2021-22 fixtures released

The 2021-22 season gets underway with two home fixtures in the BBL Cup. Riders face Bristol Flyers on Friday 24th September (7.30pm) before hosting Surrey Scorchers on Sunday 26th September at 5pm.

Riders get their defence of the BBL Championship underway with a tasty home fixture against Newcastle Eagles on Friday 29th October 2021 (7.30pm).

Riders last game of 2021 will be versus London Lions on Thursday 30th December.

Our last game of the season is a trip to Scotland when Riders play Glasgow Rocks (Sunday 24 April 2022).

The full fixture list can be found here, Season Tickets are currently on sale via our ticket office.

Riders head South for BBL Cup

A new format BBL Cup sees the Riders as one of five teams in the southern group stage.

Leicester get competitive action underway against Bristol Flyers at home on Friday 24 September before a return leg on 23 October. The opening weekend also sees Riders host Surrey Scorchers on Sunday 26 September at 5pm, the trip to Surrey coming on Saturday 16 October.

Sunday 3 October sees the first road trip of the season down to Plymouth Raiders before hosting the Raiders on 24 October. Riders will host rivals London Lions on Wednesday 20 October with a trip to the capital still to be confirmed.

The bottom placed side will be eliminated from each of the groups, with the Quarter Final places determined as follows:

North Winner v South 4th
South Winner v North 4th
North RU v South 3rd
South RU v North 3rd

The Quarter Finals is a single leg on 12-14 November 2021 weekend with a two-legged semi final taking place in early December. The final will take place at the Utilita Arena Birmingham on Sunday 30 Jan 2022.

Riders add Jubril Adekoya to roster

Leicester Riders can confirm the signing of American-British power forward Jubril Adekoya this morning.

6’7” Adekoya has spent most of his pro career to date in Spain’s LEB Gold playing for Huesca , Valladolid and most recently Almansa Con Afanion.

“I’m super excited to join the Riders!” commented Jubril. “I know a bit about the club as I have friends who have played in Leicester and in the BBL. I thought now was the perfect time for me to be apart of something great.”

“I can’t wait to get to work with the Riders, get to know the guys, and work with Coach Rob.”

Riders fans will be familiar with the Adekoya family, as his brother Jawad played in the BBL for Cheshire Phoenix and Plymouth Raiders.

“We are really looking forward to working with an experienced professional like Jubril,” commented Head Coach Rob Paternostro. “He has played four seasons in Spain in a good LEB Gold league, where he has shown his talents in many ways.”

“He is a versatile big who can do a little bit of everything. Offensively he can post, play off the dribble and shoot the ball from the perimeter. Defensively he has shown the ability to cover multiple positions which I believe will be very useful to our team.”

“I have really enjoyed watching him play, he has a very good feel for the game and has shown to be the type of player who will do whatever the team needs to win.”

Season tickets now on open sale!

Season tickets for the 2021-22 BBL campaign are now on open sale!

Secure your chosen seat at all Leicester Riders BBL Championship, Trophy and Cup home games for the 2021/22 BBL season!

After winning the league title last season in a challenging year we are delighted to be welcoming you back for the new campaign, we have missed you all. BBL Coach of the Year Coach Rob Paternostro has been busy putting together an exciting squad including securing the services of league MVP Geno Crandall, fan favourite Conner Washington and the high-flying William Lee.

Off the court we have been working hard to modify and alter procedures to make the Morningside Arena a COVID secure venue.

There will be no change to prices of season tickets for the 2021/22 season and we are very keen to have you all back. Those of you who renewed in the 2020/21 season will receive a gift voucher for the full value to allow you to secure your 2021/22 season ticket on a complimentary basis.

We will also provide you exclusive offers during the season both with any Riders or Arena purchases for your support in 2020/21 and for the games missed due to COVID in 2019/20 season.

Season ticket holders from 2019/20 season who did not renew for 2020/21 we would like to make that up to you, so our 2019/20 season ticket holders will receive a voucher providing a 20% discount towards a 2021/22 season ticket.

Season ticket holders are entitled to priority access on tickets at all of our other events, including pre-season, playoffs and major finals; as well as occasional exclusive offers to other events held at the Morningside Arena.

The season ticket means that you save money every game compared with full concessionary prices while guaranteeing your chosen view of the action at Morningside Arena.

Adult season tickets are priced at £270, child (U16) £50 and concession £195.

Click here to pick your seat and purchase your season ticket.

If you have any other questions please email [email protected] or call 0116 326 9700.

Jackson returns to Riders

American Zach Jackson has made a return to Leicester Riders, signing a new deal for the 2021-22 season.

Jackson, who’s first season was cut-short last term due to injury is now fully fit for the new BBL season. Riders Head Coach Rob Paternostro is delighted to welcome Zach back to the Morningside:

“We loved working with Zach last season, he is a talented player who is very professional in his approach and is a great teammate that the guys love playing with. Unfortunately he had an injury and he wasn’t able to finish the season with us but he is healthy, motivated ,and ready to go for this season.”

“He is a player that has a real good feel for the game on both ends of the floor. He is a big wing who can score from all areas on the court.

The addition of Jackson is the eighth player to be announced by the Riders who have been active early in the summer with a host of players returning next season including fellow Americans Geno Crandall, William Lee and Darien Nelson-Henry. Conner Washington, Mo Walker and Greg Wild have also returned alongside the new signing of Patrick Whelan who was announced last week.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to return to Leicester healthy and compete in front of the fans,” commented Zach. “Being a part of the team last year that was able to win the trophy in the regular season was special and look forward to building on that.” 

“Playing for Coach Rob really helped improve my overall knowledge of the game.”

Riders confirm departing players

Corey Johnson, Aaron Falzon, Ali Fraser and Mustapha Heron will not return to the Riders next season it has been confirmed this morning.

“We’d like to put on record our thanks to Corey, Aaron, Ali and Mustapha who have all contributed to a title-winning team last time out,” commented Managing Director Russell Levenston.

“Corey had two successful seasons with us and Aaron, Ali & Mustapha played their part last season. We have nothing but good things to say about all four players both on and off the court and wish them all the best for the future.”

Riders sign Patrick Whelan

Leicester Riders are thrilled to announce the signing of 6’5” shooting guard Patrick Whelan.

Whelan, who has spent the past three seasons at Real Murcia in Spain, is the brother of Jordan Whelan who played in the BBL last season for Manchester Giants.

The Warrington-born star is keen to get started…

“Excited to be a part of the Riders family,” said Patrick. “I’ve enjoyed following the team’s progress over the past years and I was very excited when the opportunity arose to join the team.”

“I’m looking forward to winning some games with Riders fans back in the arena.”

“Can’t wait to get to work with the guys and hopefully bring another Championship back to Leicester!”

Head Coach Rob Paternostro commented:

“We are looking forward to working with Patrick. He is a player we have followed the last few seasons in Spain and
we are happy to have him on board.”

“When you look his time in Spain I think one of the most impressive things is that he was with the same club for three seasons, and on a successful team that he helped win promotion.”

“We really like the energy he plays with. He is a skilled and versatile offensive player, his shooting, ball handling and passing should be welcome additions to our team.”

“His competitiveness and versatility should also give us another solid defender who can guard multiple players on the floor.”

Whelan follows the announcement of the return of Conner Washington earlier in the week and is the Riders seventh signing of the summer ahead of the new BBL season.

2022 Cup Finals Tickets on Sale

Fans of British basketball will be welcomed back to the first event of the season as the British Basketball Cup Finals return to Utilita Arena Birmingham.

The 2022 British Basketball Cup Finals take place on Sunday 30 January with two amazing games to entertain fans as teams from the WBBL and BBL compete for the first silverware of the 2021/22 season.

“After what has been a difficult time for us all, we cannot wait to welcome the fans back to Utilita Arena Birmingham for the first big basketball event of 2022,” said Andy Webb, BBL’s Chief Operating Officer. “Everyone is raring to go and it’s going to be a fun filled day not to be missed.”

Tickets are on sale now with prices starting from £18. To get the best seats in the house, click here to book.

Conner signs new deal

Great Britain international guard Conner Washington has committed his future to the Riders having signed a new three-year deal that keeps him at the Morningside Arena until the summer of 2024.

Washington, who has made 246 league appearances for the Riders, won his eleventh trophy with the club last year, his fourth league title.

“It feels good to be signing back with the Riders. I’m privileged to still be healthy and playing basketball and I am really excited about being able to play in-front of our legendary sixth man again, it’s been a long time coming!” Commented fan favourite Washington.

“Being in a secure and comfortable place for my family is a big part of why I committed again to the Riders! I am blessed to be able to play with completely freedom.”

“Last season was another great season for us as a squad. We had a team of great people which made the basketball a lot smoother… not to mention the league MVP who I get to battle everyday in practice, pushing me to be a better player. Mostly defensive if you have ever seen Geno play!”

“Next season will be another year of challenges no doubt. We won’t have the exact same team but a we have a strong core to build on. It’s another season for me of appreciating basketball and enjoying doing what I love!”

Head Coach Rob Paternostro, who first signed Conner ten years ago, is delighted to have Conner signed up…

“We are thrilled to have Conner commit to us for another three years. I’m sure the Riders fans will be thrilled to see him back at the Morningside Arena next season.

“He is a guard who is effective in many ways and on both sides of the ball. Offensively his speed and shooting ability continue to be dangerous for opponents to deal with and he is capable of playing on the ball or off which gives our offence plenty of options and flexibility.”

“Defensively he is well respected as a player that can make a huge impact on that end of the floor. He has always been a guy that enjoys defence and that has played a vital role in our success throughout the years.”

“It’s always great to work with Conner, he is a player that will do anything to help the team win and is a great teammate who has been a winner in this league many times over.”

The Riders HYPE Event 2021

Leicester Riders are bringing you a fun filled family event in partnership with Leicester based and worldwide stocked clothing brand HYPE in partnership with Basketball England and Leicester City Council. The event will take place at Humberstone Gate next Saturday 10th July, starting at 10am and finishing at 5:30pm.

Throughout the day, Leicester Riders Foundation players of all ages will be showcasing their talent on the purpose-built basketball court, situated in the City Centre. There will also be an opportunity for the general public to try some basketball, win prizes and learn some freestyle basketball skills from professionals Tarryn Algar and Laszlo Puskas. From 4-5pm a celebrity 3v3 tournament will take place, with representatives from Leicester Riders and other Leicester based sports clubs and local media personnel taking part. The day will be concluded with a special feature of a dunk contest with UK Dunk Champion Joel Henry at 5pm.

Alongside the basketball court will be an activity zone, consisting of various activities led by Leicester Riders, Leicester City in the Community and much more! The Riders will be bringing along the British Basketball League trophy that they won this season, as well as the Women’s British Basketball League Cup that the team won for the first time ever.

A full schedule is below!

Morningside Arena announces plans for 1,200 metres squared extension

The Morningside Arena, home of the Leicester Riders, has announced plans for a 1,200 metres squared Extension, to increase the flexible use of the Arena.

The Arena is the largest indoor venue in the city with a capacity for up to 3,000, and stages many national and international Events, both in sport and culture, as well as acting as a community sports arena.

The Extension will increase the facility from 3 basketball courts to 5 basketball courts – which will make it the largest in the country.

The Extension went through a pre-Application planning review process earlier in the year and the Planning Application was submitted last month.

Riders Chairman Kevin Routledge, a Director of Morningside Arena, was excited to announce the plans,

“The Arena along with many other businesses in the sector has come through some very difficult times due to Covid, but we are very positive about the opportunities going forward.”

“Our community sport usage pre-Covid was growing every year, so much so, that our Foundation has had to look for additional external facilities, to support its programme.”

“Meanwhile the Arena’s reputation for staging major Events has been growing, and we have already invested significantly to make the Arena Covid-secure and more flexible.”

“We are attracting bookings for major TV events across a range of sports which have never been staged in Leicester and we need the extra space to maintain our dual purpose, including the further growth of Riders basketball pathway and community engagement.”

“This addition will also improve the customer experience for the largest events.”

“Thus, we felt the time was right to get on with this development, which has the support of all our partners, including the City Council and Leicester College.”

Thank you Jamell

Riders have announced this morning that popular forward Jamell Anderson won’t be returning next season. Anderson, who was named in the BBL’s defensive team of the year, has spent 8 seasons in the East-Midlands since 2011.

“My time at the Riders has been so eventful, I’ve played alongside some of the best players to play in the BBL in the last ten years. The likes of  Geno Crandall as of recent. Not only have so many of these guys been teammates but they have become friends,” reflected Jamell.

“The respect I hold for guys like Anthony Rowe and Barry Lamble for their kindness and friendship as I was getting settled into my professional career with the Riders is something I’ll never forget.”

“The list goes on for high-level players that I’ve been fortunate to compete with and Coach Rob has so much if not everything to do with attracting that talent. He’s a straight up coach and always wants to create a team not only of talent but of good people and I owe him a lot for that.”

“I’ve been there through tough times and thankfully more so through successful times, it’s been an honour to play alongside so many good people but also to achieve so much. “

“Each year I asked more of myself and whether that was reflected in my stats or what everyone thought of me as a player or a person I was always striving to improve. I’m thankful for the environment I was given to grow both on and off the floor.”

Anderson played 237 league games for the Riders scoring 1462 points, placing him 6th in the all-time list for Riders stats*.

“First of all I’ll miss the people, I made some truly great friendships from players to staff to fans and even to the people of Leicester. I remember being recognised for the first time back in 2012 as a Riders player and people saying they loved our team and it felt great to be a part of that.”

“I’ve always tried my best to represent the club with professionalism and hard-work. When I look back at the success I’ve been part of and the friendships I’ve made it’s definitely a major part of my life and career which if I had the chance I’d definitely lace em up with those boys again”

Paying tribute Head Coach Rob Paternostro commented:

“It’s sad to see him go, he has been the ultimate professional. His work ethic and commitment to the team have been second to none.”

“He has been a fantastic guy to be around, a player that consistently put the work in to improve and a player that can call himself a champion.”

Managing Director Russell Levenston commented:

“Jamell has been a shining example not only to young kids from across the country but to those young players in our programme who want to follow in his footsteps and make a professional career for themselves.”

“We have nothing but good things to say about him. We’ve enjoyed some great memories together and wish him all the best for the future.”

Newly-wed Anderson is moving from the area to be with his wife, GB player Georgia Anderson (née Jones).

*According to stats on record.

Torr Waterfield & Riders extend partnership

The 2021 BBL League Champions Leicester Riders and accountants Torr Waterfield have agreed to extend their partnership for another three years in a wide-ranging sponsorship deal.

As well as winning the BBL Championship for the fifth time in May, Riders have highly successful women’s, underage and student programmes, and deliver a range of community projects via their charity, the Leicester Riders Foundation, at the Morningside Arena, the home of the Riders.

As an element of the partnership, the Victory Stand at the Morningside Arena will be renamed the Torr Waterfield Stand, and the Leicester accountants’ corporate hospitality and branding arrangements will be extended to include access to a wide range of sporting and entertainment events at the Arena.

Torr Waterfield have been providing the Riders and their associated companies with general financial advice as well as their accounting and payroll services, over recent years and those services will be extended further still.

Mark Torr, Director and senior Partner at Torr Waterfield, is delighted to continue working with the Riders and the Arena, “We are very pleased to extend our partnership with the Riders, who are national champions and committed to excellence, player development and community engagement.”

“We are very impressed with all the work they do in the community and the way there are developing the Morningside Arena into a leading facility with top class events, as well as community sport.”

“The number of major sports and entertainment events coming to Leicester in the next year, thanks to the work of staff at the Arena, is very exciting for the city, and Torr Waterfield are delighted to help with the growth of the club.”

Riders Chairman Kevin Routledge was also excited to extend the partnership,

“The Riders, Foundation and Arena have just come through the most challenging time in our history, and with the support of Torr Waterfield, and thanks to the hard work of staff, we have continued to perform and deliver our services and games, whilst transforming the Arena into one of the most flexible and safe venues in the country.”

“We see great opportunities ahead and having a partner like Torr Waterfield on board will make it possible for Riders and the Arena to recover, develop further and continue to be successful at a national level. We have further exciting plans which we will announce soon and having this level of expertise and support from Torr Waterfield is vital to our future development.”

BBL launches Community Wellness hub

The British Basketball League (BBL) has become the first national professional sports organisation in the UK to launch a wellbeing hub for its community.

The pioneering platform, developed for the BBL by tech company Frog Systems, uses videos of people sharing their life experiences of issues such as depression and racism to signpost organisations and resources that offer help.

The free-to-use online BBL Community Wellness Hub was launched with the help of players Tayo Ogedengbe, Drew Lasker, and Darien Nelson-Henry who have contributed their own videos to the platform.

The BBL Community Wellness Hub, which can be accessed at www.bblinspires.co.uk, was developed during the Covid-19 pandemic in response to the impact on the mental and physical wellbeing on communities.

It contains video clips from players and officials from clubs in the BBL sharing their experiences and highlights information and organisations where the basketball community can go to get help. Users can search for information about mental and physical wellness, diversity, equality and inclusion, and personal development and financial management. They can also look for community programmes and volunteering opportunities with the sport in their area.

The platform is the first step in a series of initiatives planned by the BBL to improve welfare provision ahead of the 2021/2022 season which are being spearheaded by former Great Britain captain Kieron Achara.

Keiron Achara said: “The BBL family have always believed that our communities are the backbone of our league and I’m proud that we are working together to amplify the amazing local support services and resources available to ensure our communities are getting the help they need.”

It is estimated that a million people play basketball in Britain every week making it the second most popular team sport in England, Scotland and Wales. All 11 BBL franchises are behind the platform and will add new supportive video content in the coming weeks and months.

Andy Webb, Chief Operating Officer of the BBL, added: “This is a proud moment for us to be the first national sports body to launch a platform like this to support our community. The past year has been tough for everyone – players, fans and administrators alike – and this puts us in a great position to move forward and make a positive difference.”

Sir Rodney Walker, Chairman of the BBL, said: “Our players and coaches do a huge amount of work in their local communities. We hope the BBL Community Wellness Hub will add another layer of support by linking our thousands of fans with advice and support around the challenges they face.”

While those who use the platform cannot be identified, the anonymised data it produces will be used by the BBL to identify where it can improve the community support it offers.

Phil Worms, CEO of Frog Systems, said: “Like all sports, basketball has a duty of care to those who play, work in and support the game. We have worked closely with the BBL to produce a platform that will help them make important decisions about where they direct their support and resources in the future.”

William Lee back as a Rider

After a successful first season in the BBL, high-flying William Lee will get to play in front of the Morningside Arena crowd next season having signed a new one year deal. Lee, who made the BBL defensive team of the season, impressed for his aerial ability and defensive qualities which saw him average 1.3 blocks a game.

“I’m excited to return to Leicester to give the fans what they deserve – which is more trophies and to be able to watch us live!” Commented Lee.

“We can’t wait to have the fans behind us and pack out the Morningside Arena. I’ve heard about the game-night atmosphere in Leicester and I’m looking forward to experiencing it next season.”

Lee becomes Riders fifth announcement of the summer having already announced the return of MVP Geno Crandall, club captain Darien Nelson-Henry, Mo Walker and academy graduate Greg Wild.

“William had an excellent season and we are excited to bring him back for year two,” reflected Coach Rob Paternostro.

“His rebounding and shot blocking were a vital part of our defence, and offensively he was a versatile player who made many big plays in big games.”

“William is a player that can play in many different spots on the floor which was very beneficial to our offence.”

“His athleticism is high level , he makes high flying plays on both ends of the floor that surely will get the fans out of their seats with excitement .. what was impressive to me was his feel for the game. He is a player that does so many winning things for a team that doesn’t always show up in the box score.”

Greg Wild signs first professional contract

Charnwood Academy graduate Greg Wild has signed his first professional contract with Leicester Riders.

Wild, who featured in both the BBL roster for Leicester and NBL roster for Loughborough last term, has committed his future to the programme signing a four-year contract.

“It’s a surreal feeling signing my first professional contract with such a decorated club with a lot of history and great success,” commented Greg.

“I am grateful for the opportunities that have led me to this point in my playing career and I’m ready to get to work with the guys ahead of next year.” 

“I can’t wait to get back out there and show everyone what I’m capable of, I want to keep getting better everyday.”

“I am blessed for the opportunity to study at Loughborough University through Loughborough College and thankful for the partnership between Riders and Loughborough to allow me to get my degree alongside playing basketball at a high level.”

Whilst on the Riders roster, Greg will study for a degree and be eligible to represent Loughborough in both the NBL and BUCS competitions.

“It’s fantastic for us to secure the services of such a talent like Greg,” commented Riders MD Russell Levenston.

“It’s pretty special for us to be able to offer a player from our academy programme a first professional contract. It’s a trend we are seeing more and more, and it shows any young basketball players that they don’t necessarily need to head to a US college to succeed.”

“We are in a position to be able to offer a long-term deal to Greg and we are delighted to have him on board. Not only are we impressed with his talents but his attitude and application throughout our programme has been outstanding.”

Walker signs new two-year deal

Leicester Riders have secured the signature of Canadian-born centre Mo Walker who has signed a new two-year deal, taking him to the end of the 2022-23 season.

“Obviously the last two seasons were very tough on Mo, two difficult injuries, but we were very happy to see him recover and make it back for the end of the season,” reflected Coach Rob Paternostro.

“He worked hard with his rehab and has shown a real commitment to getting back on the floor and producing again.”

Walker suffered two season ending injuries the last two seasons but, with the support of the Riders Sports Science staff, made a return to court earlier than scheduled in the May Madness Play-offs.

“Everyone knows that if he is healthy he is a real handful for any defense.”

“His size and strength can be very tough to deal with in the low post, but he also possesses a nice feel for the game and is a very skilled big.”

“He is a great teammate who has shown real leadership with a lot of our young players over the past two seasons, we believe his leadership will be beneficial to any team we put out on the floor.”

Walker attended University of Minnesota where he played for the Golden Gophers for five seasons. He scored a career-high 26 points against Penn State in one of his last games as a Golden Gopher. Following his collegiate career, Walker joined the Orlando Magic in the NBA Summer League before heading overseas to continue his professional career.

Mo has experience playing in Italy, Latvia, and France, as well as his time in the UK. Riders fans were first familiar with his talents when playing for the Worcester Wolves, where he averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds, and two assists per game.

Walker will be in action this summer as he prepares for the new BBL season with Canadian CEBL side Guelph Nighthawks, starting on 28 June, alongside Corey Johnson.

Captain Darien looking forward to new season

Riders Captain Darien Nelson-Henry is looking forward to another year in Leicester next term.

Having signed a two-year deal last July, the American big who will be back for his third season, is also studying for his Masters degree at the Business School at Loughborough University.

“I am extremely excited to be coming back to the Riders for the 2021-22 season,” commented Darien.

“With hopefully a solid core unit returning, the experience of last season on missing out on some of the titles will drive our hunger and make us more determined to work hard this off-season.”

“I consider myself and the team to be very privileged to play under Coach Rob’s leadership again next season. He’s a great coach and next season is shaping up to be another successful year for the club.”

Captain Nelson-Henry led Riders to the League Title last year, a season where he was named in the BBL team of the year.

Geno signs back!

League MVP and star American guard Geno Crandall will return to the Riders next season!

Crandall lit up the BBL this season winning the league, journalist’s association and club’s MVP awards.

“I’m excited to be coming back to the Riders next season,” commented Crandall.

“I have loved my time here and I can’t wait to play for the Riders again, this time with fan support at the arenas. I found a home in Leicester, the club, teammates and staff made me feel so welcome.”

“I’ll be working hard this summer to improve my game and be ready again for the new season.”

“We feel like we have unfinished business as a team and we’ll be doing all we can to put some more silverware in the cabinet for this club.”

“I’ve loved playing for Coach Rob and he’s a big factor in me returning to play. He’s a players’ coach and has given me the tools to be successful this past season. I can’t wait to get going again.”

After leading Leicester Riders to a fifth BBL Championship title, Geno became the second player in Riders history to win the MVP. He did it by 10 clear votes of second placed DeAndre Liggins.

The 6’4″, 24-year-old , Minneapolis-native joined Leicester in the summer after a season in the Czech Republic, and was previously a two-time All-Big Sky second team selection at the University of North Dakota before graduating from the powerhouse Gonzaga University.

Crandall had nine double-doubles in BBL Championship play, which was third among all players, and was close to a triple-double on numerous occasions. He had a season high of 29 points and 15 assists in a 116-109 overtime victory over Manchester Giants at the Morningside Arena.

Alongside the MVP trophy, he was named in the Molten BBL Team of the Year, picked up a Molten BBL Player of the Month award in January, and made the weekly All-Star Five six times.

Paternostro signs new multi-year deal

Leicester Riders are excited to announce a new multi-year contract with Head Coach Rob Paternostro has been agreed.

“I’m thrilled to extend my deal with the Riders. I have enjoyed everything about being the Head Coach here and am looking forward to the future,” commented Rob Paternostro.

“It’s home for my family and I. I love it here and we are all excited about the future.

“Leicester is a great city for sport, I love that about being here, the fans are knowledgeable and passionate which makes it an incredible place to work.”

Paternostro led the Riders to the League Title, his fifth while at Leicester, and 14th trophy overall for the club. He also picked up the Coach of the Year award, his fourth in the last five years.

“Rob has been a fantastic Head Coach for this club for many years. He is our most successful Head Coach and understands where we want to take this club,” commented Riders Managing Director Russell Levenston.

“It’s a big statement for the club to be able to secure his services for the next five years. We are extremely excited about working together and happy to offer him the security at our club that his record truly deserves.”

Rob took the helm at the Riders in 2008 and won his first league title in 2012-13. He won his first Coach of the Year award after transforming Riders in that initial 2008-09 season, immediately taking them from tenth to third, and they have only finished below that on three occasions in more than a decade since.

The 48-year-old native of Connecticut – who enjoyed a good playing career in the BBL as a charismatic point guard from 2000 to 2008 – has built his success on a defensive philosophy, and will have been pleased to see his team once more end the season as the BBL’s meanest defence, for the fifth completed season in a row, conceding just 76.8 points per game.

Riders Awards 2021

Last night Leicester Riders announced it’s award winners for the 2020-21 campaign. A huge thank you to our sponsors and partners Our Neighbourhood, Everards and Spice Bazaar along-with our individual award sponsors.

Coach of the Year – sponsored by the Trophy Parlour
Rob Paternostro

Most Improved Player of the Year – sponsored by the Loughborough University School of Business & Economics
Darien Nelson-Henry

Players’ Player of the Year – sponsored by Jelson Homes
William Lee

Coaches Player of the Year – sponsored by the Spire Hospital & Torr Waterfield
Conner Washington & Jamell Anderson

MVP – sponsored by Lumbers
Geno Crandall

Captains Log: An amazing season with an amazing team

Well, it was not the final outcome we desired, that much is obvious. However, it is hard to be bitter after such an amazing season with an amazing team. Of course, the sour taste will remain in our mouths for some time. That much is inevitable. Yet, it is somewhat comforting to see Newcastle carry on to win the Finals as well. They are a team of veterans that had all of their guys healthy at the right time. That’s sports. Experience and health ultimately wins championships. 

This experience part is what we hope to carry on into next season. We showed consistency throughout the regular season and walked away with a BBL Championship… something I will never forget, and something I commend the guys for wholeheartedly, as I truly believe that was the hardest title to win in this crazy season of ours. That said, winning a second piece of hardware this year would have made it just that much sweeter… and that is what we will focus on for the season to come. I know we can be consistent, I know we can be disciplined, and now we need to be able to turn it up a notch in the big moments. 

Alas, the season is wrapped up, and there is nothing to do now besides relax for a few weeks, then get back on the grind! Off-season training is some of my favourite, as I get to channel my inner Geno (doing ball handling drills and playing point guard in pick-up). Despite the great season, my focus will not waver — more titles to come next year — that is the goal. That is what I will be training for this off-season. 

To all of the fans that have supported us all season long, Thank you!!! You all helped immensely with your continuous support. I look forward to seeing you all this Wednesday at Morningside!

All the best,

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: Proud of what we achieved this season

It was a tough night for us against the Eagles in that second leg – no question. But you have to give credit to Newcastle, they played really well in the second leg, and did it also in the first game. To get back like they did in the first leg after our hot start was impressive.

Rahmon Fletcher was outstanding in both games – scoring the ball, passing the ball – he is a real dynamic player. And his backcourt partner Cortez Edwards played really well after a bit of an off-night in the first leg. Add with their big guy Justin Gordon, who can change a game quickly, you have three guys who are amongst the top ten in the BBL, or close. So, the talent is there, and they showed up on Thursday night. They made plays.

You look at our game and our defence was not good enough early on, and gave up too many scores. But then if you look at how we came back, we went into halftime in a real good position. But then in the third quarter we could not get anything to drop. And when you look back at the losses this season, we have had it is generally that it was the long-range shooting that let us down.

We only made 3 of 24 from the three-point line on Thursday. I said before the game we had to make shots. We did not and they did. When you are in big games that is what it comes down to – making shots when it matters. It is part of basketball.

It was a tough night for us against the Eagles in that second leg – no question. But you have to give credit to Newcastle, they played really well in the second leg, and did it also in the first game. To get back like they did in the first leg after our hot start was impressive.

Rahmon Fletcher was outstanding in both games – scoring the ball, passing the ball – he is a real dynamic player. And his backcourt partner Cortez Edwards played really well after a bit of an off-night in the first leg. Add with their big guy Justin Gordon, who can change a game quickly, you have three guys who are amongst the top ten in the BBL, or close. So, the talent is there, and they showed up on Thursday night. They made plays.

You look at our game and our defence was not good enough early on, and gave up too many scores. But then if you look at how we came back, we went into halftime in a real good position. But then in the third quarter we could not get anything to drop. And when you look back at the losses this season, we have had it is generally that it was the long-range shooting that let us down.

We only made 3 of 24 from the three-point line on Thursday. I said before the game we had to make shots. We did not and they did. When you are in big games that is what it comes down to – making shots when it matters. It is part of basketball.

I said to guys after the game I loved working with them, and I really enjoyed every minute, because it was a real family atmosphere. I also told them how proud of them I was, and proud of what they achieved this season, for our club and for our fans. The fans may not have been in the building, but we felt their support all the way.

Geno crowned BBL MVP!

American guard Geno Crandall has been named the Molten BBL Most Valuable Player for the 2020-21 season.

Crandall who has had a massive impact on the league in his debut season with the Riders led the side to its fifth League Title.

“I’m honoured to have been chosen as the MVP of the league. I want to thank Coach Rob (Paternostro) and the Riders staff for the opportunity they’ve given me this year,” commented Geno.

“Thank you to my teammates for believing in me, supporting me, picking me up every step of the way. Thank you to everyone behind the scenes with the league for doing everything they could to ensure we were able to play this season safely. Also thank you to all of the coaches who voted me into this position.”

“I don’t play the game for personal recognition, I play because I love it and the fact that that passion leads to individual success I hope inspires others to chase their own passions with the same fervour.”

“Our season didn’t end on a high note and I would have much preferred to win the final, however you never know what the future holds.”

Rob wins BBL Coach of the Year

Coach Rob Paternostro has been named the Ed Percival Molten BBL Coach of the Year for the 2020-21 season.

The Riders head coach successfully steered the team to a fifth League Title with a 24-6 record in the league. It’s also a league record sixth time that Coach Rob has picked up the trophy.

“It’s a team award and I really enjoyed working with our team, it was a great group to be around, they played unselfish basketball and competed on both ends of the floor night in and night out, but best of all were great teammates,” commented Rob.
 
“We have a great staff, so many contributed to our success this season.” 

“The league title is always special, you need to work together and support one another consistently throughout the season.”

Paternostro previously won the award in 2008–09, 2012–13, 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Riders knocked out of Playoffs by Eagles

The Riders’ league-winning season draws to a close, after a 164-146 aggregate loss to the Newcastle Eagles in the BBL playoff semi-finals. Led by 13 points and 11 rebounds from Darien Nelson-Henry, the Riders fell short of a fourth-quarter comeback after entering the final period down 14. MVP candidate Rahmon Fletcher dominated the tie for the Eagles, averaging 30.5 points and eight assists across the two legs. 

The Riders fought until late, bringing the game to within six points after finding themselves down 15 in the final quarter. Their Molton Sports BBL Team of the Year players, Nelson-Henry and Geno Crandall, put the team on their back to score eight straight points and bring themselves into contention. Turnovers proved costly for the Riders, as they gave the ball up 16 times in both games. Uncharacteristically, the BBL’s most efficient offence struggled to make shots consistently in the second leg, shooting 41% from the field and going 3-24 from three. 

With the experience of a close tie against the Sheffield Sharks in the previous round, the Eagles seized momentum late. With the game in the balance, a 19-7 run closed out the fourth quarter for Newcastle, kick-started by huge threes from Fletcher and Louis Sayers. 

Fletcher picked up where he left off after a 34 point performance in the first leg, as the Eagles flew out to a 14 point lead. The two-time BBL MVP filled up the box score with seven points, two assists and three steals in the first quarter. With Fletcher running the show, the Eagles’ offence caught fire with red hot shooting in the first, which ended 29-20 in their favour. 

The responsibility fell to the Riders’ captain, Nelson-Henry, to commence a comeback. His sequence against Darius Defoe midway through the second quarter switched Leicester’s offensive focus to the interior, where they had success in the first leg. After blocking Defoe at the rim, Nelson-Henry ran back up the floor and backed up the 16-year Eagles veteran, before spinning left and hitting a hook shot for two.

The Riders pulled down four offensive rebounds on the next two possessions, dominating the battle inside. Leicester’s big-men scored all of their team’s seven points to end the half as they took the lead in the game with 1:37 left in the second. Fletcher’s steal and layup tied the game on aggregate as the teams entered the locker room with the Eagles up 40-39. 

Mustapha Heron kicked off the second half explosively, beating Defoe to the baseline before rising quickly and throwing it down left-handed. Despite the monster jam, the Riders fell into a hole, with the Eagles starting the third quarter on a 9-2 run. Again, it was Nelson-Henry reclaiming momentum for his side. After laying in a putback off a missed three, Nelson-Henry came up with a chase-down block on a driving Fletcher before deflecting the ball twice on the next possession to force an Eagles turnover. 

The Eagles responded to Nelson-Henry’s effort and energy with a 13-2 run to retake their double-digit lead. Fletcher scored 10 on the run to give Newcastle a commanding 14 points lead entering the final quarter. 

The Eagles built on their advantage to start the fourth with a huge and-one play from Justin Gordon. Down 15 on aggregate with their season on the line, Crandall and Nelson-Henry flipped a switch to claw the Riders back into the game. They scored eight points straight to cut the lead to seven, as the tie balanced on a knife-edge. With the score 69-61, the game’s momentum was ready to be seized, and it was Newcastle who took it. Back to back threes from Fletcher and Sayers gave the Eagles a 13 point lead with five minutes to go, kick-starting a 17-3 run which put the game to bed. 

The loss marks the end of a memorable Riders’ season. The Eagles progress to the final, where they will meet the London Lions or Plymouth Raiders at the Morningside Arena on Sunday. 

Riders

Nelson-Henry 13, Johnson 12, Lee 12, Crandall 11, Walker 8, Washington 5, Heron 5, Anderson 3

Eagles

27, Edwards 22, Gordon 16, Maxwell 11, Sayers 8, Defoe 2, Matthew 2

Playoff Semi Final Preview: Riders v Eagles Second Leg

The Riders take on the Eagles in the second leg of the BBL playoff semi-final. Tipping off at 5:00pm Thursday, a transformed ‘May Madness’ Morningside Arena will host a clash deciding which side progresses to the BBL final.   

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders have thrived this year with a hounding athletic defence. Ranked number one in the BBL, the Riders limit opposing teams to a league low 2,303 points allowed over the course of the league season. Sporting players of elite athleticism and length, Leicester are a match-up killer, able to switch and rotate without giving anything away. They enter the second leg riding a five-game win streak but after a tight one-point game in the first leg, the Riders know they have to be on their game to reach the all important final. 

Season So Far – Eagles

The BBL’s 4th seed and most historic franchise look to add another finals appearance to their impressive resume. They got off to a good start against the League champions on Tuesday, falling short but only by a point forcing an intense second leg. Despite losing, the Eagles played the Riders closer than any team in Leicester’s hot streak, a huge 24-9 fourth quarter clawing them back into the contest. Captain Rahmon Fletcher put the team on his back and showed out in the Leicester Arena, setting an example for Newcastle in the next, win-or-go-home match. 

Ones To Watch

William Lee was a monster walking the court Tuesday afternoon. Posting an intimidating double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds, five of which were on the offensive glass, Lee could not be stopped. The Leicester forward put his 6’9” frame to use on both sides of the court, also hounding on the defensive end, swatting two shots, and stripping the ball twice. Lee is not just an athletic freak who plays above the rim though, he is an athletic freak with touch and technique making him hard to pin down. He possesses a consistent mid-range game, often seen pulling up for two along the baseline. The Eagles were hurt by Lee in the first leg, so will know they must limit him in the second if they want to taste BBL finals basketball. 

Eagles centre Evan Maxwell was key to Newcastle’s quarter finals success, and much the reason they face the champions in the semis today. In the second leg of the quarter-final against the Sharks Maxwell put on a masterful display of efficient basketball. He scored 19 points on 8-13 shooting, and lead both teams with a +10 +/-. The Eagles missed his play in the first game against the Riders though, as Maxwell had a quiet outing. After shooting 0-6 from the field and finishing with a measly two points, Maxwell will be looking to step things up in the second contest. The Eagles will be hoping for a repeat of his quarter-final heroics, and the Riders must be wary of a scoring coming off the bench. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders and Eagles had a close match in their first face-off, split by only a point in Leicester’s favour. Geno Crandall and Rahmon Fletcher had their usual masterful battle, and William Lee put on a forward’s clinic. The second game is almost a win-or-go-home knockout, and judging by the intense affair on Tuesday, fans are in store for another entertaining play-off knock-out. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in live on the Sky Sports Youtube Channel. Riders fans will also be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

And finally… Meet the Champions

The Morningside Arena are excited to welcome you back to meet the 2021 BBL League Champions the Leicester Riders. The Arena has completed a refurbishment and added additional facilities to reassure guests that they can confidently return to the venue they have missed.

BOOK YOUR SLOT

Join us on Wednesday 19th May for…

A soft drink/freshly brewed hot drink (included in your ticket)

Photos with the Trophy

Meet and greet the players

Autograph and photo opportunities

Exclusive merchandise offers

Grab and go snacks available

A chance to tell us your thoughts and ask any questions

One way system in operation

To maximise this offering to all, each ticket will allow for a 30 minute slot to enjoy the above. Arrival time as per ticket.

We look forward to welcome you all back to the Morningside Arena.

BOOK YOUR SLOT

Riders take narrow lead into second leg

The BBL playoff semi-final remains firmly in the balance, after the Riders beat the Eagles 77-76 in the first leg. The Riders led their long-standing rivals by as much as 20, yet a comeback from the Eagles set up a dramatic second leg. 20 points, seven assists and four steals from Geno Crandall led the Riders, and a monumental season-high 34 point performance from fellow MVP candidate Rahmon Fletcher brought the Eagles back into contention.

The Riders began with a bang, with 36 points in the first period marking their highest-scoring quarter since 2012. Leicester were then held to 41 points for the rest of the game, resulting in a near ‘win or go home’ scenario in the second leg. William Lee scored five late points in the fourth quarter to give the Riders their slight advantage, including a monster fastbreak jam through contact. Lee dominated all aspects of the game, with 14 rebounds, two steals and two blocks accompanying his 18 points.

With their highest-scoring quarter in nine years, the Riders ended the first period up 36-18. Their offensive interior focus was met with little resistance, as they scored 30 of their 36 points at the rim or the free-throw line. They shot 69% from the field, with the Eagles unable to match their physicality inside. 

The Eagles began to drag themselves back into the tie after a disastrous start. Fletcher and Justin Gordon took over, scoring all of the Eagles’ 20 points in the period, yet Newcastle’s defensive play allowed them back into the match up. After conceding 36 in the first quarter, the Eagles held the Riders to 13 in the second as they shot 36% from the field. The Riders’ lead was pegged back to 11 as they headed into the locker room up 49-38. 

The third quarter was closely contested, with the teams going back and forth. The Eagles cut the Riders lead to single digits for the first time since midway through the opening period, but the Riders found a quick response through ‘general’ Geno. Crandall stole the ball for an easy layup, before draining a deep three on the next possession to bring the Leicester lead to 12. The play gave Riders momentum to end the quarter, as they went on an 8-2 run. Jamell Anderson finished off a four-second coast-to-coast basket, ending the quarter with the Riders up 68-52.

The Eagles flew out the gates in the final period with a 15-3 run. Back to back threes from Fletcher cut the Riders lead to five, before 16-year Eagles veteran Darius Defoe’s free-throw gave the Eagles their first lead with two minutes remaining. Fletcher scored 12 points in the fourth allowed the Eagles to win the quarter 24-9, yet five late points from Lee allowed the Riders to maintain a narrow advantage. 

The second leg will be played on Thursday, and a tie will be enough to send the Riders into the BBL playoff final. After a competitive first leg between old rivals, the second encounter promises a closely fought battle. 

Riders

Crandall 20, Lee 18, Heron 11, Walker 9, Nelson-Henry 6, Washington 6, Anderson 4, Johnson 3

Eagles

Fletcher 34, Gordon 15, Edwards 12, Defoe 9, Sayers 2, Pflueger 2, Maxwell 2

Play Semi Final Preview: Riders v Eagles First Leg

The Riders take on the Eagles in the first leg of the BBL playoff semi-final. Tipping off at 5:00pm Tuesday, a transformed ‘May Madness’ Morningside Arena will host the clash of BBL titans. 

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders display of dominant basketball saw them progress to the semi-finals, comprehensively beating the Flyers 177- 135 over two legs. Riding a four-game streak in which they have trampled opponents, the Riders will be brimming with confidence. While their home court may have undergone a transformation, newly crowned BJA Coach of the Year Rob Paternostro will be looking to have his team performing at their familiar intense level. With suffocating defence ranked first in the league allowing only 76 points per game in the league season, and an opponent pushed hard in their previous round, the Riders will be confident in continuing their hot streak.

Season So Far – Eagles

The BBL’s 4th seed Newcastle Eagles were tested thoroughly by the Sharks in their quarter-final legs. The first leg finished with the two sides split by only a pair of points, and the second had them completely even, tied in points, assists, rebounds, and steals. The Eagles are a team that can hurt you quickly, leading the league in both assists per game with 23.7, and steals per game with 8.6. With the Riders and Eagles split by a measly 0.1 point per game, the semi-finals will likely be decided by who is more dominant defensively. 

Ones To Watch

The wait is finally over. Having performed at a spectacular level all season, Geno Crandall finally took his crown as the BJA player of the year. Despite battling through a wrist injury in the tail end of the league season, Crandall averages 15.9 points per game, 7.8 assists per game and 1.9 steals per game, all while being the most fouled player in British basketball with 5.0 fouls on him per game. In his last game he played the role of a facilitating point guard to a tee, finishing up with 11 assists and 6 rebounds. Geno Crandall is as dazzling a player with the ball in his hands as it gets and is one to watch for as the Riders face a team he loves to show out against. 

Eagles power forward Justin Gordon has been nothing short of incredible in his play during the play-offs. Dropping 45 points on 17-25 shooting over the two quarter-final legs is scary. Add on his 16 rebounds and 8 assists and you have one that has to be watched by fans and stopped by the Riders. Paternostro’s side will know this is no easy task though, as in their previous meeting Gordon hammered home a stat-line of 24 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. The 6’6” Wofford graduate has the size and athleticism to threaten the rim, and the touch and range to drop shots from behind the arc. He is a puzzle the Riders must find an answer to if they plan to continue their dominant play into the semi-finals. 

Previous Meeting 

The Riders and Eagles last met on the 16th of April in Newcastle a the Vertu Motors Arena. The match was a tale of two halves, the Riders up by 11 after two quarters, but a turnover ridden second half costing them the game, finishing 90-80. The Eagles took a massive 22 more shots than the Leicester side. Both ones to watch put on a show, Crandall dropping a double-double with 16 points and 10 assists, and Gordon almost doing the same with 24 and 8 respectively. 

How To Watch

The game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Main Event, Arena and Mix from 4:30. Alternatively Riders fans can watch the game live and free on the Sky Sports Youtube Channel.

Captains Log: On to the Semi Finals

On to the Semi Finals!

After a great start up in Newcastle, it was a comfortable game for us on Wednesday in Worcester. Much like the regular season, we took care of business early on. This made the second leg a little more relaxed, however, we finished with another desirable result. 

We are matched up against Newcastle now in the semi-finals. This will be a great series, one the fans want to see! A rivalry has existed between these two teams for some time, and it will be exciting to participate in a heated matchup. 

The guys are ready and willing to do whatever it takes to secure a second title this season. We are focused and ready to go! 

Not much left to say, other than thank you for the continued support, and keep it coming for the remainder of the playoffs!

You Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: A very professional job over two legs

The first leg Against Bristol was an excellent result for us, and even at halftime, with just a three-point margin, I was feeling good about us. We had got open looks and just not knocked the shots down, so I felt that would come. But we did need to do a better job of keeping them off the boards and looking after the ball, and we did that in the second half.

They had scored 23 points off second chance efforts and our turnovers in the first half, so they were obvious areas to tighten up. And we did that very well. Geno Crandall was tremendous. He finds the guys in very good positions to score and makes it look easy.

William Lee was also exceptional. His five blocks really intimidated them inside, and he did everything very efficiently. Darien Nelson Henry was also very solid.

It was great to see Mo out there and making such an excellent contribution after all his time off with injury. He gives us something different with his size and he was a real presence for us in the middle. What was especially nice was we never let up and our biggest lead of the game came right at the end.

The second leg was a really professional job by the guys. We went into the game with a 29-point lead, and you worry, as a coach, whether the intensity would be there. I thought after the first 5 minutes or so we did a very good job. When you look at the stat sheet, we had six guys who had double figure points and one on nine points.

It was a real balanced effort, and nobody had to play big minutes, and we got the W. It was actually a very professional job over the two legs.

It was a long week of travel, so it is a real bonus to come home and get rested. We got the 2-legged semi coming up next week followed, hopefully, by the final, so that is going to be a big demand on all the players. I am also proud of the guys achieving the 30-win in the season milestone.

Riders through to Semi Finals after defeating Flyers

The Riders cruised through to the semi-final of the BBL playoffs, beating the Bristol Flyers 92-77 in the second leg and 177-135 on aggregate. William Lee led the Riders with 17 points, nailing three of his six three-point attempts in a comfortable game after a dominant first leg. 

Geno Crandall demonstrated the effect he can have on a game without scoring, making his only field goal in the first quarter while enjoying a solid performance. He recorded 11 assists, three steals and a block in a well-rounded effort. With Crandall’s team-first mentality in full effect, the Riders had six players score double-digit points, with three coming off the bench. They dished 27 assists while shooting 49% from the floor; their fluid offence proving too much for the Flyers. 

Off the back of a statement game in the first leg, Mo Walker was dominant down low. His 11 points and nine rebounds nearly enough for a double-double, as he bullied his opposition in the paint. Mustapha Heron started hot, scoring 12 first-half points and 16 in the game, and Jamell Anderson put up 12 points off the bench off just five shots. 

After a disastrous previous fixture, the Flyers made a good account of themselves in their final game of the season. Ben Mockford scored a game-high 19 points to keep his team in the second leg until late, going 3-6 from three. Bristol shot 38% from behind the arc after going 2-23 in the last encounter, a much-improved showing following a cold shooting night. 

The Flyers began the game with the freedom of a team with little to lose. The deficit appeared to take the weight off Bristol’s shoulders as they jumped out to a quick six-point lead. They displayed fluidity in their offence seen rarely in the first leg, dishing seven assists in the first quarter after registering just 14 in the previous fixture.

In a slight hole early, the Riders relied on Crandall for a response. The 6’3” guard rose amongst the giants at the rim, pulling off a chase-down block on 6’8” Flyers center Daniel Edozie. The block was the beginning of a 6-0 Riders run, with a monumental Mo Walker dunk tying the game while nearly bringing down the rim. 

The majority of the first half was close and competitive, before the Riders established their first significant lead late in the second quarter. Leicester forced the Flyers into speculative outside shots, flexing their BBL best defensive. A 16-2 Riders run to closed out the half. The teams entered the locker rooms with the score 49-41 in the Riders’ favour. 

Lee kicked off the third quarter with a bang, scoring eight straight points in two minutes to propel the Riders to a double-digit lead. Winning by over 30 on aggregate, the Riders cruised through the quarter. With ‘general Geno’ at the centre of it all, their off-ball movement and willing passing challenged the Flyers, who fought valiantly to keep the second-leg close. Anderson’s free throws ended the quarter with the Riders leading by eight in the game, and 36 on aggregate. 

After a scoreless opening two minutes, the Riders kicked off the fourth quarter with a Conner Washington three. The Riders played to the final buzzer, winning the last period 20-11. Walker scored seven points in the quarter, ending the game with a layup assisted by Loughborough prospect Justin Hedley. 

The win sees the Riders through to the second round of the BBL Playoffs. The tie will be played at home, with the remainder of the playoffs hosted at the Morningside Arena. The Riders continue their run, hoping to win the playoffs for the fourth consecutive time. 

Riders

Lee 17, Heron 16, Anderson 12, Walker 11, Johnson 10, Falzon 10, Nelson-Henry 9, Washington 4, Crandall 3

Flyers

Mockford 19, Wilcher 16, Delpeche 13, Edozie 8, Rogers 8, Lockett 6, Thomas-Edwards 5, Baker 4

Playoff Quarter Final Preview: Riders v Flyers Second Leg

The Riders face off against the Bristol Flyers in the second leg of the BBL Playoff quarter-final, after a dominant display in the first leg. The Riders beat the Flyers 85-56, after a monumental second-half performance, winning by 26 in the final two periods. 

Season So Far – Riders

The league champions continued their hot form entering the playoffs, putting themselves in a strong position to progress into the semi-finals. The Riders have won their previous two fixtures by a combined 61 points, flexing their best-ranked BBL defence in both encounters. Leicester’s perimeter defence has been stifling, with their athletic wing defenders locking down their opponent’s outside game. Over the last two games, the Riders opposition has shot a combined 4-36 from three and 39% from the field, unable to make shots consistently against the Riders, who gave up just 76 points per game during the league season. Should the Riders continue to play up to their elite standards defensively, they will feel confident in progressing to the next round. 

Season So Far – Flyers

Despite taking a difficult loss in the opening leg, the Flyers have an opportunity for redemption in the second tie. They can take positives out of the previous game, as they held the Riders to 33 first-half points to keep the game within a possession. The Flyers are one of four BBL teams to hold opponents under 80 points in the BBL Championship season, and demonstrated their defensive prowess in the first half. Ending the season with successive wins to book their place in the playoffs, Bristol will hope to recapture good form in an attempt to climb back into the tie. Upsetting the Newcastle Eagles in their final game should present the Flyers with the confidence they need for a comeback win. 

Ones To Watch

After two long term injuries sidelined him for the best part of two seaons, Mo Walker appeared back to his brilliant best in the first leg. In the absence of Ali Fraser, Walker led the frontcourt off the bench in a dominant outing.  Walker scored 16 points in 17 minutes, going 7-8 from the floor in an efficient display. The big-man out of the University of Minnesota scored nine straight points to stretch the Riders lead to 29 in a game in which every minute counted. Using his 6’10” frame, Walker bullied defenders down low to feast at the rim, making his presence known inside. He will hope to continue his momentum into the second leg to put the tie to bed. 

The Flyers leading score through the BBL Championship season, Eric Lockett kept his team in contention during the first half of the previous game. Lockett scored half of Bristol’s 30 first-half points, including eight straight in the second quarter kicked off by a monster fastbreak jam. With Lockett scoring just one point in the second half and Bristol falling behind in the tie, they relied on Lockett’s scoring ability to compete in the game. Lockett, who averaged 14.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game as a Sophomore at Florida International University, is an athletic wing capable of beating players off the dribble, finishing through contact and pulling up with a smooth jumper. The Flyers will look to Lockett to lead them back into the fixture. 

Previous Metting

The first leg was a second-half Riders blowout, as the league champs won 85-56. Geno Crandall put up an emphatic double-double, with 21 points and 10 assists, and William Lee dominated the paint with a colossal five blocks. The job remains unfinished, however, as Leicester will remain focused on seeing the game home in the second leg. 

How to Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in live on the Sky Sports Youtube Channel. Riders fans will also be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account. 

Riders defeat Flyers in Quarter Final first leg

The Riders kicked off May Madness with a bang, dominating the first leg of the quarter-final to beat the Bristol Flyers 85-56. A commanding second half, which Leicester won 52-26, puts them in a strong position entering the second leg on Wednesday. Geno Crandall enjoyed a tremendous double-double with 21 points and ten assists, leading the team in both categories. 

With the BBL’s best rim protection, blocking 3.1 shots a game, the Riders forced Bristol to take outside looks, of which they made just two of their 23 attempts. William Lee was an imposing presence in the paint, swatting five shots, including two colossal blocks on Eric Lockett and Raphell Thomas-Edwards. Compiling highlights on both ends, Lee threw down a monster alley-oop from Crandall’s lob pass during a 17-2 Riders run in the third, which allowed them to jump out to a substantial lead. 

A team effort saw the Riders to a blowout win. They had five double-digit point contributions in the game, as they dominated in the paint. Leicester’s big-men shot 20-25 from the field, with Mo Walker enjoying a statement game. Coming off two long term injuries, which sidelined him for the better part of two seasons, Walker was back to his brilliant best, making seven of his eight shots for 16 points. 

Through the first two quarters, it was a close encounter between two top-four BBL defences. Led by Lockett, who scored 15 of the Flyers 30 first-half points, Bristol kept the game within a possession until the half. Unable to keep pace with Leicester, the game got away from the Flyers in the second half, as the Riders held Locket to one point. Yet they will take the positives of the early stages into the next leg. 

Bristol could find these positives in the tightly contested first quarter, which the Riders won by just one. The period was fought in the paint, with 27 of the 32 points scored coming at the rim or the free-throw line. Despite the Flyers’ competitive start, the quarter’s highlight came from Lee, who dominated early with four rebounds in five minutes and a monster block. The University of Alabama’s all-time leading shot-blocker rose high to meet Lockett at the rim before swatting his layup out of bounds.  

Lockett took over the early stages of the second quarter. He kept his side in the fixture, scoring eight straight points for Bristol. An immense dunk kick-started his run. He glided through the air on the fastbreak before throwing the ball down one-handed. Lockett concluded a low scoring half, stringing a shot from midrange to cut into the Riders’ slight lead. The teams entered the locker rooms with the score 33-30 in Leicester’s favour. 

The Riders established their first significant lead of the game in a fast-paced beginning to the third quarter. Two threes in quick succession put them up 12, as Leicester scored 18 points in the opening five minutes of the period. Lee stamped the exclamation point on an emphatic Riders run, linking up with Geno Crandall for a lob. Crandall went between his legs before lobbing the ball up high from beyond the arc, as Lee jumped out the arena to catch it and throw it down with authority.

The Riders won the third quarter 32-15, led by 11 points from Lee. Lee claimed his second colossal block of the game to end the period. It was Thomas-Edwards on the receiving end on this occasion. He drove inside and threw up a layup, before Lee helped from the weak side to rise high above everybody and swat it away, ending the quarter with his team up 65-45.

In a two-legged tie, the final quarter remained vitally important to the Riders, despite holding a 20 point lead. Crandall joined the game’s lengthy highlight reel to continue his team’s momentum, breaking Daniel Edozie’s ankles with lightning-fast handles. Taking the big man off the dribble, Crandall stepped back to cause Edozie to stumble, before taking the ball to the rim and drawing a foul. 

To see the game home, Walker scored nine successive points to the delight of the Riders bench. Walker’s run put Leicester up 29, a lead they would maintain until the buzzer. 

The win puts the Riders in good stead for the second leg on Wednesday 5th May. Coach Rob will insist to his team that the job is not finished. The University of Worcester Arena will host the second fixture, with the Riders hoping to progress to the BBL Playoff semi-finals. 

Riders

Crandall 21, Walker 16, Nelson-Henry 14, Lee 13, Heron 11, Johnson 5, Washington 4, Anderson 1

Flyers

Lockett 16, Edozie 10, Baker 7, Wilcher 7, Delpeche 6, Mockford 4, Thomas Edwards 4, Rogers 2

Playoff Quarter Final Preview: Riders v Flyers First Leg

Riders kick off their May Madness and play-off campaign on bank holiday Monday at 5:00pm, facing the Bristol Flyers at the Vertu Motors Arena in Newcastle. The Leicester side look to build on their regular season success as champions in the first leg of the quarter finals.

Season so Far – Riders 

The Riders enter the BBL play-offs as league champions, holding the trophy above their heads for the 5th time in club history. The Riders secured the title in their last game, comprehensively beating the Cheshire Phoenix 65-97. The season was one of great defence and efficient offence for the Riders. The Leicester side hold a defensive rating of 99.64 which ranks second in the league and boast the premier field-goal percentage in the league with 48.2%. These two pillars of their game will be on full display over the course of the two legs, as the Riders look to build on a promising 2020/21 campaign. 

Season so Far – Flyers

Where there was a battle at the top of the table in the final games of the regular season, there was also a battle near the bottom. The Flyers went head-to-head with the Manchester Giants, both vying for the eighth and final play-off spot. It was the Flyers that came out on top, grit and determination squeezing out an 83-81 comeback victory. Following this, the Bristol Side further cemented their spot at 8th beating talented 4th placed Newcastle Eagles 86-73.  While the Flyers struggled to score as efficiently as other teams in the league, posting a modest 43.9 field-goal percentage, good for 9th in the league, they managed to work around it. The Bristol side are the third best rebounding team in the BBL allowing them plenty opportunity to score, and keep games close through suffocating defence. After scrapping their way into the play-offs, it will be a fight to knock them back out again.

Ones To Watch

Leicester Riders captain and starting center Darien Nelson-Henry will be looking to fire his side up for the post-season action. Leicester number 50 recorded a double-double in his last performance, scoring 19 points and pulling down 11 rebounds, and will be relied upon again to assert himself inside the paint. Averaging 12.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, good for second on the Riders in both, Nelson-Henry is a leader on and off the field. Being one of the most experienced players on the court and standing at 6’11”, Nelson-Henry can be seen orchestrating the Riders team from down low, utilising his vision out of the post to find his team opportunities. With a game that is not done justice by the box score, Nelson-Henry influences the match with smart contests and rotations defensively, as well as great coordination offensively, often having a hand in positive plays without a stat being recorded. The Leicester captain will be hungrier than ever, as he tastes BBL play-offs for the first time in his career. 

For the Flyers, small forward Eric Lockett delivered an impressive performance in their last match and is their one to watch Monday afternoon. Against 4th placed Newcastle, Lockett posted a stat-line of 15 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists on only eight field-goal attempts, getting to the free throw line often to sink 5 of 8 shots. Playing 28 of 30 games this season, and averaging 31.1 minutes per game, Locket is a core piece to the Flyers. He leads his side in scoring averaging 15 points per game, as well as securing 7 rebounds per game and 4.2 assists per game, trailing only teammates Marcus Delpeche and Teddy Okereafor. A former NCAA Division 1 player, Lockett can be found on the Bristol wing slashing to the hoop and jumping on second chance opportunities. The Riders will look to contain Lockett with disciplined defence to avoid him damaging them at the charity stripe. 

Previous Meeting

The last meeting between these two sides was not a positive one for the Riders. Taking place on March 30th, 2020, and the second of a double-header, the Leicester Riders suffered a shock home blowout, the score 54-80. This was however, without Riders’ star point guard Geno Crandall, who will be on the court causing headaches against the Bristol Flyers Monday. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in live on the Sky Sports website or app. Riders fans will also be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account. 

BBL & Riders join social-media boycott

The British Basketball League (BBL) and Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL) will be joining our sporting colleagues across football, cricket, rugby and others in the social media boycott this weekend from 3pm Friday 30 April through Monday 3 May.

Sport has the power to bring all communities together and, as we have experienced through the growth and camaraderie of the British basketball community, social media has the power that allows us to reach and connect with our supporters – as it does for all sports – in immediate and vital ways.
But with that power comes responsibility and the current inaction by social media companies in the face of relentless hateful and abusive attacks by cowards protected by this very inaction is inexcusable.

No one should be subject to the kind of harassment and abuse that we have seen people experience. It goes against every tenet of basic human decency and we join the calls for social media companies to do more and for the UK government to ensure the Online Safety Bill gives sufficient powers to Ofcom to ensure social media companies can be held to account should they continue to fail in their responsibilities.

We would like to recognise Bristol Flyers and the role they have played in bringing this campaign to the fore. Leicester Riders will join the BBL, WBBL and it’s clubs in this social-media boycott across all our channels to give our support to the campaign.

Riders face Flyers in QF

Leicester Riders will play Bristol Flyers over a two-legged series in the opening round of the BBL Play-offs.

Riders punched their ticket in the play-offs a while back and having won the league title this past Sunday also found out their May Madness opponent. Following a two-point win over Manchester Giants, Bristol Flyers confirmed their eighth-placed finish in the league.

As a result, they take on the Flyers over two legs, with the aggregate score determining who will advance to the final four.

The first leg will take place on Monday, May 3rd (5pm tip-off) at the Vertu Motors Arena in Newcastle, whilst the second leg will take place at the University of Worcester Arena on Wednesday, May 5th (5pm tip-off).

Both games will be will be available to watch for free, LIVE on the Sky Sports YouTube channel.

Captains Log: We got it done!

I will keep this one short and sweet everyone…

Your Leicester Riders have won the 2020-21 League Championship!!!

As we all know, there were a variety of scenarios which could have led to this final outcome. And, despite it coming down to the last game of the season, we got it done!

I am so very proud of the guys. This was the most irregular season one could have asked for… yet they brought it day in and day out, thus culminating in the award that requires the most consistency. 

We want to thank everyone throughout the Riders organization for their dedication as well. For we could not have accomplished everything we did without their tireless efforts. 

And finally, I would like to thank you guys — the fans. The culture and positive energy that you all bring us is unmatched, and we are grateful for the constant support. 

But, we are not finished! There is still one more to go. We will do everything in our power to claim one final piece of silverware for the club and for ourselves!

Thank you as always, and let’s bring another one home!

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: I’m so proud of all the guys

I was really ecstatic after Riders claiming the league title again in Cheshire on Sunday. We did not really want it to come down to the last game, but so be it. But winning again, and winning like that, was an amazing feeling.

With it came down to the last day, I’m so proud of all the guys and the way they performed. I said to them in the locker room before the game that we’re ready to do what needed to be done. I saw the way they warmed up at Cheshire and there was a determination about them, and I knew we were ready.

The team looked focused and like they weren’t going to be denied, and you saw that on the court, right from the start. I thought we played one of our better games of the season. In a season with so many close games, we were able to put this one to bed pretty early, and it felt great to be able to celebrate with our team.

At the beginning of the season, I said to the guys that this was going to be a year like no other, we were going to be challenged in many ways, and we were. Not just the coronavirus, but the injuries that we had, the tough schedule and the tough league, with more competitive teams than ever.

When you’re at the top of this league, you’ve got to feel proud. Like I have been telling the guys all season long, there is no other group I want to be around. On the court and off the court they are committed and focussed, and everyone should be proud of them.

We are going to celebrate this one and we really look forward to celebrating with our fans when we can. Now we need to rest up for the Playoffs and look to end the season on another high.

Riders crowned League Champions after defeating Phoenix

Champions! The Riders won their fifth BBL Championship title in eight years, dispatching the Cheshire Phoenix in a commanding 97-65 win. Led by a 19 point game from their captain, Darien Nelson-Henry, Leicester took a double-digit lead in the first quarter and never looked back, winning by their biggest margin of the season. 

The Riders thrived under the pressure of a title-deciding tie, playing to the highest standard on both ends. They flexed their second-ranked BBL defence throughout, holding the Phoenix to under 17 points in each quarter. Executing their game plan to perfection, the Riders forced the league’s worst three-point shooting team to try from distance, walling off the paint with their BBL-best rim protection. The Phoenix failed to convert their three-point attempts, going 2-13 from deep and shooting 42% from the floor against the suffocating Leicester defence. 

In typical fashion, the Riders had six players with double-digit points tallies, as they shot an efficient 56% from the floor. Geno Crandall put a cherry on top of his MVP calibre season with a perfect offensive game, going 5-5 from the field for 14 points and dishing eight assists. He dominated the tie, dazzling defenders with flashy handles and intelligent playmaking, leading the Riders confidently through a game with the highest stakes. 

Winning his fifth title as Riders head coach, Rob Paternostro draws level with BBL legend Kevin Cadle for the second most championships in league history. With their defence and team-first basketball, the Riders put on a classic Paternostro display to secure the title, emphasising coach Rob’s importance to the franchise. 

Crandall settled Riders nerves on their first possession, beginning with a bang. He split a double-team at the top of the key before taking flight and throwing it down right-handed. Crandall’s emphatic play sparked a plethora of Riders highlights in a commanding opening period. 

In the first quarter, two William Lee dunks were the beginning and end of a 13-6 Riders run. He gave his team a double-digit lead to end the period with a tremendous slam in traffic. After a hard cut from the perimeter, Lee received a pass in-stride before rising high to throw the ball down over two defenders, putting the Riders up 25-15 at the end of the first. 

The Riders built on their lead in the second quarter, with a nine-point contribution from Jamell Anderson. The Defensive Player of the Year candidate demonstrated his prowess on the offensive end with three buckets from range. After his three-point play on the previous possession, Nelson-Henry’s block on Kyle Carey ended the half with the Riders up big- 49-33. 

Leicester picked up the second half where they left off in the first. ‘General’ Geno Crandall dictated the play with six points and four assists in the third quarter, leading the Riders with his passing and playmaking. His highlight of the period came with a minute left, after he pulled down a rebound with one hand, and in one motion, threw a full-court heave to Nelson-Henry. The fastbreak was finished off by Mustapha Heron, putting Leicester up 71-49. The game was in little doubt going into the final quarter. 

Despite holding a commanding lead, the Riders kept their foot on the pedal on both ends of the floor to emphatically see the game out. They held the Phoenix to 14 points in the fourth quarter, as Conner Washington took charge of the offensive end with nine points. Anderson drained his fourth three of the game to stamp the seal on a league-winning season. 

The win crowns the Riders league champions and secures them the first seed for the upcoming playoffs. Depending on the results, they will play the Flyers, Scorchers or the Giants in the first round. In the meantime, the Riders players, staff and fanbase can celebrate a tremendous season of Riders basketball. 

Phoenix

Ross 17, Hayes 16, Mccall 12, Lull 11, Carey 6, Bryan-Amaning 2, Gordon 1

Riders

Nelson-Henry 19, Heron 17, Crandall 14, Anderson 14, Lee 12, Washington 11, Johnson 8, Fraser 2

Preview: Riders at Phoenix

It all comes down to this! Should the Riders win their final game of the season on the road against the Cheshire Phoenix, they will be crowned winners of the BBL Championship title. 

Season So Far – Riders

The table toppings Riders’ season draws to a close with a high stakes game to win the title. They’ve enjoyed a dominant season, winning 23 of their 29 league games thus far, but need one more win to complete their aspirations. Leicester’s season has fallen on two key components, efficiency on offence and rim protection on defence. 

They shoot a BBL best 47.9% from the field, with six players averaging double-digit points, emphasising their team brand of basketball. They also top the statistical charts with their shot-blocking, swatting away 3.1 a game on the defensive end. The interior protection has contributed to Leicester’s second-ranked BBL defence, which held the Glasgow Rocks to 67 points and 36% from the field in their previous game. Leicester recorded a 26 point blowout, their third biggest win of the season, to carry momentum into this season-defining fixture. 

Season So Far – Phoenix

Having clinched a playoff spot in their previous game, should results swing the right way for the Phoenix, they can secure the fifth seed. To do so, they would need to beat the Riders in their final game of the season, a feat they accomplished earlier in the year. 

A disciplined outfit, the Phoenix average the least turnovers in the BBL, just 11.3 a game. Paired with eight steals a game, second in the league, the Phoenix generate extra possessions without surrendering many of their own. However, the Riders match up well to their offensive style, which operates mainly within the three-point arc—the Phoenix attempt the second most two-pointers and the second least three-pointers in the BBL. Against the league’s leading shot blockers, Cheshire may struggle to produce good looks at the rim. Should the Riders wall off the paint, the Phoenix, who possess the league’s worst three-point percentage (28.5%), may have a colossal task to overcome the table-toppers. 

Ones To Watch

Coming off the back of his career-high points tally in professional basketball, Mustapha Heron has hit the ground running after joining the Riders midseason. He had 26 points in the game versus the Rocks after staring aggressively with a 14 point first quarter. Heron grabbed ten rebounds and drained three of his six three-point attempts in a well-rounded effort to fill up the box score. The first-year pro out of Auburn College, once attended by NBA Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkey, is a high IQ defender, versatile scorer and a vital component of the title-challenging Riders team. 

Top 10 in the BBL in both points and assists, Kahron Ross’ electric season has put him in contention for the MVP award. Scoring 17.1 points per game, Ross is sixth in the scoring charts, and has showcased his ability against the Riders earlier in the year. In a 26 point performance, Ross hit a game-winner to beat the Riders, achieving his season-high in points in the process. Ross carries confidence into this tie, coming off a 24 point game against the Rocks to secure a playoff spot for Cheshire. The crafty guard is sure to cause problems for the Riders’ defence in this one. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders split the season series one apiece in their last encounter, winning at home 82-70. Heron led the way for Leicester, scoring 19 points and grabbing six rebounds. Meanwhile

It all comes down to this! Should the Riders win their final game of the season on the road against the Cheshire Phoenix, they will be crowned winners of the BBL Championship title. 

Season So Far – Riders

The table toppings Riders’ season draws to a close with a high stakes game to win the title. They’ve enjoyed a dominant season, winning 23 of their 29 league games thus far, but need one more win to complete their aspirations. Leicester’s season has fallen on two key components, efficiency on offence and rim protection on defence. 

They shoot a BBL best 47.9% from the field, with six players averaging double-digit points, emphasising their team brand of basketball. They also top the statistical charts with their shot-blocking, swatting away 3.1 a game on the defensive end. The interior protection has contributed to Leicester’s second-ranked BBL defence, which held the Glasgow Rocks to 67 points and 36% from the field in their previous game. Leicester recorded a 26 point blowout, their third biggest win of the season, to carry momentum into this season-defining fixture. 

Season So Far – Phoenix

Having clinched a playoff spot in their previous game, should results swing the right way for the Phoenix, they can secure the fifth seed. To do so, they would need to beat the Riders in their final game of the season, a feat they accomplished earlier in the year. 

A disciplined outfit, the Phoenix average the least turnovers in the BBL, just 11.3 a game. Paired with eight steals a game, second in the league, the Phoenix generate extra possessions without surrendering many of their own. However, the Riders match up well to their offensive style, which operates mainly within the three-point arc—the Phoenix attempt the second most two-pointers and the second least three-pointers in the BBL. Against the league’s leading shot blockers, Cheshire may struggle to produce good looks at the rim. Should the Riders wall off the paint, the Phoenix, who possess the league’s worst three-point percentage (28.5%), may have a colossal task to overcome the table-toppers. 

Ones To Watch

Coming off the back of his career-high points tally in professional basketball, Mustapha Heron has hit the ground running after joining the Riders midseason. He had 26 points in the game versus the Rocks after staring aggressively with a 14 point first quarter. Heron grabbed ten rebounds and drained three of his six three-point attempts in a well-rounded effort to fill up the box score. The first-year pro out of Auburn College, once attended by NBA Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkey, is a high IQ defender, versatile scorer and a vital component of the title-challenging Riders team. 

Top 10 in the BBL in both points and assists, Kahron Ross’ electric season has put him in contention for the MVP award. Scoring 17.1 points per game, Ross is sixth in the scoring charts, and has showcased his ability against the Riders earlier in the year. In a 26 point performance, Ross hit a game-winner to beat the Riders, achieving his season-high in points in the process. Ross carries confidence into this tie, coming off a 24 point game against the Rocks to secure a playoff spot for Cheshire. The crafty guard is sure to cause problems for the Riders’ defence in this one. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders split the season series one apiece in their last encounter, winning at home 82-70. Heron led the way for Leicester, scoring 19 points and grabbing six rebounds. Meanwhile

Ross filled up the box score with 13 points, nine rebounds and six assists. 

How to Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Riders defeat Rocks after strong fourth quarter

The Riders are one win away from the BBLChampionship title, after leading wire to wire to blow out the Glasgow Rocks 93-67. Mustapha Heron scored his career-high in professional basketball, leading Leicester with 26 points, and grabbing 10 rebounds for an impressive double-double. Ali Fraser also enjoyed a season high performance, scoring 21 points off the bench, and going an efficient 10-13 from the field. 

With their offence struggling in stretches, the Riders fell back on their second-ranked BBL defence to win the tie. Holding the Rocks to 67 points, then stole the ball 12 times for easy fast breakpoints. The Riders held the Rocks to 36% from the field and 27% from three in a suffocating defensive performance. 

The Rocks, playing the second of a back to back, appeared to run out of steam in the latter stages. It was a single-digit game until late, before the Riders closed the game out late in emphatic fashion, winning the final quarter 30-13.  After falling in a 21 point hole early, Glasgow came back to make the game competitive against the league leaders, scoring 29 points in the second quarter. Nine-year Glasgow veteran Jonny Bunyan led the way in the game for the visitors, draining five threes for all of his 15 points.

Heron was aggressive from the tip, taking nine shots in the first quarter to start the tie. His 14 points in the first led the Riders in a dominant start, as they bolted out the gates to finish the first period up 34-13. The Riders performed to the highest level on both ends, forcing five Rocks turnovers and shooting 60% from the field. 

The Riders’ MVP candidate Geno Crandall stamped the seal on a colossal opening quarter, turning on the style with 30 seconds remaining. Dancing at the top of the key, he dropped Bunyan with a lightning-quick crossover, before delicately laying in the ball at the rim to get the Riders bench off its feet. 

Responding positively to the disastrous start, the Rocks won the second quarter by 12 to bring the game, which appeared out of reach, to within single digits. French guard David Mpndo scored eight in the quarter, breathing life in the Glasgow side. 

Mistakes crept into the Riders game, fouling a three-point shooter on three occasions to put the Rocks on the line. Glasgow finished the half shooting 62% from the line, missing opportunities to punish the Riders’ errors. Despite the missed foul shots, the Rocks dragged themselves back into the tie, ending the half down 51-42. 

The game remained competitive in the third, with both sides playing stifling defence in a low scoring period. Just 22 points were scored in the quarter, as the teams struggled to put the ball in the hoop. The Riders went 3-16 in the third, as the Rocks relied on their interior defence to keep the hosts at bay. The final quarter ended with the Riders leading 61-54. 

Heron coast to coast early in the final quarter, to reestablish the Rider’s double-digit lead. Pulling down a rebound from a missed Bunyan jump shot, Heron drove through the entire Rocks defence, taking the ball to the rim and throwing it down two handed. Heron’s highlight lit a much-needed spark in the Riders, who proceeded to score seven straight, all courtesy of Fraser, to go up 18. 

With the game coming to a close, the Riders’ talent shone through, as they saw the tie out in style. In the final five minutes, the Riders went on a 27-6 run, led by nine fourth-quarter points by Fraser, to secure a vital win. 

After the Riders win, their season comes down to their final game. Assuming the Lions win in Glasgow, Leicester beating the Phoenix on Sunday will crown them league champions. 

Riders

Heron 26, Fraser 21, Johnson 18, Crandall 10, Washington 10, Nelson-Henry 4, Anderson 2, Hedley 2

Rocks

Bunyan 15, Mpondo 13, Malcolm 11, Van Sauers 10, Brandon 8, Kwedi 6, Jacdonmi 4

Preview: Riders v Rocks

BBL Championship remains in the Riders’ hands. Should they win their remaining two league games, they will be crowned champions. 

Season So Far – Riders

Top of the BBL Championship table, with a 22-6 record, the Riders have the title in their sights. They are the league’s most efficient team, knocking down 47.8% of their field goals, and play stifling interior defence, blocking a league-best 3.1 shots per contest. Despite having MVP candidate Geno Crandall running the point, six Riders players are averaging double-digits in points, emphasising the brand of team basketball coach Rob Paternostro has instilled into the franchise over the last decade.

Season So Far – Rocks

The Rocks have endured a difficult season, propping up the BBL Championship table. Glasgow enter the fixture having lost their last eight, most recently, an 85-69 blowout to the Phoenix. They have a league-worst offence, putting up just 74.3 points per game, with the worst field goal percentage to pair with it (43.1%). Their saving grace, their rim protection. The Rocks swat away 2.9 blocks per game, just 0.2 less than the Riders, who are the BBL’s best in that department. Should they wall off the inside and force the Riders to shoot over them, the Rocks have every chance of taking home the victory.

Ones To Watch

A staple feature of the Riders success in recent years, Jamell Anderson has clamped down defensively this season, earning him consideration for the Defensive Player of the Year award. Averaging a steal per game, Anderson has been challenged with the most difficult defensive assignments in the BBL this season, locking down some of the best the BBL has to offer. Offensively, Anderson hit key buckets down the stretch in the Riders previous fixture, to keep his team in contention. Having scored his 2000th BBL points earlier in the year, Anderson’s wealth of experience will prove a key component of the Riders performance in this fixture. 

Having faced adversity all season long, the Rocks will look to player/manager Gareth Murray to provide leadership and experience against the table-topping Riders. GB international Murray has represented his country in all of their major tournaments since 2013, shooting a career 40% from deep for team GB. Serving a difficult role this season, attempting to find the balance between his player and managerial duties, Murray is averaging 10.3 points on the season, a solid contributor who will look to lead his team to victory in this one. 

Previous meeting

The teams last met in February, in a comfortable Riders victory. On the road, the Riders won 97-78, with a 22 point contribution from Geno Crandall. For the Rocks, recently departed Christian Keeling played all 40 minutes, scoring 16 points for the hosts. 

How To Watch

Tonight game will be shown live on Sky Sports Action, with coverage beginning from 7pm. Riders fans will also be able to watch the game live on Sky Sports’ Youtube Channel.

Riders fall short against Lions

The Riders fell just short of an awe-inspired fourth-quarter comeback, losing to the Lions 86-81. Leicester pulled the game to within one point after entering the fourth quarter down 16, but couldn’t see the game home in the clutch. 

William Lee produced a performance of the highest standard, dropping a season-high 25 points to pair with 11 rebounds. He got his points off just 12 shots, making all six of his free throws in an efficient night. His miracle three late on kept Riders hope alive, after they struggled from deep in the game. 

After entering the fourth quarter having made just one shot from deep, the Riders came alive in the fourth to make it a ball game. They started the final quarter with a tremendous 17-2 run, making two key threes and locking down the Lions to climb back into the game. They dominated the boards, grabbing five offensive rebounds to win the period 31-20. 

For the Lions, the league’s second-highest scorer, Dirk Williams, put on yet another offensive clinic. He put up 25+ points for the sixth time this season, scoring 29 points and shooting 58% from the field. The MVP candidate kept his team’s chances of the title alive, as if the Riders took the victory they would have been crowned champions. 

The BBL’s most dangerous three-point shooting team in the Lions, who shoot 42% on the season, demonstrated their deep range prowess, knocking down four in the first five minutes. Their hot shooting allowed them to jump out to a quick double-digit lead, as the Riders started slow offensively. Despite the tough start, the Riders finished the quarter with a 9-2 run. Their successes came at the line, as the Riders made nine free throws in the opening quarter to make the game close. 

The Riders offensive troubles continued in the second quarter. They ended the half with 10 turnovers, shooting 0-5 from three having scored just 15 points in the second. Despite the difficulties, Leicester found themselves down just six, an encouraging sign in the circumstances. Their defence kept them in the tie, holding the league’s best offence to 17 points in the second quarter, which ended 42-36 in the Lions favour. 

Mustafa Heron kicked the second half off with a bang, throwing a hammer down over Chris Tawhiah. Getting the offensive board off his own missed jump shot, Heron drove hard inside before taking flight, throwing it down two-handed in traffic. Heron made the Riders first three of the game a minute later to cut the lead to one. 

In response, Williams scored seven straight for London to rebuild their lead. The Lion’s leading scorer, who averaged 17 points per game in Hungary last season, scored 15 in the quarter. He nailed a deep three at the buzzer, contested by Geno Crandall and Conner Washington, to put the Lions up 16 going into the fourth. 

Leicester started the final quarter scorching hot, attempting to climb back into the game. They brought the game to within one with five minutes on the clock. Washinton took over the game in the fourth, running the show to lead the Riders 17-2 charge. He scored seven points in the first five minutes of the quarter, his performance highlighted by a jaw-dropping lob pass on the fast break to Lee, who slammed it down to set up a dramatic finale. 

In the clutch, the Lions fell back on their league-best three-point shooting. Three London threes in the final two minutes resulted in the Lions up six with half a minute on the clock. A miracle three by Lee gave the Riders a slither of hope, but Willaims knocked down his free throws to put the game to bed. 

Despite the loss, the BBL championship title remains in the Riders’ hands. Should they win their final two league games, they will be crowned champions. They host the Rocks on Friday hoping to do half of the job. 

May Madness Fan Pack Giveaway!

MAY MADNESS ULTIMATE FAN PACK GIVEAWAY – TERMS & CONDITIONS

1- The promoter is: The Basketball League Ltd (company no. 01998309) whose registered office is at Unit E3, Leicester Business Centre, 111 Ross Walk, Leicester, LE4 5HH on behalf of Leicester Riders
2- The competition is open to residents of the United Kingdom aged 16 years or over except employees of British Basketball League and Leicester Riders and their close relatives and anyone otherwise connected with the organisation or judging of the competition.
3- There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.
4- By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
5- Route to entry for the competition and details of how to enter are via https://www.facebook.com/ridersbball
6- Only 1 entry allowed per person, no bulk entries, entries from agents, third parties, organized group or entries automatically generated by computer will be accepted.
7- Closing date for entry will be 23:59 BST on Saturday 24 April 2021. After this date the no further entries to the competition will be permitted.
8- No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.
9- The rules of the competition and how to enter are as follows:
Comment related to question “What is your favourite memory of Leicester Riders of all time and from this season?”. Entries can be text only, or text and image, or text and video, or video only.
Entries will be accepted as follows:
Facebook: Via comment on pinned post at the following page https://www.facebook.com/ridersbball
By mutual agreement winner will share content throughout 1 May 2021 – 16 May 2021 inclusive, of no less than two posts on all social platforms on which they have active accounts.
10- The promoter reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice in the event of a catastrophe, war, civil or military disturbance, act of God or any actual or anticipated breach of any applicable law or regulation or any other event outside of the promoter’s control. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.
11- The promoter is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied to any entrant by any third party connected with this competition.
12- There will be ONE winner in total for ONE May Madness Fan Pack. The Fan Pack contents are as follows:

– Max. 5x Standard tickets for 2022 BBL & WBBL Trophy Finals
– Max. 5x Standard tickets for 2022 BBL & WBBL Cup Finals
– Max. 5x Courtside tickets for 2022 BBL & WBBL Play Off Finals
– 1x SureShot Hot Shot Unit
– 2x Molten ball
– 4x May Madness branded tote bag
– 4x May Madness branded water bottle
– 4x foam hand
– 4x May Madness branded T-Shirt (Size L)
– 8x May Madness branded stickers
– 4x May Madness branded mouse mat
– 1x Tokyo Time cap

The prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. The prizes are not transferable. Prizes are subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.
13- The winner will be chosen at random by software, from all entries received and verified by Promoter and or its agents on Sunday 25 April 2021
14- The winner will be notified by Direct Message on Facebook within 48 hours of the selection date. If the winner cannot be contacted or does not claim the prize within 7 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.
15- The promoter will notify the winner when and where the prize can be collected / is delivered.
16- The promoter’s decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
17- By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
18- The competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by English law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England.
19- The winner agrees to the use of his/her name and image in any publicity material, as well as their entry. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current UK data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant’s prior consent.
20- The winner’s name will be available 28 days after closing date by emailing the following address: [email protected]
21- Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.
22- This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook or any other Social Network. You are providing your information to The Basketball League and not to any other party. The information provided will be used in conjunction with the following

Privacy Policy found at http://www.bbl.org.uk/general-privacy-policy/
 

Preview: Riders at Lions

The top two teams in the BBL face off in a potentially title deciding clash. Should the table-topping Riders overcome the second placed Lions, they will be crowned league champions.

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders league best 22-5 record has been built from efficiency and rim protection. They top the BBL in field goal percentage (48%) and blocks per game (3.1), forcing their opponents to shoot from outside due to their fearsome presence in the paint. Their rim protection has been a fundamental contributor to their second ranked defence in the BBL. 

Leicester enter tonight’s fixture having won eight out of their last ten, despite falling to the Eagles in their previous game. In typical fashion, the Riders had points contributions from every player who saw playing time. They have six players averaging points in double-digits this season, and will hope team play and efficient shooting will best the Lions in this one. 

Season So Far – Lions

The BBL’s best performing offence, scoring 91 points per game, the Lions are the last remaining challengers for the BBL Championship title. Shooting a league best 40.2% from three, the Lions have been red hot from deep range, torching their opponents from outside. London have bought in on both ends, ranking top three in steals and blocks to deny their opponents.

Having won their last eight, all considered must win games to maintain their shot at the league title, the Lions enter the tie in sizzling form. With a dynamic duo of two MVP candidates, in former NBA star DeAndre Liggins and the BBL’s second ranked scorer Dirk WIlliams, the Lions will prove a formidable test for the Riders. 

Ones to watch

The Riders biggest contributor to their BBL best blocks tally, William Lee has been a human highlight reel this season. The University of Alabama’s all-time leading shot blocker ranks third in the BBL in blocks, swatting away 1.2 a game. After spending last season in the G-league with the Iowa Wolves, ‘ha-ha’ has left Riders fans giddy with his high flying antics, throwing down monster jams each and every night. Playing high above the rim, Lee is bound to make an impact on the game, getting the Riders bench and fans off their feet. 

One of two players on the Lions roster in the MVP runnings this season, DeAndre Liggins’ team first attitude has lifted his team into title contention. Helping London to two trophies already this season, Liggins 6.8 assists per game is good for third in the BBL, and his effect on his teammates has been tangible. His passing and playmaking ability has propelled Dirk Williams to 17.7 points per game, the second best scoring average in the BBL. Liggins NBA experience, which includes playing alongside LeBron James for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, should prove vital in a game the Lions have to win to remain in the title race.

Previous meetings

With the season series at one game a piece, a Riders win would take the head to head record for the season, making it impossible for the Lions to catch them in the league. Last time out, the Riders secured a hard fought win, beating the Lions at home 78-73. Darien Nelson-Henry enjoyed a near double-double performance scoring a team high 17 points and pulling down nine rebounds. Meanwhile for the Lions, Justin Robinson led the way with 21 points, his second highest tally of the season. 

How to Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Captains Log: Ready to put our best foot forward

Our loss this weekend to the Eagles was disappointing to say the least. 

We came out strong, and executed as we had planned all week. In the first half, we were the team that we have displayed throughout the season. In the second half, however, we were anything but that. 

We came out lackadaisical without a sense of urgency. Our performance was the exact opposite of the first half, and it ultimately led us to forfeit the lead we had worked hard for in the opening periods. 

This kind of play is unacceptable, as we discussed amongst ourselves after the game. It is not the kind of performance that wins championships. 

However, this is a learning opportunity — one that will fuel us for the coming matchup against London on Wednesday. 

We are focused and ready to put our best foot forward. We are determined to win at all costs and bring home the championship, which we have worked tirelessly all season for. 

This coming game is why we all love basketball so much. This is why we play the game! For moments like these. 

Thank you for your never ending support. We cannot thank you enough. And, we will do everything we can to win one for Leicester on Wednesday! 

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: We need to react the right way

We knew going to Newcastle Eagles last Friday night up there that they were going to be up for it, after a couple of disappointing performances recently by their standards.

I knew that also from when we were up there last time and the disappointment in their whole club about the last loss to the Riders. So it was important we imposed ourselves from the beginning of the game, and although we had an eleven-point lead at half-time, I was still disappointed.

Our defence was OK in the first half, but we were still giving them open shots, and our passing and control was not where is should be. We should have been going into the break with a lead of 15 to 20 points, but most importantly we emphasised at halftime the need to look after the ball.

We did not want to get their confidence going, but that is exactly what we did, with a very sloppy start to the second half. Once they got some breakaway scores off turnovers you could see their whole demeanour change. Their confidence returned, the shots started to drop, and their defence became more physical. We needed not to give them that momentum.

Once they got going their defence stepped up and we found it much more difficult. With 24 turnovers by us I was surprised that we managed to stay in the game until the last minute. The Eagles are just too good a team to give them that advantage. It was a disappointing loss and now we need to quickly put it behind us.We have one week left in the regular season and we need to win one against London or the last two against Cheshire and Glasgow. We can expect London to win their remaining games after Wednesday night. We have worked very hard to get to that position, so it needs a big last push. The guys are really disappointed with the Friday night showing and now we need to react in the right way.

BBL announce May Madness!

A new structure has been announced for this years’ ‘May Madness’ Play-offs with the BBL and WBBL featuring 20 games across two weeks and three venues. Sky Sports will be showing all games for free on their YouTube channel for fans in the UK with the BBL semi-finals and the BBL and WBBL Finals also aired live on Sky Sports. Fans in the UK and overseas will also be able to watch free on BBL Player.

The three central venues hosting the Play-Offs are Vertu Motors Arena in Newcastle, University of Worcester Arena, and the Morningside Arena in Leicester. The series tips off on Saturday 1 May at the Vertu Motors Arena with the WBBL quarter-finals and Round 1 of the BBL quarter-finals before moving to University of Worcester Arena for Round 2 of the BBL quarter-finals and the WBBL semi-finals. The Morningside Arena will host the BBL semi-finals and the WBBL and BBL finals on Sunday 16 May.

The change in format was in response to the ongoing requirements of the Covid 19 protocols. With fans unable to return to indoor sporting events and the regular season stretched due to rearranged fixtures, condensing not only the timetable but also the venues allowed the best chance of finishing the season with a bang.

Andy Webb, COO of BBL, said “The 2020/21 season has been challenging but ultimately rewarding as all teams have stepped up to meet these challenges and play one of the most exciting and unpredictable seasons we’ve seen. Basketball fans will be treated to a fantastic end to the season and we’re delighted to bring all the games to them with Sky Sports.”

Riders fall to Eagles

The Riders lost a hard-fought contest, falling on the road to the Newcastle Eagles 90-80. A competitive tie between long-standing rivals came down to the final minute of play, but a monumental second-half performance from Newcastle overcame an 11 point Riders halftime lead. 

Leicester had contributions from every player on the court, led by a 16 point double-double off the bench from Geno Crandall. The MVP candidate had 10 rebounds in the game, and nine by the half, fighting until the final buzzer to keep the Riders in contention. Ali Fraser enjoyed a solid game, scoring eight points in 13 minutes for the Riders to contribute towards 38 points off the Leicester bench. 

The BBL’s most efficient team, the Riders had success putting the ball in the hoop, shooting 48% in the game. However, turnovers proved costly, as they gave the ball up 24 times to allow the Eagles 22 more shots than the visitors. 

The Riders dominated the first two quarters, forcing the league’s most frequent assist makers into isolation offence. Newcastle shot 28% in the first half, dishing just eight assists despite entering the game averaging 24.1 a game. In the second half, the Eagles came out with a different intensity, stepping up on the defensive end. Their efforts secured the lead, which they would not surrender. 

The Eagles had two players with over 20 points, as Justin Gordan and Rahmon Fletcher combined for 47. Fletcher, who is making his bid for his third BBL MVP this season, led the Eagles on a run to beat the Riders 32-17 in the third quarter, which was ultimately the difference between the teams. Clutch baskets down the stretch from Gordan sealed the Newcastle victory, including a monster jam to put them up five with a minute left. 

Newcastle, who lead the BBL in steals with 8.7 a game, stole the ball 14 times to generate 25 fast breakpoints. 16-year Newactsle veteran Darius Defoe was one of three Eagle players with three steals, dominating the defensive end to block three shots also. 

Against the league’s best shot-blocking team, Newcastle remained true to form, as they scored 56 points in the paint, compared to their league-best 41.8 a game. Their 90 point performance is the tenth time they have amassed that total this season, as they boast the BBL’s second-ranked offence.  

Early on, Leicester flexed their defensive strength, holding the Eagles to just two points in the opening five minutes. The Riders suffocating start allowed them to bolt out to a double-digit lead. Lee’s six points lead Leicester through the first period, as he put an exclamation point on an emphatic start. Left open in the corner, Lee cut hard to the rim to receive a dish from Geno Crandall, before slamming it down two-handed. 

Having established their lead in the first, the Riders continued their superiority to build a 15 point lead. Darien Nelson-Henry dominated down low, scoring nine points in the quarter and blocking Fletcher’s layup to end the half. The Riders held their opponents to 31 first-half points, entering the locker rooms up 42-31.

The Eagles commenced a colossal comeback coming out of the half, forcing seven Riders turnovers in the opening five minutes of the third. Eight quick points from Flecther gave the Eagles their first lead since the game’s opening basket, after an 18-4 Newcastle run. Louis Sayers caught fire for the Eagles, knocking down four threes in the quarter as the game’s momentum flipped. After 31 first-half points, Newcastle scored 32 in the third quarter to take a narrow lead. The sides entered the final quarter with the Eagles up 63-59, laying the foundations for a climactic finale. 

Riding a wave of momentum generated in the third quarter, the Eagles maintained their lead in the fourth. With four and a half minutes to play, Newcastle found themselves up nine courtesy of Fletcher attacking the rim. With his team in need of a basket, Mustapha Heron drove coast to coast to hit a tough layup over Defoe, before Crandall stripped Fletcher for a breakaway slam to bring the game to within a possession. 

With three points between the teams, Gordon brought the game home for the Eagles. He swung momentum in his team’s favour, coming up with a huge play by rising high to throw the ball down over Heron. On the next possession, he drove to the hoop and hit a running hook shot to put Newcastle up six. While the Riders hung in the tie, coming up with a steal and a quick Crandall jam to make it a two-possession game, the late surge fell just short of accomplishing a Riders comeback. 

Despite the loss, the Riders still top the BBL Championship table with a 22-5 record. By beating the Lions in their next fixture, they can secure the league title for the fifth time in franchise history. They travel to London on Wednesday in the hope of accomplishing that feat. 

Eagles

Gordon 24, Fletcher 23, Sayers 16, Defoe 10, Pflueger 6, Maxwell 5, Edwards 2, Lasker 2, Adenekan 2

Riders

Crandall 16, Nelson-Henry 11, Heron 10, Lee 9, Washington 8, Fraser 8, Falzon 5, Anderson 5, Johnson 4, Walker 4

Preview: Riders at Eagles

The top team in the British basketball League take on the league’s most historic. Travelling to the Vertu Motors Arena in Newcastle on Friday for a 7:30pm tip, the Leicester Riders look to secure BBL silverware in the final regular season clash with their oldest rivals Newcastle Eagles.

Season so Far – Riders

The Riders battled last Saturday to capture a gruelling overtime victory. Defeating the 2nd placed Plymouth Raiders 93-85, they snapped the visiting side’s eight game winning streak and knocked them out of the title race. This win put the Riders one step closer to securing the BBL Championship trophy and the number one seed, leading the table by 12 points with only the London Lions within reach. A win this Friday would seal the deal and crown the Riders, but the Eagles would love to play spoiler after being knocked out of the running in their Friday night game last week. 

Season So Far – Eagles

The Newcastle Eagles find themselves 4th in the BBL table, their wings clipped as they suffered consecutive losses that knocked them out of the title hunt. This will only fuel the Eagles for the upcoming match however, as they can spite their old rival and let off some steam in the process. Both sides play the team basketball that has led to success, the Eagles leading the league in assists per game with 24.1, and the Riders notching 21. And with both sides positioned one and two in field goal percentage (the Riders stealing the top spot by one with 48%) the Vertu Motors Arena is in store for an exciting affair. 

Ones to Watch

This contest may well be a battle between BBL Most Valuable Player candidates. Leicester’s candidate Geno Crandall had a heroic game against the Raiders Saturday. Battling through a hindered wrist, Crandall put on a performance recognised by fans as incredible, who voted him the player of the game. Entering the action from the bench, Crandall played over 30 minutes and dropped a points-assists double-double. He finished with 15 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds and 4 steals, and additionally led both sides along side Darien Nelson-Henry with a +12 plus/minus. Crandall’s dazzling handle, crafty shot making, and court vision are needed weapons for the Riders, and his proficient rebounding from the guard spot is also a luxury his team can ill afford to go without. Crandall punished the Eagles with an efficient double-double in their last meeting, and the Riders will hope he can grit his teeth and do it again to push them over the BBL Championship hump. 

Newcastle can answer with their own candidate, and former two-time BBL MVP Rahmon Fletcher. Despite the heart-breaking loss in the Eagles last outing, Fletcher put up a monster performance. Playing every second, and shooting an absurd 15-22 from the field, Fletcher poured in 38 points, and tallied 10 assists for his seemingly weekly points-assists double-double. Fletcher is a true magician at the point guard position. He leads the league in both points (18.7) and assists (9.5) per game, so is someone the Riders must slow down. In their last meeting the Riders did an admirable job doing just this as, despite throwing down his familiar double-double, he was limited to 11 points. Fletcher will be looking for a different story this time round, the Eagles captain pushing on from his Friday night explosion.

Previous Meeting

The Riders and Eagles last met on the 12th of March 2021 at the Vertu Motors Arena. Both teams had a pair of players post double-doubles, but the Riders proved to be the more efficient side, securing a 73-99 victory. The affair was a battle between both ones to watch, Geno Crandall getting the better of Rahmon Fletcher on the night, so another exciting clash between the two is sure to be on the cards. 

How To Watch

Riders fans will be able to watch the game live on Sky Sports Action and for free on the Sky Sports Youtube Channel from 7pm. The game will also be steamed live on BBL Player.

Captains Log: We are looking forward to this stretch of games

Another thriller at the top of the table! It was an exciting matchup from start to finish. With Plymouth on a winning streak throughout March, we knew it would be a tough game. And, thanks to solid, well distributed play from our guys, and a few fortuitous plays throughout the game ultimately ended in our favour after a hard-fought battle. 

While we are obviously happy with the victory, there we many takeaways from the game. 

First, our rebounding needs to improve. We gave up too many second chances, and to compete for a championship that needs to tighten up. Second, our communication on defence can be better. While we held them to low scoring numbers (considering OT) this is an area that can always enhance our play. As they say, good defense leads to good offense. Last, we need to run some of our sets a little more crisp.

While we generally have a good, open flow to our offense, there are instances where we have a particular goal in mind. In these situations we must execute exactly as planned in order to get the desired result. 
If we can take these things away from a win, our chances of performing better down the line will only grow. 

We are looking forward to this stretch of games to close out the regular season. Right now is where champions are decided! This is what we play for. 

Excited and thankful for all the continued support!

Your captain, Darien Nelson-Henry 

Coach Rob: At this stage of the season every game is huge

I was delighted the way the team played against Plymouth Raiders last Saturday. It was our third game in six days, and we were up against a team in Plymouth with a big squad and playing tremendous, winning basketball. They were a team in form, and we knew we were going to be up against it.

The Raiders really battered us on the boards. But I still thought we were pretty much in control of the game in the first half, and it was really only the offensive rebounds that kept them in it. We were in a decent place at halftime and the third quarter was a bit back and forth, with both defences really on top. The Raiders took command late in the game with a bunch of three pointers and we were up against it. But I called a timeout with 49 seconds left and we were down 4 points, but everyone stayed positive.

We needed a quick basket, and credit to Geno Crandall, he flew down the court and scored in seconds. We played some great defence at the death, Conner Washington forced a couple of turnovers, and Darien Nelson-Henry made a huge score. Our captain has been tremendous for us all season long, and he did it again against the Raiders with crucial scores. He is one of the best in the league in that situation.

The overtime was another great five minutes of basketball and when their Will Neighbour hit a three with 90 seconds left to edge them ahead, it was vital we replied. We got a big three from Conner and then took it from there. It was a huge win for us, but at this stage of the season every game is huge.

We are a little closer to our goal but still with lots to do and with 4 big games left. It is vital we don’t get ahead of ourselves but take it one game at a time.

Riders defeat Raiders in Overtime

The Riders displayed the composure and experience of a league-leading ball club to see out an overtime thriller, beating the Plymouth Raiders 93-85. Darien Nelson-Henry’s 19 point performance led the Riders for the second straight game, accompanied by a team-high seven rebounds. 

Geno Crandall, despite struggling with a wrist injury throughout, demonstrated his toughness, playing through his injury to log 15 points, 10 assists and four steals. His fourth quarter performance kept the Riders in contention, allowing them to pull out a win.

Like Crandall, Leicester battled injury throughout in a hard-fought battle. Aaron Falzon went down late in the third, and Nelson-Henry briefly left the game in the fourth, leaving the Riders short-handed in the front court. Despite this, the Riders broke an eight-game Raiders win streak to get one step closer to the BBL Championship title. 

Plymouth were the league’s most frequent free-throw shooters entering the game, but struggled getting to the line against a disiplined Riders outfit. They shot 11 free-throws compared to their 28 a game average, and shot just 54% in the tie. Despite their shortcomings on the foul line, the Raiders dominated in the paint. 

Averaging 10.4 offensive rebounds a game, Plymouth grabbed 19. Michael Ochereobia alone had five offensive boards, and Ricky McGill notched his season high rebounds tally with 13 from the point-guard position, as well as leading his team in points with 20 and dished eight assists in a monster near triple-double performance. 

The Riders jumped quickly out the gate, and were firing from deep. They made five in the first quarter, three of which from Mustapha Heron, who tied his season-high for three-pointers made in a game after just five minutes. The hot shooting allowed the Riders to edge the first quarter 23-20. 

After going 0-6 from deep in the first quarter, the Raiders managed just one point in the first three minutes of the second against the suffocating Leicester defence. However, they remained in the game, crashing the offensive boards. The Raiders, second in the BBL in offensive rebounding, grabbed 11 in the first half. Despite shooting 1-13 through the first two quarters, Plymouth were down just one late in the second, and a Riders two-minute flurry ended the half with Leicester up 41-36. 

Eight minutes into the third, after a back and forth beginning to the quarter, Geno Crandall produced the play of the game to put Leicester up six. Isolating on the right-wing, Crandall reached deep into his bag of tricks to dazzle the four defenders which surrounded him. After being tied up, he threw the ball up and banked in a prayer to be sent to the line for a three-point play. 

The second half developed into the gritty affair many expected between the BBL’s two best defences. The teams managed just 31 points between them, to set up a thrilling finale. 

With their opponents hitting their deep shots after entering the fourth quarter shooting 4-24 from three, the Riders found themselves in a four-point hole. In response, Crandall took the game by the horns to drag the Riders back into the game. Running the fast break, he lobbed the ball up to a cutting William Lee who threw it down emphatically to tie the game at 70. On the next play, he dished a delicate behind the back pass to Nelson-Henry for an easy lay up. 

Despite the highlight plays, the Riders were down four with half a minute left in the tie after a Raiders steal and fast-break layup finished off by McGill. With the clock ticking down, Crandall exploded to the rim for a layup, and Conner Washington forced a Plymouth turnover on the next possesion to give the Riders a shot to tie the game.

It was Crandall once again who took charge in the clutch, driving to the hoop and finding Nelson-Henry under the rim. The captain steadied himself, berfore hitting a  hook shot to tie the game with ten seconds on the clock. McGill missed a midrange jump shot to win, sending the game to overtime. 

The Riders fell back on their experince gained throughout the season, closing yet another close game out. After a Will Neighbour three put Plymouth up one, the Riders went on a 7-0 run in the final minute and a half of overtime to secure the win. Washington’s three lit the spark in the Riders offense, before a steal sent them on the fast break. Corey Johnson threw a lob pass to Lee, which inadvertently found the bottom of the net to make it a two possession game. Free-throws by Washington and Johnson ensured the conclusion to a  hard-fought overtime win.

The Riders win means two further victories will secure them top spot of the BBL Championship. Their 22-4 record puts them 12 points clear at the top of the table, and head to Newcastle on Friday in the hopes of edging one step closer to the title. 

Preview: Riders v Raiders

The Riders return to the Morningside Arena Saturday for a top two clash. Taking on the surging Plymouth Raiders at 6:00pm, the Riders look to complete a season sweep and spoil the visiting side’s win streak. 

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders remain the premier team in British Basketball. An impressive 18-point mid-week win over the Worcester Wolves extended their lead at the top of the table to 10, with 42 points and a record of 21-4. Approaching the playoffs, Leicester is starting to get healthier, enjoying the luxury of spreading minutes across the squad. In their last match, nine players played more than 16 minutes, with over half of the Riders points coming from their bench. Top MVP candidate Geno Crandall enjoyed a lighter load, with Connor Washington shouldering the most minutes as starting point guard, and big man Mo Walker is being eased onto the court, his long-awaited return being carefully handled. The Riders look to continue to win games and hit the post season as hot and healthy as possible. 

Season So Far – Raiders

The Raiders are currently the hottest team in the BBL. Winning their last eight games, the Plymouth side have soared to 2nd place. This streak has come by the way of physical basketball. The Raiders dominate the paint, being 2nd in the league in rebounds per game, both offensive and defensive. With 3.58 blocks per game the Raiders protect the rim better than any team, the London Lions trailing by a massive 0.64. Additionally, even when not swatting shots there are no easy points against the Raiders, as they rank 2nd in fouls per game with 19.94. Where the Raiders fall short is in their discipline. Per game, they assist on shots at a league low 15.98 rate, and turn the ball over 14.31 times, having them runners up. The Riders will be looking to exploit this as they attempt to complete a sweep this Saturday. 

Ones to Watch

As previously mentioned, the Riders spread the minutes in their last match. This gave role players off the bench an opportunity to make a real impact on the game. Forward Aaron Falzon took this opportunity and ran with it. Playing 16 minutes, Falzon recorded 8 points, dropping two of four shots, one from beyond the arc, and getting to the line to sink three of three free throws. Falzon also tacked on four rebounds to finish the match with a game-leading +28 plus/minus, proving to be a valuable asset to the winning side. The 6’8” power forward averages 12.7 minutes, 4.46 points, and 2.88 rebounds per game, while knocking down shots at a healthy 46.5% clip. Look to see Falzon, with more minutes to play with, being a useful tool on the court, utilising his long-distance marksmanship and his size down low to cause problems for the Raiders.

The Plymouth Raiders have been on an eight-game tear, ripping their way through the table. The man orchestrating this streak, leading his side on the court, is team captain Ashley Hamilton. The 6’7” forward is a skilful talent, able to knock down shots from range as well as slash to the hoop. This reflects in his season averages, leading his team in points with 15.95 per game. Hamilton also possesses the grit that makes the Raiders such a difficult side to compete with. Averaging 6.32 boards per game, good for second on his team, he contributes to the impressive rebound totals the Raiders have put up this season. Hamilton will be looking to repeat his impressive performance from his last game, where he posted 21 points on 7-12 shooting, got to the charity stripe to sink five of six free throws, and pulled down six rebounds. The Riders will need to challenge the Raiders captain Saturday to show the visiting side they can match their physicality and protect their home court. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders and Raiders last met on the 15th of January 2021. The contest was a comfortable one for the visiting Riders, who won three of four quarters to secure a 70-82 win. The game was dominated by the Riders’ guards, Geno Crandall having a monster game of 18 points, 17 rebounds and 8 assists. Connor Washington posted 21 points and 7 rebounds of his own, and Zach Johnson added on 18 points too. The Raiders will hope that new Riders guard, Mustapha Heron, will not do as much damage as they look to extend their winning streak to nine. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Impressive defence leads Riders to victory over Wolves

Darien Nelson-Henry led a dominant Riders display, with 14 points and seven rebounds in a 75-57 away win against the Worcester Wolves. In the final 13 minutes, the Riders beat their opponents 27-11, flexing their defence which ranks second in the BBL to hold the Wolves to just  23 second-half points. 

Geno Crandall marked his second game back from injury with an impactful performance. He finished with a +/- of 24 in the commanding win, an example of his positive influence on the team. His efforts were tangible on both ends, as he clamped the Wolves on the defensive end to snatch four steals, and orchestrated the offence to finish with six assists.

The Wolves struggled late against the energy of the Riders defence. They shot 35% from the field in the game, and finished with 57 points, their lowest tally of the season. Elijah Burns was the bright spark off the bench for Worcester, finishing with 11 points. The first-year pro out of Sienna College ended the game with a +/- of -2, leaving an impressive impression on his team despite the blowout. 

It wasn’t smooth sailing throughout for the Riders. The game was delicately poised at halftime, with six points separating the teams. The Wolves, who averaged a league-worst 1.8 blocks per game this season, swatted five shots in the first half alone, as Leicester struggled to get anything inside early against the solid Worcester interior defence. 

And it was the Wolves who took the initiative from the tip, jumping out to a 12-4 lead to start. They had success attacking the rim, starting 6-8 from the field with four of those makes in close. The Riders managed just 13 points in the first quarter, but not for lack of effective offence. Leicester found open looks which ultimately wouldn’t fall, shooting 29% in the first period as they found themselves down eight points. 

However, led by Crandall off the bench, Leicester changed the complexion of the game in the second quarter. They fed the ball to Crandall, allowing him to run the show. Dictating the play, ‘the general’ led the Riders on a 14-2 run, as they took their first lead of the game. Leicester maintained their lead through defensive intensity which held their opponents to 13 quarter points. Crandall’s assist on a pick and roll with Nelson-Henry, followed by a steal on the subsequent inbound, ended the half with the Riders up 40-34. 

Nelson-Henry set the tone in a gritty third quarter, forcing three misses at the rim in the first Wolves possession. The teams managed 15 points between them in the first five minutes of the third, as they battled with physicality and intensity. The game was in the balance, and it was Leicester who tipped the scale. Conner Washington’s three in the last minute of the period capped off a 7-0 Riders run to end the third, giving the Riders a nine-point lead. 

Leicester emphatically saw the game out, building on their run to end the third quarter. Nine straight points to start the fourth gave the Riders their biggest lead of the night, all scored by Crandall and Mustapha Heron. With the Wolves in the bonus after two minutes, the Riders continued their late surge, jumping out to a 20 point lead and never looking back. The result was concluded through the hands of Leicester’s young prospects, as Greg Wild combined with Justin Hedley to knock down a corner three, completing an assured Riders win.

The Riders consolidated their position at the top of the BBL, possessing a 21-4 record. Their comfortable 12 point lead means three wins from their final five games will be enough to secure the BBL Championship title. After a two-game road trip, Leicester heads home to host the Plymouth Raiders, in the hopes of getting one win closer to their season aim. 

Wolves

Kimble 12, Burns 11, Parks Jr. 10, Bouwknecht 9, Williams 8, Williamson 3, Mcswiggan 2, Elan 2

Riders

Nelson-Henry 14, Crandall 12, Anderson 8, Falzon 8, Fraser 8, Heron 7, Johnson 7, Washington 6, Wild 3, Lee 2

Preview: Riders at Wolves

The Riders look to end an epic three-game series with a win, facing the Worcester Wolves in a battle for the head to head between the two sides. Tipping off at 7:00pm, the University of Worcester Arena is in store for another tightly contested thriller. 

Season So Far – Riders

In a face-off between the best defensive rebounding team in the Riders, and the best offensive rebounding team in the Giants last game, the Riders came out on top. The win righted the winning ship for the Riders, who now sit comfortably top of the table by 10 points with a 20-4 record. The match also marked the return of Leicester’s star point guard Geno Crandall, who was missed in his time away from the court as well as Centre Mo Walker who made his first BBL Championship appearance of the season. The Riders big men are heating up at the right time, William Lee and Darien Nelson-Henry combining for 37 points and 19 rebounds in Manchester. With the regular season approaching its end, the Riders look to hit the playoffs as hot and healthy as possible. 

Season So Far – Wolves

The Wolves currently hold the sixth seed with 24 points and a record of 12-13 but are fighting off competition right at their heels. Having played more games than the trailing teams, and losing in their last match, Worcester will be eager to get back to winning ways. The Wolves were victims of overtime struggles in their last performance, scoring drying up against the Lions to the tune of only 9 points. They will be encouraged by their effort however, playing the 4th placed powerhouse side so close. Being the second-best three-point shooting team in the league, sinking the longball at a 35% rate they will be confident they can keep up with anyone.

Ones To Watch

With a team as dominant on the boards as the Giants, the Riders big men looked to step up and flex on the competition. William Lee did this, earning the Player of the Game in the process. Lee was unstoppable on both sides of the court, finishing with a stat-line of 19 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks, while hitting an efficient 8-10 field goals. Lee possesses the frame and athleticism to terrify opponents and can be seen threatening to tear the rim off a couple times a game. What is often overlooked though is the fundamental side of his game. With a consistent midrange jump shot and the ability to put the ball on the floor, Lee transforms himself from a one-dimensional player to one you cannot give so too much space too. On top of this, his work protecting the rim is something to behold. Positioned at 2nd in the league with 1.3 blocks per game, and with an incredible 93.9 defensive rating Lee is a highlight reel on both sides of the court. This game will be the first the Wolves truly get to experience Lee, who was recovering from a knee injury when the teams met last. They must find a way of slowing him down and avoid finding themselves on a poster in the process. 

The last two games between these two sides were monumental clashes with, back and forth games with tense, dramatic climaxes. One Worcester player experienced almost every second of it. Over the two matches, Wolves forward Jordan Williams played 80 minutes 41 seconds. With 27 points, 29 rebounds and 10 assists over both contests, Williams was something of a hero for the Worcester side. Averaging 9 rebounds per game and feasting by getting to the rim, Williams is player who looks to impose himself on the opposition. It is likely you will see the forward slashing to the rim off a Lamarr Kimble dish and stuffing it in from above the hoop. Given his aggressive playstyle, and the William Lee’s protecting, fans could be in store for a physical match-up between both ones to watch Wednesday. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders last faced the Wolves on the 28th of February 2021 in the second of a double-header. After taking the first game with a clutch, last second three from Corey Johnson, the Riders had their huge 11-game win streak snapped. Finishing 84-82, the hosts Worcester Wolves edged out an overtime thriller. This Wednesday’s game serves as the decider of the series, long awaited by both teams. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Captains Log: Time to make our push

It was an exciting weekend to be a Rider’s fan, and a Rider’s player.

While the game was exciting, and we may have allowed it to get a little closer than we would like… the true excitement came with the return of some well missed faces on the court!

It was great to have Geno back on the floor. His energy and high IQ plays made him an immediate asset to us against the Giant’s. Not to mention, his insane passing skills, which inevitable led to a few points by yours truly. We are all excited to have him back on the floor, even if it is only for limited minutes. 

And then, the re-debut of Big Mo was a celebration for us all — providing immediate offense for us with his patented lefty hook in the paint. It was a sight for sore eyes! We are glad to have him back as well. 

While the game was close, we felt confidence with the full roster back again. And, it couldn’t be at a better time! With limited games left in the regular season, it is time to make our push to solidify the Championship title.

I am excited for what is ahead of us, and I know you all are too!

Hope to see you all soon!

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: One game at a time

We had a good win against the Giants in Manchester but to be fair you need to give credit to Manchester. They shot the ball extremely well and Satchell was amazing with his shooting. He scored 36 points and made a lot of very tough shots. I thought we controlled most of the game without ever really putting them away. But they made a late run at us, and we had to really play some tough defence.

In the last minute Jamell Anderson made a big defensive play on Satchell and Corey Johnson hit crucial free throws under pressure. It seems the majority of our games have come down to the last minute or so. It is one of those things, but we will take it and the guys are executing when it matters.

William Lee was really excellent throughout and brought a lot of energy on both ends of the court. And it was nice to see Geno back, and hopefully we can build up his minutes in future games. It was especially nice to see Mo Walker get out on the court after such a long and frustrating time out. Hopefully, these guys can get more minutes going forward, and can adjust to the playing pace, and improve.

We have a heck of a schedule coming up and so it is important we get contributions from everyone. We want to try and rotate as much as possible at this time of the season. Now onto Wednesday night and the game at the Wolves. We had two very tough and very close games when we last played them.

Both games went down to the wire and could have gone either way. They have a surprising record when you look at the talent they can put on the floor. They have all the tools to be up there in the top four in the BBL.

I believe the Wolves will be a team to be reckoned with come the Playoffs, that is for sure. They pose a number of challenges for us in matching up. But we know what we are facing and have to be very focussed on one game at a time.

Riders earn Easter Sunday win over Giants

The Riders responded to their midweek loss with a clutch win, as they beat the Manchester Giants 90-87 in a nailbiting finish. Corey Johnson displayed nerves of steel, as his late free-throws were ultimately the difference between the two teams. 

Manchester had a chance to send the game to overtime, led by a career-high scoring performance by Justin Satchell. Satchell was in his bag, dropping 36 points as he caught fire, making six of his eight threes, and shooting 13-16 from the floor. He scored nine points in the final period as Manchester came back from a 10 point deficit, but ultimately fell short with a missed three at the buzzer. 

For Leicester, William Lee lit up the court and the stat sheet, leading the team with 19 points while coming up with his monster highlight plays. The pick of the bunch came midway through the final period, linking up with Darien Nelson-Henry to throw down a vicious lob after cutting backdoor. Both Riders big men performed to the highest standard, as Nelson-Henry’s performance was instrumental for the Riders. Coming up with 18 points, he led the team with 10 rebounds in a game that was fought on the glass. 

Manchester, the BBL’s best offensive rebounding team, bombarded the boards to keep the game close. Despite shooting just 40% from the floor, the Giants scored 87 points, in huge part thanks to their rebounding. Led by the league’s best offensive rebounder, David Ulph, who had seven in the game, the Giants pulled down 16 offensive boards against the BBL’s best defensive rebounding outfit. Their paint dominance allowed Manchester to push the Riders to the final possession. 

Jordan Whelan started the game hot, scoring 10 in the first quarter for the Giants. However, he was on the wrong end of the game’s first highlight, as his layup was swatted away by Lee. Lee, the University of Alabama’s all-time leading shot-blocker, displayed his hops on Easter Sunday, rising high to deny Whelan who drove down the baseline. Lee had two blocks in the game, living up to the precedent he has set throughout the season. He ranks second in the BBL in blocks per game. 

The game was a back and forth affair early. The first quarter featured five lead changes, as the teams jockeyed for position. The Riders did begin to stamp their authority on the game towards the end of the first, with a 12-5 run to end the first featuring six different scorers. However, despite stretching their lead to double-digits in the second quarter, they were pegged back by a determined Giants team. 

The Giants may have found themselves in a deep hole, if not for a red hot Satchell. He had 19 first-half points, and was unable to miss, making all of his seven shots from the floor. His three with half a minute left in the second brought the Giants to within one, before Crandall attacked the rim to end the half with the Riders up 44-41. 

Satchell remained hot after the break, nailing a three coming out of the half to tie the game. He and Mustapha Heron engaged in a battle to start the third quarter, both scoring seven points in the first half of the period. Despite a cagey beginning to the third, the Riders, led by Lee, reestablished their lead. A 10-3 run in the final three minutes of the quarter put the Riders up seven entering the final quarter, as they built themselves a cushion to see the game out. 

Satchell continuing his scintillating performance to end the game. His nine fourth-quarter points capped off his career-best performance, keeping Manchester in contention. Satchell’s tough turnaround shot from deep in the midrange tied the game with two minutes on the clock, but an experienced Leicester team well versed in bringing games home came out the better of the two sides. 

A flurry of baskets from both teams, rounded off by a huge three by Alex Ouandie, set the score at 88-87 in the Riders favour with 15 seconds on the clock. Corey Johnson was sent to the line, and with ice in his veins, he made both to force the Giants into a three to tie. 

When needed, Leicester’s second-ranked defence stood up to the challenge. While Manchester found Satchell’s hot hand, he was forced into a highly contested shot to send the game to overtime. He couldn’t convert, and a scramble for the rebound resulted in Whelan chucking up a prayer, which clanked off the iron to cap off a suffocating Riders defensive possession.  

The Riders’ title push is back underway, as they return to winning form. With a 20-4 record, they sit 10 points clear at the top of the table. Four is the magic number for Leicester, as that is how many wins they need to secure the top spot in the BBL Championship. They continue their road trip on Wednesday, as they head to Worcester in the hopes of beating the Wolves.

Giants

Satchell 36, Whelan 18, Ouandie 15, Marshall-Johnson 8, Ulph 6, Cassell Jr 4

Riders

Lee 19, Nelson-Henry 18, Heron 14, Johnson 11, Crandall 8, Washington 6, Anderson 5, Falzon 5, Fraser 2, Walker 2

Preview: Riders at Giants

After a disappointing loss in mid week, Riders looks to bounce back. Tipping off at 5:00pm, the National Basketball Performance Centre plays host to an Easter Sunday clash between the Riders and the Giants.

Season so Far – Riders 

The Riders currently possess the premier spot in the BBL table, sitting 1st with a lead of eight points. The Riders side will not be pleased however, licking their wounds after their five-game win-streak was snapped last Tuesday by the Flyers. Now facing another team fighting for the final playoff seed, the Riders are in store for more intense action. Head coach Rob Paternosto believes his side is up to the challenge saying the last outing was a lesson learned for us, but I am confident we can bounce back. With Geno Crandall still out for Sunday’s clash, the Riders look to secure a win through the team basketball that has been key to their success all season. 

Season so Far – Giants

With a record of 7-16 the Manchester Giants find themselves two places off a playoff spot. After losing their last two, the Giants look to turn things around and make that playoff push. At 10th, they have some catching up to do, back from 8th by four points despite playing more games than both teams ahead of them. They face quite the task Sunday however, trying to get back to winning ways facing a hungry side in the Riders, who are looking for a victim to unleash some frustration. Being the 3rd best scoring side in the league, the Giants hope to pour in the points on their home court and secure a vital victory in the final stretch of the season. 

Ones To Watch

A team missing their leading scorer and playmaker must rely on other sources of points. Fortunately for the Riders, their squad is rife with players who can put the ball in the basket. One such player will be looking to bounce back with a vengeance Sunday, Corey Johnson. After shooting an uncharacteristic 1-9 from three in his last performance, Johnson, one of the league’s premier marksmen, will be looking to see the ball splash through the net as normal. Leicester’s 6’5” shooting guard knocks down the long ball at a 37% clip on 6.4 attempts per game. Johnson has often been relied on as a catalyst for offensive production, starting all 23 matches this season for Leicester and averaging 11.4 points per game. The Giants will have to make sure not to give him space if they want to keep the Riders from counting in threes. 

Despite the Giants’ loss last week, the court still saw an impressive performance from one of the most efficient players in the league. Giants power forward David Ulph dropped in a cool seven of nine shots for 16 points, while also securing a double-double with 11 rebounds. Most impressive, despite Ulph’s effective scoring, was his work on the boards. Eight of his 11 rebounds were ripped down off the offensive glass, giving his side a chance to convert second chance opportunities. This performance was not an outlying occurrence either. Ulph averages 10.8 points and 8.4 rebounds for the Giants this season, with an incredible 3.5 of those rebounds per game being offensive. As mentioned before, Ulph is a player that makes the most of his minutes, shooting 66% from the field, sporting a player efficiency rating of 19.9 and having an offensive rating of 127.6. The Riders will need to keep Ulph out of the paint and away from the offensive glass on Sunday if they want to cripple the Giants scoring. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders and Giants’ last meeting was on the 21st February 2021, taking place on a Manchester court. A dominant second half performance secured a Riders victory, the contest finishing 77-91. The contest saw this Sunday’s Riders one to watch, Corey Johnson, flame the Giants for 24 points. Geno Crandall also threatened a triple-double with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists, so Manchester will not miss his presence on the floor. The Giants will be focused on avoiding fouling this Sunday learning from their earlier demise, in which the Riders had an unbelievable 30 attempts from the charity stripe. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Captains Log: It’s a learning experience

Our high spirits after a decisive win came crashing down after Tuesday’s defeat. There are no excuses we can make. It came down to complacency and a lack of focus on our part. 

After beating Bristol handily on Saturday, we came into Tuesday’s game thinking it would be a similar result. They came out with more energy than us, however, and it gave them confidence early. 

We battled back, and we were even up until midway through the third quarter. But giving some of their players confidence early in the game came back to hurt us in the end.  

It is a learning experience… not to take anything for granted, and to expect teams to give us their best shot every chance they get. That is what happens when you are first in the league. Teams have nothing to lose, so you can expect everyone to give us their best effort. 

After a long day of film and chats with the guys, I am sure that this was just a wrinkle in our otherwise stable focus thus far this season.

We are excited to head up to Manchester this weekend and show to our supporters and ourselves that we are capable of much more than we displayed on Tuesday night. 

Thank you, as always, for your never ending support — I hope to see you all soon!

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: The race for the Playoffs is heating up

The race for the Playoffs is heating up and the BBL continues to show how competitive it is. There has been some amazing results this season, with the last week or so no different. We were playing Bristol twice in three days – always a tricky proposition, we saw that earlier in the season with Worcester.

We performed decently on Saturday but just ran out of gas against the Flyers on Tuesday. Our defence was up to scratch on Saturday, we moved the ball pretty well, and hit the open shots.

When you do that, it stops too much pressure being put on your defence in transition and gives you time to get set up. Also, we looked after the ball, which is really important in these types of games. And Conner was just fantastic; he has exceptional conditioning.

But it is always tough playing the same opponents twice in three days, and particularly one fighting for a playoff spot. So, I knew we were in for a battle at the Morningside Arena and I did not like the way we started.

There was a lack of structure and purpose and our intensity was not there. But we still went into half-time on level scores, so I though we were in a decent place. We started the second half well and managed to build a 47-40 lead and I thought we might be able to sneak it.

But a couple of the guys were fatigued, and I had to take them out, and it fell away from there. We committed 19 turnovers which is going to kill you, and it turned into one-way traffic.

We scored only about 5 points over 15 minutes and that is not going to win any game. It is a lesson learned for us, but I am confident we can bounce back.

We now have a nice break before Sunday which we need. After that the schedule gets heavier. We need to stay confident and hope we can get Geno back soon. We will be going up against another team fighting for the final playoff position so it won’t get any easier.

Ball Out 3×3 dates confirmed

The dates of the new-look 2021 Ball Out 3×3 Tour have been confirmed.
Ball Out 3×3 and Basketball England will collaborate on an exciting expansion of the iconic 3×3 tour this summer.

‘Ball Out 3×3 in partnership with Basketball England’ will feature eight qualifying events across the country during summer, culminating in two days of finals in London.

Ball Out will return to the capital, Manchester and Birmingham – with new editions of the tour taking place in Newcastle, Leicester, Leeds and Essex for the first time.

Ball Out 3×3 in partnership with Basketball England – dates, cities and venues

Tour
17 & 18 July – London, Finsbury Park
24 July – Manchester, National Basketball Performance Centre
25 July – Birmingham, University of Birmingham
31 July – Newcastle, Vertu Motors Arena
1 August – Leicester, Morningside Arena
7 August – Leeds, Leeds Beckett University
8 August – Essex, Essex Sports Arena

Finals
14 & 15 August – London, Finsbury Park

Details about Ball Out entries will be released very soon.

Ball Out CEO Julius Josephs said:

“This is an exciting milestone in the lead up to the summer which we are very optimistic about. We have successfully constructed a national tour that will provide a unique opportunity for players to compete against 3×3 players from across the country. It’s going to be special.”

Pro basketball player and Ball Out veteran Orlan Jackman said:

“During the pandemic, a lot of people haven’t been able to get out of their homes properly, let alone play basketball. Ball Out 3×3 will be the first opportunity players will get to do what they love and compete safely! I can’t wait.”

The UK’s premier 3×3 tournament has joined forces with Basketball England as excitement builds towards the three-a-side version of the sport taking centre stage at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Streetballers from across the nation will compete in the qualifying events for a shot at making the finals.

And elite players – including professionals from the BBL, NBL and beyond – will be invited to showcase their skills, with Basketball England using the tournament as part of preparation for selecting the England men’s and women’s 3×3 teams to compete at Birmingham 2022.

Basketball England Technical and Talent manager Steve Bucknall said:

“We are hoping to see lots of talent, whether it is elite pros or streetballers, as we build towards selecting teams for Birmingham.

“We’re looking at and talking to some high-calibre players already and it will be great to see some of them in the mix in the Ball Out 3×3 events.

“Ball Out also dovetails perfectly with our aim of helping people and organisations revitalise outdoor courts and spaces in heart of communities through the next phase of our #ProjectSwish campaign. We can’t wait to get started.”

For the fifth consecutive year, winners from the Elite Men’s Ball Out Finals will earn an all-expenses-paid trip to compete in the FIBA 3×3 World Tour and the chance to win the huge cash prize.

Ball Out competition categories:

Elite Men (UK Residents Only)
Wheelchair Basketball
Recreational Men (UK Residents Only)
Women
U18 Men/Women
U16 Boys
U14 Boys
U14 Girls

Riders fall to Flyers

The Flyers broke a five-game Leicester win streak, as they beat the Riders 80-54. A dominant fourth-quarter performance put the game to bed, which was competitive entering the final period. By clogging the paint, the Flyers held the BBL’s most efficient offence to 37% from the field. This was the second of a back to back fixture between the sides, which has been split a game apiece. 

Conner Washington led the Riders in points in a low scoring team performance. He had 13 points, six assists and six rebounds, as he went 6/9 from the field in an efficient offence game. Washington has stepped up the plate in the last three games, assuming starting role with Geno Crandall injured. Averaging 9.9 points per game at the time of Crandall injury, Washington has averaged 17 points since then, shining in a starting role. 

Eric Lockett, who averaged 14.3 points per game in his sophomore year at Florida International, led the way for his team. He had 18 points and nine rebounds with a 24 plus/minus, emphasising his importance to the Flyers. 

Uncharacteristically, the Riders found it tough in the early going. Two Leicester turnovers in the first two minutes allowed the Flyers to jump out to a six-point lead before the Riders got the lid off the basket. While Leicester’s offence struggled, starting 2/7, Bristol’s was clicking. They played fluidly, with their ball and player movement leaving the BBL’s second-ranked defence scrambling. 

Led by Eric Lockett’s six quarter points, the Flyers took a nine-point lead nearing the end of the first. In response to this, Conner Washington lit a spark in the Riders on both ends in the final two minutes of the first quarter. He took a charge coming out of a timeout to seize momentum from Bristol, before scoring five points in two minutes to bring the Riders within two. Despite jumping out to a nine-point lead, the Flyers would end the quarter up just 18-16. 

In the second, the Flyers re-established their lead. Josh Rogers, who shoots 36% from three on the year, hit three straight midway through the quarter to lead his team to a double-digit lead. Yet again, the Riders required a response, and they found one beyond the arc. Leicester’s offence exploded with three deep shots, before a Washington mid-range jump shot tied the game. 

Washington scored a third of his team’s points in the first half, leading the Riders on a strong run to end the half.  During this run, the Riders’ defence stood firm. They held the Flyers to two points in the final five minutes of the second, suffocating Bristol, as a low-scoring half ended 33-33, tied midway through as it was the first fixture. 

The high-flying William Lee produced the highlight of a tightly contested third quarter. After a Riders steal, Lee got out fast on the fast break, before taking it hard to the hoop and throwing the ball down with his left hand. The momentum surge allowed the Riders to break out to their first lead of the game, with a Corey Johnson floater putting Leicester up seven. 

The Flyers came back with a 12-0 run of their own to end the third. They prevented a Leicester score for the final five minutes of the third, clogging the paint with their big men. Bristol allowed nothing easy at the rim, and consecutive threes Raphell Thomas-Edwards put the Flyers up 52-47 entering the final period. 

Falzon got the fourth quarter going with a bang, coming up with a huge contest to swat away Daniel Edozie’s dunk attempt. Despite the huge defensively play, the Flyers continued to grow their lead early in the final quarter. Their defensive efforts held the Riders to four points in the first six minutes of the period, as costly Leicester turnovers allowed Bristol to take a double-digit lead. 

The Riders struggled to find anything inside against the resilient Bristol interior defence late. The Flyers’ won the fourth quarter 28-7, a commanding performance to see the game out.

Riders

Washington 13, Johnson 11, Heron 10, Nelson-Henry 8, Lee 6, Falzon 6

Flyers

Lockett 18, Baker 11, Thomas-Edwards 11, Rogers 9, Edozie 8, Mockford 7, Mayindombe 5, Okereafor 2

Preview: Riders v Flyers

The Riders return home to face the Bristol Flyers for the second game of the double-header. Tipping off at 6:00pm at the Morningside Arena, the Riders look for repeat success in the rematch.

Season So Far – Riders 

The Riders face the Flyers for the second time in four days, confident after an away win in the first match-up. Still 10 points clear on top of the BBL table and enjoying a five-game winning streak. Sitting in 1st for so long is sure to put a target on their back, but the Riders seem to relish the challenge, leading the league in field goal percentage with 48.7% and only trailing the London Lions in points per game at 87.1. Add to this a ferocious hounding team defence and you have a side with no intentions of slowing down. 

Season So Far – Flyers 

Still holding the 8th seed but with teams closing around them, the Flyers hope to get back to winning ways in foreign territory. After brutal matchmaking, pitting them in a double-header against the league leaders with the first game being the second of a back-to-back, the Flyers will have an extra edge to their game Tuesday. Despite a double-digit loss in their previous outing, snagging 12 steals and pulling down 40 rebounds suggests that if the Flyers can score more efficiently, currently converting only 43.7% of field goal attempts, they could present problems for any team in the league. 

Ones to Watch 

It is unusual to choose the same player two weeks in succession for the one to watch, but when you deliver two performances as impressive as Conner Washington’s it is impossible to ignore. Playing 77½ of the last 80 minutes in his two sole season starts, Washington has been the engine to the Riders’ success. In the two matches, Washington has recorded 37 points, 19 assists and 11 rebounds being the initiator both defensively, in his full court pick-up, and offensively with his playmaking handle. Washington is the man that the Flyers will have to make work on Tuesday, allowing him to rest on the court and pull the strings for Leicester would only spell disaster. 

The Flyers will be looking for bursts of shooting facing the Riders Tuesday, knowing that it will take more efficient scoring to keep pace with the home side. One player to keep an eye on doing just that is Bristol’s most accurate sniper, Teddy Okereafor. The 6’4” guard struggled on Saturday, failing to find his rhythm, and uncharacteristically shot a disappointing 1-6 from the floor. Okereafor will be looking to step up in the rematch and provide the Flyers with the 43% knock down rate from three they rely on him for. Averaging 8.8 points, 5 assists, and 6.1 rebounds per game a bounce back to the norm can be expected.

Previous Meeting

This upcoming contest will be the second time these two sides have faced each other in four days. The Riders rode to Bristol and secured a comprehensive double-digit win in the first match, the final score 62-76. It was a more comfortable affair for the Riders, facing a Flyers side recovering from a game only the day before. Now with some rest, Tuesday presents perhaps a more level playing field, with Bristol looking for revenge, and to ruin the Riders’ fun in Leicester. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Riders beat Flyers on the road

Conner Washington’s colossal effort led the Riders to a 76-62 win against the Bristol Flyers. In Geno Crandall’s absence, the GB guard played every minute of the game, recording 22 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, leading the team in each category. He had a season-high in both points and rebounds, as he continued to thrive in his starting role. 

Leicester’s defence, which held the Cheshire Phoenix to just three points in the fourth quarter in their previous game, stepped up late once again. The Flyers managed just ten points in the final period against the stifling Leicester defence, as they shot 35% from the field in the game. 

Justin Baker led the way for the Flyers, putting up 14 points and seven rebounds. His side remained in contention entering the fourth quarter, before running into a Leicester team well versed in seeing games out. 

The solid Riders defensive display began from the tip. They held the Flyers to five points in the opening five minutes, as Bristol started the game 1-8 from the field. The Riders couldn’t capitalise on their defensive efforts to start, as they struggled to click their offence into gear. Washington carried the scoring load for the Riders in the first, scoring 10 of Leicester’s 15 first-quarter points. His buzzer-beating three ended the period with Bristol up two. 

The defensive focus of the first quarter continued in the second, as the teams ended the half combining for 38% from the field. Bristol crashed the offensive glass in an attempt to put points on the board, pulling down ten in the first half. The second chance opportunities resulted in just six points as they struggled to convert close looks. 

The Riders lifted the lid from the basket for a time in the second quarter, driving to the hoop and getting to the free-throw line. Six straight points in close via Darien Nelson-Henry built a Leicester lead which they would not surrender in the game. The Riders held the Flyers to just two points in the first five minutes of the quarter, allowing them to jump out to a ten-point lead.

Back to back threes from Josh Wilcher brought the Flyers back into the game, however as the half came to a close, Corey Johnson responded with a pair of threes of his own to re-establish a narrow Leicester lead. The score was 39-34 in the Riders’ favour at the half. 

Coach Rob Paternostro’s halftime team talk appeared to light a fire under the Riders, as they came out of the break hot with a 9-2 run. Leicester stretched their lead to 12, the biggest of the game, as they kicked into gear. William Lee’s turnaround jump shot for his seventh points of the quarter kept the Riders’ lead at double digits, as they entered the final quarter up 62-52. 

The Riders sealed the win comfortably in the fourth quarter, with Washington and Mustapha Heron combining for all 14 of Leicester’s fourth-quarter points. Heron stole the show in the quarter, making the two plays of the game. 

As the period neared its midway point, he drove down the baseline, flying high to throw the ball down hard over Marcus Delpeche. This gave the Riders a 15 point lead, their biggest of the game. Following his monster jam, Heron then took the ball inside from the left-wing, beating his defender with a quick first step before rising up and slamming it home two-handed in the open lane. Heron’s emphatic plays put an exclamation point on a dominant Riders closeout. 

The Leicester win bolsters their position at the top of the BBL. They extend their win streak to five, as they put 12 points between themselves and the second-placed Eagles, boasting a 19-3 record. The Riders play the second of this back-to-back fixture in Leicester on Tuesday, as they continue their title push. 

Preview: Riders at Flyers

After last weekends break, the Riders take the court again on Saturday at 7:30pm for the first of a double-header, travelling to the SGS College Arena in Bristol to face a hungry Flyers side. 

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders were impressive in their last performance, outlasting a gritty Cheshire Phoenix side to end a dangerous winning streak. It took a gritty effort of their own to capture the victory, a 22-3 4th quarter, by the way of a Leicester defensive masterclass, securing an 82-70 final score. The Riders sit 10 points clear at the top of the BBL table with an 18-3 record, flexing wins over 2nd, 3rd, and 4th placed teams in their last four contests. Leaving the Morningside Arena for the first time in three matches, they look to continue their success and play spoiler against a Flyers side fighting for a play-off spot. 

Season So Far – Flyers

Clutching the 8th seed with 16 points, the Bristol Flyers are hungry to convert their games in hand to wins. After traveling to the Worcester Wolves on Friday and displaying a dominant performance in an 82-62 win, the Flyers will be confident in doing just that. The Flyers are the best at crashing the offensive glass in the BBL, pulling down 11 offensive rebounds per game for second-chance points. Saturday Bristol faces the challenge of crashing the boards against a Leicester team that leads the league in average defensive rebounds per game with 28.4. Add to this the contest being the second of back-to-back games for the Flyers, and it will take an incredible effort to topple the fresh, top-table side. 

Ones To Watch

With the absence of star starting point guard Geno Crandall in their last contest, the Riders players to step up. Conner Washington put on a big performance against the Phoenix recording a points-assists double-double with 15 and 12 respectively. Perhaps going unnoticed in his first start of the season, was Washington’s herculean effort. The Riders number 13 was benched for only two and a half minutes, his defensive presence matching his offensive contributions leaving him with an impressive 17-points plus/minus. Given his ferocious pressing defensive approach, and his ankle bruising attacking style, this feat is something that is sure to catch the attention of the Flyers. They will know that Washington is a player that will cause problems all over the court from the opening tip to the dying minutes, and will have to devise a way to limit him if they plan to come out of Saturday with a win. 

Also wearing number 13, Flyers small forward Eric Lockett delivered an impressive performance in their last match. Posting a stat-line of 16 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists with a game leading monstrous 31-points plus/minus, Lockett proved vital to the Flyers victory. Lockett has started all 19 games this season for the Flyers, and while not leading the team in any stat, averaging 14.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists, he is as reliable as they come. A former NCAA Division 1 player, Lockett can now be found on the Bristol wing slashing to the hoop and jumping on second chance opportunities. The Riders will look to disrupt Lockett on Saturday to slow down a Flyers team that seems to feed off the forward’s effort on the court. 

Previous Meeting

The last meeting between these two teams dates to last year, the Riders hosting the Flyers on the 18th of December 2020. Double digit points from four of the Riders five starters led the home side to a 12-point win, the contest finishing 85-73. Each team has markedly changed since the last time they shared the court though, so both Leicester and Bristol will look forward to running things back in the coming double-header. 

How to Watch

Tonight’s game will be streamed via Flyers TV, Riders fans will be able to purchase a game pass for £4.99.

Strong fourth quarter sees Riders defeat Phoenix

After signing for the Riders last month, Mustapha Heron enjoyed a breakout game for the Riders, dropping a season-high 19 points as Leicester beat the Cheshire Phoenix 82-70. In the absence of the BBL’s second-highest assist maker Geno Crandall, Conner Washington dominated the playmaking responsibilities. He played every minute of the first half, and finished the game with a double-double, getting 15 points and 12 assists. 

The Riders, who lead the BBL in field goal percentage, had another efficient night, going 51% from the floor. They were on fire from deep, going 11-21 from three, and locked down defensively too. They forced the Phoenix, who have the least turnovers in the league (10.6 per game) into 14 turnovers, and held them to just 40% from the floor. 

Cheshire competed until late in the game, keeping it within one possession with three and a half minutes remaining. Japanese B-league MVP Matthew Bryan-Amaning led the Phoenix off the bench with 17 points. 

The Riders were locked in defensively from the tip. They forced the Phoenix into three turnovers in the first six minutes, as they missed their first five shots. Cheshire looked to their bench for a response, as Matthew Bryan-Amaning checked into the game midway through the first to take over the game. He put up seven points in five minutes, as his team finished the quarter up 18-15

Washington stepped up in the second quarter. He was the only Rider player with multiple assists at halftime, dishing out eight. He took defenders off the dribble, and off their feet, to generate offence. Early in the quarter, Washington dropped Mike McCall to the floor with quick handles, before stepping back and making a bucket for the highlight of the game, and three of his eight second-quarter points. 

In response to the Riders taking a one-point lead in the second, Jimbo Lull, who averaged 12 points in his senior year at San Fransisco, put his team on his shoulders to keep the game close. He put up 10 straight Phoenix points, and his layup with four minutes left in the half kept Cheshire within three. The teams traded buckets and went into the locker rooms tied at 44. 

The Riders looked down low to start the second half. They jumped out to an eight-point lead, getting eight points at the basket, including a huge putback dunk by William Lee. The ever athletic Lee rose up high to throw the ball down over Lull (and Darien Nelson-Henry), as the Riders stamped their authority down on the game. 

The Phoenix responded to the Riders momentum boost in an emphatic fashion. With Washington on the bench for the first time in the game, they went on a 20-5 run to see out the third. They got to the free-throw line frequently, as they attacked the rim. Kyle Carey’s lay-up at the buzzer put Cheshire up 67-60 entering the fourth. 

The Riders stepped up their defence, which ranks second in the BBL, to start the final quarter. Johnson shone on the defensive end, picking up the ball-handler to force the Pheonix into prayers at the buzzer. The defensive effort allowed the Riders to climb back into the game, tying it at 67 with three minutes gone in the quarter.

With the game within a single possession with three and a half minutes on the clock, the Riders fell back on the experience of two months of closely contested games. Key buckets down the stretch by Nelson-Henry and Heron extended the Leicester lead to eight, and with two minutes on the clock, Jamel Anderson’s three from the corner gave the Riders and 12 point lead. With the Phoenix’s leading scorer Kahron Ross heading to the bench with a leg injury, the Riders saw the game out for another win in their title challenge. 

The win extends Leicester’s digit lead at the top of the BBL to 12 points, as they improve to an 18-3 record. They will look to build on their four-game winning streak as they head down to Bristol to play the Flyers on Saturday. 

Preview: Riders v Phoenix

The Riders look for revenge Wednesday against a hot Phoenix side. Tipping off at 6:00pm, the Morningside Arena hosts a clash between two teams looking to snuff out each other’s winning streaks.

Season So Far – Riders

Leading the BBL table by 10 points, the Riders have started to build another impressive winning streak, coming out victorious in their last three contests, with two of those three wins coming against top four sides. The Riders winning ways have been born out of efficient team basketball, the teams 47% average field goal percentage leading the league, and their 14.9 fouls committed per game landing them as the second most disciplined side. They look to extend their streak against the Cheshire Phoenix, one of the most in form teams in the BBL.

Season So Far – Phoenix 

The Cheshire Phoenix are looking to extend a hot streak of their own, winning their last four. Having delivered the Riders’ most recent loss, they will be confident traveling to the Morningside Arena to face the top table team. The Nix are a team that make opponents work, utilising a hounding defensive style that produces turnovers while limiting fouls. Their 8 steals per game sit them at second in the league, and their 14 turnovers per game leave them joint top as a team that looks after the ball. Despite Cheshire being the worst three point shooting side in the league, knocking down only 29% from three, the Riders will have to make use of every possession they have.

Ones To Watch

Leicester Riders big man Ali Frazer was crucial in the teams previous outing. The 6’7” forward utilised his size and ability working in the midrange to post 13 points in 13 minutes, shooting an impressive 6-7 on the night. Also tacking on a couple rebounds and a block, Frazer proved to be valuable all over the court, providing a spark and making full use of his minutes. In his first season with the Riders, the former Glasgow Rocks star has shown to be a reliable source of points and defensive presence, his defensive rating with the Riders at 98.7 topping all his years in the BBL. On the back of a strong performance last week, Ali Fraser is one to watch Wednesday against the Phoenix. 

In their previous meeting the Nix had two players post points-rebounds double-doubles, and three players score 20 points or more. There was one player however, who did both. With a monstrous stat-line of 22 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists, Jalen Hayes was a nightmare for the visiting Riders side right from the tip. This was not a one-night wonder either, as Hayes contributes 15 points per game, as well as leads the Nix with 8.8 rebounds per game. Standing at 6’7” Hayes has also become a defensive asset in his third year with Cheshire, his defensive rating of 98.9 and his work on the boards being professional career highs. The Riders will have to contain Hayes’ work inside Wednesday to avoid the physical game that the Phoenix look to impose.

Previous Meeting

The two sides last clashed on the 5th of March 2021, a two-point game falling the way of the home Cheshire side 93-91. A limited Nix team, which had only 7 players take the court, displayed an incredible effort toppling the top table Riders. Corey Johnson and Geno Crandall’s pair of 21 points seemed to be a glimpse of the Riders strength but proved not to be enough as Cheshire hammered in three 20-plus points performances of their own. If the last match-up is anything to go off, Wednesday night is sure to be one of fast paced, intense basketball. 

How to Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Captains Log: Focusing on improvement

Following a big weekend, we faced Surrey in the middle of the week. It was our third game in five days, and I was a little beat up after the tough weekend.

The first half looked good for us, with a decent lead going into the locker room at halftime. We knew we made some mistakes here and there, but overall it was looking alright. In the second half, however, they found some confidence and were playing better than they had displayed previously.

Luckily, we were able to weather the storm with some big plays down the stretch. We finished off the series and headed into s weekend without fixtures. It was a good thing too because most of the guys were feeling a little banged up. 

After this weekend of rest, we are looking forward to giving maximum effort in the coming week — facing Cheshire on Wednesday and Bristol on Saturday. They have been close games thus far this season, so we are focusing on improving on our last matchup against both teams. 

Thank you, as always, for your never ending support!

Your captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: We know what we have to do

It was good to have a weekend off after some tough games in recent weeks. Last Wednesday we knew we were facing a tough game against the Surrey Scorchers, particularly after the two wins last weekend over our rivals Newcastle and London. Those games will have taken a lot out of the team physically and emotionally, and so we were on our guard. Plus, we knew going in that Surrey are a much-improved team, and were in decent form, with little to lose.

They were tough to defend and run a free-wheeling style of offence, which at times we struggled to cope with. I was pretty happy with the way we started and the whole of the first half, except we should have had a more comfortable lead at halftime. We let things get away from us a little. That set up a tense final period and they did make some big shots.

But we did just enough, and these are the type of games you must win when you are in our position. I thought William Lee was excellent throughout, really imposing himself on the boards and defensively. Geno Crandall ran the offence very well and made some big passes as he does. And Darien Nelson-Henry continued to be very solid. He is really improving with his finishing in the paint.

Now this Wednesday Cheshire Phoenix come to the Morningside and we have not forgotten what happened up there the last time we played – it is seared in the memory. Their guards caused us a lot of problems, and we need to learn from that. And we thought we had got back into the game, and made the huge defensive turnover, but, somehow, they came down and made a really tough shot.

Their backcourt is very talented, and we need to do a much better job of containing them. They also have guys who can crash the boards so our rebounding will be key. But we had some good spells up there and know what we have to do. After that we still have 9 games to go, including against the top sides. The nature of the BBL this season means there will be upsets along the way, and therefore plenty can still happen.

Riders grind out win against Scorchers

St. Patrick’s Day may be known as a day of luck, but the Riders relied on much more than just fortune in a composed clutch performance, beating the Scorchers 90-87. The importance of building off two huge weekend wins could not be overstated entering the game, and the Riders dispatched the Scorchers late to win their third straight. 

Crandall stole the show in a dazzling display, toying with his opponents as he danced around the court. ‘The general’ dictated the game, dishing the ball down low to his big men on his way to 10 assists. His dribbling ability left jaws on the floor, as he dropped defenders who looked like little more than puppets attached to Crandall on a string. His 10 fourth-quarter points earned the Riders a hard-fought win, and contributed to his 22 points as he notched his third straight double-double. 

Surrey, led by second-year pro Connor Cashaw, competed until the final buzzer and were a missed three away from overtime against the league leaders. Cashaw had a monster 17 rebounds, eight of which offensive rebounds which kept his team competitive late. His 19 points are his second-highest total of the season, as he went 8-14 from the field. 

Leicester started the game downhill, driving at the hoop. Their first 12 points came from attacking the rim, getting easy looks to settle into their rhythm. The Riders, who average the third-most assists in the BBL coming into the fixture, had eight separate scorers in the first seven minutes, sharing the wealth to jump out to an early lead. 

Ryan Richards, while enduring a tough night defensively, kept his team in the game early. The GB international, who spent the 2012 NBA summer league with the San Antonio Spurs, scored his teams first five, and was the only Scorcher with a positive +/- to end the first. As he went to the bench, the Riders went on a 17-7 run, highlighting his value to Surrey. 

The Riders stole the ball three times in the opening two minutes of the second, reestablishing their lead after some key Scorcher buckets to end the first quarter. Their effort and intensity went unmatched by Surrey, and Leicester, who averaged seven offensive rebounds a game entering the contest, had eight in the first half. The Riders continued to look inside, with their big men Darien Nelson-Henry and Ali Fraser seemingly struggling to miss. They were a combined 10/12 at the break, combining for 20 points as their team went into the locker rooms up 48-39. 

Crandall took flight for one of the plays of the game early in the second half, driving at the rim before soaring through the air to throw the ball down over Richards. Yet it was the defensive plays that followed which demonstrated his true value to the team. After his huge jam, Crandall got back defensively to take a charge, and on the next defensive possession knocked the ball away before jumping out of bounds to save it for his team. These three plays display the aggression, competitiveness and hustle which has blessed the BBL this season. 

As the Riders maintained their lead, it was William Lee’s turn to get the bench off its feet, with a monster putback off a Crandall missed three. The American out of Alabama University caught the ball way behind his head, before throwing it down two-handed. The man nicknamed ‘ha-ha’ remained true to his namesake, laughing as he ran back up the court. 

The Scorchers showed heart to climb back into the tie, locking down defensively to hold the Riders to seven points in the final four minutes of the third quarter. A Tony Hicks three to beat the buzzer made it a one-possession game, entering the final quarter with Leicester up 69-66.

A back and fourth quarter tested Rider nerves, with just two points between the teams with two minutes left in the game. The Scorchers crashed the offensive glass hard, coming up with 12 second-chance points in the fourth to keep the game in contention. But led by Crandall, the Riders came up strong in the clutch. 

Crandall showed killer mentality down the stretch, contributing on the final few possessions to see the game out. With two minutes remaining, he rocked Lacey James to sleep on the wing, before taking him baseline and finishing at the rim. He then swung the ball out to Corey Johnson on the next possession, who drilled a three. Crandall proceeded to make two free-throws to put Leicester up with seconds on the clock, and the Scorchers found themselves three-points down with 10 seconds remaining. 

Hicks attempted to go to work on Crandall to send the game to overtime, but it was Crandall again performing to the highest level late, knocking the ball out of Hicks’ hands, forcing a scramble for the ball. Tayo Ogedegbe chucked up a prayer, missing at the buzzer to end the game. 

The Riders win consolidates their position at the top of the BBL, after their weekend wins jumped them out to an eight-point lead. They now possess a 17-3 record, and will enjoy a well earned weeks rest before hosting the third-placed Phoenix next Wednesday. 

Preview: Riders v Scorchers

After two impressive performances the Newcastle Eagles and the London Lions, the Leicester Riders look to continue their winning play against the Surrey Scorchers at the Morningside Arena Wednesday at 6:00pm.

Season So Far – Riders

Last weekend the Riders extended their lead over rivals Newcastle Eagles and the surging London Lions with a pair of crucial victories. The Riders now sit top of the table by eight points. Establishing an identity on the defensive side of the ball, the Riders dare teams to try and put points up on them, the Scorchers being the next to attempt the feat. After what was a “season defining weekend” according to captain Darien Nelson-Henry, the Riders side will be hungry to continue their winning ways against the Scorchers. 

Season So Far – Scorchers 

The Scorchers have struggled to find consistency this season finding themselves 10th in the table after 16 games. Their last performance was a confident one however, crushing bottom of the table side Glasgow Rocks. Add to this a win over third placed Phoenix, and a tight one-point loss to the Lions, the Scorchers have shown that they are to be taken seriously. The Surrey side also enter the coming match with one distinct advantage over the home side, rest. Unlike a Riders team only a few days removed from a tough two game stint, the Scorchers enter Wednesday not having played a game for over 10 days. The Morningside Arena could be in for a high paced intense affair. 

Ones To Watch 

In their last performance the Riders’ big men proved to be a problem. William Lee and Darien Nelson-Henry had monster performances against a good London side, posting 31 points and hauling in 20 rebounds between them. William Lee is one to watch for this game, after proving he is healthy after a leg injury that side-lined him for a game. The Riders premier rebounder and rim protector notched a double-double in his last outing. Lee’s athleticism, 6’9” stature and long frame make him an explosive player around and above the rim. Add to this threat down low his reliable mid-range jumper and Lee proves to be a headache for opposing defenders. 

The Scorchers starting guard Tony Hicks is one to watch Wednesday. Leading his team in his averages of 14.5 points, 5.1 assists, 1.2 steals and 28 minutes per game, Hicks is a playmaker for the Scorchers. Spending four years playing Division 1 NCAA basketball, two years playing internationally and then another year in the BBL, Hicks has plenty of experience to draw upon on the court. With proven success in the BBL by the way of a BBL All-First Team Player accolade, the Scorchers have a player who leads by example. Combining this leadership with an accurate shot, 40% from beyond the arc, Hicks makes himself a player for fans to watch, and the Riders to watch out for.

Previous Meeting

These two teams last faced each other on the 31st of January, the Morningside Arena hosting a 103-76 blowout for the Riders. After handing the 3rd placed Phoenix their only loss in five games, and well rested coming off a blow out win of their own, the Scorchers will be confident history will not repeat itself. Both sides know their opponents have grown since their last face-off and are both hungry to secure a victory. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Captains Log: A season defining weekend

A huge weekend for the Riders!

I am so proud of the way that the guys have rallied after two tough losses. We knew this was going to be a season-defining weekend, and we pulled through with determination and grittiness. 

Our Sky battle against Newcastle on Friday displayed the versatility of our team — with 7 players scoring in double figures — and also secured the head to head against them. It was a much needed momentum boost headed into Sunday against the Lions. 

We knew, ultimately, that this was the biggest game of not only the weekend, but quite possibly, the entire season. With the table as close as it is, and with London up 1-0 in the head to head, this game was essentially for “all the marbles”. The last two games against the Lions had ended in buzzer-beaters, resulting in wins for them… we were determined not to let that same result happen again. 

There were many plays to talk about over the weekend. Naturally, Geno had his usual reel of highlight plays. And Will had his usual display of high-flying dunks. But to me, many of the “highlight” plays were things that will never show up on a score sheet, or a highlight reel… Jamell’s stifling defence in both games. Corey’s communication and intensity on the defensive end. Will tipping the ball off the rim to save a few buckets (and to me on the and-1). All of these little plays, and constant intensity won us the games this weekend. These are the things we must continue to do if we are to win a championship.

Again, I am so proud of our team for the way we competed this weekend. I cannot wait to continue battling with these guys to try and win some silverware!

Thank you all so much for your continued support! And, I am hoping that we will get to see you all as soon as possible!

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: A long way to go

Going into these two huge games last weekend, against Newcastle and London, we were coming off a pair of very close losses, and particularly for the Cheshire game, we realised our defensive intensity was not at the level it should have been. 

We spent a lot of time last week reviewing tape and how we needed to adjust. So, it was a key learning point for the Newcastle game that we made the necessary adjustments and that we made things as uncomfortable as possible for them right from the start.

I thought we did that exceptionally well all night, and we got great contributions from the bench, to maintain that pressure for forty minutes. Conner Washington and Geno Crandall were both excellent in the way they moved the ball and controlled matters generally. And Conner Washington, Ali Fraser and Aaron Falzon all made important contributions to keep up the pressure throughout the game and never let the intensity drop. So, each time the Eagles tried to make a run, we hit back.

It felt really good to win like that up there, and the guys really deserved it. Then our main concern was would we have an energy dip against London on Sunday. These teams know each other well so we knew it was going to be a tight game. The defensive intensity was there, from both teams, right from the start. We did not do a great job in keeping them off the free throw line, particularly in the first half.

William Lee was really excellent all weekend and he showed just how important he is to us when fully fit. He gets the big rebounds at crucial times, and the blocks, and his presence is always a factor. Geno Crandall was superb as well, particularly with his passing. Darien Nelson-Henry also had a big game for us, particularly down the stretch, when it matters. His rebounding has improved a lot recently, and he made clutch plays down the stretch when it matters.

It was a big win for us because it keeps us alive in the head-to-head with London. But there is still a long way to go, with eleven matches left for us in the Championship.

Strong defence leads Riders to victory over Lions

A first-class defensive second-half earns the Riders a 77-73 win against the London Lions. Offence wins games, but defence wins championships, and that phrase has never rung truer than in this game. The Riders held the league’s best-ranked offence to just 19 second-half points, In arguably the most important game in the Riders season so far. 

They even the season series, which may prove imperative by the end of the year in Leicester’s championship aspirations. The teams came into the game in the midst of their first inconsistent stretches of the year, both winning three of their last five games in otherwise dominant seasons. 

The Riders put their title charge back on track, winning their second consecutive game against their two closest league contenders. Captain Darien Nelson-Henry led the team with 17 points and nine rebounds, as his team beat their league rivals in a highly intense encounter. 

Geno Crandall notched his second straight double-double, with 12 points and assists, including eight points in the final quarter to steer the Riders home. Meanwhile, 21 points from two-time BBL MVP Justin Robinson pushed the Riders all the way, along with 18 points from ex-NBA star DeAndre Liggins. 

Heron made a Jordan-esque move to get the Riders going in style, dropping Liggins in the midrange before pulling up and making it off glass for Leicester’s first points of the game. The ankle-breaker kickstarted a 9-0 run, with the Riders bolting out to an early lead. 

During this run, Leicester put on a show, with Nelson-Henry taking up playmaking responsibilities to throw a lob up to the high-flying William Lee. Lee dominated the game in the first quarter, scoring buckets in a multitude of ways in a versatile offensive display. He took his defenders off the dribble, threw down a lob and nailed a three from outside on his way to nine first-quarter points. 

Despite a dominant Riders stretch, Kevin Ware’s insertion into the game swung momentum back in the Lions favour. Ware, best known for his shocking injury in the 2013 NCAA championship elite eight for Duke, injected energy into his side, pushing the pace to get London quick points in transition. With London’s offensive clicking after a tough start, the first quarter ended close, with the visitors holding a tight 21-20 lead. 

In the second quarter, Heron got the bench of its feet for the second time in the game. He flew through the air for a monster putback jam off a Conner Washington missed three, to reclaim momentum for his team in a back and forth affair. The Riders took an eight-point lead midway through the second, their biggest of the night. 

With the Riders jumping out to a lead for the second time in the game, London once again climbed back into contention. A 13-3 Lions run, led by Justin Robinson, put the Lions up two, and Conner Washinton’s free-throws called an intense first half to a close, with the teams tied at 44.   

The second half began as the first one ended, with Leicester never able to capture any real momentum before being pegged back by the Lions. The league’s two best offences managed 26 points between them in the third quarter, as both teams locked down defensively. The defensive pressure from both sides was suffocating, with neither allowing their opponents an inch of breathing room. The Lions led by two coming into the final quarter, setting up yet another thrilling conclusion, as has been the trend for the Riders over the course of the last month. 

In the fourth, the Riders fell back on the foundation of their league-leading season, their defence. Their help defence at the rim was stifling, coming up with three blocks in the first three minutes to deny access to the rim. The defensive efforts earned Leicester a tight lead, as the Lions called timeout with 3:23 remaining, the score at 67-65 in the Riders’ favour. 

The game fell on a huge defensive possession from the Riders, playing defence to the highest standard to force a shot clock violation out of the Lions. Another elite display of defence forced London into a miracle made bucket at the buzzer, as ex-tennis pro Josh Ward-Hibbert made a contested jump shot over the outstretched arm of Washington to bring his team within three. 

With the clock ticking down, the responsibility fell on the captain to bring the game home. With 3.5 on the shot-clock, and 17 seconds remaining in the game, Nelson-Henry came up with a huge putback to make his third basket in the final three minutes, sealing the game for the Riders.

The Riders win could be season-defining, as they get one over their closest league rivals. They go eight points clear at the top of the BBL, with a 16-3 record. They host Surrey on Wednesday, hoping to further stretch their lead at the top of the table. 

Riders

Nelson-Henry 17, Lee 14, Crandall 12, Fraser 10, Heron 9, Washington 8, Johnson 3, Falzon 3, Anderson 2

Lions

Robinson 21, Liggins 18, Ward-Hibbert 11, Parker 10, Alihodzic 6, Williams 5, Ware 2

Preview: Riders v Lions

After a resounding, all crucial win over rivals Newcastle Eagles in front of Sky Sports cameras, the Riders finally return home to the Morningside Arena. Waiting for them at 5:00pm Sunday is another tough, and equally important challenge, the London Lions.

Season So Far – Riders

Riders got back to winning ways in emphatic style last Friday. In front of Sky Sports cameras and in rival territory the entire team came to play, beating the Eagles 99-77. This win pushed the Riders lead in the BBL table over 2nd placed Newcastle back to six points, while also seeing an end to a tough three-game away stint. Now with a growing threat in the Lions coming to home court, the Riders have yet another opportunity to assert themselves as the top dogs in British Basketball.

Season So Far – Lions 

The Lions have been impressive over their last five games, with a dominant win in their last performance, beating the Manchester Giants 105-81 at home, they will look forward to challenging the league leaders. The Lions’ 3rd place position in the BBL table is deceptive, having three games in hand over the Riders, while only suffering one more loss. With a win Sunday they will even those losses up, move within one spot of the lead, and take one step closer to toppling the Riders from the head of the table. 

Ones To Watch

The Riders rode to Newcastle and stamped their mark in the debut game for the newly named Vertu Motors Arena. A complete team effort, in which seven different Riders scored in the double digits, secured a much-needed victory for the Leicester side. However, one player stood out. Conner Washington was dazzling in his performance Friday, voted by fans as the player of the game. With a stat-line of 21 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals coming off the bench, Washington served as a scoring catalyst for the Riders. Washington has been a player heating up over the last few games, his experience as a three-time BBL All-Defensive First Team player, in addition to his nasty handle on the offence makes him one to watch on both sides of the floor. 

While the Lions seem to pride themselves on team basketball, statistical averages being spread amongst the players, there is one individual that stands out. DeAndre Liggins, as a former NBA product contributes steadily to the Lions success. Averaging 15.2 points, 6.1 assists, 6.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game, Liggins leads the London side. Liggins has experience playing on the highest level possible, taking the court with Lebron James and Kyrie Irving in the 2016-17 NBA Finals and facing the fiercest of competition in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Now a London Lion, Liggins uses this in his leadership, carrying himself around the court with supreme confidence. Standing at 6’6” at guard, Liggins is a prime candidate to strip the ball at one end of the court, then slash through the paint and threaten the rim the next second. Keeping Liggins contained is paramount to the Riders’ success, as the Lions team undoubtedly feed off his play on the court. 

Previous Meeting

These teams last met on January the 3rd, with the Lions winning a close affair at the Morningside Arena, finishing Riders 73-74 Lions. The match was tight throughout, the teams never being split by more than 5 points at the end of a quarter. The Lions one to watch was a problem all game, Liggins threatening a triple-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. With the last one being so close both teams will be hungry to face each other again Sunday. 

How to Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Riders defeat Eagles to get back to winning ways

Riders recorded their biggest win in Newcastle since 1991, as they beat the Eagles 99-73. Their team scoring saw them bounce back from last week’s loss at the buzzer, with seven Leicester players scoring in double digits to see them past their historic rivals. 

A 14-4 run to end the third quarter, kick-started by a logo three by Geno Crandall, took the game out of reach, as a tremendous off-balance bucket off one leg from Conner Washington to end the third quarter stretched Leicester’s lead to 20. Washington led the team with 21 points off the bench, while ‘general’ Geno demonstrated why he possesses the BBL’s second-highest assist tally, dishing 10 on his way to a double-double. 

Defensively, Leicester held the Eagles to 35% from the floor, as they locked down the number three ranked offence in the league. William Lee was the defensive anchor for Leicester, dominating the defensive end of the floor in the paint. Two huge blocks in the first quarter set the tone, swinging the momentum of the game which started on a knife’s edge in the Rider’s favour. 

In spite of the Rider’s defensive efforts, Cortez Edward put up typically high numbers for Newcastle. The 6’2” guard, who represented Southern Missipippi in college, scored 18 in the game, grabbing 12 rebounds in the proccess. 

The teams came out of the blocks guns blazing, shooting early and often. Just three minutes in, the sides combined for 8/12 from the field, taking shots early in the shot clock in a fast-paced affair. With the game tied at 11 apiece, Lee’s chase-down block on 16-year Eagles veteran Darius Defoe lit a spark in the Rider’s play, as they proceeded to go on a 9-0 run. The shot clock buzzer sounded for the first time in the game to bring the rapid first quarter to a close, with the Riders possessing a narrow lead, up 26-22. 

To start the second, the Riders deployed a lineup rarely seen this season, utilising three big men. Aaron Falzon’s shooting ability from the power-forward position allowed coach Rob Paternostro to play a big lineup, without sacrificing spacing. Through high-level play from the Rider’s frontcourt, they stretched their league to double digits for the first time in the game, dominating the glass against the smaller Eagles lineup. Meanwhile, Lee and Ali Fraser carried the scoring load with 10 of the Riders 14 points to start the second. 

Down 13 points midway through the quarter, the ever-dangerous Eagles kicked their offence into gear. Rahmon Fletcher, who recorded his fourth straight double-double in this one, carried the playmaking responsibilities, dishing seven of his team’s 10 first-half assists to cut the lead to four. 

Despite the Eagles clawing the game back into reach, the teams went into the half with the Riders up 11. Mustapha Heron displayed the talents he brings to the Rider’s roster to reestablish their commanding lead, playing aggressively to get to the hoop with ease. 

Attacking the rim, Heron added to his scoring total at the free-throw line, making all six of his foul shots by halftime. However, his biggest contribution to the game was his hustle and energy. The biggest demonstration of this came as the half began to come to a close,  running on the fast break to chase down a loose ball, before slinging it into the corner while falling out of bounds to find a wide-open Corey Johnson. Heron proceeded to get to his feet and sprint the length of the court, waved back by an animated Paternostro, to take the ball from Fletcher and steal his team a possession. 

To start the second half, the teams picked up the lighting pace of the first quarter, with the ball swinging up and down the court like a pendulum. While both sides were chucking up a plethora of shots, they wouldn’t fall, as the Riders maintained their healthy lead.

With three minutes left in the quarter, and the teams having scored 25 points between them, Crandall got the lid of the basket in emphatic fashion nailing a three from the logo with the shot clock ticking down to give Leicester a 13 point lead. Crandall’s deep three was the jolt of momentum the Riders needed to put real distance between them and the Eagles. 

A professional performance in the final quarter saw the game home for the Riders, as they kept the Eagles at arm’s length through efficient shooting. They made seven of their 13 attempts to close the game out, as Washington capped off his successful outing with 11 points in the fourth, and a basket after a smooth dribble move from Loughborough University student Justin Hedley finished off a historic win. 

The win strengthens the Rider’s position at the top of the BBL Championship table, bolstering their record to 15-3. After a difficult three-game road trip, they will head home on Sunday hoping to further reinforce their league position against their league rivals, the London Lions. 

Eagles

Edwards 18, Gordon 13, Fletcher 11, Maxwell 11, Defoe 9, Sayers 3, Adenekan 3, Pflueger 2, Matthew 2, Lasker 1

Riders

Washington 21, Crandall 15, Lee 13, Heron 13, Nelson-Henry 13, Falzon 10, Fraser 10, Johnson 2, Hedley 2

Glencar extends Riders partnership

Glencar have agreed to extend their partnership as a key sponsor for the remainder of the 2021 season.

After a successful initial sponsorship activation with the Riders back in December for our first game on Sky Sports, Glencar have agreed to support the club and it’s pathway for the remainder of the season.

Glencar are an expanding construction company specialising in the industrial, logistics, distribution, manufacturing, life science and pharmaceutical sectors.

Commenting on the sponsorship, Glencar Managing Director Eddie McGillycuddy said: “Glencar is fully committed to corporate social responsibility, particularly in the communities in which we work. We see our role as being an active and supportive partner working in close co-operation and this continued partnership with Leicester Riders is a perfect example of that.”

Also commenting, Leicester Riders’ Managing Director Russell Levenston said:

“After the hugely successful activation for our Sky Sports game against Bristol in December, we are very happy that Glencar have agreed to continue to support the club for the remainder of the season and we are also discussing a multi-year deal to help support our pathway and community programme.”

“As a club we really value our community, the player pathway and the winning culture that we have created. There is a perfect synergy between what we are doing and Glencar’s own sense and spirit of community engagement and development initiatives. We’re excited to be working alongside Glencar and appreciate their support and investment into our club.”

Glencar will appear on the electronic boards for tonight’s Sky Sports game as Riders take on Newcastle Eagles in a top of the table clash, 7.30 pm tip-off.

Preview: Riders at Eagles

Taking place in front of the Sky Sports cameras at 7:30pm Friday, the Riders travel to the newly named Vertu Motors Arena in Newcastle looking to secure a win in their first of two games this weekend.

Season So Far – Riders

Still sitting at the top of the table, the Leicester Riders look to get back to winning ways against the Eagles. The match-up against the Eagles marks the final contest of a tough three-game away stretch. After suffering tight defeats in the previous two, the Riders will be looking to bounce back with a win on the Eagles home court and extend their lead over them with a win. With the London Lions waiting for them on Sunday, this is exactly the type of challenge the team needs to put their foot down on the league. Team captain Darien Nelson-Henry knows this, saying “This will be a huge weekend, and I am looking forward to battling with the guys”.

Season So Far – Eagles

The Newcastle Eagles find themselves 2nd in the table, trailing by four points while also having an extra game played over the Riders. This makes this coming match-up all the more important. After getting back to winning ways and crushing the Manchester Giants by 25 points the Eagles will be brimming with confidence. With more aggression defensively the Eagles look to challenge the Riders style of hounding defence. This being a contest between BBL’s most successful, and most historic is sure to rile up players of both teams with it all to play for. 

Ones To Watch

This game may be a battle of the guards. Dazzling play can be found at the head of both sides and is often the engine that sparks the flashy stretches of action that drives fans wild. For the Riders, starting point guard Geno Crandall is the one to watch. Averaging 17.7 points, and 7.4 assists per game the Leicester number 0 ranks 2nd in the league in both. Crandall’s eye-catching handle of the ball and awkward change of pace when on the offence also lands him as the most fouled player in the league per game, drawing a whistle 4.8 times a contest. Crandall isn’t all offence however, standing at 6’3” and knowing the nuances of basketball, he gets his hands on the ball to generate turnovers. With 1.7 steals per game again Crandall is in the top 10 in BBL, with many of these leading to fast-break points and severe shifts in momentum. Crandall will have a tough task Friday facing an opponent who can rival his own craftiness, so is one to watch in what could be an exciting back and forth affair. 

For the Eagles Cortez Edwards has been an influence on both ends of the floor this season and has proved to be the ideal backcourt partner for 2x league MVP Rahmon Fletcher. Edwards is averaging an impressive 14.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game this season and was awarded the Moulton BBL Player of the Month for December. Edwards is a crafty guard who can score in a multitude of ways both on and off the ball, he was key in the Eagles last game against Manchester scoring 20 points whilst grabbing 11 rebounds and handing out 5 assists. The Riders will need to slow down Edwards if they are to take the win on Friday night.

How To Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, this match will be shown live on Sky Sports at 7:00pm on Sky Sports action.

Riders fans will also be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Captains Log: Looking forward to this coming weekend

Another heartbreaker over the weekend…after having the weekend to mull this one over there are a few things that stand out to me, and the team, as key factors that we need to take away from this game.

Our defensive intensity needs to pick up. We are relying too much on our talent offensively, and have ceased to do the thing that made us so effective in the first place. Staggering, hard-nosed defense is a staple for all past and present Riders teams, and we are no different. There are always lulls in intensity — it is a long season — but we must step it up in that avenue if we are to resume the success that we’ve had. 

Another step in the right direction is accountability through communication. It is one thing to say that you will do something, it is another thing entirely to follow through. We all want to win, and one way to do that is by encouraging others around you, and holding yourself to a high standard. 

These are things that we have been doing the entire time, don’t get me wrong. However, to take that next step forward and improve on what we have shown so far, the intensity needs to increase. 

With that said, we are looking forward to this coming weekend. A chance at Newcastle and London back-to-back is exactly what every competitor wants. This will be a huge weekend, and I am looking forward to battling with the guys and getting back on the right track. 

On another note, with it being International Women’s Day last Monday, I would like to personally acknowledge and thank all the incredible women, no matter your relation to the club or capacity to which we are familiar. Your continuous support and influence make the Leicester Riders the amazing club that it is! 

Thank you for catching up with me this week, and looking forward to seeing you all soon!

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: A huge week ahead

The match at Cheshire was another amazing game. It was a heart-breaking loss coming off the overtime loss at Worcester on the previous Sunday, but we knew we were facing a tough team, when they are at full strength.

I thought that when I would look at the tape after the game, I would find some lapse defence by the Riders, but that was not the case. The Cheshire starting five on offence is one of the best in the BBL, and they have two guards who can make shots off the dribble. So, they are particularly difficult to contain 1 on 1.

We started well and built a 15 point lead early but the second quarter we got lost a little. The third quarter was tight as was fourth, but we got ourselves into a nice position, and I expected us to win in that situation. After the free throws by William Lee, they had no timeouts left, so they had to go quick.

But their guard Mike McCall did a good job getting down the floor in a hurry. Geno Crandall got dragged off his man a little to play some help defence, but still got back and slightly deflected the shot, and Ross was right on the side-line, so it was a heck of a shot.

We know the BBL is super competitive this season, particularly because of the extra American on each team, and there is a lot of very good teams. They had not been shooting the ball that well from deep, averaging about 27%  before our game but managed 50% from beyond the three point line and we did not give them anything easy.

We still managed to come back late on, as we had done in Worcester, and we created that huge 5 seconds turnover with twenty seconds left. So, it is important we remember how we got here and stay confident.

There are plenty of things to work on and we will want to tighten defensively but, overall, we are in good form. We have a huge week ahead with the trip to Newcastle on Friday and then home to London on Sunday so there is no time to dwell on it.

It is going to be that kind of season with nothing too predictable and we will have to move on quickly and focus on the next game.

Riders fall to Phoenix at the buzzer

Kahron Ross capped off his 29 points with a game-winning bucket, draining a three at the death to beat the Riders. They were his 19th points of the fourth quarter, as he and Geno Crandall battled in the clutch. Crandall and Corey Johnson had 21 each in the game, in another tough late loss, while Ross and Jalen Hayes combined for 51 points for Cheshire. 

After hectic back-to-back fixtures against the Wolves last weekend, with both games decided by the final shot, the Riders were thrown straight back into the fire with another intense finale. The game ran many parallels to last Sunday’s overtime thriller, with the Riders coming back down big in the fourth to take the lead late, despite losing at the buzzer for the second straight game. 

Crandall had eight in the fourth as he led the Riders into the lead with 11 seconds on the clock, after being down seven with five minutes left. He accompanied his 21 points with eight assists, seven rebounds, and two steals, in a stat sheet stuffing performance. Johnson hit five of six three-point attempts as the Riders shot 50% from deep, but ultimately fell just short as the Phoenix caught fire late. Cheshire, who were shooting 27.6% from deep coming into the encounter, made all five of their threes in the final quarter, going 9/15 from the field. 

The Riders started out cooking offensively, and were injected with a huge momentum boost midway through the first quarter through a monster dunk by Lee. He received the ball in the paint off a baseline inbound by Crandall, before rising straight up and throwing it down one-handed over Kyle Carey.

Leicester would steal the ball on both of the next two defensive possessions, and Lee would score six straight, as the Riders went on an 11-0 run early to earn some separation from their opponents. Lee, Johnson and Mustafa Heron had eighteen of Leicesters 26 points in the quarter, as they entered the second up 10. 

The teams traded buckets to start the second quarter, as the Riders maintained their lead. They led by as many as 15, however the Phoenix, led by Jalen Hayes, climbed back into the tie. They went on a 9-0 run of their own at the end of the second, with a bucket from Hayes tying the game, as he scored his 16th points of the half. The Cheshire surge meant the teams went into the locker rooms at halftime with the score tied at 42. 

To start the second half, Johnson began to catch fire. He drained two threes on his way to eight points in the first three minutes, keeping the Riders in contention. As the quarter reached the midway point, Crandall began to impose himself on the points column. He had nine in the third, including a three to take the lead, helping his team to enter the final quarter up four. 

To start the fourth, the Phoenix jumped out hot, starting with a 13-2 run. Ross began to cook from distance, making three shots from deep to give his team the lead. With the Riders down seven, Crandall, once again, got the Riders into their stride, scoring eight points late to lead his team back into the game. His free-throws with 20 seconds on the clock cut the Phoenix lead to one, setting up another dramatic finish. 

The Riders were gifted a chance to take the lead, with the Phoenix failing to inbound the ball within five seconds. Crandall received the ball in the backcourt, before taking the ball into the teeth of the defence and kicking the ball out to William Lee, who was fouled on a jump shot with 10 seconds to go. Lee confidently knocked down both his shots to give Leicester the lead late. 

With just seconds remaining, Cheshire advanced the ball up the floor via Mike McCall, who drove hard at the rim before kicking the ball out to the hot hand of Ross. Ross got the shot up over the closeout of Crandall, and nailed the shot from the left-wing to win the game for the Phoenix.

The loss for Riders takes their record to 14-3, still best in the BBL Championship. They head up North to play the second-placed Newcastle Eagles, in the hopes of further solidifying their place at the top of the league. 

Phoenix

Ross 29, Hayes, 22, McCall 17, Bryan-Amaning 11, Lull 8, Gordon 4, Carey 2

Riders

Crandall 21, Johnson 21, Nelson-Henry 13, Washington 11, Heron 9, Lee 8, Anderson 5, Fraser 2, Falzon 1

Preview: Riders at Phoenix

The Riders travel to the Cheshire Oaks Arena on Friday at 6:00pm, taking on the Cheshire Phoenix in the BBL Championship and looking to bounce back from last Sunday’s thrilling overtime loss in Worcester.

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders had their 11-game winning streak snapped last Sunday by the Worcester Wolves in a tight overtime affair. The Riders still sit at the top of the table though, maintaining their six-point gap despite the loss. Rob Paternostro looks to attain a level of consistency in his teams play, getting and staying fit, and continuing to acclimate Heron to British basketball being key to returning to winning ways. 

Season So Far – Phoenix

Sitting at 6th with 16 points the Cheshire Phoenix look to push their way further up the table. Dropping their last two, the most recent a two-point home loss to playoff rivals Surrey Scorchers, the Nix are desperate to return to winning ways this Friday. The Nix excelled on the boards in their game last Sunday, hauling in 44 rebounds with 23 offensive, the Riders will need to keep the Nix off the boards if they are to have success on Friday evening.

Ones To Watch

Leicester Riders Captain Darien Nelson-Henry will have an important role in Friday’s match-up. With a side in Cheshire that fights for every ball and scraps for every rebound, securing an inside presence on the boards is vital. With William Lee struggling with a leg injury, the Leicester number 50 will be relied upon to assert himself inside the paint. Averaging 11.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, Nelson-Henry leads his side on and off the court. Being one of the most experienced players on the court and standing at 6’11”, Nelson-Henry can be seen orchestrating the Riders team from down low, utilising his vision out of the post to find his team opportunities. With a game that is not done justice by the box score, Nelson-Henry influences the game with smart contests and rotations defensively, as well as great coordination offensively, often having a hand in positive plays without a stat being recorded.

Cheshire Phoenix, 5’11” guard Kahron Ross is one to watch this Friday. Ross leads his team in points with 17.5 per game, assists with 5.3 per game, steals with 2.3 per game and minutes with 37.3 per game while also hauling in an impressive 5.1 rebounds per game despite his smaller stature. Ross proved to be as reliable as it comes in his college career, starting 122 of 123 games over his for years of NCAA D1 basketball at Lehigh Mountain Hawks. After entering the 2018 NBA draft Ross signed for German Pro A league side PS Karlsruhe, averaging 8.8 points per game and 4.4 assists per game. Ross then went on to play four games for Balkan BIBL side Vllaznia Shkodra before finally signing for the Cheshire Phoenix in 2020. Ross brings a lot of experience despite his young age of 25 and is undoubtedly a dangerous player both offensively and defensively. He is a player that must be contained for a Riders win on Friday. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders and Phoenix’s last meeting dates to the pre-season on November 1st, 2020. The Riders asserted themselves in a dominant 62-88 away win. With defensive ferocity, Leicester limited the Nix to several scoreless periods of play which, combined with scorching hot offensive stretches, reduced them to ashes in their final pre-season game. Cheshire did find some success though, forcing 17 turnovers on the night, however only cashing them in for 11 points total. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Captains Log: Highs and lows

Forgive me if my tone is not as chipper as usual, I am not sure how well I convey my feelings through writing sometimes…I wanted to be sure to apologise, as the taste from last night’s loss has not left my mouth. 

The high of Corey’s huge shot on Friday night has been met with the low of having the same punishment exacted upon us not two days later. While Friday’s win was amazing, it hurts just as much to lose a close one. 

Ultimately, games and weekends like these are why we play the game though, right? Intense battles with the same team, separated by only one day in between to prepare. Each of the games coming down to that one deciding shot. These are the moments as a player that make you better. These are the moments as a team that unite us — give us something to rally around. I know that we will improve from this weekend, and I am excited for the growth that will take place. 

We have a new player amongst us, and we have lost a familiar face in Zach. I am sad to see him go, as he was a great teammate and an even better person. That being said, I am also excited for our new addition, Mustafa. While I don’t know him well yet, he is already gelling with the team. He has an infectious energy about him, and I am sure it will allow him to fit right in with this easy-going group. 

It was an exciting weekend all around, and I hope you guys enjoyed the action as much as I enjoyed being a part of it! More to come this week against Cheshire — thank you guys, as always, for your continuous support.

Your captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: Consistency will be key

It was a tough weekend for the us but I was satisfied overall with the performances, considering the circumstances.We knew what a good side the Worcester is, and we were 2 starters down, with our replacement, Mustafa Heron, just flown in on Thursday, and William Lee struggling with a leg injury. So, we expected a tough weekend and got it. Worcester has a lot of talent and play smart basketball and I expect them to move up the table.

We managed to get some good minutes out of Mustafa Heron and he will be better for it, since he has not played for a while and does not know our systems. Plus, it will take time for him to get his legs and get into the flow of BBL basketball. Jamell Anderson was exceptional on defence all weekend, because their big guy is very strong in the low post and moves the ball well and gets to the basket exceptionally well.

On Friday, Corey Johnson was superb, especially with his shooting, and of course hit the big shot. Also, on Friday night, Geno Crandall made some tremendous passes late in the game and he set up Corey for the winner with another excellent dish. It was a nice win, but we knew that would get a reaction from Worcester on Sunday.

We did not shoot the ball well from distance all afternoon at their place, and that put pressure on everything else we did. It was a close game throughout with both teams having spells of good play. But Geno picked up the charge early in the fourth quarter, and then we picked up three technical fouls, and he fouled out and so we were in a huge hole but we reacted well.

Conner Washington, who had not been at his best all weekend, took over late in the game and set us up with a chance to win, in spite of all that happened before. Unfortunately, we missed one free throw late to take the game to overtime, and they got a chance to win in the last second of overtime and took it. That is the way it goes sometimes but I was proud of how the team came back from adversity.

The team never quit and kept believing right to the end. That is the great characteristic of this team. Now we need to get into the gym and gets some practice in with Heron and get Lee back fit and in the rotation. There is a very long way to go in this season and we know there is huge unpredictability in the BBL this season. We see results every week that shows this is the most competitive BBL in a very long time and getting a level of consistency in our play and staying fit will be key.

Wolves snap Riders win streak in an overtime thriller

This game was a second of a back to back against the Wolves, with both games being won in dramatic fashion. After Corey Johnson’s game-winning three on Friday, this game was set up to be another instant classic, and it certainly delivered. Lamarr Kimble, who scored 24 points in his team’s loss in the last game, hit a game-winner in overtime, after a 12 point Riders comeback in the fourth quarter, led by an inspired performance from Conner Washington. 

With Geno Crandall, Leicester’s leading scorer, fouling out with 20 points midway through the fourth, Washington checked into the game to score nine points in the final four minutes, willing his team back into the game. He finished with 15, his final points tying the game with three seconds left in overtime. However, the Riders fell just short, calling an end to an all-time great back-to-back matchup. 

Kimble scored eight in overtime, displaying nerves of steel to come up huge for his team. He and Brandon Anderson, who led Worcester in points with 21, led the way for the Wolves, as they pushed the table-topping Riders all the way for the second straight game. 

This game started where the last one left off, with both teams battling in a tightly contested affair. The teams exchanged blows early, as the Wolves continued their assault on the rim from Friday night, getting the lion’s share of their points down low. Worcester had 21 first-quarter points with just two threes, with Mike Parks Jr. leading the charge with seven in the quarter. 

Geno Crandall was aggressive early to respond to the hot Wolves start. He had eight in the first quarter, and his defensive intensity was on full display, stealing the ball twice in the first. With help from Crandall’s offensive display, the Riders finished the quarter down 24-20. 

After a high scoring first quarter, defence reigned supreme for both sides in the second. There were eight total points in the first half of the quarter, and open looks were few and far between. With the offence’s drying up, the importance of hustle and intensity was magnified, as the Riders battled for extra possessions. Leicester came up with three offensive rebounds in a minute, before Jamell Anderson got the lid off the basket, throwing the ball down after a dish by Crandall. 

After a gritty end to the first half, the game remained in the balance. Daniel Johnson-Thompson banked the ball in from midrange to end the half with the Wolves up 36-33. 

Mustafa Heron showed a glimpse of his potential scoring the Riders’ first five of the second half to give Leicester the lead. His three from the corner put the Riders up two, despite a foul knocking him out of bounds. Flying out the gates, Heron’s hot start lit a spark in the Riders’ offence, but as was the afternoon’s theme, it was Worcester’s turn to climb back into the game. Big threes from Brandon Anderson and Kimble retook the lead for the Wolves, as the game continued to swing back and forth. A Wolves run to end the third meant the game was poised for another intense finale, with seven points separating the teams. 

Despite five quick points by Crandall to start the final quarter, the Riders fell down by nine. The Wolves locked down on defence, denying any access to the rim and forcing the Riders to shoot from range. With Crandall fouling out midway through the fourth quarter, the Wolves took the first double-digit lead of the game. 

With their leading scorer sidelined, the Riders faced a tremendous task to get back into the game. They showed grit and determination, led by Washington running the point, cutting the lead from 12 to three with one minute on the clock. With 30 seconds remaining, Washington found a cutting Nelson-Henry who went to the line, and made the first of his two free throws to send the game to overtime with the score at 74-74.

In overtime, the Riders focused their offence down low, feeding Nelson-Henry. He had six of Leicester’s eight points in the period. With the score at 82-80 in the Wolves favour, Washington drove to the hoop and threw up a layup over the taller defender, banking it in to tie the game. With three seconds on the clock, the Wolves had a chance to win. Lamar Kimble took the ball baseline to shoot from deep in the midrange, hitting nothing but net and winning the game for the Wolves in yet another nailbiting conclusion. 

The loss for the Riders puts an end to an 11 game winning streak, bringing their record to 14-2. They still sit top of the BBL Championship table, and will head down to Cheshire on Friday in the hopes of returning to winning ways.

Wolves

Anderson 21, Kimble 17, Parks Jr. 15, Williams 14, Bowknecht 8, Elan 5, Johnson-Thompson 4

Riders

Crandall 20, Washington 15, Nelson Henry 9, Anderson 9, Fraser 9, Johnson 7, Heron 7, Lee 6

Preview: Riders at Wolves

The Leicester Riders and Worcester Wolves go head to head once again this afternoon, this time at the University of Worcester Arena.

Season So Far – Riders

After Friday night’s win over the Wolves in front of of the Sky Sports Cameras at the Morningside Arena the Leicester Riders now sit with a 14-1 record at the top of the BBL Championship. Friday’s game was a tightly contested affair with a Corey Johnson three securing the win for the Riders with 2 seconds left on the clock. Riders will be looking to continue their winning run this afternoon in their first of three road games on the bounce.

Season So Far – Wolves

Despite picking up their third loss on the bounce on Friday night in Leicester the Worcester Wolves showed plenty of fight as the game went down to the final possession. American Guard Lamarr Kimble had a season high 24 points as 4 Wolves scored in double digits. Despite the loss Coach Newby will have found plenty of positive to take into this afternoons match up.

Ones to Watch

New signing Mustapha Heron had a solid debut for the Riders on Friday Night contributing 6 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist. Heron showed Riders fans glimpses of what’s to come with a ferocious slam on the break for his first score as a professional. With a game under his belt Heron will be looking for another positive performance this afternoon as the Riders look to continue their winning run.

Lamarr Kimble scored a season high 23 points on Friday night leading the Wolves in scoring. Kimble showed a nice shooting stroke knocking down 4 threes as well as an ability to get into the lane and finish over taller defenders. Riders will need to slow down Kimble’s production this afternoon if they are to leave Worcester with the W.

Previous Meeting

The Riders took the win 82-81 over the Wolves at the Morningside Arena on Friday Night. Corey Johnson led the charge for the Riders with 17 points including the clutch three to win the game for the Riders. A win this afternoon would secure the head to head for the Riders before the two teams meet for the final time this season in April.

How To Watch

Riders fans will also be able to tune in free of charge via the Worcester Wolves Youtube Channel.

Corey Johnson’s clutch three seals victory over Wolves

Corey Johnson came up with a huge shot in the clutch, draining a three with two seconds remaining to beat the Worchester Wolves. It was his 17th points of the night, leading the team and hitting two huge threes in the fourth quarter to keep the Riders’ 11 game winning streak alive. Geno Crandall also played well on both ends, recording a double-double with 13 points and 11 assist, along with four steals and two blocks. 

It was a hard-fought game from wire to wire, with neither team able to shake the other. The game was within single digits from the tip and came down to the final shot, a real spectacle for the Sky Sports cameras. Lamarr Kimble helped the Wolves push the Riders to the end, with a season-high 24 points. He showed nerves of steal in the clutch, scoring 13 fourth quarter points, including clutch free-throws to put his team up three with less than a minute remaining. 

The game was a chance for Rider fans to get their first look at new signing Mustafa Heron, who took flight to kick-off his BBL debut. His first points as a Rider coming by the means of a huge dunk over Jordan Williams on the fast break. Heron finished with six points and four rebounds in a solid performance as he settles into BBL life. 

A back and forth first quarter made for an entertaining beginning to the game, with the teams matching each other’s offensive success. The Riders had their three-ball falling early, shooting three for five in the first quarter, while the Wolves had great success attacking the rim, going eight for 13 from two. 

Geno Crandall took over at the end of the first, dishing a flashy bounce pass down low to Ali Fraser, before using Fraser’s screen on the next play to drive to the rim and throw it down with both hands. He scored four points with an assist in the last two minutes of the first, to send the teams in tied at 23. 

The Wolves, beginning to stretch their lead, continued to attack the rim in the second quarter. Crandall’s defensive efforts, including two chase-down blocks in the quarter, kept the Riders within single digits, however, 16 points in the quarter between Lamar Kimble, Jordan Williams and Daniel Johnson-Thompson put Worcester up 6. 

A timeout by Rob Paterostro with four and a half minutes left in the half stemmed the tide, allowing the Riders to switch their focus offensively and begin to work down low themselves. Hook shots from Darien Nelson-Henry and Crandall kept the game within reach for the Riders, and a Conner Washington three ended the half, with the teams going into the locker rooms with the Wolves up 46-40. 

Coming out of the half, a three from Johnson followed by a quick steal and dunk by Jamal Anderson flipped the momentum in the Riders favour, down just three points early in the second half. The ball began to move fluidly through the Riders offence, as they played deep into the shot clock to find the open man. 

Defensively, Leicester began to stop the Wolves from getting to the rim, cutting off the driver with help defence and forcing them into outside shots. The defensive efforts were led by intense defensive pressure from Crandall, who turned his attention to taking the ball away, snatching two steals in the third quarter. A basket from Nelson-Henry took the lead for the Riders with two minutes left in the third, for the first time since midway through the second quarter, and the teams would enter the fourth with Leicester up 60-55. 

Big threes down the stretch kept the Wolves at arms length, as the Riders attempted to bring the game home. However, big late plays by the Wolves late brought Worcester back into the game. They took a two-point lead with 1:42 left in the game. 

A vital score in close by Nelson-Henry with 25 seconds left brought the Riders within one, to give him for his 16th points of the night. A costly Wolves lane violation gave Leicester a chance to tie or win with 17 seconds left. Corey Johnson stepped up to knock down a huge three to give the Riders a one-point lead with two seconds left, and Maarten Bouwknecht missed a midrange jumper at the buzzer to secure a Riders win. 

The win for the Riders improves their record to 13-1, stretching their lead at the top of the BBL Championship table. They are now enjoying an 11 game winning streak and will hope to continue their hot form in the second game of this back-to-back, in Worcester on Sunday. 

Riders

Johnson 17, Nelson-Henry 16, Crandall 13, Fraser 8, Falzon 7, Heron 6, Washington 3

Wolves

Kimble 24, Anderson 15, Williams 13, Parks Jnr. 12, Bouwknecht 9, Elan 4, Johnson-Thompson- 4

Preview: Riders v Wolves

The Leicester Riders take on the Worcester Wolves in the BBL Championship on Friday evening in front of the Sky Sports cameras in the first meeting between the two sides this season.

Season So Far – Riders 

A win on the road over the Giants leaves the Riders top the BBL Championship table, sitting with a 13-1 record and six points clear. Riders are enjoying a ten-game winning streak in the BBL Championship. Suffocating defence has been the key to the Riders momentum, they currently hold the second best defensive record in the league allowing teams just 75.9 points per game.

Season so far – Wolves

The Wolves get set for the Riders looking to shrug off two tough losses to the Cheshire Phoenix and Plymouth Raiders. Currently sitting with a record of 5-8 the Wolves are still searching for consistency in the BBL Championship. Jordan Williams had an impressive performance in the Wolves’ last game, charting a double-double with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Worcester will hope this play will continue and spread throughout the team as they face the challenge of a home and away double-header.

Ones to watch

Shooting Guard Corey Johnson poured in 24 points for the Riders to take the win in their last game, beating the Giants 77-91. Shooting the 3 at a 39% clip, while attempting 6.8 per game, makes Johnson a threat to explode at any moment. He showed this in his last performance, leading the Riders on a 13-3 run after the half, putting up 7 points in only two and a half minutes. Johnson’s sniping from deep dates to his college career. He spent four years at Harvard, averaging 7.2 points per game, putting up 9.8 points per game as a freshman. Johnson’s high volume but efficient 3 ball, 38% on 5.2 attempts per game, being the weapon of choice he continues to utilise now for the Riders. Standing at 6’5” at the guard position, Johnson’s size and length make him an asset on both sides of the floor.

Worcester Wolves Guard Brandon Anderson has been a key piece to Coach Newby’s team since his arrival. Spending four years playing NCAA Division 1 basketball for Ivy League Brown University, Anderson averaged 12.9 points per game, hitting over 17 points per game in both the 2017-18 and 2019-20 season. In his final year at Harvard, he led his team in points, steals and minutes, averaging 17.7 points, 3.0 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. In the 6’1” guard’s debut season with the Wolves he is averaging 15 points per game on 24.2 minutes per game, starting three of nine times. Anderson’s is shooting the ball well to scoring at an impressive 49% rate from beyond the arc while averaging 3.9 attempts per game. Anderson will look to continue his impressive start to life in the BBL on Friday night.

Previous meeting

This Friday sees the first time the Riders and Wolves have met this season. The two sides have not taken the court together in over a year, the last time being on the 17th of January 2020. The game was a tight contest, finishing with a Riders win with a score of 91-87 as they fought off a late game Wolves resurgence.

How to watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, this match will be shown live on Sky Sports at 7:00pm on channels Sky Sports Mix and Sky Sports Arena. 

Riders fans will also be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Heron excited to get going

Riders new signing Mustapha Heron spoke to riders.basketball ahead of tonight’s Sky game with Worcester Wolves.

“I’m amped to be joining the team! It feels great to finally be back to playing basketball,” commented Heron who will make his professional debut with the Riders.

“As a rookie coming in I’m just ready to get to work and bring another winning mindset aboard.”

“The only thing I’m not happy about is fans not being able to actually see us in person at the moment but I’m still excited for the unbelievable support!”

The Connecticut native joins the Leicester roster with the Riders placed in first spot at 13-1 in the BBL championship.

Heron joins Riders

Leicester Riders have acted swiftly to add American Mustapha Heron to their table-topping squad.

The Connecticut-born player started his college career at Auburn where he scored in double figures in every game but one in his freshman year, leading the team in scoring with 15.2 points per game and rebounding with 6.1 rebounds per game. At the end of the 2016-17 season, he was named to the SEC All-Freshman team.

Heron was selected as the SEC Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for weeks 9 and 12 during his second season at Auburn, averaging 16.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore.

After making the switch from Auburn to St. John’s, Heron helped lead the team to its first NCAA tournament since 2015, averaged 14.6 points per game as a junior, shooting 40.3 percent from beyond the arc.

“I have followed Mustapha for a long time,” revealed Rob Paternostro. “He is a big time talent on both ends of the floor and is a versatile wing with good size and strength.” 

“He can play multiple positions on offence and defence, and has shown the ability to make plays from many different spots on the court.”

“We are from the same city, and everyone who I have ever spoken to in Waterbury has nothing but great things to say about him both on and off the court .”

“We are really excited to work with him and believe he will fit in well with the group we have.”

Leicester, who sit 13-1 in the BBL championship, decided to make a switch after it was revealed Zach Jackson will be out for the season with injury.

“It’s tough to lose Zach,” reflected head coach Rob Paternostro.

“Our team is playing with a nice rhythm at the moment so this will be challenging for the group. Zach has been great to work with, over the last few months he has been struggling with his injury which has limited what he can do, but he still has been a winning player / teammate, who has done so much for the group. We will miss him.”

The Riders organisation would like to wish Zach all the best in his recovery and hope to see him back in a Riders shirt at some point in the future.

Captains Log: Another great week for Riders

It was another great week for the Riders! 

Not only did we win against rivals Newcastle, but they also dropped one to Sheffield, again. That, along with a London loss to Cheshire, proved to be a massive week in terms of league standing for us. 

The Newcastle game was a tight one until the end, as almost all Riders/Eagles matchups are… we proved to be more resilient this time, however, managing to finish the game with a great run to expand the lead and secure the home win. The game was filled with highlights, and I was lucky to be on the receiving end of one of Geno’s more epic passes. Willy Lee had another awesome put back, and, if I must say, my dunk at the end wasn’t too shabby either! 

This momentum was carried into the Manchester gym on Sunday. While the game started out a little rocky, we knew the ridiculous shots they were making were not sustainable. After our last display against them, we had something to prove — and I think we did just that — managing to hold them to some 30 points less this time around. A fairly incident-free game was capitalized by Geno’s insane dunk in the final minutes. May I say, dunk of the year?! 

All in all, another great weekend for The Riders. We are looking forward to a longer week of practice, as it feels like we’ve been playing an NBA schedule as of late. We are also looking forward to the double-header against Worcester this weekend, with a home Sky game to start it all off. Whoever they bring out surely won’t do as good a job as our very own Geno Crandall up in Newcastle last Friday night. 

Once again, thank you for the continued support! And as always, Go Riders!

Your captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: I’m delighted with our performances

We got a couple of nice wins in the last week and I was delighted with the performances.

Whenever we play Newcastle it is always a big occasion, and I was pleased with the response from the team. It is always a tough, tight affair when we play them, but I thought we responded very well with everything they threw at us. The fact they were without Justin Gordon meant it was a real opportunity for us, and we needed to take advantage.

I thought we had more energy than them, but it was not a perfect game for us by any means. When we can get Darien going this season it is always a huge plus, and it was very efficient all night keeping the pressure on their big guys. It was a great birthday present for him. In these games you always have to play to the last minute, and I thought we did that very well.

Against the Giants on Sunday, we went into that game with our previous match-up at the front of our thinking. It is not often we give up over 100 points to an opponent, so we knew we had to learn from that experience.We knew we had to be better on defence, and more intelligent on how we responded to their tactics. Credit to them, the Giants made some big shots in the first half, but we felt good about it, because they were under pressure doing it.

At halftime, when we talked about it, we knew we could wear them down, and we played a lot smarter. Geno Crandall was on three fouls, but still pretty fresh, so he was always going to be a handful in the second half.Without William Lee, it gave more of an opportunity to Jamell Anderson, and he is perfect for the situation. He did not put up a lot of points, but he was tremendous on defence, marking four positions at various times. And Geno in the second half does what Geno does, putting tremendous pressure on the Giants every time the ball is in his hands. Corey Johnson hit big shots when we needed him, and our interior players took it to the basket.I was particularly pleased for Ali Fraser because he got a good run and showed what he can do. We got contributions from a lot of guys which is really important.

A commanding second half sees Riders conquer Giants

Corey Johnson went off for 24 points with five threes to lead the team to a 91-77 win against the Giants. Corey Johnson, Geno Crandall and Dairen Nelson-Henry each scored in double-digits, combining for 57 points. The trio have now scored 184 of the Riders 281 points over the last three games, to help Leicester stretch their league winning streak to ten. This streak has catapulted the Riders to the best record in the BBL, with the win moving the Riders to a 13-1 record, six points clear at the top of the table. 

It wasn’t smooth sailing throughout, however, with Justin Satchell in his bag early for Manchester. He followed up his 25 point Giants debut in his previous game with a 15 point first half, to keep the game close by halftime. Bulgarian international Alex Ouande, who averaged 20 points a game in Italy last season, also had a big game for the Giants, scoring a season-high 20 points off the bench. 

The Riders set the defensive tone early, with Jamal Anderson getting a block and a steal on the first two Giants possessions. However, the first quarter developed into a battle between the Riders frontcourt and the Giants backcourt. Sam Cassel Jnr, son of three-time NBA champion Sam Cassell Snr, and Satchell went off early, making multiple tough shots off the dribble over Riders defenders to help Manchester jump out to a 10 point lead. They had 17 of the Giants 23 first-quarter points. 

The Riders responded with play from Nelson-Henry and Ali Fraser, who started out aggressive down low. They had six points each in the first quarter, both with their back to the basket playing bully ball at the rim. The big men led Leicester back into the game to end the quarter just three points down. Nelson-Henry had a dominant game on the glass in the absence of the Giants’ starting big man Breaon Brady.

Corey Johnson took over the tie to start the second, scoring seven points in the first two and a half minutes of the quarter to lead the Riders on a 13-3 run. The Riders took their first lead of the game, but the Giants kept the score close, going into the half with the Riders up 40-41. 

After being sidelined for much of the first half due to foul trouble, it was Crandall’s turn to run the offence coming out of the half. He had nine points in the third quarter, including two and-one plays, to earn the Riders some breathing room. They went into the final quarter up eight, a lead they would not surrender. 

Leicester kicked on from a strong third quarter, stretching the lead to double digits and never looking back. With Giants big-man David Ulph in foul trouble, the Riders attacked the rim to great effect to see the game home. Crandall put an exclamation point on the win, reaching the 20 point mark by throwing a huge dunk over Giants’ young star Franklin Agu. 

The win strengthens the Riders’ position at the top of the table, as they head home to play the Worcester Wolves on Sky Sports on Friday. 

Riders

Johnson 24, Crandall 21, Nelson-Henry 12, Fraser 11, Anderson 7, Jackson 7 Washington 5, Falzon 4

Giants

Ouandie 20, Satchell 17, Cassell Jr 12, Whelan 7, Ulph 6, Powell 5

Preview: Riders at Giants

Season So Far – Riders

A hard-fought victory at home to the Eagles in their last game put the Riders four points clear at the top of the BBL Championship table, with a 12-1 record. Holding their opponents to 75.8 points per game, their defence is the best in the league, and it was on full display in their last games. Riders held the third-best offence in the league to 75 points, suffocating their opponents by playing up on the perimeter players and making everything difficult. This style of high-pressure defence results in a lot of steals for the Riders, allowing their athletic stars to shine on the fast break. 

Season So For- Giants

The Giants come off the back of a commanding 20 point blowout win to the Worcester Wolves on Friday night, breaking a five-game league losing streak. Four Giants players scored in double digits, led by 25 points from Justin Satchell, to bring their record to 6-8. They sit seventh in the BBL Championship and will hope to put together a string of good performances, to solidify their position in a playoff spot. 

Ones to watch

Against the Eagles in his most recent game, Aaron Falzon had his season-high of ten points, draining key threes to keep his team in control of the game. Falzon spent four years at college in the NCAA Division 1, with three years at Northwestern, averaging nine points per game in his freshman year, before transferring to Quinnipiac for his senior year, where he averaged eight points per game. Playing in his first pro year, Falzon is a stretch four who can shoot the ball with great efficiency. He is shooting 39% from three on the year, and his length and quickness make him an asset on the defensive side of the floor also. Falzon will hope to build off his season high performance with another big game in this one. 

Breaon Brady has been a dominant force inside for the Giants, averaging a double-double on the season. Graduating out of Houston College in the NCAA Division 1, Brady plays bully-ball under the basket, generating his offence in the post, with a jump-hook he can hit from deep outside the restricted area. Should he be double-teamed, he has great passing ability out the post, and he’s is a great rebounder too, averaging 11 a game to go with his 17 points. An undersized big-man, Brady can move his feet quickly to guard smaller defenders and get across to help defensively and come up with huge blocks at the rim. Meanwhile, his strength allows him to out muscle bigger defenders in the post, and for offensive rebounds, averaging three a game this season. 

Previous meeting 

The most recent clash between the two sides occurred 16 days previous, and resulted in a 116-109 Riders win. In the high scoring affair, the Riders had two players with over 20 points, with Geno Crandall leading the way with 26, and tremendous 15 assists, his season-high in both categories. Meanwhile, the Giants had two players with 29+ points, most noticeably, Jordan Whelan, who achieved his season-high also. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

BBL has funding confirmed

The British Basketball League (BBL) have had significant funding confirmed in the latest round of funding from the Sports Winter Survival Package.

This is the second tranche of funding to be announced from the Government’s £300 million Sport Winter Survival Package that is focused on helping those major spectator sports severely impacted by coronavirus restrictions survive the winter.

The funding package has allowed the BBL and WBBL to undertake the 2020/ 21 season, with the leagues playing consistently since early November behind closed doors, with the outcomes of the BBL and WBBL Cup Finals, already determined. In addition, the respective Championship campaigns are already proving evidence they will be amongst the most competitive and exciting ever.

BBL Chairman Sir Rodney Walker said:

“We were very pleased with the outcome from our negotiations, which will go a very long way to sustaining the top flight of our great game, and to sustaining our associated community programmes.”

“We know the Government recognizes the impact of basketball, and the work of many BBL WBBL Clubs, through their Foundations and Community Interest Companies, goes well beyond sport. These activities by our Clubs go to the heart of the challenges faced by our young people in our disadvantaged communities, including related to physical activity, healthy eating, education related, social cohesion and mental health.”

“This support will be very important in sustaining these programmes when the Covid pandemic is behind us. The BBL would also like to thank the hard work by various DCMS and Sport England staff, who we know worked tirelessly to get to a position that the funding provided could be properly justified.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

“We are committed to helping our treasured sports through these challenging times. And today’s announcement is more evidence of our support for them.

“This targeted funding will enable sports to keep playing and inspire many more stars of the future.”

Chair of the independent Board, Sir Ian Cheshire said:

“Following thorough conversations with each party to assess their individual needs, the Independent Board is pleased to be able to confirm a substantial package of survival funding for netball, badminton, basketball and women’s football, totalling over £10 million.

“For those confirmed as recipients of support as part of this second tranche, this funding is vital in helping keep their respective clubs and leagues operational at this time.”

Strong fourth quarter leads Riders to victory over Eagles

The Riders continued their fine form in the BBL Championship with a 83-75 win against the second placed Newcastle Eagles. In a balanced team performance, Leicester had contributions from all over the court, with four players scoring in double-digits. Darien Nelson-Henry continued his hot form, with 20 points on his birthday. 

The birthday boy was at his best, leading the team in points for the second straight game. He dominated the paint, recording a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds, going 10-15 from the floor. The big-man came up big in the clutch with six points down the stretch to seal the victory for Leicester. 

The game was fast-paced, with both teams keen to get out and run the fast break. This was made possible through turnovers from both sides, as the defensive intensity matched the intensity of the fixture. Geno Crandall was especially active early, with two steals in the first quarter alone. The quickness of the game allowed him to shine on the fast break, kicking the ball ahead for open looks before the Eagles defence could set. Crandall stuffed the stat-sheet, performing in all areas of the game. He had 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, along with three steals. 

The Eagles made the game competitive until late, pushing the Riders all the way led by two-time BBL MVP Rahmon Fletcher. He led the game with his 25 points and had eight assists to go with them, running the offence to get his teammates open looks.  

The Riders, in typical fashion, started quickly, jumping out to a 13-6 lead, finding their offensive rhythm feeding Nelson-Henry down low. They had success in the paint, relentlessly attacking the rim for easy points. Despite the good start, the Eagles hung in the game by getting to the free-throw line often, eventually taking the lead 20-18 by the end of the first quarter. 

As has become a Rider tradition this season, William Lee came up with an emphatic play to get the Riders bench on their feet: a huge putback dunk midway through the second quarter. But the play of the game came from Crandall later in the quarter, who opened his full bag of tricks for a highlight play. He went between his legs to freeze his defender, before throwing a behind the back, no-look pass to the cutting Nelson-Henry for the easy two. The second quarter went back and forth, with five lead changes, and the teams went into the half all square at 39-39. 

The second half followed a similar trend, with neither team able to establish a clear lead. However, checking into the game midway through the final quarter, Crandall and Nelson-Henry took the reigns for the Riders with 14 fourth-quarter points between them. The Eagles had no answer for their key buckets down the stretch, which secured the win for Leicester. 

The Riders win takes their record to 12-1, further stretching their lead at the top of the BBL Championship. They head to Manchester on Sunday hoping to continue their nine-game league winning streak. 

Riders

Nelson-Henry 20, Crandall 18, Johnson 16, Falzon 10, Lee 6, Jackson 6, Washington 6, Anderson 2

Eagles

Fletcher 25, Defoe 15, Edwards 12, Maxwell 9, Sayers 9, Pflueger 5

Preview: Riders v Eagles

Season So Far – Riders

Coming into this top of the table clash, the Riders’ offence has been on fire. Over the last four league games, Leicester have scored 106 points on averaging, failing to score in triple digits just once. They sit top of the BBL Championship, with an 11-1 record and the best defensive record in the league, giving up 75.9 points per game. Their most recent game was a commanding 107-93 win against the Sheffield Sharks, in a game in which the Riders were cooking from deep, making 50% of their threes. 

Season So Far – Eagles 

The Eagles currently sit second in the BBL Championship, with a 10-3 record. The Eagles average 86.5 points per game which is third highest in the league, a large part of their offensive success has come through their rebounding. Newcastle pull down 38.7 rebounds per game and also lead the league averaging 9.2 steals per game giving them extra possessions at an extremely high rate. Their play to begin the year has earned them silverware early in the season, beating the London Lions in the BBL Cup final to lift the trophy.

Ones to watch 

In the Riders’ previous game, Darien Nelson-Henry put up a season-high 23 points to lead the team past the Sharks.  The American big-man, who led Pennsylvania in points, rebounds and blocks in his senior year in college, is averaging 11 points and five rebounds on the season and shooting 56% from the field. He can create his own offence effectively, backing defenders down in the post, and is skilled at passing out of the post to find an open teammate. Nelson-Henry is also an effective weapon in the pick and roll, setting hard screens and cutting hard to the rim. Expect the Riders to look to him early to get into a rhythm offensively. 

Justin Gordan has been leading the way offensively for the Eagles, averaging 16.4 points and seven rebounds on the season. Gordon enjoyed four years at Wofford College, making it to the second round of the NCAA tournament two years running, before averaging 11 points per game in his senior year. After graduating college, his professional career took him to Austria, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden, before finally landing in the BBL. Listed at 6’6”, Gordon gets his work done down low, outmuscling larger defenders and finishing at the rim. He is capable of highlight plays on both ends, using his athleticism to block shots and throw down at the rim. He is a big-game performer, proven by his BBL Cup final MVP performance earlier in the year. Gordon stuffed the box-score, with 17 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks to lead his team to the win. 

Previous meeting 

The last time these teams met was a tightly contested BBL Cup semi-final, in which the Eagles won 76-71. Evan Maxwell had a big game for Newcastle, scoring 19 points and pulling down eight rebounds, meanwhile, Geno Crandall put on a good show in the Riders loss, with 17 points, five rebounds and five assists. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Coach Rob: I’m happy with our progress

It has been a very unusual season for the Riders this last 6 months or so, but I have been very pleased with the way the team has adopted.

No professional sports Clubs are finding it easy, but the basketball has been to a high standard throughout the season, and the BBL is more competitive than ever.

We have had to put up with some idiosyncratic draws in the cup competitions and are disappointed we did not go further. They are a part of the BBL schedule we really enjoy, and we produced some great performances, but unfortunately did not meet our ambitions.

Meanwhile I am very happy with our progress in the BBL Championship. The team has turned in a number of very good performances and deserve to be where we are.

A case in point was last Sunday in Sheffield – it was a top performance by the team. Obviously, we were very disappointed with the result in London in the Trophy, but we were glad of the quick chance to redeem ourselves.

We have been in this position before, where we have to come back quickly after a tough defeat, and we were ready for it. You saw a team that came out in the first half that showed it did not want to lose. We were really locked in offensively and defensively. In the third quarter we really blew the game open. I thought the ball movement at times was exceptional. I love watching when we are playing that way.

But there is a long way to go in the Championship.

With all these games in quick succession, as the schedule gets even more congested, it is really important we get everyone in the team contributing, and we did that against the Sharks.

Notwithstanding the challenges we are most grateful we are playing the game we love.

We really appreciate the support we get on-line from our supporters, and cannot wait until we have fans back at the Morningside. Hopefully, we can step up the engagement with you as the season builds to its climax.

Coach Rob

Captains Log: I’m proud of our teams resilience

It has been an odd season thus far to say the least, and as the lockdown and uncertainty continues we wanted to find a way to connect with you on a more personal level. Speaking on behalf of the entire team, I would like to say that we miss the regular interaction dearly (although it is nice to see your lovely faces up on the fan wall!). To supplement this I would like to take some time each week to fill you in on some of the “behind the scenes” action!

As you know, we lost a heart-breaker on Thursday down in London. While our Trophy aspirations are lost, it was a fantastic battle until the end. It was great to catch up with some of the familiar faces that have been around the Riders program since I’ve been here. I was able to catch up with Fahro on the freethrow line. Jordan Spencer was heckling me from the sideline while I sank the free throws late in the game to put us up two. And who else but JWH to put the dagger in our hearts?! 

While it was a tough pill to swallow, I am proud of our team’s resilience and determination heading up to Sheffield on Sunday night. Sheffield is never an easy place to play, or an easy team to play, as they are tough and disciplined. But, we got the job done! 

While the trip was fairly uneventful, the game proved exciting. Willy Lee had two crazy dunks… although I am still not sure how he managed to spin the basket 45 degrees, and I barely shook the thing! And, not to rub it in, but the camera angle doesn’t do Conner’s lob pass to him justice… the pass was at the corner of the backboard — and he STILL managed to flush it with authority! I think Will might be from another planet. Still running some tests. I will get you guys the results as soon as I have them back. 

In the end, we have advanced to 11-1 in the league standings, and we look to expand on that this Wednesday against Newcastle. I will be sure to note more happenings to report to you all next week. 

As always, thank you so much for the never-ending support! Hopefully, we will be able to catch up in person soon. Stay safe! And as always, Go Riders!

All the best,

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Riders bounce back with a win in Sheffield

Riders responded to their BBL Trophy loss to the Lions on Friday in emphatic fashion, putting up 107 points board as they defeated the in form Sharks. It was a clash between the two best-ranked defences in the league, however, the game developed into a high scoring affair, ending 93-107. This marks the third BBL Championship match in four in which Leicester have scored 100+ points, with their offence clicking into gear of late. 

The Riders shared the love in this Valentine’s day game, with contributions from all over the floor. Seven Rider players scored nine or more, and three scored 19+ points, as Darien Nelson-Henry led the team with a season-high 23. Coming off the back of a 16 point game in the loss to the Lions, Corey Johnson continued his hot shooting form with 19 points, going five for eight from three, while Geno Crandall continued to perform in his first BBL season with 20 points. ‘General’ Geno commanded the offence, and finished with a game-high eight assists, running the offence to great effect.  

The Riders were quick out the gate, jumping out to a 31-18 lead by the end of the first quarter, through success feeding the ball to Nelson-Henry. He had ten first-quarter points working down in the low-post, showcasing his impeccable footwork and finishing ability at the rim in a battle with 12-year Shark veteran Mike Tuck. Leicester also did a great job getting to the free-throw line in the early stages, attacking the rim and drawing fouls. They had 16 in the first half, making them at an efficient rate, shooting 93%.  

The Sharks trailed by as much as 21 in the first half, but climbed back in the game, bringing the score back to within single digits. Jeremy Hemsley put his team on his back early, with 17 points by halftime. The first-year pro out of San Diego State finished with 21, and his teammate in the backcourt, Antwon Lillard, carried the load in the second half to keep the game close. Lillard, who is averaging 15 points on the year, led the game in points with a season-high of his own, finishing with 23 and going eight of 12 from the floor. 

Despite the Sharks coming out strongly in the second half to cut the game to seven, the Riders weathered the storm and responded with a run of their own. William Lee had his usual flurry of highlight plays to swing the momentum in the Riders’ favour, throwing the ball down hard on the fast break causing a break in play for the rim to be fixed. Later in the quarter, Conner Washington threw up a lob which Lee climbed to the rafters to catch and throw down to put the Riders up 12 with three minutes left in the third. 

Sheffield continued to compete in the fourth through Kipper Nicholes, who had 10 points in the quarter. They cut the game to nine, but key baskets down the stretch for the Riders kept the Sharks at arm’s length, staving off any threat of a comeback. 

The Riders win takes their record in the BBL Championship to 11-1 with Newcastle to play on Wednesday Evening at the Morningside Arena. Meanwhile, the Sharks now sit with a 7-6 record, as this loss ends a three-game winning streak for the South Yorkshire side. 

Sharks

Lillard 23, Hemsley 21, Lewis 18, Nicholes 14, Ratinho 8, Tuck 7, Koch 2

Riders

Nelson-Henry 23, Crandall 20, Johnson 19, Lee 9, Anderson 9, Washington 9, Fraser 9, Falzon 5, Jackson 4

Preview: Riders at Sharks

Season So Far – Riders

Riders are currently leading the table with a 10-1 record however Coach Paternostro’s side will be looking to bounce back from their Trophy defeat to London on Thursday. The Riders have already claimed the head to head against Sheffield having beaten both their previous encounters in the Championship. In the recent game came down to the last two plays, Geno Crandall getting it to go in the dying seconds as the Sharks pushed Leicester all the way. Crandall has been a revelation for the Riders with a stat line stuffing 17 points, 5.9 rebounds and 7 assists per game so far and is a key part of another team that builds on defence in order to deliver success. The Riders get an extra day of rest having taken on London in the BBL Trophy on Thursday night and which could mean they may be the fresher side going into Sunday’s Valentine matchup.

Season So Far – Sharks

The Sharks are in good form having defeated Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle in their last 3 games. The Sharks currently have a 7-5 record in the BBL Championship and will be looking to continue to build on their momentum on Sunday afternoon. Sheffield are a well balanced side with multiple scoring options, this was on display on Friday night as they had 5 players score in double figures as they defeated the Eagles by 20. Coach Lyons will be looking for more of the same on Sunday afternoon as the Sharks look to put together 4 consecutive wins in the BBL Championship for the first time this season.

Ones to watch

On. Thursday in London William Lee showed his defensive abilities and why he earned the title of all-time leading shot-blocker at the University of Alabama. He finished the game against the London Lions with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Lee’s ability to both alter and block shots around the basket are a key ingredient to the success of the Riders defence.

Jeremy Hemsley has a key man for the Sharks since his arrival, averaging the most points, assists and steals for the Sharks and proving as to why he and his contribution have been vital assets for the team’s success this season. Even though in their last game against the Eagles he wasn’t as prolific as he normally would be, but he still managed to give 13 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists and will no doubt be a man the Riders will need to slow down on Sunday afternoon.

Previous Meeting

The Riders have the season head-to-head over the Sharks having won by 74-64 back in December and 75-73 a couple of weeks ago. Despite already having won the head to head Riders will be looking to make it 3/3 against the Sharks in the BBL Championship.

How To Watch

Although the game will be behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to watch the game by purchasing a game pass for just £4.99 from BBL Player.

Riders fall to Lions in the Trophy

The Riders fell to the Lions in the first round of the BBL Trophy 76-71 in a tightly contested affair in the capital. Ward-Hibbert hit a go-ahead three to give the Lions the lead with 48 seconds on the clock, the Riders were unable to reply and the Londoners sealed the deal from the free throw line.

It was a closely contested game up until the final buzzer, with nine lead changes in the fourth quarter. Despite the two sides coming into the game with their offences rolling, it was the defence that set the tone, with the teams holding each other a combined 37.5% from the floor. Four of Leicester’s starters finished with double digits points, however the Riders managed just six bench points in the game. The Riders had their difficulties from behind the three point line as they finished up going 6/27 from three, despite three from deep from Corey Johnson as he led the team in points with 16. 

He and William Lee were the bright sparks for Leicester. Lee finished the game with 15 points and 10 rebounds dominating the backcourt with highlights on both ends. A monster dunk in the first quarter from a Darien Nelson-Henry lob pass got the Riders bench on their feet early. Later in the quarter, Lee showcased the defensive abilities which earned him the title of all-time leading shot-blocker at the University of Alabama, with a huge block on two time BBL MVP Justin Robinson’s lay-up.

Robinson is shooting a red hot 51% from three in the league this season, and continued his hot streak going 5/9 from three in the game. He finished with 15 points and two steals, leading the way for the Lions. DeAndre Liggins, who played five years in the NBA previous to coming to the BBL, continued the playmaking efforts he has displayed this season with a season-high 12 assists. Liggins came up huge in the clutch for the Lions, scoring six of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. 

Both teams performed well defensively, neither team allowed the other to find any consistent offensive rhythm throughout. The Riders held the BBL’s best-ranked offence to just 13 first-quarter points, forcing the Lions to start the game 1-10 from the field. London responded, coming into the second quarter with greater defensive intensity. With roles reversed in the second quarter the Riders were unable to find their offensive grove with their first score of the quarter coming with 6:40 left in the first half. 

The Lions claimed the victory which sees them progress into the second round of the BBL Cup where they will face the Newcastle Eagles. The Riders now turn their attention back to the BBL Championship, in which they will face the Sheffield Sharks on Sunday afternoon. 

Lions

Robinson 15, Williams 15, Liggins 13, Parker 8, Ware 8, Alihodzic, Ward-Hibbert 5, Tawiah 4, Walker 3

Riders

Johnson 16, Lee 15, Nelson-Henry 14, Crandall 13, Anderson 7, Washington 4, Falzon 2

Preview: Riders at Lions

London Lions v Leicester Riders

Competition: BBL Trophy

Venue: Copper Box Arena

Tip off: 18:00

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders come into the first round of the BBL Trophy on a seven-game winning streak, with a 10-1 record which tops the BBL Championship table. Over the last three games, Leicester have kicked their offence into gear, averaging 105 points over the course of those games. The Riders have been shooting at an efficient rate, which was well demonstrated in their previous game, a 78-97 win to the Glasgow Rocks. They shot 54% from the floor, 38% from three and 94% from the free-throw line, with four players scoring in double digits in a balanced offensive effort. The offence was led by Geno Crandall, who has carried his hot form into February after winning the Molton Sports BBL Player of the Month award in January. He had 22 points, eight assists and four steals in this game, going 8-12 from the field. This was Crandall’s second consecutive game with 20+ points, and he is now averaging 17 points on the season. 

Season So Far – Lions

In their most recent game, the Plymouth Raiders gave the Lions their first loss since the opening day of the season, beating them 81-75 to end an eight-game winning streak to bring their record to 8-2. Scoring 93 points per game, they have the best-ranked offence in the BBL, led by their star paining of DeAndre Liggins and Dirk Williams. Liggins brings 5 years NBA experience to this London side, after being drafted by the Orlando Magic in 2011. His career year in the NBA was in 2016/17, averaging eight points per game for the Dallas Mavericks. This season for the Lions, Liggins has focused his game on getting his teammate involved with his passing, leading London in assists with seven a game.

Ones To Watch

Coming off the bench, Connor Washington has been Leicester’s third-leading scorer, and is second in assists and steals for his team. Washington has played nine seasons over three spells for the Riders and is having a career year in the BBL with his scoring with 11 points per game. Washington play with Geno Crandall in the backcourt has helped create a dangerous Leicester lineup, with both point guards taking turns to generate the offence for the team with their elite playmaking ability. Washington has been a threat off the ball also, draining 40% of his threes on the year. 

Dirk Williams has been London’s biggest offensive threat in the BBL Championship in his debut season for the Lions, averaging 19 points per game. Williams played his first two pro seasons in the BBL for the Sheffield Sharks, before spending a year playing in the Hungarian first division, averaging 17 points a game for Zalakeramia ZTE. Williams is capable of exploding offensively, going off for 37 against the Giants earlier in the season, nailing nine threes. He is a danger to opposing defences from every spot of the floor and standing at 6’6”, the athletic wing can throw it down over anybody should he get a drive to the rim. 

Previous Meeting

The Lions handed the Riders their only loss in the BBL Championship, in a game that came down to the final shot. Orlando Parker put London up 74-73 with eight seconds on the clock, before a Corey Johnson missed three away secured the win for the Lions. London’s leading scorer, Dirk Williams, had his usual high scoring game, leading the way for his team with 19 points. Meanwhile, Geno Crandall led the game in scoring with 23 in the tight loss. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to watch the game by purchasing a game pass for just £4.99 from BBL Player.

Riders overcome Rocks for second win of the weekend

Leicester Riders are out on top of the BBL Championship on their own, after a dominant 97-78 victory on the road against the Glasgow Rocks. This result was coupled with an upset defeat 81-75 at home for London Lions by the Plymouth Raiders on Sunday afternoon.

Riders were well on top throughout the first three quarters of the game, building a 35 point lead with thirteen minutes left in the game, before the Rocks came back to put a more respectable look on the result in the final quarter.

Riders won the game again through their defence, which turned over the Rocks 17 times, while Riders limited their own errors to just 6. Riders also converted 17 of 18 free throws as the Rocks struggled to contain Riders at any stage.

Leicester started out meaning business, with captain Darien Nelson-Henry scoring inside but Christian Keeling responded with a driving lay-up for the Rocks. William Lee then exploded for a three and followed that up with a huge dunk. A drive to the basket by Geno Crandall gave Riders a 9-5 lead midway through the first quarter, but the defences were on top at that stage.

Lee continued to cause problems for the Rocks big men with his movement, and he scored twice from the free throw line, followed up by another big dunk forcing the Rocks to a timeout, trailing 13-4.

Ali Fraser then came off the bench to a court very familiar to him from his time at the Rocks, and he immediately scored inside, followed by a three. Former teammate Gareth Murray took up the challenge from Fraser, and the Rocks player-coach hit a couple of scores in reply, to leave Glasgow trailing 24-12 after the first quarter.

Fraser started the second period as he completed the first, and he made a three point play which also led to a technical foul on the Rocks. The Riders kept coming, as Fraser drew fouls inside, and that led to yet another technical foul on the Glasgow bench, as Riders lead grew to 35-15. Glasgow finally regained their composure and Isa Brandon came off the bench to spark the offence. Julius Van Sauers hit a couple of big baskets, and at halftime the Rocks trailed 47-28. At that stage Crandall was dominant with 13 points and 4 assists.

Glasgow needed a fast start to the second half and a Marc Kwedi three followed by a 20 foot jumper by Keeling gave them that. But Corey Johnson responded with a three, Crandall intercepted for a lay-up, Zach Jackson hit another three and Riders went on a 12 to nil run. Another Keeling basket stopped the rot, but a three point play by Lee spurred Riders again. Johnson hit another three and another breakaway from Crandall had Glasgow reeling. American centre Ronald Delph then three baskets in quick succession and with Keeling hitting a triple the Rocks clawed the score back to a 78-52 lead with ten minutes left.

Glasgow gained confidence in the final period as threes started to drop from Fraser Malcolm, and Riders got a little sloppy. But Riders Head Coach Rob Paternostro called a timeout, steadied the ship and his team saw out the win with some comfort.

Crandall was once again the star man for Riders, finishing with the impressive stat-line of 22 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds, including 6 from 6 from the free throw line.

But William Lee was not far behind with 19 points, including 2 of 3 three pointers, and 9 rebounds. Fraser also caught the eye with 14 points and 2 assists.

Rocks

Keeling 16, Delph 15, Van Sauers 15, Malcolm 14, Brandon 7, Murray 6, Kwedi 3, Mpondo 2

Riders

Crandall 22, Lee 19, Fraser 14, Johnson 10, Jackson 8, Falzon 8, Washington 8, Nelson-Henry 6, Anderson 2

Preview: Riders at Rocks

Season So Far – Riders 

Winning an overtime thriller at home to the Giants continued Leicester’s now six-game winning streak, bringing the Riders to a 9-1 record, the best in the BBL. Giving up 74 points per game, their defence is good for the second-best in the league, however, it was their offence which brought them home in this game. Leicester scored 116 points, 102 in regulation, to see off the Giants: their second consecutive game scoring over 100 points, after not managing this feat once previously in the season. Geno Crandall has averaged 22.5 points and 12.5 assists through these two games, as he continues his hot form which earned him January’s Molton Sports BBL Player of the Month award. 

Season so far- Rocks

Contrary to Leicester’s hot form, the Rocks’ come into this game on a nine-game losing streak, earning them a 2-12 record, propping up the BBL Championship table. Scoring just 69 points a game, their offence ranks last in the BBL. The Rocks average 30% from three and 49% from the field, managing to score over 80 points in a game just once this season. Most recently, the Rocks suffered a 77-61 loss to the Sharks, in which they shot 41% from the field, and just 38% from the free-throw line. Christian Keeling and Ronald Delph were the gems amongst the Rocks, both with 14 points in a game where Glasgow struggled to generate consistent offence, as has been the case all season.

Ones to watch

One of the four Riders players averaging points in double digits this season, Zack Jackson has put together a consistent run of games for the Riders. Playing for Omaha in the NCAA Division 1 in college, Jackson averaged 18 points as a senior, before beginning his professional career in the Ukrainian first division for Kharkivski Sokoly. Jackson is a great scoring option for the Riders, with his effectiveness in catch and shoot situations and taking defenders off the dribble. Scoring on all three levels, he is a threat to opposing defences every game. 

Recording a season-high 25 points in the Rocks’ game against the Scorchers, Ronald Delph comes into this tie with a hot hand. He went 11-14 from the field and grabbed 10 rebounds to record his second double-double of the season. Delph spent three years at Florida Atlantic in college, averaging 15 points per game in his senior year, before taking his talents overseas to play in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and most recently Canada, playing for the Moncton Magic. Standing at seven feet tall, the American big man has delicate touch around the rim, dropping in hook shots from the post with ease. His touch extends out to the midrange and three-point line too, giving him the ability to stretch the floor, opening up the paint for his team. Defensively, Delph is a presence inside and is averaging a career-high one block per game in the BBL this season. 

Previous meeting

The previous meeting between the two sides occurred just two weeks before this fixture, with the Riders coming out on top 90-58. Corey Johnson went off for 20 points and eight rebounds, a season-high in both categories, draining five threes. For Glasgow, it was a difficult night, with their leading scorer, Christian Keeling, finishing the game with just 11 points. The Riders shot 52% from three in the game to the Rocks 29%, a statistic which proved to be the difference between the teams. 

How to watch

Although the game will be behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to watch the game by purchasing a pass from BBL Player.

Preview: Riders v Giants

Season So Far – Riders

Leicester secured a superb 103-76 win over to the Surrey Scorchers in their most recent game, this helped them go top of the table with a game still in hand and gives them a current record of 8-1. The Riders have proved how strong their offence is with back-to-back 30-point quarters which saw them take the game away from Scorchers. They achieved such an emphatic score line because of their exceptional shooting which included 15 three pointers at 48%, and their 41 rebounds in comparison to Surrey’s 24. Riders enter this game having won their last five games comfortably, and will be pushing for another victory to continue such fine form.

Season So Far – Giants 

Manchester on the other hand is not on such great form as of recent with injuries holding them back, the Giants have suffered 2 defeats in a row. Giving them a record of 5-5 and they are currently 4th in the league. The Giants last game was against the Cheshire Phoenix and within this first half they were struggling to get anything going at both ends of the court. The Giants will be hoping to bounce back with a win on the road against the Riders.

Ones to watch

Geno Crandall has been on a roll for the Riders yet again, proving that he plays a crucial role for the team this season. He is the centre figure in the Riders attack contributing more assists in the Leicester team than any other player and his rate of assists is greater than average for players in the league. In the team’s most recent win, Crandall had a mesmerising performance by finishing up the game 9 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists. He was just 3 rebounds away from securing a triple-double. With his effectiveness for providing chances for his team mates it shows that he is a serious threat against opposition defences.

Sam Cassell Jr, having just signed for the Giants back in August and the son of the infamous three-time winner NBA Champion and All-Star Sam Cassell, was brought as a key component for the rebuild for 2020-21 season. He has featured twice in the NBA Summer League, first for the Cleveland Cavaliers and latterly in 2018, for the Washington Wizards. Cassell Jr also played for BBG Herford in Germany, where he led the team on a season average of 21 points, five rebounds and four assists per game, while shooting 35% from three-point range, and finishing as a Conference First Team selection as Herford won 73% of their games in 2018-19. He has played all of the Giants games up until this point, and in phoenix game was vital to their cause with his stat line of 16 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.

Previous meeting

The last time these two sides met was just under a year back in March, where the Riders comfortably won 105-82. It was a game where five Riders players scored double digits.

How to watch

Although the game will be behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to watch the game by purchasing a pass from BBL Player. Season Ticket Holders will be able to access the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Geno named POTM

Geno Crandall has won the Molten BBL Player of the Month for January after five straight league wins to join Lions at the summit of the table. Crandall’s biggest moment coming when he hit a buzzer-beating floater to secure a 75-73 home win over B. Braun Sheffield Sharks.

The 24 year-old Minneapolis native joined Riders in the summer after a season in the Czech Republic, and has been quick to establish himself as among the league’s leading point guards.

He started the month with his season high of 23 points in a narrow defeat to London Lions, and in seven games he went on to average 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists – consistently looking like one of the players most likely to register a triple-double – shooting 51% from the field and 84% at the free-throw line. Overall, Crandall is fourth in the league in assists and third in fouls drawn

He provided particular torment in back-to-back road wins over Plymouth Raiders, hitting 10-12 (83%) free throws in the first, and coming close to a huge triple-double in the second meeting with 18 points from 8-10 (80%) interior shooting, 17 rebounds and eight assists

He rounded out the month with a BBL All-Star 5 appearance after another near triple-double of 19 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds as Riders saw off Surrey Scorchers.

Crandall is back in action tomorrow night when Riders host Manchester Giants LIVE on bblplayer.co.uk, 6pm tip.

Riders team up with XPS

Britain’s oldest BBL franchise, Leicester Riders, has partnered with XPS, the sports coaching software which helps coaches monitor and improve team performance.

Riders, and its pathway, have access to the state of the art software and are delighted to be teaming up with XPS.

“It’s fantastic for us to be able to work with XPS throughout the whole pathway – that covers Charnwood Riders, our University programme at Loughborough, the WBBL and our BBL side,” reflected Leicester Riders Managing Director Russell Levenston. 

“It gives us consistency across our whole programme and allows us to store all our data centrally to be shared with each of our coaches. I know the coaches are finding it an invaluable tool to use and it’s really helping them in preparing for games and analysing performance.”

“We are a club that strives to be ahead of the game in terms of technology and this software is certainly part of that.”

Agust Thorkelsson – CEO Sideline Sports

“It’s a joy to work with the whole of the Leicester Riders organization. Professional demands from great coaches and staff who care passionately about the development of their players. We look forward to continuing this exciting cooperation over the next years.”

Rob Paternostro – Riders Head Coach (BBL):

“We are extremely excited to be working alongside XPS to help all our teams throughout the pathway. With our BBL side we’ve been really able to utilise the software’s functionality to assist what we are doing in preparation and analysis on court.” 

“The software is one of the leading of its kind and we are delighted to be working with XPS.” said Leicester Riders Head Coach Rob Paternostro. 

Mark Jarram – Loughborough University Head Coach (NBL/BUCS) 

“It’s been a great addition to our programme. To have pretty much everything in once place is such an asset.”

“We’ve mostly utilised the ability to have calendar and the entire team on the same page and has been invaluable to have the ability to easily remind, report and collect daily wellness data.” 

“These have led to some crucial conversations we wouldn’t necessary have been able to have before.  Would recommend it to any programme who are serious about taking things to the next level.”

Jesper Sundberg – Riders Women Head Coach (WBBL) 

“The XPS Network and the Sideline Video Analyzer have been a huge reason for our team’s success. We are using the video editor, calendar and wellness monitor daily. To have everything in one place and to be able to share information around the program with staff and players is creating lots of possibilities for us. The work we do around our player pathway has improved a lot since we started using XPS.”

If anyone is interested in using XPS with their basketball club/programme please feel free to contact Riders Assistant Coach Pablo Vazquez on [email protected].

Riders blow out Scorchers to complete double win weekend

Leicester Riders moved to joint top of the BBL Championship with an emphatic 103-76 win over Surrey Scorchers on Sunday. The Scorchers kept the game tight in the first quarter, even building small leads, but Riders started to assert their authority in the second period, and then took over in the second half.

Riders won it with exceptional shooting, including 15 three pointers at 48%. They also outrebounded the Scorchers by 41 to 24 and they moved the ball extremely well, totalling 27 assists to just 16 for Surrey.

Surrey was coming off a morale boosting victory on Friday night in Glasgow and started off in confident style with their talisman, Point Guard Tony Hicks, pulling the strings. He hit an open jump shot followed by a three pointer and the visitors had an early 7-4 lead. The Scorchers captain Tayo Ogedengbe followed that with a long range three, which Geno Crandall immediately matched. Both teams were exceptional shooting from beyond the arc as the points piled up, and Leicester were forced to a zone defence, to try and stem the tide.

Ex-NBA player 7 foot Ryan Richards came off the bench to make an immediate impact forcing himself inside for a bucket against two Riders defenders, and then following that up with a three pointer. Aaron Falzon came off the bench to also hit a three, and Conner Washington followed that up with two of his own, as the first quarter shootout finished with the Scorchers just ahead 25-23.

Jamell Anderson got Riders going in the second period with a powerful move to the basket, which drew a foul. Riders were more aggressive offensively in the second period and the Scorchers were starting to pick up fouls. Crandall missed on the second free throw from one of his trips to the line, but used extraordinary athleticism to fly over the other players to tip in his own missed shot. 

Consecutive threes by Washington and Anderson forced Surrey to a timeout trailing 38-33, with six minutes left in the half. But Riders kept coming with another three from Crandall and some good footwork inside by Darien Nelson Henry and Riders were steadily pulling away. William Lee got into the act with a three of his own and Riders closed out the first half leading 55-43.

If Surrey were going to get back into the game the start of the third quarter was critical but after a Hicks three pointer, Riders took over. Corey Johnson finally got going with a three, Crandall followed that with a driving lay-up and Zach Jackson a twenty foot jumper to push Riders lead to 62-46 and the Scorchers were reeling. Lee then hit a three followed by a dunk and by another Johnson three to cap a 10 nil Riders run. When Johnson penetrating the restricted area for a twelve foot fadeaway jumper Surrey were forced to a timeout trailing 74-51. But Riders were not letting up and the long range shots kept dropping, and by the end of the third the match was effectively over Riders leading 85-59.

The fourth quarter was all about managing the minutes and Riders did it very well never giving the Scorchers a sniff. Head Coach Rob Paternostro was able to run his bench without giving Surrey any chance of a comeback and the century of points came up with ease.

Once again Geno Crandall was mesmerising, finishing up with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists. His back court partner Conner Washington was also in exceptional form with 15 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists.

Lee was exceptional efficient, with his 15 points coming from 6 of 7 shots, and he added 8 rebounds, and Ali Fraser had one of his best games yet for the Riders with 11 points and 5 rebounds.

Riders

Crandall 19, Lee 15, Washington 15, Anderson 13, Fraser 11, Jackson 9, Nelson-Henry 8, Johnson 8, Falzon 3, Ndoukou 2

Scorchers

Ogedengbe 19, Hicks 14, Cashew 12, Richards 9, Walshe 8, Cook 6, Raftopoulos 5, Wanliss 2, Rickman 1

Preview: Riders v Scorchers

Season So Far – Riders

A 75-73 win to the Sheffield Sharks in their most recent game, in part thanks to a go-ahead bucket from Geno Crandall with five seconds left on the clock, moved the Riders to a 7-1 record to start the season. Leicester defence has set the tone for them, and they’re the only team in the league to hold their opponents to under 70 points per game. The Riders have seven players averaging a steal a game, making it difficult for opposing teams to take care of the basketball, earning Leicester extra possessions. In their previous game, Leicester doubled the steal tally of the Sharks, a demonstration of their perimeter defence which held their opponents to 26% from three.

Season So Far – Scorchers

A 2-5 record to start the season has left the Scorchers near the bottom end of the table, having played the fewest games in the BBL. They possess the worst defensive record in the BBL Championship, giving up 88 points per game. Despite their difficulties to begin the season, Surrey picked up a win in their previous game which they will look to build off of against the Riders. The win came against the Rocks, 93-86, behind 20 points from star guard Tayo Ogedengbe. Ogendengbe has focused on facilitating his teammates early in the season, and is averaging a career-high eight assists per game to compliment the 12 points he is scoring for his team. 

Ones to watch

Geno Crandall has been on a tear in the BBL Championship this season, failing to score in double digits just once on his way to 15 points per game. He leads the team in points, assists and steals, and has earned his nickname, ‘the general’ with six assists a game. Crandall is second on the roster in rebounds, and in a 17 rebound performance against the Raiders, Crandall set the record for the most rebounds for a guard in the BBL since April 2019. His flair and creativity has brought excitement to the BBL, creating highlight plays with emphatic dunks and flashy passing.

Returning to the Scorchers after two years in the German second division, Tony Hicks leads Surrey in point per game to start the season. Hicks, who averaged 19 points a game for the Scorchers in 2018, played four years in college, firstly for Pennsylvania, before transferring to Louisville for his senior year.  He averaged 11 points per game across his college career, before crossing the Atlantic to start his professional career with the Scorchers. Hicks uses his speed and handles to get to the rim with ease, and has crafty finishing ability inside, however, the biggest strength of Hick’s game is his defence His ability to cut passing lanes to pick off passes allows for easy points on the fast break, and Hick’s ability to pick up players full-court makes it difficult for opposing offences to advance the ball quickly. With a season-high 24 points coming against the Phoenix, Hicks is capable of going off for big points totals every night. 

Previous meeting

The previous meeting between these two sides was the first game in this year’s BBL Championship campaign for the Riders. It was a game they won 72-84, with four players scoring over 14 points. Most noticeably Jamell Anderson led Leicester with a season-high 16 points, missing just one of his eight shots. Tayo Ogedengbe also achieved his season-high, leading the Scorchers with 17 points from just eight shots. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to watch the game by  purchasing a pass from BBL Player. Season Ticket Holders will be able to access the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Crandall floater seals win for Riders

Leicester Riders held on to win a superb contest at the Morningside Arena against the Sheffield Sharks, 75-73, to retain their bright start to the BBL Championship, and maintain the pressure on the league leaders London Lions. There was nothing in the game for three quarters when a burst from Riders gave them a ten point lead in the final period. But this experienced Sharks side then went on a 9 to nil run and it took a penetrating drive by Geno Crandall and an eight foot floating jump shot to seal the victory, with one second left.

It was the Sharks that started the game the better, with a three from new signing Jordan Ratinho, and with veteran Mike Tuck cleaning up after a missed Sharks shot, the visitors took an early 7-2 lead. Geno Crandall then hit a jumper, and that was followed by a trademark three from Corey Johnson. Zach Jackson hit a jumper of his own and Riders were back on level pegging with the scores tied on 9 points after 5 minutes. 

William Lee edged Riders in front with a put back, but the teams were trading blow for blow giving nothing away defensively. Some sloppy passing by Riders helped to keep the Sharks in touch, in spite of another Johnson three, and the Sharks were just ahead 17-16 after the first quarter.

A Bennett Koch strong move to the basket pushed Sheffield’s lead out, to start the second period but that was cancelled by an Aaron Falzon three. Koch was causing Riders problems inside on offence and Ali Fraser was picking up fouls trying to contain the Sheffield big man, and with Kipper Nicholls hitting 5 points in succession, Riders were forced to a timeout trailing 29-24. 

That steadied the ship and Johnson hit another three out of the break, and Lee followed that up with one of his own.  Nick Lewis was becoming more influential for the Sheffield and he hit a couple of mid range jumpers to give the Sharks the edge at half-time 39-38.   

The game stayed tight at the start of the third quarter, but Zack Jackson was starting to impose himself offensively. He hit a three, opening up the Sharks defence, and Crandall followed with a driving layup and Riders edged in front 45-43. Crandall continued to step up offensively and after a huge Conner Washington three pointer, Crandall drove to the basket and slammed a huge dunk that forced Sheffield to a timeout, Riders leading 54-48. Lewis hit back with another score, but Washington hit another huge three, to give Riders a 57-50 lead at the third quarter break.

A dunk from Jamell Anderson opened the fourth quarter for Riders, but Koch hit back for the Sharks. An Antwon Lillard three was cancelled out by a Lee dunk, but yet another three from Washington gave Riders breathing space, as they were leading 68-58 with four and a half minutes left. Another Crandall dunk gave Riders a ten point lead with 4 minutes left, but the Sharks battled back. 

Lillard hit a pair of free throws, Ratinho a twenty foot jump shot and a Hemsley three pointer dragged the score back to 70-69 in Riders favour with one minute 48 seconds left, and Riders Head Coach Rob Paternostro was forced to a timeout. Crandall scored again but a huge three from Ratinho in the corner tied the scores on 73, with 9 seconds left. Crandall then hit the decisive score although Sheffield had one second left to force a shot that fell short.

Crandall top scored with 18 points and added 7 assists but had a few too many turnovers for comfort. William Lee had a solid game with 11 points and 10 rebounds while Corey Johnson and Conner Washington hit 3 three pointers apiece. But it was Riders defence that once again proved the difference, holding the Sharks to just 5 three pointers from 19 attempts.

Riders

Crandall 18, Lee 11, Jackson 11, Washington 10, Johnson 9, Anderson 5, Nelson-Henry 4, Fraser 4, Falzon 3

Sharks

Ratinho 14, Nichols 12, Hemsley 10, Lewis 9, Tuck 9, Koch 8, Lillard 8, Jones 3

Preview: Riders v Sharks

Season So Far – Riders

Holding their opponents to 68 points per game, the Riders’ defence has led them to a 6-1 record to start the season, enough to earn them third in the table, with two games in hand on the teams above. Offensively, the Riders have been sharing the wealth, with four players averaging double-digit points, making them a headache for any opposing defences. A number of players can go off for big games on any given night, resulting in a versatile Riders offence with multiple weapons. Leicester enter this game on a three game win streak, winning these games by 17 points on average, and will look to extend their good run of form in this tie. 

Season So Far – Sharks

Sheffield’s season has started in a similar fashion to last year, sitting in 5th place with a 4-4 record. Despite their record, the Sharks have the second-best defence and third-best defence in the BBL, and will hope to turn out consistent performances on both ends to translate these statistics into wins. Sheffield will lean on star pairing of Jeremy Hemsley and Antwon Lillard to string some results together this season, as they are averaging 34 points a game between them. Both can create their own offence as well as being able to lock down defensively, making them one of the most formidable duos in the BBL. 

Ones to watch

Darien Nelson-Henry has been a consistent scorer for the Riders, scoring in double digits in five of the seven games he’s played. The American big-man, who led Pennsylvania in points, rebounds and blocks in his senior year in college, is an efficient scorer, shooting 53% from the field and 83% from the free-throw line. Nelson-Henry gets his points at the rim, working in the post to shoot his effective hook shot, or by setting screens and cutting hard to the basket. His season high came against the Scorchers in the first game of the BBL Championship, in which he had 15 points and eight rebounds, going seven for 13 from the floor. 

Joining the Sheffield roster early in their BBL Championship campaign, Jeremy Hemsley has made an immediate impact on his new team, leading in scoring, assists and steals through his first eight games as a Shark.  The 6’3” shooting guard, ranked 63 in ESPN’s top 100 high school athletes in 2015, averaged 12 points per game for San Diego State in his sophomore year in college. Hemsley’s standout attribute is his perimeter defence, able to pick the pockets of opposing guards to earn extra possessions for his team, but his quickness and agility translates to the offensive side of the floor, helping him to 19 points a game for the Sharks on 54% shooting. 

Previous meeting

The previous meeting between the two sides occurred in December, a BBL Championship game in which Leicester took the win, 74-64. William Lee led the scoring for Leicester with 17 points in this tightly contested game, going seven for nine from the field, while Jeremy Hensley had 20 points and five steals in his team’s loss. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to watch the game by  purchasing a pass from BBL Player. Season Ticket Holders will be able to access the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Wolves game replaced by Sharks

Leicester Riders game with Worcester Wolves this Friday has now been replaced by a home fixture with Sheffield Sharks, a 6pm tip. The game, brought forward from March 31st, is now in place after Worcester postponed the scheduled fixture.

In other fixture news, Riders trip to Glasgow on 7th February will now tip-off at 3pm.

League Statement
Following the Secure Play Protocol, Worcester Wolves have postponed their games against Leicester Riders and Sheffield Sharks, scheduled for Friday 29 January and Sunday 31 January respectively, due to self-isolation requirements following personnel testing positive for Covid-19.

These fixtures will be rearranged in due course as per the Covid-19 rule amendments.

As a result of these postponements, Leicester Riders will play Sheffield Sharks on Friday 29 January at 6pm at the Morningside Arena rearranged from the original date of 31 March 2021.

Riders blow out Rocks in a fine display on Sky Sports

Leicester Riders dominated Glasgow Rocks in the BBL Championship, easing to a 90-58 victory at the Morningside Arena in front of the Sky Sports cameras. Riders took the lead in the third minute of the game and never looked back.

Riders’ best in the league defence held the Rocks to just 34% shooting from the floor, while they shot 56%, including an impressive 14 three pointers from 27 attempts. 

Riders also moved the ball again extremely well, dishing out 27 assists, to just thirteen from the visitors, as they continued their fine start to the Championship, with just a single loss so far, matching top of the table London Lions in that category.

Riders started slowly, missing a series of close in shots before Zach Jackson got the home side going with a three. Geno Crandall penetrated for a driving lay-up giving Riders an early 5-4 lead, but the defences were on top. Corey Johnson then hit a long three and that opened the floodgates for the Riders. Nelson-Henry got untracked inside, Crandall spun through the defence with ease, and the Rocks were forced to a timeout, trailing 14-4 midway through the first quarter. But that did not stop the rot for the Rocks, and back-to-back threes from Jackson and Conner Washington threatened a rout, with Riders building a 23-4 lead. But Glasgow’s Marc Kwedi finally hit a three and that sparked a ten to nil run by the visitors, who trailed 23-14 after the first quarter.

The start of the second period was going to be crucial to sustain Rocks comeback, but it was another Johnson three that triggered an offensive burst by Riders. Former Rock Ali Fraser and Aaron Falcon got in on the act as part of a Riders 9 to nil run, forcing Rocks to another timeout, trailing 32-14.

But it was Riders who came out of the break on fire with Washington and Falzon hitting consecutive threes, and Jamell Anderson producing consecutive baseline drives, and with another dunk by the Riders England forward the home side was good value for a 48-22 halftime lead.

Nelson-Henry got Riders going in the second half, with a couple of inside scores that kept the pressure on the Rocks.  Kwedi hit another long three but then Crandall lit up the Arena with a huge dunk off a breakaway drive. Jackson followed that up with a three and Riders were cruising 57-27 with just under seven minutes in the quarter. 

Kwedi responded with another long three, but generally the Rocks were struggling to find an open man as the Riders defence maintained it relentless pressure. Johnson hit another three, and then Crandall drove through the middle of the Rocks defence for another monster dunk and the Riders lead grew to 68-34. It took a Johnny Bunyon three on the buzzer for Glasgow to pull back the score to 70-41 with the final period left.

Falzon cancelled that out with a three of his own to start the fourth quarter, and Anderson hit one of his trademark threes from the corner to push Riders 76-43 clear. From then on, the Rocks tried to rattle the home side with aggressive defence, picking up a couple of unsportsmanlike fouls along the way, but Riders maintained their composure to come out on top with plenty to spare.

Johnson was Riders top scorer with 20 points, including five of nine three pointers, and he added 8 rebounds and 4 assists for good measure.

Crandall did all he needed to with 10 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists while Jackson was perfect from beyond the arc with 3 three pointers in his 13 point contribution.

Riders

Johnson 20, Anderson 13, Jackson 13, Nelson-Henry 10, Crandall 10, Falzon 8, Fraser 8, Washington 8

Rocks

Kwedi 11, Keeling 11, Van Sauers 10, Jacdonmi 8, Brandon 8, Delph 4, Bunyan 3, Malcolm 2, Mpondo 1

Preview: Riders v Rocks

Season So Far – Riders

With three games in hand on the London Lions, who top the BBL Championship table, the Riders currently sit third with a record of 5-1. Holding teams to 71 points per game, they possess the best defensive record in the league, and the only unbeaten away record at 3-0. Leicester’s defence has generated good offence early in the season, resulting in 14 points off turnovers a game. This was well demonstrated in their previous game, an 82-70 win against the Raiders with 17 of the Riders’ 82 points coming off turnovers in part thanks to Connor Washington’s four steals. Washington led the scoring with 21 points, but it was Geno Crandall who made the headlines with his 18 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists. His rebound tally was the most from a guard since April 2019, and that wasn’t the only record to be broken that evening. Leicester won their 30th consecutive game against the Raiders, the best head-to-head winning streak in BBL history. 

Season So Far – Rocks

After being en-route to their first BBL Championship in franchise history before the cancellation of last season, the Rocks haven’t been able to replicate last years success so far, effectively propping up the table early on. They sit with a 2-7 record, doubling their loss tally from last season already, and are 10th in the table having played four more games than the Scorchers below. In their last game, they recorded a win to the Sheffield Sharks. Glasgow held the Sharks to just 54 points in their first double-digit win of the season. The two teams had just one three each in the low scoring affair, with Boban Jacdonmi leading the Rocks’ scoring with 18. 

Ones to watch

In the Rider’s previous game, Zack Jackson set his season-high in the BBL Championship this season, putting up 18 points and going 8-12 from the field. Jackson’s efficiency from the field led the team, in what was his best shooting night from the floor this season. Playing for Omaha in the NCAA Division 1 in college, Jackson averaged 18 points as a senior, before beginning his professional career in the Ukrainian first division for Kharkivski Sokoly. Jackson is a great scoring option for the Riders, with his effectiveness in catch and shoot situations and taking defenders off the drive. Scoring on all three levels, he is a threat to opposing defences every game. 

Christian Keeling signed his first professional contract with the Rocks after a four-year college career with North Carolina, the college once attended by the great Michael Jordan. Keeling enjoyed a successful college career, averaging 19 points in his junior year with UNC. He has carried his game into professional basketball seamlessly, averaging 18 points through his first four games as a Rock. Keeling has got his points off efficient shooting, going 55% from the field and 40% from three. Capable of generating his own offence, the 6’3” guard is an incredibly talented scorer, taking and making contested mid-range jump shots with ease. With his ability to make outside shots at a high rate, the Riders will hope Keeling doesn’t catch a hot hand should they wish to keep him quiet in this one. 

Previous meeting

The Riders have won four of the previous five meetings between the two sides, most recently earlier in the season in the BBL Cup quarter-final. Leicester led wire to wire, winning 93-59 behind 20 points from Corey Johnson. Johnson made six shots, all of them threes, going 46% from behind the line. He also led the team in rebounds with seven. For the Rocks, Boban Jacdonmi put in a solid performance despite the heavy loss, dropping 17 points and nine rebounds. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to watch the game by for FREE on Sky Sports Youtube or the Sky Sports channel.

Rob & Conner on Zoom Call

We have a special treat for Riders supporters this Tuesday afternoon (26th Jan 2021)!

The club really value our supporters and know it’s not been an easy time for anyone. So how about a catch-up with two of your favourites!!!

Coach Rob Paternostro and GB guard Conner Washington are inviting all Season Ticket holders from the last two seasons to join them on a Zoom Call at 2pm this coming Tuesday.

It’s a unique opportunity to chat with Rob & Conner for an update on the season, all things Riders and a chance to ask them some questions in a Q&A session.

If you’d like to join us – simply email [email protected], we’ll also be emailing everyone with a Zoom link!

BBL Trophy date confirmed

Leicester Riders will travel to London for their BBL Trophy game against the Lions on Thursday 11 February – 6pm tip.

As a result the scheduled home game on the 10th against Bristol Flyers will now take place on Tuesday 30 March, an 8pm tip.

It was also confirmed this morning that the home game against Surrey Scorchers on Sunday 31 Jan will now tip-off at 3pm.

Rocks game now on Sky

We are delighted to confirm Leicester Riders game against Glasgow Rocks this Sunday will now be played in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

Both teams will travel to Worcester to play the game ahead of the BBL Cup Final after it has been announced that the WBBL final has been postponed.

The game will now tip-off at 1pm.

Rob Paternostro’s side will also be in Worcester on Friday night when they face Worcester Wolves at 7pm – available to watch on the Worcester Wolves YouTube channel.

Riders defeat Raiders to set new BBL record

Leicester Riders bounced back again, this time from Cup semi-final defeat to Newcastle Eagles, with a solid 82-70 win at the Plymouth Raiders in the BBL Championship. 

In doing so, Riders set a new BBL record, with their 31st consecutive victory over Plymouth, the longest winning streak between two clubs. The last time Raiders beat the Riders was in 2012.

They did so thanks to an extraordinary set of performances from their two point guards, with Geno Crandall scoring 18 points, while pulling down 17 rebounds and dishing out 8 assists, one of the top efforts in the BBL this season. Crandall added in a steal and a block for good measure. 

Conner Washington top scored with 21 points, including 4 three pointers, and also added 7 rebounds and 3 assists. The guards had to step up because forward William Lee picked up early fouls and only managed 10 minutes on court, as did captain Darien Nelson-Henry, with Riders two big men managing just 7 points and 3 rebounds between them.

There was little between the teams in the first half. Crandall was immediately into the action, scoring two early baskets with some mesmerising dribbling to create space, and a Lee three had the scores tied on 8 points after four minutes. But Riders were also a little sloppy with the ball with four early turnovers, and both teams were struggling to score. Four points from GB International Ashley Hamilton, who had a very subdued game, thanks to pressure defence from Riders, helped Raiders to their biggest lead of the game at 16-10, but Scottish International Ali Fraser came off the bench and immediately provided a match-up problem for the Raiders. Fine work from Fraser and Zach Jackson got Riders back to level pegging, before Leicester born Elliott Sentence hit a three at the end of the first quarter to give the home side a narrow first quarter lead, 21-18.

Conner Washington levelled the score at the start of the second period with a three, but Mike Morsell, who scored 26 points against Riders a week ago, started to impose himself on the game, and slowly the Raiders got on top, leading 31-25 with four minutes left in the first half. But Fraser again came off the bench to work his magic inside and Riders went on a 9-2 run to go up 34-31.  A late score for Chris Porter-Bunton left the game in the balance at half-time with Riders just edging it 34-33.

In the last game between these teams the third quarter proved decisive for Leicester, but it was the Raiders who had the better start this time with a Morsell three pushing them to a 41-38 lead. But that was quickly cancelled by a Jamell Anderson three, and that was followed quickly by a three from Washington.

This triggered the crucial spell of the game, as Riders wound up the defensive pressure full court, turned over the Raiders twice in the back court, and had easy scores. That gave Riders a 48-41 lead with just over two minutes left in the quarter, and the Raiders were reeling. Porter-Bunton steadied the ship but a three-point play by Anderson and another fine play inside by Jackson had Riders well on top at the third quarter break, leading 53-48.

The game stayed tight early in the final period, but Crandall and Washington were playing their double act, and a three from Washington was matched by a driving lay-up from Crandall, and another jumper from Washington had Riders 66-57 clear midway with five minutes left. When Jackson hit another two the Raiders were forced to a time-out. But that sparked a burst of scoring from the visitors with Jackson and Washington hitting threes, and after that there was no way back for the Raiders.

As well as Riders deadly duo in the backcourt, Jackson caught the eye with 18 points, but it was Riders smothering defence that kept Raiders powerful offence in check, with only three home players managing double figure points, as Raiders shot just 38% from the floor.

Raiders

Morsell 17, Porter-Bunton 12, Hamilton 10, Ochereobia 9, Mcgill 9, Sentence 6, Beisty 3, Dusha 2, Neighbour 2, Neziri, Ubiaro, Walker

Riders

Washington 21, Crandall 18, Jackson 18, Fraser 12, Anderson 6, Lee 5, Nelson-Henry 2, Johnson, Falzon, Ndoukou, Hedley, Jimenez

TikTok X BBL

TikTok has today partnered with the British Basketball League and Basketball England to launch the #BritishBasketball hashtag challenge and showcase the best of British basketball.

In what is the first ever basketball focused campaign on TikTok in the UK, the BBL and Basketball England are inviting basketball lovers to share their best basketball tricks, skills and content on TikTok. TikTok Creators will have access to exclusive behind-the-scenes content from professional clubs including Leicester Riders – @ridersbball.

“Our team have been using TikTok to share basketball content to a new audience and we’ve been encouraged to see it getting a great response,” said Basketball England Marketing and Communications director Anthony Jepson.

“We’re excited to be working with TikTok to showcase #BritishBasketball and the talent in the BBL to people not only in the UK but across the world. From the hustle of training to the thrill of gameday, TikTok allows us and our clubs a unique and direct way to share with our fans and communities. We’ve also loved seeing great basketball content shared by fans and creators from the basketball community and cannot wait to see what they share on the hashtag to celebrate the sport we love!,” said Selina Conroy, British Basketball League’s Head of Communications

Professional players including Jamell Anderson, William Lee, Geno Crandall, Conner Washington, Aaron Falzon, and Corey Johnson are also on the platform and all set to be giving an insight into what it’s like being a pro basketball player in the UK.

“We’re seeing great videos being shared by fans, content-makers and teams across the sport and would encourage everyone who loves the game in Britain, whether your thing is NBL, BBL, the national teams or up-and-coming young talent, to use the hashtag to celebrate it,” Jepson said.

With more than 31 billion video views, #basketball has cemented itself as one of the most popular sports on TikTok and #BritishBasketball is on the rise with numerous clubs from the BBL joining the platform.

Do you love basketball and want to show off your best slam dunks? Join in the fun and post your videos on #BritishBasketball.

Where to watch tonight…

With ongoing technical work at Plymouth Pavilions, a decision has been made not to live stream the game on BBL Player platform. Instead the game will be available for FREE on the Plymouth Raiders facebook page.

We value the Riders support as ever and hopefully the solution agreed with Plymouth & the league allows for you, our loyal supporters, to watch the game this evening – tip is 7.30pm.

We will also be keeping our twitter page @ridersbball up-to-date with all the usual updates throughout the game.

Next week, service will be back to normal with a double-header to look forward to. Worcester on Friday 22nd, which will be available to watch for FREE on their YouTube page. Saturday’s home game with Glasgow Rocks will be available on bblplayer.co.uk .

Preview: Riders at Raiders

The Leicester Riders head down to the South West to take on the Plymouth Raiders for the second time in just over a week as the Riders look for a record breaking victory over the Raiders.

Season So Far – Riders

In their previous game, the Riders disappointingly exited the BBL Cup in the semi-final, in a close-fought game against the Newcastle Eagles. They now turn their attention back to the BBL Championship, where they sit third with three games in hand on the leaders. Leicester currently hold a 4-1 record, bouncing back from their only loss by beating the Plymouth Raiders 77-71. Geno Crandall continued his emphatic start to his debut season for Leicester, with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Crandall, who took North Dakota to the NCAA tournament as a sophomore in college, has averaged 20 points through his last four games and will look to continue his good form in this one. 

Season So Far – Raiders

Starting their season 5-1 to top their BBL Group, the Raiders enjoyed a successful start to their 2020-21 campaign. Subsequently, they were knocked out of the competition by the London Lions, but have equalled last season’s points tally of six in the BBL Championship after just eight games. Plymouth have kept their games competitive, with each of their five losses finishing within single digits. However, despite the hot start to the season, the Raiders enter this game in the midst of a cold streak, losing four of their last five games. Their most recent game was the first of a back to back against the Riders, which they lost 77-71. Mike Morsell led the team’s scoring effort in his debut for Plymouth with 26 points, after averaging 15 points a game with the Newcastle Eagles last season. 

Ones to watch

Earning Premier Logistics player of the game in his last two matches, Geno Crandall is on red hot form going into this tie. ‘General Geno’ has merited his nickname early in the season, leading the Riders in assists per game with five. His ball-handling is second to no-one in the BBL, allowing him to create offence for himself and his teammates by driving to the hoop and finishing at the rim, or using his elite passing ability to find an open teammate. In the pick and roll, Crandall uses screens masterfully, before exploiting the mismatch on larger defenders or dishing to the cutting screener. However, he is at his most dangerous in transition, using his speed and vision to attack the recovering defences. With the like of high-flying forward William Lee running the floor alongside him, highlight plays are a near guarantee when Crandall runs the fastbreak. 

Mike Morsell played his first game for the Raiders in their most recent game, showcasing the talent he brings to the South coast right off the bat. He had 26 points and seven rebounds, draining five threes in the process. After playing four years in the NCAA division one for Towson, averaging 14 points a game, Morsell signed his first professional contract in Finland’s first division, to play for Kobrat, before moving on to the Newcastle Eagles. He averaged 15 points per game for the Eagles before the season was cut short. Morsell is a great three-point shooter, averaging 40% from deep last season. This opens up the lane for him, where he uses his strength and quickness to get to the rim and finish through contact. Morsell has made an immediate impact on the Raiders, and his scoring from the wing will help them build on their 3-5 record. 

Previous meeting

This game is the second of a back to back, with the Riders taking the first 77-71. The win tied the BBL record for a head-to-head winning streak, making it 30 on the bounce. Geno Crandall filled up the box score from the point, getting 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists. While he only shot 33% from the field, Crandall made 10 of his 12 free-throws to earn him the player of the game award. Meanwhile, Mike Morsell showed out in his first game for Plymouth, scoring 26 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. The Riders will hope for a win in this one to make it 31 consecutive wins against the Raiders, breaking the BBL record. 

Riders fall to Eagles in BBL Cup Semi Final

Leicester Riders are out of the BBL Cup after a hard fought and intense semi-final, edged out by arch-rivals Newcastle Eagles, 76-71, at the Morningside Arena.

Nothing separated the sides through three quarters of the match, but a huge three by Eagles American forward Justin Gordon gave the visitors a 73-70 lead with just under two minutes left in the game, and Riders could not find a way back, missing four shots in the final two minutes.

The Eagles now progress to the Final against London Lions who are through without playing against a Covid hit Manchester Giants.

The Eagles started the game on fire, setting up their big men, Evan Maxwell and Gordon, inside for easy baskets, capped by a Cortez Edwards three to put them 7 nil on top. But William Lee responded with a dunk off an assist by Geno Crandall and Riders went on an 8 to nil run of their own. At this stage, the defences were dominating between two teams who are very familiar with each other, and it took Crandall to weave his magic to keep Riders in touch in spite of a few loose passes. At the first quarter break there was nothing between the teams, tied on fourteen points apiece.

The second period followed the pattern of the first, with Eagles dominating inside and a Corey Johnson three was more than cancelled out by successive threes by Maxwell and Drew Lasker. 

Riders Head Coach Rob Paternostro was forced to an early timeout trailing 28-19 with still 6 minutes in the half. That did the trick, as Darien Nelson Henry immediately rattled off 6 points in a row in a Riders 11-2 run that got the scores tied on 30 with three minutes left. Crandall then weaved his way inside for a basket, followed by another Johnson three, but a jump shot by Edwards gave the Eagles the narrowest leads at halftime at 37-36, with the game still finely balanced.  

The offences started to get some traction in the third period with both teams pushing the ball up the court quicker and finding the gaps. William Lee and Nelson-Henry combined well inside, but 6 feet 10 inch Maxwell was causing all sorts of problems for Riders inside, as he benefited from a number of Edward’s passes. Another Johnson three got Riders within 2 at 49-47 down but Edwards hit back with a three of his own. Another Lee dunk got Riders back in front 52-51 forcing the Eagles to a timeout.  Crandall then hit six points on the spin for the Riders but a breakaway basket from youngster Eddie Matthews helped Eagles stay just in front 62-60 at the third quarter break.

It stayed nip and tuck in the final quarter but successive baskets by Maxwell followed by a driving lay-up by Edwards got Eagles 68-64 clear with five minutes left.

Nelson Henry and Lee then then combined well inside for baskets, and a Crandall lay-up got the scores to 70 all. Gordon hit the three with less than two minutes to go, and then Crandall missed a free throw and Riders were chasing the game. They had their chances in the final minute but could not convert.

In a game dominated by defences Lee gave another solid performance with a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Crandall top scored with 17 points and added 5 assists. But the Riders struggled from behind the three point line making just 4 of 16, and their turnovers at 16 were double that of the Eagles and proved the decisive factor. Maxwell top scored in the game with 19 points.

Riders

Crandall 17, Jackson 12, Nelson-Henry 12, Lee 12, Johnson 11, Fraser 4, Anderson 3

Eagles

Maxwell 19, Edwards 18, Gordon 15, Pflueger 5, Fletcher 4, Sayers 4, Defoe 4, Lasker, Adenekan 2, Matthews 2

Preview: Riders v Eagles

The Leicester Riders take on the Newcastle Eagles on Tuesday Evening as the two sides do battle for a place in the BBL Cup Final later this month.

Season So Far – Riders 

The Riders’ stared their 2020/21 campaign by easing through the ‘group of death’, qualifying to the knockout stages with a game to spare. Leicester won and lost to each team in the group, resting their starters in the last game against the Sheffield Sharks, a luxury they earned through their early qualification. The Riders kicked off the knockout stages by convincingly beating the Glasgow Rocks 93-59. They led wire to wire in the tie, leading 51-26 at halftime. Corey Johnson led the scoring for the Riders, dropping 20 points and shooting 42% from three. 

Season So Far – Eagles

Like the Riders, the Eagles enjoyed a comfortable group stage in the ‘group of death’. They topped the group, finishing with the best offensive record in the Cup, averaging 90 points per game. Newcastle have had great success on the road, as they’re 3-0 as the away team in the competition so far. They beat the Bristol Flyers 72-64 in the first round of the knockouts, despite a late Flyers fourth quarter comeback to cut a 17 point deficit to 8. Evan Maxwell led the scoring for Newcastle, scoring 22 points to pair with seven rebounds. The 6’10” center is capable of stretching the floor, shooting 35% from three in the BBL Cup, and is a presence on the glass averaging 8 rebounds a game. 

Ones to watch

Corey Johnson has led the team in scoring through the BBL Cup campaign so far, averaging 16 points a game. He’s been red hot from deep, shooting 45% from three, and is yet to miss a free-throw, going 7-7 at the line. Johnson has scored 20 points in three of the six games he’s played in the competition, with a total of 17 rebounds in those games also. The 6’5” wing shot 37% from deep at Havard College, and averaged 12 points a game in his first season with the Riders. Johnson is capable of catching fire on any given night to put up big numbers offensively. 

2 time BBL MVP Rahmon Fletcher is playing his sixth season for the Eagles, and is running the point to great effect. He is an excellent facilitator, leading the team in assists with 10 a game. Fletcher has a complete playmaking arsenal, capable of making any pass and opening up defences with crafty handles. He uses his exceptional speed paired with his handles to beat defenders and get to the hoop, and despite standing at 5’10”, Fletcher is adept at finishing at the rim over taller defenders.  Off the ball, Fletcher spaces the floor for his teammates with his outside shooting, averging 48% from three in the BBL Cup. His complete offensive game will pose a challenge for Leicester if Fletcher controls the game like he is capable of doing. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders and the Eagles have met twice already this season, both times in the BBL Cup group stage. Both teams won a game each, with Leicester taking the most recent game 82-88. There was just one point between the teams with 5:44 on the clock in the final quarter, before Leicester went on a 18-13 run to end the game. Geno Crandall led the way for the Riders with a 20 point performance, while Rex Pflueger put up a season high 21 points for Newcastle. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to watch the game by  purchasing a pass from BBL Player.

BBL Statement

In accordance with the BBL Secure Play protocols and Covid-19 rule amendments, there are changes to the BBL Cup Semi-Finals scheduled for Tuesday 12 January 2021 due to Covid-19 implications.

Due to a number of players having to self-isolate, Manchester Giants are unable to fulfil their fixture against London Lions and have unfortunately had to forfeit the game. The forfeiture means London Lions have an automatic bye to the Final on 24 January.

In a related move, with Manchester unable to fulfil their fixture, the semi-final between Leicester Riders and Newcastle Eagles will now be held at the Morningside Arena on Tuesday 12 January. The game will tip-off at 5pm and shown live on BBL Player. The venue was decided via a remote random draw by the League central office with representatives from Leicester and Newcastle present to witness the draw.

Riders bounce back with a tough win in Plymouth

Leicester Riders bounced back from their heart-breaking defeat against London on Sunday with a hard fought 77-71 victory on the road at Plymouth Raiders in the BBL Championship. Riders needed a strong defensive performance in the third quarter to set up the win and held off strong pressure from Plymouth late in the game. 

It was Riders thirtieth consecutive victory over the Raiders, tying an all-time BBL record in head-to-head matchups. The result improves Riders record to 4 wins with a single defeat.

Riders got their inside game going early on through centre and captain Darien Nelson-Henry, but fell behind 12-6 midway through the first period, as Raiders GB international Ashley Hamilton took advantage from the free throw line. But Aaron Falzon came off the bench to hit a three and spark a Riders revival, as they went on an 11-2 run, including baskets from William Lee and Conner Washington, and capped by four points in a row from Geno Crandall, to push Riders 15-12 clear. American guard Mike Morsell was keeping the Raiders in touch with fine long range shooting and at the first quarter break Riders led just 19-16.

Ali Fraser came off the bench to get Riders going in the second period, but then the two teams hit a purple patch shooting-wise with Crandall hitting a three, and long-range jump shot, which was matched by consecutive three pointers by Morsell and a long range shot from point guard Ricky Mcgill. Another driving lay -up by Hamilton forced Riders Head Coach Rob Paternostro to a timeout as Raiders edged in front 30-29. Zach Jackson suddenly found his shooting touch on consecutive plays and then Ali Fraser did the same, but a basket off an offensive rebound by Michael Ochereobia kept Raiders just in front at half-time 38-37.

Riders turned up the defensive intensity in the third period, and Nelson-Henry again was to the fore under the basket, converting some easy makes to push Riders clear 46-40. Riders were starting to control the boards and fine play by Jamell Anderson and a three by Corey Johnson got Riders lead out to double figures, leading 53-43 with three minutes left in the third quarter. Riders had a solid lead at 59-48 with a ten minutes left, as they dominated the third quarter 22-10.

The Raiders immediately bounced back at the start of the final period with Hamilton starting to impose himself offensively and another Morsell three cut Riders lead to 64-59 with five minutes left in the game.

Morsell hit yet another long range three to cut Riders lead to 68-64 with two and a half minutes left, forcing Riders to another time-out. A three-point play by Morsell further cut Riders lead to just one point, but then fine play by Crandall, and a put back dunk by Lee, edged Riders out to 71-67 with a minute left.  Crandall found his way to the basket for a dunk and then the Riders held their nerve from the free throw line to secure a well-deserved victory.

Crandall impressed again, although he was not at his very best, finishing with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Ali Fraser had one of his best games for Riders, with 12 points and 5 rebounds in 17 minutes of play, while there was a welcome return to offensive efficiency by Nelson-Henry with 13 points on 60% shooting.  The Raiders Morsell top scored in the game with 26 points, including 5 three-pointers.

Raiders

Morsell 26, Hamilton 17, Ochereobia 10, Mcgill 7, Porter-Bunton 6, Ubiaro 4, Neighbour 1

Riders

Crandall 19, Nelson-Henry 13, Fraser 12, Johnson 9, Jackson 6, Lee 5, Washington 5, Falzon 5, Anderson 3

The Riders return to action on Tuesday Evening when they take on the Newcastle Eagles in the BBL Cup Semi Final in Manchester.

Preview: Riders at Raiders

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders suffered their first loss of the BBL Championship season in their most recent game, losing 73-74 to the London Lions. Leicester came off the back of a two-week break between games and shot just 38% from the field in a low scoring affair. Despite this, they took the Lions to the final play of the game before falling to 3-1 to start the season. They still boast the best defensive record in the league, holding opponents to 70 points a game on average. University of Alabama graduate William Lee leads the team in points, rebounds, blocks and steals early in the season, making his presence known on both ends. The Riders sit fourth in the standings, with two games in hand on the teams above. 

Season So Far – Raiders

Plymouth started their season in emphatic fashion, topping their BBL Cup group while losing just one of the six games. Since then, the Raiders have equalled the three wins they had last season after just seven games, starting 3-4.  While Plymouth has lost four games to start the season, every game they’ve played has been closely contested. Just one of the seven games has been won by double digits, a 14 point win for the Raiders against the Worchester Wolves. They’ve had great success crashing the offensive glass, pulling down a dominant 31% of offensive rebounds per game. Michael Ochereobia leads the way in this category, pulling down two a game. The 6’8” center averaged 8.5 rebounds a game for the Cheshire Phoenix last season and has four years experience playing in the NCAA first division. 

Ones To Watch

Coming to the Riders from the Iowa Wolves in the G-League in the offseason, William Lee’s hot start to the season has led to him averaging 14 points and 9 rebounds, which leads the team. The University of Alabama’s all-time leading shot-blocker also leads the Riders in blocks and steals, dominating on both ends. The 6’9” big man’s athleticism is the key to his game, as it enables him to attack the rim, swat away shots and grab rebounds at a high rate. Lee also has an effect on the defensive end which doesn’t show up in the box score, using his 6’11” wingspan to cut passing lanes and disrupt opposing offences.  

After averaging 12 points a game in the Spanish second division last year, Ashley Hamilton has made an immediate impact on the Raiders this season. The 6’7” forward, who played four years for NCAA division one side Loyola Marymount in college, is averaging 20 points through his first seven games in the BBL Championship, leading the team. Hamilton is an athletic wing, who uses his speed and strength to get to the basket with ease. The lane to the basket has been opened up for him early in the season, as he has been hot from three, shooting 41% from deep. His game-high this season came against the London Lions, as he dropped 31 points. In typical fashion, Hamilton attacked the rim, getting to the free-throw line 14 times in the game and making 69% of his shots from the field. 

Previous Meeting

These two teams last faced in the BBL Championship last season, and it was the Riders who took the victory, winning 90-74. Leicester’s ball movement was excellent in the game, doubling their opponent’s assist totals. Darien Nelson-Henry had 16 points off of 80% shooting, going 8-10 from the field. The Riders have won the last 28 fixtures against the Raiders, with the last Plymouth win dating back to the 1st April 2012. Leicester will hope to extend this winning streak in this one. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to watch the game by  purchasing a pass from BBL Player.

New Flyers date confirmed

Riders game against Bristol Flyers, postponed from December, will now take place on Wednesday 10th February 2021 at 7pm.

Last time the sides met in front of the Sky Sports cameras, Leicester winning 85-73.

Our final league game versus the Flyers will come at the end of March (27th) down in Bristol.

Riders handed first league defeat by Lions

Leicester Riders saw victory snatched from them in a mad last minute, as they were beaten by London Lions 74-73 Sunday evening in the BBL Championship at the Morningside Arena. Riders were 5 points clear at 73-68 with just a minute left in the game as they looked to preserve their unbeaten start in the Championship. 

They were looking good for the victory with the Lions struggling to get any penetration on offence. But then a stray pass was intercepted by Dirk Williams at mid court for a breakaway dunk, and that was followed by a Lions steal on the subsequent inbounds play to give them another easy layup. When Riders could not score on their possession, the Lions came down and Orlando Parker hit the twelve-foot jumper to wrench the game from Riders. A last second attempt from Corey Johnson to steal back the game for Riders fell short.

The start of the match was delayed by two hours after the Lions were caught up in a traffic accident on the M1. But both teams shrugged off the delays early on, with Corey Johnson opening his account with a three with the first shot of the game, matched by Lions GB star Justin Robinson. When Johnson hit another three it looked like it was going to be a shooting fest, but then the defences started to take over. The Lions were getting good movement inside from ex-Rider Chris Taiwah.  An Orlando Parker three edged London in front 12-8, but Washington came off the bench to draw a couple of fouls and hit a big three. With seconds left in the first quarter Riders worked the ball beautifully to the corner to Jamell Anderson for a three, to tie the game at 19 after 10 minutes.

The Lions came out on fire in the second period as Kevin Ware and ex-NBA star Deandre Liggins combined, and a Liggins three was followed by Dirk Williams making three points from the free throw line giving London a 35-22 lead and forcing Riders to a time-out, with four minutes gone. That did the trick as Riders went on an eleven to nil run with William Lee converting six points and Geno Crandall dazzling with his ball handling. The Lions were then forced to a timeout and they responded with consecutive threes by Dirk Williams and Jules Dang Akodo to push Lions lead back to 41-33, forcing Riders Head Coach Rob Paternostro to another time-out. That again worked the magic and a three point play off an offensive rebound by Crandall, and a scintillating assist by Crandall for a three point play by Ali Fraser had Riders trailing 44-39 at half-time.

Lions started the sharper in the third period but again Crandall inspired Riders back. He hit a driving lay-up followed by a three, and Riders were back within 5 trailing 57-52. Crandall then found Nelson-Henry inside for an easy basket followed by a William Lee dunk. With two and a half minutes left in the quarter Crandall hit another three to close to trail by just 62-59 and neither side could muster a score in the final two and a half minutes of the third period.

The defences stayed on top in the fourth quarter but an Anderson three was followed by one from Washington and Riders slowly build a lead. A Crandall basket halfway through the final period gave Riders their biggest lead of the game 71-64 with five minutes left, and Riders stayed in front until that final crazy minute when the game got away from them.

William Lee was in stunning form for Riders at Both ends of the court, contributing 15 points and 12 rebounds while blocking 3 Lions shots, in 35 minutes of play. Crandall also put on a masterclass finishing with 23 points and 4 assists, including 3 three pointers.

Riders

Crandall 23, Lee 15, Johnson 11, Washington 9, Anderson 6, Fraser 4, Nelson-Henry 2, Jackson 2, Falzon 1

Lions

Williams 19, Liggins 14, Parker 11, Robinson 10, Ware 6, Taiwah 6, Akodo 3

Riders to play Cup Semi in Manchester

Following consultation with the BBL, the four BBL Cup Semi-Finalists have come to an agreement to amend the format for the BBL Cup Semi-Finals due to fixture pressures due to COVID-19 implications.

The changes are:

  • Moving from two-legs to single-leg.
  • Playing both games in one central venue
  • Playing both games on the same day

Therefore the BBL Cup Semi-Finals have been agreed as follows:

Date: Tuesday 12 January 2021
Venue: National Basketball Performance Centre, Manchester

Game 1: Leicester Riders v Newcastle Eagles – 5:00pm
Game 2: London Lions v Manchester Giants – 8:00pm

Both games will be broadcast live via BBL Player.

BBL Statement: Postponements

Surrey Scorchers BBL Championship fixtures against Worcester Wolves (28 December), London Lions (1 January) and Leicester Riders (3 January) have been postponed due to self-isolation requirements following a player testing positive for Covid-19. Under the Covid-19 rule amendments, these fixtures will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

With an abundance of caution, the game between Leicester Riders and Bristol Flyers scheduled for 23 December has also been postponed and will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

For fans who have purchased a pass from BBL Player please contact [email protected]

Preview: Riders v Flyers

Season So Far – Riders

This is the second of back to back games against the Flyers for the Riders, after an 85-73 win on Friday evening at the Morningside Arena. The win protected their undefeated BBL Championship record, as they moved to 3-0. The Riders are the only undefeated team remaining, sitting top of the table with a game in hand on the four teams below. They have the best defensive record in the league and are the only team holding their opponents to under 70 points on average. The 73 points they gave up to the Flyers in their most recent game was the most they have given up in the Championship this season, however, Geno Crandall’s 19 points, eight assists and five rebounds were enough for Leicester to take the win. 

Season So Far – Flyers

After finishing eighth in the table at the cancellation of the 2019/20 season, Bristol currently sit midtable in the BBL Championship, splitting their first six games 3-3. After their loss to the Riders, the Flyers won their most recent game 79-99 away to the Surrey Scorchers. They dominated the glass in typical fashion, outrebounding the Scorchers 44-24. Bristol has owned the offensive glass to start the season. They pull down 26% of offensive rebounds a game, resulting in an abundance of second-chance points for their big men. The Flyers have three who average more than seven rebounds a game, and four players who grab at least one offensive rebound a game, the Riders will have their hands full to keep Bristol off the glass. 

Ones To Watch 

In the Riders’ previous game, Geno Crandall took control from the point. He displayed his whole offensive arsenal throughout the game, acting as a floor general to dish out eight assists, and using his handles and quickness to attack the hoop. Crandall had 19 points in the game, nine of which came from the foul line as he shot 90%. The 6’3” point guard, who scored 14 points a game in his year at Gonzaga, is averaging 10 points and five assists in his debut BBL season, after averaging 14 points and six assists in his Cup campaign so far. 

Daniel Edozie’s incredible life-story, which includes being homeless at the age of just 12 on the streets of Los Angeles, has led him to his sixth season in the BBL with the Bristol Flyers. London-born Edozie put himself through college, getting an athletic scholarship to play in the  NCAA for Iowa State, with the help of his foster mother. After graduating, Edozie flew back to his home country, to begin his six-year stint with the Flyers. He is averaging nine points and seven rebounds on the year so far. The 6’8” big man is capable of highlight plays on both ends, using his athleticism to throw down huge dunks and swat away shots. Edozie uses his frame down low to come up with rebounds at a high rate also. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders beat the Flyers in their most recent game, winning 85-73. Leicester shot 38% from three in the game, compared to Bristol’s 27%, which was ultimately the difference between the two teams. Corey Johnson, who shot 37% from three at Havard College, led the way from deep for the Riders, draining three from nine shots. Meanwhile, Marcus Delpeche continued his successful start to the season in which he is averaging 19.6 points and eight rebounds, with 19 points and nine rebounds. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to watch the game by  purchasing a pass from BBL Player. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to access the game for FREE by logging into their BBL Player account.

Riders defeat Flyers to move to 3-0 in the BBL Championship

Leicester Riders stay undefeated in the BBL Championship, with a solid 85-73 win over Bristol Flyers at the Morningside Arena. The Riders dominated the first quarter, and then held off multiple efforts at a comeback by the Flyers, who never got Riders lead down to single figures for the rest of the game, played before the Sky TV cameras. Riders American point guard Geno Crandall was man of the match in a mesmerising performance of ball handling under pressure, faced by a Flyers backcourt of two GB Internationals, Ben Mockford and Teddy Okerafor.

Bristol started the game impressively scoring twice inside, carving Riders offence open rather too easily. But Crandall hit a jumper and then assisted on a Darien Nelson-Henry dunk. Mockford hit a very long three, but that was quickly countered by one by William Lee, and that was the last time the visitors led, as Riders went on a tear. Corey Johnson hit a three, which was followed by one from Zach Jackson, and a breakaway dunk by Lee forced Bristol to an early timeout, trailing 17-7. Straight out of the break, Riders forced Bristol to a shot clock violation, and then Nelson-Henry and Lee scored inside, followed by another Johnson three. Jamell Anderson came off the bench, upping Riders defensive intensity even further, and he joined in the fun with a three, as Riders dominated the first quarter 34-19.

Crandall piled on the misery early in the second period with a step back three and then Aaron Falzon hit another, as Riders racked up 10 three pointers in the first half from just 15 attempts. A beautiful pass from Johnson found Nelson-Henry open for an easy score and Riders lead ballooned to 48-27 midway through the second quarter, their biggest of the game. Raphael Thomas-Edwards then made a couple of exceptional plays at both ends of the court for Bristol, and by half-time the Flyers had whittled down the Riders lead to 56-40.

Both defences tightened up considerably in the third quarter and with the defences on top both teams found it hard to score. Marcus Delpeche was causing Riders plenty of problems when he got the ball near the basket, but Nelson-Henry hit an extraordinary three under pressure at the end of the shot clock, to keep Riders on top. Zach Jackson hit a three in an otherwise relatively subdued performance, and Riders lead was still 70-54 with a quarter left.

The teams continued trade baskets early in the fourth quarter with Lee picking up a couple of scores off offensive rebounds to keep Riders lead in double figures. As the clock ran down Crandall performed his magic drawing multiple fouls near the end of the shot clock, which he then converted from the free throw line. If he was not being fouled, Crandall found Nelson-Henry with space underneath the basket, and that was good enough to snuff out any attempted Bristol recovery.

Crandall finished with 19 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists, also converting 9 of 10 free throws to stifle the Bristol comeback. Nelson-Heney was once again very efficient with 15 points on 87% shooting, and added 6 rebounds and 3 assists.William Lee also impressed with 14 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists, but it was Riders 12 three pointers at 38% shooting to just five by Bristol at 27% conversion rate, which proved the difference between the teams.

Riders

Crandall 19, Nelson-Henry 15, Lee 14, Johnson 13, Jackson 8, Anderson 5, Falzon 4, Fraser 4, Washington 3

Flyers

Delpeche 19, Lockett 15, Thomas-Edwards 12, Copeland 8, Mockford 6, Okerafor 5, Edozie 4, Rogers 4

Riders to face Eagles

Riders have been drawn to face Newcastle Eagles in the BBL Cup Semi Final over two legs.

The draw, made live on Sky Sports during the half-time break in Riders win over Bristol Flyers, also saw London Lions match up with Manchester Giants.

The exact dates are still to be confirmed but will be played at the start of January.

Preview: Riders v Flyers

Season so far – Riders

The Riders have enjoyed a great start to their BBL Championship campaign, winning their first two games by double digits. Leicester’s defence has been their greatest strength, giving up just 68 points per game, the best defensive record in the league. This defence was on full display in their most recent BBL Championship fixture against Sheffield Sharks. The Riders held the Sharks, who were averaging 91 points a game going into the tie, to just 64 points as they shot 40% from the field. William Lee led the team with his three steals, nine rebounds and a block in the game, and led the team offensively with 17 points also. 

Season so far – Flyers

After a successful season in 2019/20, reaching their first BBL Cup final in franchise history, the Flyers began the 2020/21 season 0-2 before playing a single game. With four players testing positive for Covid-19, Bristol were unable to field a team for 14 days, meaning their first two BBL Cup fixtures were forfeited. Despite this, the Flyers still qualified for the knockouts in dramatic fashion, beating the Worcester Wolves in their final group game to finish ahead of them on points difference. However, in their most recent game, the Flyers were knocked out of the Cup by the Newcastle Eagles, losing 72-64. In the BBL Championship, the Flyers split their 4 games and currently sit with a 2-2 record.

Ones to watch

Darien Nelson-Henry has been an interior force to start the season, averaging 14 points and 7.5 rebounds across the two BBL Championship games. The American big-man, who led Pennsylvania in points, rebounds and blocks in his senior year in college, sets hard screens in the pick and roll to get open drives to the rim. He has been also been successful working down in the post, which has opened up space for the Riders’ shooters. In Leicester’s last BBL Championship fixture, Nelson-Henry dished out five assists, kicking the ball out after being double-teamed down low. 

After averaging 10 points a game for the Flyers last season, Marcus Delpeche appears to have taken a big leap forward this year. In the BBL Championship, Delpeche is averaging 19.8 points and 7.8 rebounds, leading his team in both categories. He is a freight train when driving to the hoop coming off the pick and roll; capable of throwing down monster dunks over anyone in the league. Delpeche shoots the ball efficiently, 63% from the field this season, and the 6’7’’ forward uses his frame effectively to box out opponents and pull down rebounds at a high rate.

Previous Meeting 

It was Bristol who took the victory the last time the Riders faced the Flyers in the 2019/20 season, in a well-fought contest. It was a one-possession game with a minute left on the clock, and Eric Lockett made a free-throw in the final 10 seconds to put the Flyers up by four. Corey Johnson couldn’t make his three with four seconds left to make it close, ending the game. Darien Nelson-Henry was big on the glass for Leicester in the game. He had seven rebounds to go along with his 12 points, which came from just eight shots. Lockett was a big contributor for Bristol, putting up 16 points and six rebounds. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to watch the game by either tuning into Sky Sports Mix from 7pm or alternitavely purchasing a pass from BBL Player. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to access the game for FREE by logging into their BBL Player account.

Riders blow out Rocks to reach the BBL Cup Semi Finals

Leicester Riders made light work of Glasgow Rocks in the quarter-finals of the BBL Cup, coasting to a 93-59 victory at the Morningside Arena. The Riders led from start to finish, and had a massive 48 point lead early in the fourth quarter, before the Rocks made a modest recovery in the final seven minutes of the game. 

Riders will now go into the hat for the draw for the Cup semi-finals, where they could draw London Lions and Newcastle Eagles from the group of death, who also progressed, along with Manchester Giants.

Riders raced to an early 9-2 lead after three minutes, with a superb pass from captain Darien Nelson-Henry setting up William Lee for a huge dunk, and the Rocks were immediately on the back foot. Their experienced player-coach GB International Gareth Murray started the game, after starring in their upset win at Plymouth last Sunday, but he could do little to stem the tide against intense defence from the Riders. A Jamell Anderson three, followed by good work inside by former Rock Ali Fraser, and Lee again with a dunk, gave Riders a 20-10 lead. With the first period gone, Murray left the game for good, to concentrate on coaching, having failed to score in four attempts.

Fraser caught fire early in the second period, as he found his way to the basket three times in succession with his trademark baby hook shots, and Riders other recent signing Aaron Falzon also responded with 5 points in a row,  to push Riders lead out to a commanding 29-12. Corey Johnson, who has had a quiet last few games shooting – wise, then hit 2 three pointers in a row to break the game open 39-18 midway through the second period. Johnson rounded off the first half with yet another three, to take Riders to the locker-room up 51-26 at half-time.

Riders were a little slow starting the second half but 2 unsportsmanlike fouls on the Rocks were evidence of their increasing frustration. Another huge Lee dunk got Riders 60-33 up, and more fine work by Falzon had Riders 76-41 clear at the third quarter break. Crandall was starting to weave his magic in the paint, and found Lee open again for another monster dunk.

Riders opened the fourth quarter with successive three pointers from Johnson, twice, and Conner Washington, forcing the Rocks to a time-out. From then on Riders gave minutes to some of their pathway players as the teams traded baskets in the closing minutes of the game.

Johnson finished up the top scorer in the game with 20 points, which included 6 three pointers, but he also grabbed 7 rebounds and dished out 3 assists, while playing excellent defence on the relatively inexperienced Glasgow guards.

The remaining points were spread amongst another eight Riders, with Nelson-Henry again very solid with 15 points and 6 rebounds in just over 17 minutes of play, including 6 from 6 shooting from the floor. Conner Washington ran the point once again with efficiency, dishing out 11 assists, and he added 7 points. 

But it was Riders defence that made the difference holding the Rocks to just 42% from the floor, whilst out-rebounding the Scots 37-28, and they moved the ball as a team extremely, well with 30 assists, 13 more than the Rocks managed.

Riders

Johnson 20, Nelson-Henry 15, Falzon 11, Lee 11, Fraser 8, Crandall 8, Anderson 7, Washington 7, Jackson 6, Ndoukou, Jimenez, Hedley

Rocks

Jacdonmi 17, Brandon 14, Van Sauers 11, Bunyan 5, Mpondo 5, Mortimer 3, Kwedi 2, Harte 2, Malcolm, Murray

The Riders are next in action on Friday evening when they take on the Bristol Flyers in the BBL Championship, a game that will mark the Riders first appearance on Sky Sports this season.

Preview: Riders v Rocks

Leicester Riders vs Glasgow Rocks 

Competition: BBL Cup Quarter Final

Venue: Morningside Arena

 Tip-off: 8:00 PM

Season so far – Riders

The Riders qualified for the BBL Cup Quarter Finals with a game to spare. Leicester won three games on the bounce despite losing their first game to the Eagles 106-96 in a tightly contested game. They split the series between each team, finishing the group with a 3-3 record. This was enough to earn them the second seed in the group dubbed ‘the group of death’. In the BBL Championship, the Riders got off to a flying start, winning consecutive games by double digits to start 2-0. Their most recent game, a 74-64 win against the Sheffield Sharks has taken their record to 2-0.

Season so far – Rocks

The 2020/21 season marks the beginning of a new ear for the Glasgow Rocks you are now being led by Gareth Murray as player/coach following the departure of Vincent Lavandier. Murray has played for a total of 11 years over three stints for the Scottish club, averaging 10.7 points last season. Glasgow comfortably progressed through the group stage of the BBL Cup, with a 3-1 record. They started their season with back to back wins, including a 30 point blowout against the Cheshire Phoenix. They did lose their third game to the Manchester Giants, but bounced back to beat the Giants in their final group game. Glasgow lost their first two games of the BBL Championship, the second to the Bristol Flyers by over 40 points. They responded in their most recent game, a narrow 63-61 overtime win to the Plymouth Raiders.

Ones to watch

William Lee has been an interior force in the group stage of the competition, leading the Riders in rebounds and blocks. The 6’9” big man is the all-time leading shot-blocker at his hometown college, the University of Alabama, winning the conference defensive player of the year twice. His defensive talents have translated fluently in his first BBL season. Lee averaged 1.6 blocks a game in the group and performed efficiently on offence, shooting 51% from the field on his way to 13.5 points a game. Lee led the team in points, rebounds, steals and blocks in their last game, a BBL Championship tie against the Sheffield Sharks. Lee scored 17 points and grabbed himself nine rebounds in a near double-double performance, in which he played his usual elite brand of defence, blocking a shot and stealing the ball three times.  

Julius Van Sauers played a significant role in getting the Rocks through the group stage. The Dutch big man is coming off the back of a BBL Cup winning rookie season with the Worcester Wolves, and this season averaged 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists through the group stage. Van Sauers was part of the Dutch team that qualified for the Eurobasket tournament for the first time in 25 years after spending four years at Long Island University. 

Previous meeting

The Riders and Rocks are yet to meet this term, the last time the Riders came up against the Rocks, it came down to the last play of the game. The score was 68-71 in favour of Glasgow with just five seconds on the clock. Leicester got a wide-open three off a give and go from the inbound, but the shot was missed and tipped in by Jamal Anderson, resulting in the Rocks taking the victory 71-70. Riders’ recent signing, Ali Fraser, was wearing Glasgow colours in this one. He led the opposition in scoring with 17 points, along with nine rebounds and six assists.  Fraser blocked Anderson’s game-tying three attempt with six seconds to go, a defensive play which ended up winning the game for the Rocks. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to watch the game by purchasing a pass from the brand new BBL Player, CLICK HERE to purchase your pass. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to access the game for FREE by logging into BBL Player.

Riders defeat Sharks in a hard fought contest

Leicester Riders won a tense game against the Sheffield Sharks to maintain their unbeaten start to the BBL Championship, in a tight, defensive affair at the Morningside Arena, 74-64. The teams were playing for the second time in 5 days, and for the fourth time in this young season, and with both sides very familiar with their opponents’ strengths, they tended to cancel each other out over the first three quarters, before Riders finally took control in the final period to take the win.

It was the Sharks that started the better, with a driving lay-up from the impressive new signing Jeremy Hemsley, and a dunk from Kipper Nichols, helping the visitors to an early 6-2 lead. Riders were a little tentative on offence, and a couple of sloppy cross-court passes were turned over by the Sharks, and converted into breakaway scores. Darien Nelson-Henry was keeping Riders in the game in a low scoring affair, and after six minutes the scores were level on just 8 points apiece. Conner Washington came off the bench to hit 5 points in a row for Riders, and Nichols responded with 7 points in succession for the Sharks, to leave the teams at parity after ten minutes, at 17-17.

It was a grind out affair in the second period as tough defence limited scoring opportunities, and then 7 points in a row from Sheffield, capped by a Nick Lewis three pointer, pushed the Sharks lead to 27-21, forcing Riders Head Coach Rob Paternostro to a time-out. Half way through the second period the Sharks led 31-25, but then it was Riders defence that turned the screws, and fine play from Geno Crandall who was closely marked by the Sharks throughout, and a turnaround jump shot by Zach Jackson had Riders back in it, trailing just 35-32 at half time.

The game stayed close, with the Sharks ahead 44-41 with six and a half minutes gone in the third quarter, but Riders then turned the tide. A William Lee lay-up was quickly followed by one from Jackson, Corey Johnson scored 5 points in a row, and Riders finally had some breathing space, leading 50-44. The Sharks would not lie down, Nick Lewis responding with a three pointer, and the game was still in the balance after three quarters, Leicester leading 54-50.

The start of the final period proved decisive, as a Washington three pointer was quickly followed by one from new boy Aaron Falzon, and with Riders then pressuring the Sharks to a shot clock violation, and the visitors were forced to a timeout.

Riders were racking up the fouls, and 4 free throws in a row from the Sharks closed the gap, but a Lee dunk followed by a powerful inside hook shot from Nelson-Henry followed by a three from Lee, got Riders lead back to ten points, with four minutes left. From then on it was just a matter of managing the clock and Riders came out with the hard fought, but deserved win.

Lee was the star man for the Riders, hitting six of eight shots on the way to 17 points, highlighted by a couple of ferocious dunks, along with 9 rebounds, including a couple of crucial ones in the fourth quarter, along with 2 assists, 3 steals and a block.

Captain Nelson-Henry was his solid self with 13 points and 7 rebounds and an eye-catching 5 assists, while Conner Washington also scored 13 points, including 2 three pointers and 4 assists, guiding Riders home in the tense fourth quarter.

Preview: Riders v Sharks

Leicester Riders vs B. Braun Sheffield Sharks

Competition: BBL Championship

Venue: Morningside Arena 

Tip-off: 8:00 PM

Season so far- Riders

The Riders started their season strongly, by securing qualification to the knockout stages of the BBL Cup. Three consecutive wins were enough to achieve this, as they beat each of the teams in their group; an impressive run of games coming after a narrow 96-102 loss in their first match to the Eagles. Their most convincing win came against their opponent for the upcoming tie, defeating the Sharks by over 20 points. The group stage wasn’t without its difficulties for Leicester however, as they split the group series against each of the teams in the ‘group of death’. The Riders also got off to a winning start in the BBL Championship last weekend, beating the Surrey Scorchers 84-72 behind 16 points from Jamell Anderson.

Season so far- Sharks

Despite beating the London Lions 70-61 in their first game, Sheffield’s win in their most recent match against the Riders was only a consolation, as they found themselves eliminated from the competition already. This came after losing their next four games, all by double digits, in a highly competitive group. The Sharks fell short in their first game of the BBL Championship, losing to the Cheshire Phoenix 92-82, however, they bounced back in their next game, torching the Scorchers 105-61.

Ones to watch

In the group stage of the BBL Cup, Corey Johnson shot the lights out. Johnson hit 45% of his threes, and against the Lions went four for five from deep, resulting in 17 points. If Johnson continues his hot streak on Friday night then the Sheffield defence may well be in for a long night, as they were the last time he faced the Sharks. Johnson was four for eight from deep in that game, and led the Riders on scoring with 20. 

The Sharks recently signed Jeremy Hensley, after the departure of Mackay McKnight. Hensley shone on his debut, dropping 21 points and getting six assists, leading his team in both categories, before following the game up with another 21 point performance. The 6’3” guard was ranked 63 in ESPN’s top 100 high school athletes when he graduated and went on to play for Division 1 San Diego State University in college. Hensley uses his electric speed and tricky handles to get to the rim with ease and can make acrobatic lay-ups at a high rate this is something the Riders will have to do their best to contain on Friday Night.

Previous meeting

The Riders last faced the Sharks earlier in the week, in a game with little consequence. With home court in the second round already secured for Leicester, and Sheffield out of the competition, the Riders gave game time to some of their young talent. New signings Ali Fraser and Aaron Falzon saw the court too, Falzon leading the team in scoring with 16 points. The two teams also met earlier in the group stage. The Riders led wire to wire and had established a significant lead by halftime. They never looked back, winning the game 85-64. It was Corey Johnson’s 20 points that led the Riders to victory in the fixture.

How To Watch

Although the game will be behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to watch the game by purchasing a pass from the brand new BBL Player, CLICK HERE to purchase your pass. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to access the game for FREE, an email will be sent to you from BBL Player instructing you on how to gain access.