. 

Where to watch

The game tips off at 4 pm, played at Ponds Forge in Sheffield. It will be live-streamed on the British Basketball League Youtube channel.

BBL Championship preview- Riders vs Flyers

The Riders host the Bristol Flyers, as the sides meet for the second time early in the season. They will look to bounce back after a defeat in their most recent fixture. 

Riders happy to be home

Leicester endured a difficult start to the season, with four of their first five games on the road. They currently possess a 2-3 record, having beaten Surrey and Manchester, the latter their only home game of the year so far. 

“It was great to be home. We were all looking forward to playing in our home arena. We’ve had great success here, and the guys were fired up to play,” said coach Rob Paternostro after the win. 

“Our guys love shooting in here. We obviously practice here, so we’re used to shooting here.”

Patrick Whelan, who had 20 points and four threes in the game, echoed his coach’s sentiments: “It felt nice to be back, especially because we spent the first three games on the road. To be back feels really good.”

They were straight on the road after the victory, heading up to Glasgow to play two days after. They lost a close fixture, which was within six points for the entire tie before the final three minutes. 

Read our report here! 

They will therefore appreciate a week’s rest before this one. The Riders will be in high hopes, hosting a game for the second time this year. A win would see them get back to .500, as they try to build momentum in their season. 

Bristol flying high 

The Flyers enjoyed a red-hot start to the 2022/23 season, winning five of their first six games. They started the season 4-0, holding down their home floor to remain one of the two undefeated teams in the BBL. They fell in their first road game in Newcastle, losing 89-78 against the Eagles, but Bristol bounced back in their most recent game, an 81-74 road win against the Cheshire Phoenix. 

Thomas Bell leads the scoring for the Flyers this season, the American forward is scoring 16 points per game on a red-hot 42.9% three-point shooting. His team’s success has come from the front court, as Bristol has dominated the offensive boards this season, grabbing 16.2 per game. 

The early season success comes off the back of a fourth-placed league finish last season, the highest in franchise history thanks to a 14-13 record. Leicester had success against Bristol last season, winning the season series 4-2 in all competitions. But the Flyers did prove a stern test for the Riders, knocking them out of the BBL Trophy, and the matchup has remained tough this year. 

The sides faced off in the Riders’ third game, and Bristol took the win. It was a tight game wire to wire, but the Flyers found late momentum to win. Leicester will look for payback with a win in this one. 

Key matchup 

When these teams last faced, Jelani Watson-Gayle had himself a night. The 6’1” point guard scored 18 points in the tie, including six in the final three and a half minutes to seal the win. 

Watson-Gayle is playing in his first professional season, after stints in the NCAA DII with Fresno Pacific, Miles and Benedict. Last season Watson-Gayle led Fresno to the PacWest Conference Tournament for the first time in their history, whilst being named PacWest First-Team All-Conference. 

Watson-Gayle is a born scorer, shooting a good percentage from deep in every college year. The Brit played for GB under 20s in 2018, and has grown into a dangerous perimeter threat in pro hoops. 

Lining up against him is the red-hot Patrick Whelan, the Riders’ leading scorer from last season has led the way in the last two games. He scored 22 points against Caledonia, including 11 in the fourth to attempt a Riders comeback. 

The GB sharpshooter came into this season off the back of his first international tournament, representing his country at EuroBasket. He was one of the BBL’s elite last season, being named to the Team of the Year after scoring 15.3 points per game. 

Whelan has come out gunning this year, making 42.9% of his threes on the way to 17 points per game. And Whelan will look to continue to play both ends to his elite level for the Riders to secure back-to-back home wins. 

Where to watch

Tickets are available to purchase here, or on the door before the game, but are expected to sell out quickly. The fixture will also be streamed on the British Basketball League YouTube channel.

Riders fall just short in Glasgow

The Riders fell short in Scotland, losing a battle against the Caledonia Gladiators. Before the closing seconds, the lead was never greater than six for either team. But the Gladiators found late momentum to secure the win. 

The Riders’ wing duo of Patrick Whelan and Marc Loving led the scoring with 22 and 20, respectively, the former scoring 11 points in the final period in an attempted comeback. They shot well from the field, making 50% of their shots, but could not stop the Gladiators’ offence. 

First-year pro David Sloan exploded for a huge night for Caledonia. The 6’0” point guard’s 36-point effort was the best scoring night of any Riders’ opponent this season and his professional-best tally. Sloan made five of ten threes in a scorching hot shooting night. 

It was a tightly fought affair from the jump, as nothing separated the teams through a deadlocked first quarter. The Riders attacked the rim early and often, getting to the free-throw line to generate their offence.

On defence, they held Caledonia to 36% shooting in the first but gave up three offensive rebounds, which kept the score even at 18 each. 

Zach Jackson hit the Riders’ first three of the game five minutes into the second quarter, taking the lid off the basket from deep. They made three straight attempts within the next minute, but the Gladiators continued to crash the glass, with eight offensive rebounds in the first half.

Caledonia big man Jeremiah Bailey had 11 rebounds, five of them offensive, to keep it close by halftime. The score was 42-41 in the Riders’ favour entering the locker rooms.

Marc Loving took over the scoring load in the third quarter, scoring eight points in the period to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Despite his play, the score remained close, with a Patrick Tape slam to close the third making it 59-57 to Leicester entering the final period.

Sloan, who had 17 points going into the fourth, got the action underway in by nailing a three from the wing. The shot set the tone for the start of the quarter, as the Gladiators found their hottest form of the game to go up four. 

The Riders fought back, as Whelan put on an offensive masterclass. He scored 11 points to lead a comeback, his three taking the lead with three minutes on the clock. But the hosts responded with seven straight points, putting themselves in a strong position to see the game out. 

The Riders hauled up threes in an attempt to make it a one-possession game, but they would not drop, and the Gladiators saw out the win. 

The Riders look to bounce back on Friday, as they host the Bristol Flyers. A win would see their record improve to 3-3, as they look to gain some momentum in the season. 

Everymind Performance joins the Leicester Riders family as official partner to take academy programme to the next level.

Leicester Riders academy programme is already one of the most successful academies in the UK with a multitude of national titles and players moving on to professional basketball around the world. Riders have now created a new partnership with performance coaching and education experts, Everymind Performance. The partnership has already been in place for a year with Everymind Performance shaping the academy’s DiSE (Diploma in Sporting Excellence) education programme and integrating a high performance framework into the programme as a whole. 

Everymind Performance helps athletes and sports organisations to optimise their performance and deliver outstanding education. Players are educated on how to optimise their performance and break down the barriers to their potential through high quality performance coaching. 

Everymind Performance supports the players to understand how their mind works and how sustainable high performance must be a holistic perspective that starts within. From tackling self doubt and the anxieties that come with being an elite athlete, to skills needed to keep a level head in big game situations and the true realities of being a high performer in today’s society, the feedback from players has proven that performance coaching is a huge benefit to their development and ability to sustain high performance throughout a whole season. 

Rob Jarram, founder of Everymind Performance,

‘Performance coaching is becoming an integrated part of elite sport. The Golden State Warriors worked with infamous performance coach, Tony Robbins, last year in the playoff finals and Formula 1 teams have performance coaches to help the teams and drivers find those all important winning margins. This programme is just the same, we aim to help the athletes and staff to consider their thinking and behaviours and align them with what creates sustainable high performance, now and in the future’. 

Russell Levenston, Riders’ Managing Director,

‘Our academy programme is first and foremost about creating successful people. Not all academy players will go on to a career in basketball and professional careers are not forever. We have a duty as professional clubs to make sure that we develop successful people and in addition, high performance is a lifestyle. Everymind Performance brings a holistic approach which tackles the highs and lows on and off the court’.

Arlen named in top 3!

Forward, Ashley Arlen has been named in the ‘Top 3 Ballers’ in the WBBL on The BBL Show podcast alongside London Lions, Kiki Herbert-Harrigan and Shanice Beckford-Norton.

Arlen joined the Riders this season after a successful three-year spell at the Nottingham Wildcats and professional experience in Romania, Germany, Spain and Australia. Arlen now leads the Riders’ side as team captain.

After 3 games in the WBBL Championship Arlen has amassed an impressive 18.3 PPG, 2.0 BLKPG, 16 FGM, 7 3PM, 7.7 DRPG – putting her in the league’s top ten across multiple stats.

The Riders will take on the Gladiators on Sunday, 23rd October before hosting the Archers on Saturday, 29th October. You can secure your ticket to home games here:

Riders fall short in a close one

The Riders fell just short in a close one in Bristol, concluding a three-game road trip to start the season. 

The game was tightly contested throughout, but the Flyers found late momentum to win the contest. New man Derryck Thornton led the team for the second straight game with 16 points and five rebounds, but the game got away from them late as Bristol scored four straight to see it out. 

Backing up Thornton off the bench was Mo Walker, whose size and strength made a significant impact on the tie. His 16 points and four rebounds proved vital in a tough Riders stretch in the first half.

Leicester shot efficiently in the game, making 49% of their shots and 40% of their threes, but lost the turnover battle by four, costing them valuable possessions. On the other end, Bristol shot a red-hot 45% from deep to get the better of the game. 

Bristol’s Jelani Watson-Gayle went off for 18 points to lead the game off the Flyers’ bench. He led his team’s three-point assault, making three. Thomas Bell also enjoyed a good scoring night, putting up 17. 

The Riders struggled for an early rhythm and quickly found themselves in a 15-4 hole after a plethora of Flyers fastbreak buckets. Bristol knocked down their first three attempts from behind the arc while the Riders looked to find their eye for the hoop, starting 1-9 from the field. 

Walker entered the fray as Rob Paternostro tried to establish some size down low against Flyers’ bruising center Malcolm Delpeche. Walker scored four quick points to keep Leicester in it, but Bristol maintained their lead with a barrage of threes. 

The Riders continued to chip away at the deficit in the second as the lid crept off the basket. Threes dropped for Marc Loving and Patrick Whelan; the latter scored seven points in two minutes to cut it to a four-point game. 

The sides traded buckets as the clock ticked down to halftime. The Flyers made a shot to close the second, making it 50-43 in the host’s favour. 

The Riders bolted out the gate in the second half, scoring six straight to make it a one-point affair. With momentum firmly in their corner, a fired-up Riders team took their first lead of the game three minutes into the third, as Whelan ran the fast break before making a tough layup. 

Despite the Riders’ surge back into the game, the score remained close for the remainder of the third. Back-to-back Flyers threes built them a slight advantage, which they took into the final period, up 71-66. 

In the fourth, the Riders again started the better of the teams. Walker got to work down low to draw a foul for two shots at the line, which he converted to tie the game up. What followed was a tense finish, with neither side able to establish a grip on the game.

The Flyers build a small margin, making key buckets to go up six with two minutes left. In response, Loving hit a huge three to cut it to one possession, but Bristol continued to make shots, keeping the Riders at arm’s length and winning the game. 

The Riders return to Leicester for their first home game of the season on Friday. They take on the Manchester Giants, hoping to bounce back and improve to 2-2. Tickets are available here.

Riders bag first win of the season

The Riders took their first win of the season, beating the Surrey Scorchers 86-67 on the road. The Riders took an early lead which they carried through to the final buzzer, blowing the game open in the third quarter. 

New man Derryck Thornton enjoyed a dream debut, leading the game with 20 points after scoring 16 points in the first half. Backing up the American guard was backcourt partner Patrick Whelan, whose three three’s helped him to 17 points in the game. 

Leicester dominated the glass to march to the win, outrebounding the Scorchers by 10 in the game. Combined with efficient 51% shooting from Leicester, and they get points on the board for the first time this year. 

The skipper led the Riders out the gate, as four-year Rider Darien Nelson-Henry scored their first two baskets of a 13-4 start. New man Thornton impressed in his opening three minutes of play, leading the run with five quick points. 

Surrey found their offensive rhythm later in the quarter, and the sides traded buckets to make it 24-16 at the end of the first. 

As the clock ticked down towards halftime in the second, a pair of Scorcher threes dropped to cut it to a four-point game. Led by British big man Boban Jacdomi’s eight-point quarter, Surrey stuck close to the reigning champs. 

The Riders, led by a 16-point half from Thornton, took a seven-point lead into the locker rooms with work to be done in the second half.