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.