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.