BBL Championship Preview- Riders at Scorchers

The Riders take on the Surrey Scorchers on the road in a return to BBL Championship action. A win would see them improve to 8-4, having won six of their last seven in all competitions going into this one. 

Sharpshooting Riders sinking shots 

The Riders’ offence has clicked into gear in recent weeks, leading the BBL in all major shooting efficiency numbers. Their three-point shooting, which is a BBL-best 37.5%, helped them to a significant BBL Cup quarter-final win against their long-standing rivals, the Newcastle Eagles. 

They went 10-23 from deep in the game, led by Marc Loving’s red-hot 5-5. The Ohio-born power forward went off for 27 points, accompanied by seven rebounds and six assists. Loving leads the team’s scoring in the league this season, scoring 15.6 points per game. 

“I thought we played really good defence tonight, and we took care of the basketball really well. It was a good performance from us,” said coach Rob Paternostro. 

“Turnovers have been important for us all year. When you look after the ball and play defence the way we can play it, you have a really good chance to win.”

Leicester’s 7-4 record is good for third place in the league standings, as the reigning champions sit four points behind the league-leading Bristol Flyers. A loss to the Caledonia Gladiators in their previous league game broke a five-game Riders’ winning streak, which saw them shoot up the league table. 

Scorchers searching for offensive rhythm 

In contrast to their opponents, the Scorchers have struggled to get consistent points on the board so far this season, ranking last in the BBL in scoring. Their defence put them in a position to win their most recent game, holding the Sheffield Sharks to 60 points, but couldn’t find the bottom of the basket to grind out a win. 

Surrey did secure their first win of the season a game prior to the Sharks defeat, beating the Newcastle Eagles 79-74. New man Ryan Martin scored 20 points to lead the team, the former London Lion putting on a show in front of the Sky Sports cameras. 

The Scorchers have been plagued by injury early in the year, starting with their captain Tayo Ogendengbe going down just a game into the season. They currently have five players recovering from injury, including leading scorer Andrew Lawrence. 

“They’ve had a lot of injuries, so they’ve been mixing and matching quite a bit,” said Paternostro. “We’ve been down there already this season, and we know it will be challenging.”

Key matchup 

Having played two games with his new team, Ryan Martin has hit the ground running in Surrey. He averaged 16 points over the fixtures, kicked off by his 20-point effort against the Newcastle Eagles. 

Last season, Martin signed with the London Lions, and his eight points per game helped them to the BBL Playoff final. The seven-year pro moved back to his home country after five years competing in Europe, most recently scoring 13 points per game in Denmark for the Bakken Bears. 

The 6’11” big man is a force down low, scoring at a high percentage at the rim. New Riders’ big man Aaron Menzie will meet him in the paint, the 7’3” center looking to lock down his opponent. 

A GB international, Menzies signed for the Riders in mid-November from German second-division side Dresden Titans. He averaged 8.6 points and six rebounds in Germany after spending his first two seasons in Spain.

Menzies is a force at the rim, using his height and frame to swat shots away and grab offensive and defensive rebounds. He is effective in the pick and roll, helping ball handlers attack the rim, and plays well with his back to the basket to get his own points.

Menzies and Martin’s battle in the paint will be an intriguing part of this fixture as Menzies looks to slow Surrey’s new man down.  

Where to watch

The game is available to watch on the British Basketball League Youtube channel, tipping off at 6 pm. The stream is scheduled to start 15 minutes before tip-off.

Cup Semi date confirmed

Leicester Riders will host Caledonia Gladiators in the BBL Cup Semi Final on Wednesday 21 December, 7.45pm tip.

Riders will be looking to use home advantage with a big crowd, to help take them back to Birmingham after defeating Manchester Giants in last years’ final. This years’ format means that the semi final is one leg with the outcome decided on the night.

Tickets are now on sale via this link.

All home cup games are included for Riders season ticket holders.

In the other semi final, Bristol Flyers host London Lions on Monday 19 December.

Dodici Otto X Riders

Leicester Riders have partnered with fashion brand Dodici Otto to produce a Limited Edition jersey.

The Leicester-based brand launched a similar collab with Chelsea FC earlier this year, but this is their very first venture into basketball.

Each shirt features a graffiti style marking the 19 trophies and all the players from this season on the back.

The shirts were done on a limited run of 10, individually numbered. All the profits raised will go to the Riders Foundation.

To buy a shirt from our online store click here!

Riders advance to BBL Cup Semi-Final

The Riders got the best of the Newcastle Eagles, winning to advance to the semi-finals of the BBL Cup. 

Marc Loving led the team with 27 points, his fourth 20-point performance on the season. He scored 11 in the first quarter to get the Riders rolling, and went 10-12 from the field and 5-5 from three on the game. 

He was one of two 20-point scorers for Leicester, as Derryck Thornton put up 21 in 25 minutes. The California-born point guard attacked the rim relentlessly, going 8-9 from the free-throw line and 6-12 from the field. 

The Riders put up an efficient and clean offensive effort. They shot 49% from the floor, 43% from three and turned the ball over just eight times to blow out their long-standing rivals. 

Kyle Johnson put up big offensive numbers for the visiting Eagles. The Canadian guard put up 24 points, six rebounds and four assists in an effort to swing the scoreboard in his team’s favour. 

Loving caught fire to get the Riders’ offence firing early, scoring 11 of the team’s first 15 points to pull back an early eight-point deficit. After the slow start, the Ohio native’s electric play got the Riders in rhythm to make a quick recovery. 

They finished the first up 24-20, and the sides continued to trade baskets in the early stages of the second. Thornton was the hot hand midway through the period, making back-to-back buckets, including an and-one on the fastbreak.

With two and a half minutes remaining in the half, Jubril Adekoya, returning to the lineup after missing the previous game through injury, hit a corner three to give Leicester a seven-point lead: their biggest of the night. 

The triple saw momentum shift the Riders’ way, and Kimbal Mackenzie dished a flashy pass to a cutting Darien Nelson-Henry to continue to grow the lead. 

The Riders finished the half on a 10-0 run, going into the locker rooms up 49-37. 

Zach Jackson came out into the second half gunning, scoring nine straight points to put the Riders up 20. Leicester started the third on a 17-6 run, making the run 27-6 since late in the second period. 

Thornton got back to work, taking over from Jackson to bag seven points on the bounce. Mackenzie concluded the period with a two at the rim, as the Riders won the third 29-13. 

The Riders saw the game out comfortably, led by Loving’s six points in the fourth to take a 21-point win. 

The Riders return to league action in their next fixture, heading to Surrey to take on the Scorchers. A win would see them improve to 8-4, and bring the season series against the Scorchers to 2-0. 

Riders pop-up shop in John Lewis now open!

Leicester Riders are delighted to partner with John Lewis at Highcross in Leicester, and open a brand new pop-up shop from now until the end of December!

Shoppers will be able to buy all official Riders merchandise including a brand new range of products ahead of Christmas.

Be sure to check it out!

Riders fall to Gladiators

The Riders lost their first game in six, falling 92-66 to the Caledonia Gladiators. 

Leicester fell into a 20-point hole in the opening stages, and despite cutting it to single digits in the third, failed to recover all the way. The Gladiators, who lead the BBL in steals, played intense defence to force 25 turnovers from the Riders.

Marc Loving led the attempted comeback with 15 points, going 55% from the field and 50% from three. He made momentum-building plays throughout, but the Riders could not climb all the way back. 

Jeremiah Bailey had a season-high 23 points for the Gladiators, the 6’6” wing grabbing six rebounds and dishing five assists to stuff the stat sheet. The first-year pro found form in key moments in the game to rebuild the hosts’ lead. 

The Gladiators took the ball from the Riders three times in the first three minutes to jump out to a 13-2 lead. Leicester stemmed the tide momentarily, keeping them off the scoresheet for the next few minutes, but ended the first period in a  31-12 hole after a 10-point quarter from the BBL’s leading scorer, David Sloan. 

Zach Jackson hit back-to-back threes near the end of the first, as the Riders tried to find some momentum. 

Loving came out gunning to start the second, making two three-point plays to chip into Caledonia’s lead. Leicester commenced a 14-4 run to cut it to single digits, capped off by a Loving triple. 

Leicester won the second 27-19, as Patrick Whelan hit a pair of free throws to close the half with 11 points, with the score 48-39 to the hosts. 

The Gladiators started the second half with four steals in three minutes, going on an 11-0 run to build their lead back to 20. 

After a tough start to the third, Loving and Jackson snatched back the run of play again, scoring six straight between them to once again chip away at the deficit. Kimbal Mackenzie followed up his teammates to get points in transition, making it 61-47. 

The teams closed the quarter with traded baskets, the difference still 14. But the hosts started the final period the hotter of the teams, hitting three threes in two minutes. They blew the game open to start the fourth and took their lead to the final buzzer. 

The Riders take a break from BBL Championship action on Saturday to take on the Newcastle Eagles in the BBL Cup quarter-final. The game will be played at the Morningside Arena, tipping off at 7:45 pm. 

BBL Championship Preview: Riders at Gladiators

The Riders head to Glasgow for the second time this season, where they take on the Caledonia Gladiators. 

Riders on a roll

Leicester comes into this one having won five on the bounce, finding their rhythm early in the season. They hold a 7-3 record, one behind the league leaders as they climb the BBL Championship table.

A 71-58 home win against the Sheffield Sharks was their seventh of the year. Zach Jackson’s 11-point fourth quarter saw the Riders burst out to a late lead, as Leicester looked to the Kansas native down the stretch, as they have many times this season. 

“Zach’s been awesome this year, night in, night out,” said head coach Rob Paternostro. “He’s a guy that picks his spots, but you know when the money is on the line, he’s ready to contribute.” 

Jackson is averaging 15 points per game this season and is one of three Riders players scoring that many on the season. Marc Loving and Patrick Whelan are also achieving the feat, Whelan leading the team with 15.9 a night, shooting 47.5% from three. 

The team leads the BBL in three-point shooting and is the most efficient team shooting from the field. They score the second most points per game and will hope to continue that trend in this one. 

Gladiators back home

The Caledonia Gladiators possess a 3-5 record, despite having played just one of their first eight games at home. Their only game in Glasgow came against the Riders, where they secured an 89-81 win. 

David Sloan showed out for Caledonia in the game, putting up a monumental 36-point performance. The American point guard made five threes and shot 57% from the field to will his team past the defending champions. 

Sloan has exploded offensively early in the season, his 23.4 points per game leading the BBL. The first-year pro’s 36 against Leicester was still only his second-highest-scoring tally of the season, having hung 37 on Bristol earlier in November. 

The Gladiators look to turn games into gritty affairs, playing at the second-slowest pace in the league. They get their hands in the lane on defence, averaging the most steals, often forcing their opponents into mistakes. 

Caledonia enters this one having lost three on the bounce, but a second-straight win against last season’s treble winners would go a long way to restoring momentum to their season. 

Key matchup

The BBL’s highest scorer David Sloan will look for a similar performance to his 36-point showing last time out against Leicester. The East Tennessee State graduate has torched the league with his scoring so far, and can go off for huge numbers every night. 

Sloan scored 12.6 points per game in his final college season, and dished five assists per game. The Louisville native ranked third in his conference in assists, showing off his ability to both score and facilitate. 

Sloan possesses all the qualities needed to score in the backcourt. He’s a quick, athletic ballhandler with crafty moves and a quick release, keeping defenders alert for all 40 minutes. 

Facing up against Sloan off the Riders’ bench will be Kimbal Mackenzie, who has given the Riders great minutes off late. He did not miss a shot in his most recent game, the win against the Sheffield Sharks, scoring 11 points from five shots. 

“Kimbal’s playing great basketball. He recovered from an ankle injury from last week, and was awesome tonight,” said Paternostro after the game. 

Mackenzie is shooting 51% from the field this season, a steadying presence off the bench. 

Kimbal’s college career was spent in the NCAA D1 for Bucknall. He enjoyed a sensational senior year, scoring 17.6 points per game, the seventh-most in a season in college history.

Mackenzie can play either guard position effectively on and off-ball offensively. He can score from anywhere on the court, making 37% of his threes in his senior year in college. His skill set allows him to fit seamlessly into any Paternostro lineup.

Where to watch

The game will be streamed live on the British Basketball League Youtube channel, tipping off at 7:30 pm! 

Riders take the win against Sharks

The Riders improve their season record to 7-3, after a gritty 71-58 win against the Sheffield Sharks. 

A 21-11 fourth quarter saw the Riders win a closely fought contest, where the Sharks’ kept the hosts honest throughout. Zach Jackson led the scoring with 17 points, 11 coming in the final period to see out the game. 

The Sharks’ BBL-best defence proved a tough test for Leicester, whose three-point shooting saw them build a lead late. They shot 40% from deep and held their opponents to 27%, which proved the difference between the sides. 

Kimbal Mackenzie continued his hot form, providing a hot hand from the bench. He did not miss from the field, scoring 11 points in 15 minutes of action. 

The opening stages were closely fought between two great defensive outfits. Both sides struggled to find an offensive rhythm, but the Riders closed the quarter with a 9-0 run, led by four points and an assist from Jackson. 

His assist fed new man Aaron Menzies for his first points in Riders’ red, slamming it down with two hands to get the home fans on their feet. They ended the first up 15-10, and with the wind in their sails. 

The Sharks fought back in the second, playing tough defence to keep it a low-scoring affair. Bennet Koch got to work down low, scoring 12 of his team’s 32 points by halftime. The Sharks won the second 22-15, to go into the half up 32-30. 

The sides fought closely in the third, as the score remained within a score throughout the period. Marc Loving concluded the action in the quarter with a three to put Leicester up 50-47. 

The Riders burst out the gate in the fourth, taking the game by the reigns. Jackson’s finish in close made it 54-47 a minute and a half into the final period of play. 

The Riders kept their hands in the lane, their intense defensive pressure forcing five Sharks turnovers early in the quarter. They kept the Sharks at arm’s length, as Patrick Whelan’s three made it a ten-point game with three minutes remaining. 

Jackson kept the foot on the accelerator, draining another three for his 11th points of the fourth. Darien Nelson-Henry’s putback sealed the deal with half a minute remaining, securing a hard-fought win. 

“Defensively, I thought we were excellent tonight,” said coach Rob Paternostro post-game. “Holding them to 58 points, 30 in the second half, is a great effort, and it’s something that’s been a point of focus for us.”

“They played good defence too. They like to play slow-paced games, and the important thing was not to panic. It’s easy for guys to get out of rhythm a bit, but we were solid in the second half, and we’ve got a lot of veteran guys who understand what it takes to get a win.”

The Riders take a trek up north for their next future, heading to Scotland to take on the Caledonia Gladiators for the second time this season. A win would see them improve to 8-3, as they contest the top spot in the BBL Championship standings.

BBL Championship Preview- Riders vs Sharks

The Riders take on the Sheffield Sharks at home, trying to make it five wins in a row. A win would improve their record to 7-3, as the reigning champions climb up the league table. 

In-form Riders on the charge

Coming out of the international break, the Riders are looking to build on the momentum they gained and continue their longest winning streak of the season.

They were in full control against the Plymouth City Patriots in their previous outing, outscoring them in every quarter of the game. Finishing the game with a 79-101 win, five Riders players scored double digits for the second game in a row.

Since then, the Riders’ made a major addition to their squad, as GB international Aaron Menzies signed from Germany to join the Leicester frontcourt. The 7’3” center steps in for the injured Mo Walker and looks to make an impact inside. 

“It’s an exciting signing for us. He’s great on the glass, he adds a lot of size and the ability to change the game for us. What’s really exciting for me is that his best basketball is ahead of him. He’s getting better every day, and we’re looking forward to seeing him wear the red.” 

Menzies will join the team for this one, after playing twice for GB in the break. 

This is the second time these two teams will have played each other this season, with the Riders coming out on top in the last game, winning 86-72. Derryck Thornton posted an impressive stat line of 21 points and 4 assists.

They will look to replicate their success to continue to build into a long season. 

Sharks save their season

The Sharks come into the game 5-5, having overcome a poor start to the season that left them 0-4. They look to improve on their 17-10 season last year and gain their first win against the Riders in the BBL Championship since December 7th, 2018. 

Since then, the Sharks have lost 10 consecutive games to the Riders in the league. They enter the game with three players scoring with a double-digit average, Saeed Nelson, Kipper Nichols and Bennet Koch. 

Leading them is Nelson, who has started his third pro season strongly with 13.7 points and 5.6 assists per game. The 6’2” guard exploded for 31 points in his second Sharks game and has scored double-digit points in seven of his ten outings this year. 

Leicester will have to put pressure on the Sheffield offence, as the Sharks enter the game with the least turnovers in the league. They succeeded in their last game, winning the turnover battle in Sheffield 11-8 in their 86-72 win in October. 

The Riders will have their hands full, facing this in-form Sharks team for the second time this season. 

Key matchup 

Kipper Nichols has been on a tear as of late, entering this one having scored over 20 in two of his last three games. The third-year Shark put up 20 points and five rebounds against the Riders last time out, going 9-17 from the field. 

Nichols has shown improvement every year of his young career. He scored 10 points per game last season and was an integral part of his team’s second-placed finish. The Illinois graduate stands at 6’6” on the wing, and uses his shooting touch to score from anywhere on the court. 

Lining up against him is Zach Jackson, who has established himself as one of the BBL’s elite wings this season. He’s scoring 14.7 points per game and led the team to a win against the Patriots with 18 points and eight rebounds. 

The Omaha graduate excels on both ends, able to get his head down and get a bucket and take on a defensive assignment one-on-one. He showed his in a recent win against the Cheshire Phoenix, scoring a go-ahead basket late before locking up former Rider Jamell Anderson to seal it. 

Jackson will need to be at his brilliant best on both ends on this one, as the Riders go for their fifth straight win. 

Where to watch

Tip-off is at 7:45 for this fixture. The game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports, and streamed on the Sky Sports YouTube channel!

Riders sign GB International Aaron Menzies

Riders are thrilled to confirm the signing of Great Britain International Aaron Menzies.

The 7’3” big man will join Riders on a return from International duty after a buy-out deal was agreed with German side Dresden Titans for his services.

Aaron, who spent his college career stateside with Seattle Redhawks and Saint Mary’s Gaels, started his professional career in Spain for Ourense and HLA Alicante. He joined Dresden at the start of the 2022-23 season, averaging 8.6 points a game for the Titans.

“I’m excited to be returning to the UK,” reflected Menzies. “After six and a half seasons playing overseas it’s great for me to play in front of my family and friends again week in and week out.”

“I spoke to Pat (Whelan) and he had nothing but good things to say about the Riders. It’s a great club with a history of success. I can’t wait to get started and continue that success with some silverware before the end of the season.”

Head Coach Rob Paternostro commented:

“It’s an exciting signing for us. He’s a guy that we’ve been paying attention to over the last two years with him being from the UK.”

“He’s had a great start to the season this year. We feel that we’ve added a player with size and an ability to change the game for us. We are all looking forward to having him wear red.”

Menzies will play for Great Britain again on Monday in Latvia, having made his debut on Friday night in Newcastle.

BBL Championship Preview- Riders at Patriots

The Riders take on the Plymouth City Patriots on the road, for the second game of a weekend doubleheader. A win would improve their record to 6-3, as Leicester finds its form. 

Riders rolling to the break

Going into the international break, the Riders are on a three-game winning streak. They’re building momentum for the first time this season as they look to climb the standings. 

They fought wire to wire in their previous fixture against the Cheshire Phoenix, pulling out an 89-85 win. Patrick Whelan led the team with 16 points, as five Riders scored in double digits. 

Read our report on the win! 

“This is our third double-header in a row with a Sunday road game, which is a challenge,” said head coach Rob Paternostro after the game. “We’ve got to get some rest, recover, and give it everything because we know we have a break afterwards.”

Leicester’s offence is humming in the opening stages of the season. It ranks top two in points per game, field goal % and three-point %. They’re led by Whelan and Marc Loving’s 16 points per game, as their well-balanced offence has four players averaging 14 points. 

The Riders are familiar with their opponents, having knocked them out of the first round of last year’s playoffs. They won 174-158 over two legs, going on to win it all at the O2 Arena. They will hope for some carry-over into this year, as a win on this long road trip would see them rise to second in the standings. 

A solid start in the South West

A 3-3 start for the Patriots through the season’s early stages marks a respectable record, as they hope to improve on 12-15 from last year. It was chalked up as a successful season for the newly formed Patriots last year, as their record earned them the last playoff place. 

But Plymouth will look to build, taking confidence from their fine form to end last season. They finished the season on a 12-7 run, turning their season around after an 0-8 start. Their highflying sensation Antonio Williams, who led their scoring last season with 18.6 points per game, stayed in Plymouth this offseason to lead them again this year. 

He started the season with a bang, averaging 24 points through his first two league games. His hot form was halted, however, being ruled out with injury for several weeks. He returned in their previous game, playing just 20 minutes in his side’s 93-85 win against the Caledonia Gladiators. 

Plymouth has hung its hat on making defensive plays this season, ranking top two in the league in steals and blocks. On offence, they crash the glass to secure second possessions, grabbing 12 per game. 

Plymouth will look for revenge against the Riders from last season’s playoffs, with a win giving them a winning record for the first time since their opening game. 

Key matchup 

In the absence of Antonio Williams, BBL veteran Rashad Hassan has held down the fort for Plymouth this season with 15 points and 6.3 rebounds per outing. The eight-year pro, and former Rider, is playing in his fourth season in Plymouth and has been the hallmark of consistency and efficiency. 

Hassan has averaged 67.2% from the field this season and has averaged over 60% in seven of his eight pro seasons. The 6’8” big enters this one having averaged 24 points and 7.5 rebounds in his previous two fixtures. 

Lining up against him in the backcourt will be Jubril Adekoya, one of the BBL’s best defenders who rises to any challenge. Adekoya’s defence inside played a pivotal role in his last game, coming up with two clutch steals in the paint. 

Adekoya’s impact on winning was on full display last weekend when the Riders took on the Sheffield Sharks. He earned the Premier Logistics’ player of the game despite not scoring, ending with a +/- of 24. 

Adekoya’s defence on Hassan in this one may once again prove the difference between the Riders and their opponents. 

Where to watch

The game will be live-streamed on the British Basketball Youtube channel, tipping off at 3 pm. 

Report: Riders beat Phoenix to win three on the bounce

The Riders make it three wins on the bounce, beating the Cheshire Phoenix 89-85. their record is now 5-3, as they climb up the BBL Championship standings. 

Patrick Whelan led the team with 16 points, as five Riders hit double-digit points in the win. Kimbal Mackenzie scored a season-high 12 points, scoring eight in the final period to keep the Riders’ offence ticking off the bench. 

Leicester needed every one of the points in a closely fought game. It was a one-possession game with 20 seconds remaining before Zach Jackson hit a free throw and came up with a stop on defence to seal it. 

For Cheshire, Marcus Evans and Tahjai Teague ran the show off the bench. Evans scored 15 from the perimeter, going 3-3 from deep and 5-10 from the field, while Teague put on a strong showing down low, scoring 14 points and going 5-7 in the paint. 

But in a contest which was closely fought wire-to-wire, it was the reigning champs who used their wealth of experience to put one in the win column. 

Derryck Thornton picked up where he left off in his last fixture, where he led the team with 21 points. Thornton scored six of the team’s first 12 points, helping them to a stalemate at the end of one. 

Jackson also got points on the board early, bagging seven through the first ten minutes. 

Little separated the teams through a half, with the biggest lead for either team standing at just four points after the second. The score was 40-38 in Cheshire’s favour, as Maceo Jack drove inside to give the Phoenix the lead to close the period.

By halftime, the Riders had hit just two of their 14 three-point attempts, staying in the game through their offensive rebounding, grabbing seven to Cheshire’s one. On the other end, the Phoenix hit 42% of their threes at the half, with 6’4” sharpshooter Llyod Daniel’s going 2-2. 

Jackson got the second half going for the Riders, hitting his second and-one layup of the game. The Wichita native’s play lit a fire under Leicester’s offence, which scored 11 points in the next two minutes to build a seven-point advantage. 

The Riders kept the Phoenix at arm’s length for the rest of the third, but their opponents battled to keep in it. Teague and Evans scored 13 between them in the final five minutes of the quarter for the Phoenix, with six of those points coming from the foul line. 

But Jubril Adekoya had the final say in the third, nailing a corner three at the buzzer to make it 67-61 in Leicester’s favour. 

Three minutes into the fourth, Kimbal Mackenzie snatched momentum for the Riders to stretch their lead to double-digits. Following his layup inside, the Riders forced a turnover off the inbound before Mackenzie hit a tough and-one fadeaway from the corner, sending the Morningside Arena into a frenzy. 

Mackenzie scored eight in the final quarter to keep his side ahead, as the Phoenix fought to keep it close. Will Neighbour and Evan’s hit two straight threes with a minute remaining, which cut the lead to three. 

Leicester put the ball in Jackson’s hands to seal the game with 20 seconds remaining. He took his defender one-on-one, drew a foul in the lane and hit a free throw to put them up four. He then took up his defensive assignment in isolation, locking up former Rider Jamell Anderson to win it. 

The Riders are back in action on Sunday, taking on the Plymouth City Patriots on the road. A win would see them move up to second in the standings with 10 points. 

BBL Championship Preview- Riders vs Phoenix

The Riders host the Cheshire Phoenix in tonight’s BBL Championship action, last season’s 6th-placed league finishers. 

Riders finding form

After an up-and-down start to the season, the Riders have strung together back-to-back wins for the first time this season, against quality opposition. A double header of the weekend, versus the Bristol Flyers and the Sheffield Sharks, moved them above .500 for the first time this season. 

The Sharks result was significant, with their opponents entering the game having won four on the bounce, beating the London Lions in their previous fixture. The Riders had four starters score over 15 points, led by 21 from Derryck Thornton. 

Read our report here! 

“We said before the game that we’re tired of this lose one win one stuff; let’s string some together,” said coach Rob Paternostro after the game. 

“Our offence has been playing well. Statistically, we’ve been up there in the league offensively. That’s a product of the talent we have, and our unselfishness. We played unselfish basketball today, so I feel good about where that’s at.”

Marc Loving leads the Riders’ offence, scoring 18.1 points per game after a 34-point outing against the Flyers. Leicester has been one of the BBL’s most efficient teams, ranking top two in points per game, field goal % and three-point %. 

Winning this one would bring the Riders’ record to 5-3, as the reigning champions look to chase down the top spot. 

Cheshire building on last season’s silverware

The Phoenix were the only team to beat Leicester to a piece of silverware last year, winning the BBL Trophy during the Riders’ treble-winning season. They beat the London Lions in the final, securing the fifth BBL Trophy in their history, and their second piece of silverware in 12 seasons. 

Over the offseason, Cheshire looked to fellow North Western club, the Manchester Giants, for their most significant acquisition: GB international Jamell Anderson. The former Rider has discovered new scoring form, putting up back-to-back 20-point games to start the year and logging a career-high scoring average. 

With new addition Marcus Evans, formerly of the Bristol Flyers, lining up in the backcourt, the Phoenix built a well-balanced team. But it’s second year Phoenix Larry Austin leading the scoring for Cheshire, putting up 14 points per game. 

Austin led the team in their previous game with 23 points, as they beat the Surrey Scorchers 76-66. The win improved their record to 3-4, after losing back-to-back games previous to the result.

Defence has been key to Cheshire’s success, as they hold their opponents to an average of  71 points on their wins. Their aim will be to keep the Riders’ scoring to a minimum in this one, as they rank in the bottom two in the BBL in points per game, field goal percentage and three-point percentage. 

Key matchup 

The clash on the perimeter may prove pivotal to the outcome of this fixture, as two of the BBL’s best talents face off.

Larry Austin has led the Phoenix in points this season, scoring over 20 in back-to-back games. Meanwhile, last season’s leading scorer for the Riders has cooked from deep early in the season, putting up key points from the wing. 

Austin, a 6’2” two-guard from Springfield, Illinois, is a second-year Phoenix and a four-year pro, having played in Turkey, Portugal and New Zealand. He averaged 14.4 points per game last season, establishing himself as one of the BBL’s elite perimeter threats. 

Austin has active hands-on defence, coming up with steals for quick transition points. He is fast on the break and can run it coast-to-coast himself using his speed and handles. His handles are a weapon in the halfcourt too, with his ability to take on defenders one-on-one forcing elite defenders to take on the challenge. 

Whelan will look to be up for it though, the GB international having received another call-up for his country after playing in Eurobasket in the summer. 

Whelan was named to the BBL Team of the Year last season, averaging 15.3 points per game for the treble winners. The Warrington-born wing picked up where he left off this year, scoring 16 points per game and shooting 44.4% from deep.

Whelan is a deadly shooter from outside, his smooth release keeping defenders honest when guarding him. He’s an exceptional defensive player, and will fancy his chances of stepping up against Austin. 

Where to watch

The game will be shown live on the British Basketball League YouTube channel, tipping off at 7:45 pm.  

Injury update: Mo Walker

Riders are devastated to confirm that Mo Walker has ruptured his achilles and will be out for the rest of the season.

We would like to thank Spire Hospital for their on-going support of our players & programme. Their partnership has enabled Mo to receive the very best care as he prepares to undergo surgery in the coming days.

Everyone at the Riders would like to wish Mo all the best with his recovery.

Riders comeback to beat Sharks

The Riders secured back-to-back wins over a weekend of games after beating the Sheffield Sharks 86-72. 

In an exceptional team effort, the Riders had four starters score over 15 points in the game. They were led by 21 points from Derryck Thornton, the 6’3” point guard shooting 50% from the field.

See the full box score here

Leicester exploded for a 24-13 third quarter, after falling down 15 five minutes into the period. Zach Jackson scored nine points in five minutes to end the third to build the Riders’ foundation to see the game out. 

As a team, the Riders shot 47% from the field and 43% from three in a red-hot shooting night. Patrick Whelan led the charge from deep, making four of his seven attempts. 

The Sharks enjoyed the better start of the sides, getting off to a 10-0 start. They scored eight points at the basket, finding success attacking the bucket. Following a timeout, the Riders’ found their feet offensively to stall the Sharks’ progress. They won the rest of the quarter 15-14, led by four from Thornton. 

Blake Bowman got the second underway, bursting past Kipper Nichols on the baseline before going up strong to throw it down with two hands. 

The hosts responded with an 11-3 run, still finding joy in the paint to get another eight points inside. 

Thornton put the scoring load on his back to get Leicester back into the tie. He attacked the rim, getting two and-one plays using his speed and athleticism to explode to the hoop. The Riders put their first dent into the Sheffield lead, cutting the game to four following a Patrick Whelan triple. 

They rode the momentum into the half, finishing the second with threes from Whelan and Kimbal Mackenzie to enter the locker rooms down 44-43. 

The teams traded buckets in the third, with the score remaining within a possession seven minutes in. Zach Jackson attacked the rim with 5:45 left in the period, laying it in with his left to give the Riders their first lead of the afternoon. 

Two minutes later, Jackson put two more on the board in explosive fashion. The Riders ran the fastbreak, and Jubril Adekoya threw up a lob from behind the three-point line to Jackson, who rose up high and threw it down. 

Jackson took the game over, going on to score seven in 90 seconds to give his side a 10-point lead entering the fourth.

Leicester continued the scoring barrage to start the final period, and Loving and Whelan hit threes to make it 73-57. Whelan scored eight in the final quarter, as the Riders held the Sharks at arm’s length to see out the win. 

“We said before the game that we’re tired of this lose one win one stuff; let’s string some together,” said coach Rob Paternostro after the game. 

“Our offence has been playing well. Statistically, we’ve been up there in the league offensively. That’s a product of the talent we have, and our unselfishness. We played unselfish basketball today, so I feel good about where that’s at.”

“I thought our second unit did a great job turning the game around. Their impact on the game in the first half allowed us to be in the position in the second half to win.”

The Riders return home on Friday, taking on the Cheshire Phoenix in the hopes of getting their record above .500.

BBL Championship Preview- Riders at Sharks

The Riders are on the road for the fifth time this season, taking on the Sheffield Sharks. The Sharks were runners-up in last season’s league table and enter this game on a four-game winning streak. 

Riders looking for momentum 

After an injury-troubled start to their season, playing games without key players Zach Jackson and Derryck Thornton, Leicester are looking to find form and health going into the rest of a long season. 

They hold a 3-3 record, winning both of their home games, including their most recent fixture against the Bristol Flyers. It was a revenge game for Leicester after they fell to their opponents in their third game of the season. 

“We needed to get back on track,” said Riders forward Jubril Adekoya “The way they beat us last time we played left a bad taste in our mouths. We owed them one. It’s still early in the year, but we’ve got to figure out how to start winning these back-to-back games. We’ve got to try and find a rhythm and keep it rolling.”

Read our report from the win!

Leicester’s offence has been ticking nicely through the season. They are one of the most efficient shooting teams in the BBL, shooting a league-best 50.8% from the field and a second-best 39.1% from three. 

They’re led by Ohio-born Marc Loving’s 18.7 points per game. Loving exploded for 34 points, two blocks and two steals in the Flyers game, torching the Bristol defence. 

“Marc was unbelievable today,” said coach Rob Paternostro after the game. “Any time we needed a bucket, he got it, and he’s been incredible all season. I think he’s one of the most underrated players in the league, and on both ends he was awesome.”

A win would see the Riders move over .500 for the first time this season, as they look to make a charge up the league table. 

Gritty Sharks grinding out results

After starting the season 0-4, the Sheffield Sharks have found their identity as a defensive force to win four on the bounce. They gave up 49 points per game through a three-game stretch, including a 62-49 win against the Cheshire Phoenix to get the ball rolling. 

They hold their opponents to 71.8 points per game on the season, the best defensive record in the BBL. On the offensive end, new acquisition Sa’eed Nelson has led the way with 14 points per game, followed by backcourt partner Kipper Nichols with 13.3. 

Nelson and Nichols led the team to a huge win in their previous game, beating the league-leading London Lions 89-81. They had 19 and 22 points respectively, going a combined 14-20 from the field. 

The Sharks look after the ball, not beating themselves. They’re a pass-first team, ranking top four in assists per game, but turn the ball over the least in the league. This reliable form of basketball, matched with their elite defence, makes them a tough prospect to face for the reigning champs. 

Key matchup 

Third-year pro Sa’eed Nelson is leading the Sharks through the opening stages of the season with 14 points per outing. The 25-year-old American played his first pro seasons in the German second division, averaging 13 points in his rookie year. 

This came after four years at American University in the NCAA D1. He scored 20 points per game as a junior, putting up five rebounds and assists as a well-rounded point guard. His scoring ability was on full display on his second Sheffield start, putting up 31 against the Giants. 

Nelson will go head to head with the Riders’ leading scorer of their own, Derryck Thornton. After missing a weekend doubleheader, he returned to the Riders’ most recent game. He is averaging 14.3 points, five assists and five rebounds in a well-rounded start to the year. 

The California native averaged 18.4 points and 5.4 assists per game in the Austrian first division last season, playing for Kapfenberg Bulls. He set the league alight with his flashy handles and electrifying dunks, attacking the rim to set up plays for himself and his teammates. 

The battle in the backcourt may end up as the key to the game, as both point guards are capable of exploding for monster performances any given night. 

Where to watch

The game tips off at 4 pm, played at Ponds Forge in Sheffield. It will be live-streamed on the British Basketball League Youtube channel.

Riders bounce back against Bristol

The Riders put one in the win column, improving to 3-3 with a 91-73 victory against the Bristol Flyers. A monster 34-point performance from Marc Loving led a dominant second-half display, as Leicester secured a much-needed win. 

Loving’s 34 came in 36 minutes, shooting 13-17 from the field and a red-hot 6-8 from three. The Ohio-born sharpshooter torched the Flyers’ defence all night long, from all over the court in a first-class scoring night. 

On the other end, he had two blocks and steals to round off a complete showing, dominating every area of the game. The Riders shot 54% from the field and 46% from field to support their star forward. 

The Flyers hung around until late, losing the fourth quarter 27-15. They went 10-21 from three to keep it close, led by a 24-point double-double by VJ King.

The Riders hit their stride early, as Zach Jackson fired out the gate with nine points in the opening five minutes. They jumped out to a 20-12 lead, and Jubril Adekoya forced a Flyers timeout after great defence at the rim leading to his bucket in transition. 

The Flyers fought back, as Tevin Olison hit two threes on his way to 10 points in six minutes. The 6’4” guard’s play gave his team the lead two minutes into the second period. 

Blake Bowman sparked life back into the Riders’ offence, which stalled momentarily. The first-year pro ran the fast break before rising high and throwing it down over the contesting Brandon Mayhan. 

The second quarter was a dunk party, as Loving and Derryck Thornton made their own highlights. Thornton picked Corey Samuels’ pockets before raising the roof with a monster jam, before Loving did a spin move to attack the baseline and put one in with two hands. 

Loving tied the game up two minutes later with a three from the wing for his 12th points of the evening. The Ohio State graduate then grabbed a steal on the other end with 24 seconds left, before blocking VJ King at the rim to give the Riders the halftime lead. 

He kept his hot hand to start the third, hitting a three from each corner to make it a seven-point lead. He scored 10 straight at the start of the third, torching the Flyers to build the lead. 

They held the lead going into the fourth, but Bristol clawed back points to make it close with 10 minutes to play. King, who had 24 points at the end of three, made an and-one play to close the third to make it 64-58 to Leicester.

Conner Washington took the reigns to open the fourth, scoring four quick points to snatch momentum back. Loving checked back in and put points on the board on his first possession, making it a 12-point lead. He made a three a minute later to hit the 30-point mark. 

The Riders saw it out professionally, keeping their foot on the pedal to maintain their distance from the Flyers. Evan Walshe concluded the action with a two inside

“Tonight was a really good win for us. Playing at home makes a big difference, and Marc was unbelievable today,” said coach Rob Paternostro after the game. “Any time we needed a bucket, he got it, and he’s been incredible all season. I think he’s one of the most underrated players in the league, and on both ends, he was awesome.”

“I think Jubril Adekoya was very good defensively in the center position. He defended the pick and roll really well, he’s great at that. We love him defensively, he’s one of the best defenders in the league, and he relishes the challenge.”

Playing more minutes in the absence of the injured Mo Walker, Adekoya played tough defence inside all night. 

“Rebounding was the focus against this team,” said Adekoya.”They play aggressively, especially on offence, and we knew that and had to take control of it.”

“We needed to get back on track. The way they beat us last time we played left a bad taste in our mouths. We owed them one. It’s still early in the year, but we’ve got to figure out how to start winning these back-to-back games. We’ve got to try and find a rhythm and keep it rolling.”

The Riders are back in action on Sunday, heading to Sheffield to take on the Sharks. A win would put them above .500 for the first time this season. 

BBL Championship preview- Riders vs Flyers

The Riders host the Bristol Flyers, as the sides meet for the second time early in the season. They will look to bounce back after a defeat in their most recent fixture. 

Riders happy to be home

Leicester endured a difficult start to the season, with four of their first five games on the road. They currently possess a 2-3 record, having beaten Surrey and Manchester, the latter their only home game of the year so far. 

“It was great to be home. We were all looking forward to playing in our home arena. We’ve had great success here, and the guys were fired up to play,” said coach Rob Paternostro after the win. 

“Our guys love shooting in here. We obviously practice here, so we’re used to shooting here.”

Patrick Whelan, who had 20 points and four threes in the game, echoed his coach’s sentiments: “It felt nice to be back, especially because we spent the first three games on the road. To be back feels really good.”

They were straight on the road after the victory, heading up to Glasgow to play two days after. They lost a close fixture, which was within six points for the entire tie before the final three minutes. 

Read our report here! 

They will therefore appreciate a week’s rest before this one. The Riders will be in high hopes, hosting a game for the second time this year. A win would see them get back to .500, as they try to build momentum in their season. 

Bristol flying high 

The Flyers enjoyed a red-hot start to the 2022/23 season, winning five of their first six games. They started the season 4-0, holding down their home floor to remain one of the two undefeated teams in the BBL. They fell in their first road game in Newcastle, losing 89-78 against the Eagles, but Bristol bounced back in their most recent game, an 81-74 road win against the Cheshire Phoenix. 

Thomas Bell leads the scoring for the Flyers this season, the American forward is scoring 16 points per game on a red-hot 42.9% three-point shooting. His team’s success has come from the front court, as Bristol has dominated the offensive boards this season, grabbing 16.2 per game. 

The early season success comes off the back of a fourth-placed league finish last season, the highest in franchise history thanks to a 14-13 record. Leicester had success against Bristol last season, winning the season series 4-2 in all competitions. But the Flyers did prove a stern test for the Riders, knocking them out of the BBL Trophy, and the matchup has remained tough this year. 

The sides faced off in the Riders’ third game, and Bristol took the win. It was a tight game wire to wire, but the Flyers found late momentum to win. Leicester will look for payback with a win in this one. 

Key matchup 

When these teams last faced, Jelani Watson-Gayle had himself a night. The 6’1” point guard scored 18 points in the tie, including six in the final three and a half minutes to seal the win. 

Watson-Gayle is playing in his first professional season, after stints in the NCAA DII with Fresno Pacific, Miles and Benedict. Last season Watson-Gayle led Fresno to the PacWest Conference Tournament for the first time in their history, whilst being named PacWest First-Team All-Conference. 

Watson-Gayle is a born scorer, shooting a good percentage from deep in every college year. The Brit played for GB under 20s in 2018, and has grown into a dangerous perimeter threat in pro hoops. 

Lining up against him is the red-hot Patrick Whelan, the Riders’ leading scorer from last season has led the way in the last two games. He scored 22 points against Caledonia, including 11 in the fourth to attempt a Riders comeback. 

The GB sharpshooter came into this season off the back of his first international tournament, representing his country at EuroBasket. He was one of the BBL’s elite last season, being named to the Team of the Year after scoring 15.3 points per game. 

Whelan has come out gunning this year, making 42.9% of his threes on the way to 17 points per game. And Whelan will look to continue to play both ends to his elite level for the Riders to secure back-to-back home wins. 

Where to watch

Tickets are available to purchase here, or on the door before the game, but are expected to sell out quickly. The fixture will also be streamed on the British Basketball League YouTube channel.

Riders fall just short in Glasgow

The Riders fell short in Scotland, losing a battle against the Caledonia Gladiators. Before the closing seconds, the lead was never greater than six for either team. But the Gladiators found late momentum to secure the win. 

The Riders’ wing duo of Patrick Whelan and Marc Loving led the scoring with 22 and 20, respectively, the former scoring 11 points in the final period in an attempted comeback. They shot well from the field, making 50% of their shots, but could not stop the Gladiators’ offence. 

First-year pro David Sloan exploded for a huge night for Caledonia. The 6’0” point guard’s 36-point effort was the best scoring night of any Riders’ opponent this season and his professional-best tally. Sloan made five of ten threes in a scorching hot shooting night. 

It was a tightly fought affair from the jump, as nothing separated the teams through a deadlocked first quarter. The Riders attacked the rim early and often, getting to the free-throw line to generate their offence.

On defence, they held Caledonia to 36% shooting in the first but gave up three offensive rebounds, which kept the score even at 18 each. 

Zach Jackson hit the Riders’ first three of the game five minutes into the second quarter, taking the lid off the basket from deep. They made three straight attempts within the next minute, but the Gladiators continued to crash the glass, with eight offensive rebounds in the first half.

Caledonia big man Jeremiah Bailey had 11 rebounds, five of them offensive, to keep it close by halftime. The score was 42-41 in the Riders’ favour entering the locker rooms.

Marc Loving took over the scoring load in the third quarter, scoring eight points in the period to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Despite his play, the score remained close, with a Patrick Tape slam to close the third making it 59-57 to Leicester entering the final period.

Sloan, who had 17 points going into the fourth, got the action underway in by nailing a three from the wing. The shot set the tone for the start of the quarter, as the Gladiators found their hottest form of the game to go up four. 

The Riders fought back, as Whelan put on an offensive masterclass. He scored 11 points to lead a comeback, his three taking the lead with three minutes on the clock. But the hosts responded with seven straight points, putting themselves in a strong position to see the game out. 

The Riders hauled up threes in an attempt to make it a one-possession game, but they would not drop, and the Gladiators saw out the win. 

The Riders look to bounce back on Friday, as they host the Bristol Flyers. A win would see their record improve to 3-3, as they look to gain some momentum in the season. 

BBL Championship Preview: Riders at Gladiators

The Riders take on the Caledonia Gladiators on the road, for the second game of a doubleheader. They hold a 2-2 record going into the game, as they look to get over .500. 

Riders back on track

After starting the season on a three-game road trip, which they finished with a 1-2 record, the Riders returned home for their season opener on Friday. The result was an emphatic 102-89 win against a tough Manchester Giants team, who fought the Riders wire to wire. 

“It felt great to be home, especially after spending the first three games on the road,” said Patrick Whelan after putting up 20 points in the win. “We needed to get a good, comfortable win under our belt.”

Joining him with 20 points in the scoring column was Zach Jackson, who returned to the team after missing the last two games through injury.

“He’s such a good team player and competitor’” said head coach Rob Paternostro. “He’s not 100%, but he told me yesterday: ‘I’m going to play.’ You never have any doubts about Zach Jackson.”

The Riders shot the lights out in the game, making 48% of their threes. In an efficient scoring night, they blew the tie open in the third quarter and held on until the final buzzer. 

Read our report here!

They will look to replicate their performance in Scotland, building on the momentum found against the Giants. 

A new era in Glasgow

The re-branded Gladiators host their first game of the season, after starting their campaign with three straight road games. They split the results 1-2, as they look to get back to .500 in this one. 

Big news came out of Scotland this offseason, with the retirement of player/coach Gareth Murray, who has taken up full-time coaching responsibilities for the club. The GB sharpshooter’s absence forced Caledonia to move into a new phase of their franchise, without their star man. 

In the early stages of the year, it’s first-year pro David Sloan whose taken up the mantle as the team’s leader. He’s averaged a team-high of 14.7 points, scoring 22 in his debut against the London Lions. 

Despite Sloan’s efforts, they dropped the game against London despite playing the Lions close. They picked up their only win in Sheffield, beating the Sharks 74-70, before losing big to Cheshire in their previous game. They’ll hope to get one over on the reigning champs to build some momentum in their season. 

Key matchup 

Rookie point guard David Sloan has hit the ground running in Caledonia, the 6’0” Kentucky native getting points on the board from the get-go. His 22 points in the season opener came with six rebounds and assists, knocking down four threes. 

Sloan graduated from East Tennessee State, playing his final two college seasons there. He scored 12.6 points and dished five assists per game in his final season, before crossing the Atlantic for the BBL. 

Sloan possesses all the qualities needed to score in the backcourt. He’s a quick, athletic ballhandler with crafty moves and a quick release, keeping defenders alert for all 40 minutes. 

Faced with the task of guarding him is Riders legend Conner Washington, who is playing in his 11th season in Leicester. Washington has won everything there is to win in the BBL, with 14 pieces of silverware to his name after adding three more last season. 

The Bedford-born guard is respected around the BBL as an intelligent veteran, playing to an elite standard on both ends. He has earned Molten BBL Defensive Team of the Year honours on three separate occasions.

He reached deep into his bag of tricks in the Riders Basketball Champions League clash against CSO Voluntari, leading the team with 14 points and injecting energy into the Leicester offence off the bench. 

Washington showed he can still bounce with the best of them and will bring his A-game against Sloan in this one. 

Where to watch

The fixture will be streamed live on the British Basketball League Youtube channel; tipping-off is at 5 pm.

Riders win home opener

The Riders move to 2-2 after winning their home opener. It was a 102-89 against the Manchester Giants, which they blew open in the third quarter. 

The Riders’ wing tandem led them through the game, as GB guard Patrick Whelan and Omaha graduate Zach Jackson scored 20 each. Jackson also grabbed 10 boards, putting up a monster double-double after missing the last two games through injury.

The Riders cooked from deep, scoring 48% of their three-point attempts. They shot 56% from the field in an efficient shooting night. They showed their depth of shooting, as seven players contributed from behind the arc. 

The Giants fought from wire to fire, coming back multiple times to keep the Riders on their toes. By halftime, Rahmon Fletcher, William Lee and Tahj Green scored double-digit points, but the visitors could not keep up with Leicester’s offensive effort. 

After a slow start, falling into an 11-2 hole, two quick threes from Jackson and Conner Washington clicked their offence into gear. Jackson exploded for seven points in five minutes in his return to the lineup. 

Leicester got back into the game from deep, as threes rained for the hosts. They made five in the first, and shot 56% from the field to take the lead with two minutes remaining. The Riders rode the wave of momentum into the second and maintained their shooting form. Back-to-back threes from Jackson and Kimbal Mackenzie stretched the lead to 11. 

The Giants fought back, as their leading scorer, Green, strung together some baskets. His putback, which followed a deep three, cut it to one possession. The teams traded buckets before Whelan hit a shot at the buzzer to make it 53-49 at the half. 

Three minutes into the second half, Whelan kept firing with his hot hand to drain consecutive triples. He scored eight straight points to rebuild the Riders’ lead, as they look to reestablish their foothold in the game. 

They kept their foot on the pedal, continuing to get points on the board to make it a 19-point affair. Three Corey Johson free-throws to close the quarter cut into the Riders’ lead, but they still held a significant advantage after winning the third period 30-18. 

The Giants showed heart in the fourth, crashing the glass on every possession to score second-chance points. With five minutes left in the tie, they’d cut the game to 12 points following a Lee jam. 

They went to their captain to settle the nerves. Darien Nelson-Henry took the ball down low, backed down Lee and hit a smooth fadeaway at the buzzer to regain control of the game. 

After Nelson-Henry’s bucket, the Riders were able to see out the game, going 11-7. Jackson’s midrange jumper rounded off a professional Riders performance. 

“It was great to be home. We were all looking forward to playing in our home arena. We’ve had great success here, and the guys were fired up to play,” said coach Rob Paternostro after the game.

On Jackson’s performance, he said “He’s such a great team player and competitor. He’s not 100%, but he told me yesterday ‘I’m going to play.’ You never have any doubts about Zach Jackson!”

The Riders play the second of a doubleheader, heading to Glasgow on Sunday to take on the Caledonia Gladiators. They look to move to a winning record, before returning home next Friday to host the Flyers. 

Get your tickets here!

BBL Championship Preview- Riders vs Giants

The Riders host their season opener for the 2022/23 season following a three-game road trip to start the season. They take on the Manchester Giants, who have won four of their first five games this year.

Riders back home

After spending their first three games on the road this season, the Riders return to the Morningside Arena to face the Giants. They went 1-2 through the opening three games, and are hoping to get back to .500 in this one. 

Their previous game was a close loss to the undefeated Bristol Flyers, which finished up 91-85. The game was within a possession throughout most of the final period, but the Flyers found late momentum to win the tie. 

Read our report here.

Mo Walker’s 16-point performance was key to the Rider’s successes; the big man made a significant impact down low after a slow Leicester start. Derryck Thornton also enjoyed a 16-point effort, leading the team for the second straight game.

Through three games, the Riders have leant on their offence, scoring the third most points in the BBL. They’ll need to be at the top of their game against Manchester, who have acquired a squad of elite defenders. 

A new era in the North West

The Giants saw significant changes to their franchise over the offseason, as they look to take a leap towards challenging for silverware this season. 

They made moves for two legends of the British game, as esteemed head coach Vince Macaulay took charge at the helm, and two-time MVP Rahmon Fletcher made the move from Newcastle to run the point.

Joining Fletcher in the backcourt is 16-point-per-game scorer Dirk Williams, who made his name as one of the league’s elite last season with the London Lions. 

Some former Riders return to the Morningside Arena, as William Lee and Corey Johnson will suit up in Giants’ colours after winning the league in Leicester in 2021. But it’s American rookie Tahj Green who is setting the tone in Manchester healing into this one, scoring 21.2 points per game and setting the league alight with a monster dunk in his previous game.

Early in the season, the offseason moves have been a rousing success for Manchester, as they won four of their first five games to put them third in the league table. They will hope to continue their red-hot form with a win in Leicester. 

Key matchup 

The two-time MVP comes to Leicester, as new Giants’ acquisition Rahmon Fletcher will run the Manchester point. The Newcastle Eagles legend traded the North East to the North West this offseason, after leading the BBL in assists last year. 

Fletcher spent seven years in Eagles’ colours, winning the MVP back-to-back in 2016 and 2017. In 2017, he put up 20.5 points and 6.6 assists per game, leading Newcastle to the league and playoffs double. 

With a plethora of elite options at his disposal, Fletcher has continued to run the show in new colours, dropping 10 assists per game so far this year. 

Lining up against him is another new signing, Leicester’s Derryck Thornton, who burst onto the scene in his first two BBL games. Thornton has led the team in scoring in both of his Riders appearances, averaging 18 points per game. 

The California native averaged 18.4 points and 5.4 assists per game in the Austrian first division last season, playing for Kapfenberg Bulls. He set the league alight with his flashy handles and electrifying dunks, attacking the rim to set up plays for himself and his teammates. 

The battle in the backcourt may end up as the key to the game, as both point guards are capable of exploding for monster performances any given night. 

Where to watch

Tickets are available to purchase here, or on the door before the game, but are expected to sell out quickly. 

The fixture will also be streamed on the British Basketball League YouTube channel. 

All you need to know!

With the fantastic expansion of Morningside Arena, and ahead of the first home game of the season this Friday against Manchester Giants – here’s all you need to know…

Tip times
All Friday night home games will now tip-off at 7.45pm. This Friday there is a pre-game event!

Pre-game event
This Friday we open our doors at 6pm – we have a special reveal of the new Mattioli courts with a live band, refreshments and activations. We’d love to see you there!

Arrivals
Our Arena expansion means that access to games will be via the new entrance on Memory Lane. No access via Charter St.

Please use LE1 3UL on your sat nav, car parking is limited but several car parks close by are highlighted on the map below.

Post-game
Live music, meet the players and refreshments available at the Mattioli courts post-game.

Tickets
Tickets are still available for the game via this link. We do expect a bumper crowd so please arrive early!

Riders fall short in a close one

The Riders fell just short in a close one in Bristol, concluding a three-game road trip to start the season. 

The game was tightly contested throughout, but the Flyers found late momentum to win the contest. New man Derryck Thornton led the team for the second straight game with 16 points and five rebounds, but the game got away from them late as Bristol scored four straight to see it out. 

Backing up Thornton off the bench was Mo Walker, whose size and strength made a significant impact on the tie. His 16 points and four rebounds proved vital in a tough Riders stretch in the first half.

Leicester shot efficiently in the game, making 49% of their shots and 40% of their threes, but lost the turnover battle by four, costing them valuable possessions. On the other end, Bristol shot a red-hot 45% from deep to get the better of the game. 

Bristol’s Jelani Watson-Gayle went off for 18 points to lead the game off the Flyers’ bench. He led his team’s three-point assault, making three. Thomas Bell also enjoyed a good scoring night, putting up 17. 

The Riders struggled for an early rhythm and quickly found themselves in a 15-4 hole after a plethora of Flyers fastbreak buckets. Bristol knocked down their first three attempts from behind the arc while the Riders looked to find their eye for the hoop, starting 1-9 from the field. 

Walker entered the fray as Rob Paternostro tried to establish some size down low against Flyers’ bruising center Malcolm Delpeche. Walker scored four quick points to keep Leicester in it, but Bristol maintained their lead with a barrage of threes. 

The Riders continued to chip away at the deficit in the second as the lid crept off the basket. Threes dropped for Marc Loving and Patrick Whelan; the latter scored seven points in two minutes to cut it to a four-point game. 

The sides traded buckets as the clock ticked down to halftime. The Flyers made a shot to close the second, making it 50-43 in the host’s favour. 

The Riders bolted out the gate in the second half, scoring six straight to make it a one-point affair. With momentum firmly in their corner, a fired-up Riders team took their first lead of the game three minutes into the third, as Whelan ran the fast break before making a tough layup. 

Despite the Riders’ surge back into the game, the score remained close for the remainder of the third. Back-to-back Flyers threes built them a slight advantage, which they took into the final period, up 71-66. 

In the fourth, the Riders again started the better of the teams. Walker got to work down low to draw a foul for two shots at the line, which he converted to tie the game up. What followed was a tense finish, with neither side able to establish a grip on the game.

The Flyers build a small margin, making key buckets to go up six with two minutes left. In response, Loving hit a huge three to cut it to one possession, but Bristol continued to make shots, keeping the Riders at arm’s length and winning the game. 

The Riders return to Leicester for their first home game of the season on Friday. They take on the Manchester Giants, hoping to bounce back and improve to 2-2. Tickets are available here.

BBL Championship Preview- Riders at Flyers

The Riders conclude their road trip to start the season in Bristol, where they will face the undefeated Flyers. They will hope to secure a win, bringing a 2-1 record back to Leicester. 

First win on the board 

The Riders secured their first win of the season with a dominant road win last time out. They blew out the Surrey Scorchers 86-67, winning the third quarter by 11 to blow the game open. 

Read our report from the win!

The story of the game was the dazzling debut of Derryck Thornton, the American guard going for 20 points in his first time in Riders colours. The California native exploded for 16 points in the first half, having not played since April, exciting Riders fans for his season ahead. 

“I feel like as a team we played well collectively. We obviously have things to work on, but overall it was a good game,” said Thornton postgame. 

“We came out really aggressive on defence, so maintaining will be important against Bristol. I like to push the ball a lot, so I think the more time I spend with the team, the more we can push it and get easy transition points.” 

He was backed up by his backcourt partner Patrick Whelan, who scored 17 points in the game. The Riders shot an efficient 50% from the field and held their opponents to 37% to seal a significant road victory. 

Flyers have lift-off

The Flyers are one of two undefeated teams in the BBL this season, starting their league campaign 3-0. Home wins against the Giants, Sharks and Patriots to begin the year have left the South-Westerners with high hopes for the rest of the year. 

VJ King has been the standout of a talented Flyers roster, the former NBA G-Leager averaging 16 points and eight rebounds through two games this year. However, it was American two-guard Tevin Olison stealing the show off the bench in their previous fixture scoring 18 points in 21 minutes, draining three threes in the process. 

The defence has been the key for the Flyers so far this season, as they boast the best defensive rating in the BBL in the opening stages of the season.

Combine this with their care for the basketball, turning the ball over at the lowest rate in the league, and the Flyers have their template going into the rest of the year.

Key matchup

Facing off against the Flyers’ new man VJ King will be fellow Ohio native Marc Loving, who has enjoyed an electric start to his second Riders season. Loving has averaged 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds through two games, setting up an exciting clash on the wing. 

Like King, Loving arrived to the BBL from the NBA G-League, having played for the Delaware Bluecoats and the Agua Caliente ClippersThe 6’7” forward is a versatile scorer and defender, offering a ranged skillset to Rob Paternostro’s side. 

In his debut season, Loving’s size and length gave him a strong defensive foundation, while his elite shooting ability combined with his 6’7” frame made him a dangerous weapon on offence.

On the other end, King spent his first two pro seasons with the Westchester Knicks, averaging 7.3 points per game last season. The Louisville graduate’s season high came on his Flyers debut, scoring 19 points against the Sheffield Sharks. 

King can score from anywhere and loves to attack the rim with power. He’s an elite rebounder for his position and will give the Riders’ defence a difficult task with his strength and speed. 

Where to watch 

The game takes place on Saturday, tipping off at 7:30 pm. It will be available to watch on the British Basketball League YouTube channel.

Black History Month celebrated at Flyers game

Players of both Leicester Riders and Bristol Flyers will wear warm-up t-shirts to celebrate Black History Month before Saturday’s away game.

Both sides represent multi-cultural cities and have a rich history of welcoming players from all backgrounds. Riders are also offering free advertising space on their big screens to local black-owned businesses for both home games this month. If you are a black-owned business and want to feature then please email details on your business/address and a 16:9 advert to [email protected].

This week Riders’ Jubril Adekoya interviewed Mo Walker on what Black History Month means to him.

Kevin Routledge honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award

We are thrilled to announce Leicester Riders chairman Kevin Routledge has won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2022 LeicestershireLive Business Awards.

Kevin’s years of contributions to basketball, the community and business were all recognised, with TV presenter & host Ben Hanlin presenting the award at the King Power Stadium.

All at the Riders would like to congratulate Kevin for winning the richly deserved award!

Riders bag first win of the season

The Riders took their first win of the season, beating the Surrey Scorchers 86-67 on the road. The Riders took an early lead which they carried through to the final buzzer, blowing the game open in the third quarter. 

New man Derryck Thornton enjoyed a dream debut, leading the game with 20 points after scoring 16 points in the first half. Backing up the American guard was backcourt partner Patrick Whelan, whose three three’s helped him to 17 points in the game. 

Leicester dominated the glass to march to the win, outrebounding the Scorchers by 10 in the game. Combined with efficient 51% shooting from Leicester, and they get points on the board for the first time this year. 

The skipper led the Riders out the gate, as four-year Rider Darien Nelson-Henry scored their first two baskets of a 13-4 start. New man Thornton impressed in his opening three minutes of play, leading the run with five quick points. 

Surrey found their offensive rhythm later in the quarter, and the sides traded buckets to make it 24-16 at the end of the first. 

As the clock ticked down towards halftime in the second, a pair of Scorcher threes dropped to cut it to a four-point game. Led by British big man Boban Jacdomi’s eight-point quarter, Surrey stuck close to the reigning champs. 

The Riders, led by a 16-point half from Thornton, took a seven-point lead into the locker rooms with work to be done in the second half.  

The Riders took the game by the reigns to start the second half, starting with a 10-4 run. They went on to score 17 points in six minutes to build a commanding lead, establishing a platform to see out the game. 

With two minutes remaining in the third, last season’s leading scorer Whelan nailed two threes in as many seconds after a Surrey turnover on the inbound. Whelan’s sharpshooting made it an 18-point Riders lead. 

Whelan carried his hot hand into the fourth quarter, getting the action underway with another three from the wing. 

He and Thornton continued to get points on the board in the period, Thornton’s pull-up midrange making it a 22-point Riders lead with eight minutes on the clock. They saw out the win comfortably, maintaining their lead to the buzzer. 

The win gets the Riders’ on the board in their BBL Championship defence. They finish their three-game road trip to start the season in Bristol next Saturday, where they will take on the Flyers, hoping to improve to 2-1. 

BBL Championship Preview- Riders at Scorchers

For the second of a three-game road trip, the Riders take on the Scorchers at Surrey Sports Park. Leicester look to get their title defence back on track with their first win of the season! 

A hard-fought season opener

The Riders were faced with a tremendous task in their first game of the season, taking on the highly touted league contenders London Lions in the capital. Without their newly signed American point guard Derryck Thornton, they played the Lions close throughout but were unable to stage a late comeback. 

Read our report from the game!

There were positives to take from the game going into the rest of a long season. Last season’s leading scorer, GB sharpshooter Patrick Whelan, proved he hadn’t lost a step in the offseason, putting up 16 points in the game. But leading the fixture for Leicester was Ohio State graduate Marc Loving, the athletic wing scoring 21 points from 10 shots from the field. 

Ahead of their clash with the Scorchers, the Riders hope for an important road win to begin to build momentum for their season ahead. 

Scorchers look to bounce back

Surrey will hope for a rebound season after a 2-25 record left them propping up the BBL Championship table last year. A change at the helm was the foundation for a new beginning in Surrey, with the acquisition of former Manchester Giants head coach Lloyd Gardner representing the hope of a step in the right direction for the franchise. 

Injury struggles provided the backdrop for last season’s struggles, so Surrey will hope to keep their roster healthy through the opening stages. The squad has been revamped for the start of Gardner’s role, with one of the promising acquisitions making his first leap into professional basketball this season. 

Luke Busumbru is a homegrown young talent, who played for NBL D1 side Solent Kestrels for the last three seasons. The 6’3” guard scored 21 points in their season opener against the Cheshire Phoenix, but the team ultimately fell short in an 81-96 loss. 

The Scorchers trailed wire to wire in the game, unable to slow down a potent Phoenix offence that shot 46% from deep. They will look to shore up their perimeter against the Riders as they hope to get one over on the reigning champions. 

Key Matchup

Starting his season with a bang, sharpshooting stretch four Marc Loving’s 21 points against the London Lions will look to kick on from his emphatic performance in this one. Shooting 70% from the field, London struggled to live with the Ohio-born forward as he attacked the rim all night long. 

Loving is a second-year Rider, having signed from the NBA G-League. The 6’7” forward is a versatile scorer and defender, offering a ranged skillset to Rob Paternostro’s side. In his debut season, Loving’s size and length gave him a strong defensive foundation, while his elite shooting ability combined with his 6’7” frame made him a dangerous weapon on offence.

Likely to be a Scorcher who will take on the task of guarding Loving is Kyle Carey, the 6’6” wing who is playing in his third BBL season. Carey played his first two BBL seasons in Cheshire, averaging six points in the North-West last season. 

Carey put up eight points and five rebounds in 22 minutes against his former side in his previous game, making two of his four three-point attempts. London-born Carey played his role to great effect last year, scoring an efficient 47.8% from the field and 38.2% from three. He uses his length to fill passing lanes, and his speed and aggressiveness to punish sleeping defences at the rim. 

Where to watch

The game takes place on Saturday, tipping off at 6 pm. It will be available to watch on the British Basketball League YouTube channel.

Riders fall short in season opener

The Riders tipped off their title defence with an 89-78 loss on the road against the London Lions. Falling in a hole early, the Riders fought resiliently to stay in the game, but fell short of a comeback late on. 

Marc Loving led the team with 21 points, the stretch four having an efficiently brilliant night to lead the Leicester performance. He shot 7/10 from the field and made all six of his free throws in a solid scoring effort. 

He was backed up by Whelan, the team’s leading scorer last season adding 16 more points to his Riders tally. In the end, however, Leicester could not overcome their early deficit, despite playing the Lions close for the remainder of the contest. 

Following a 12-2 Lions start, the Riders pivoted to a big lineup to climb back into the game. Loving, Mo Walker and Jubril Adekoya made up a towering Leicester frontcourt, shoring up the inside and stemming the tide. 

Despite the battling big men working down low for Leicester, an 11-4 run midway through the second period saw London take their biggest lead of the night: 41-25. 

The champs fought back, responding with a 6-0 run led by four points from Loving, and the teams traded baskets before entering the locker rooms, the score 47-36. 

Loving picked up the second half where he left off the first, scoring six quick points to open the scoring for Leicester. The Ohio State graduate came out the gunning, forcing the issue to get points on the board. 

The Riders traded baskets with their opponents throughout the third, staying within striking distance going into the final period. Just 11 points separated the sides as the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter. 

Whelan got the offence underway in the fourth, nailing a corner three to cut it to single digits. But despite the momentum built from their GB sharpshooter, the Riders could not string together enough scores to come away with a win. 

The Riders continue their three-game road trip to start the season, heading to Surrey to take on the Scorchers next week. The game takes place on Saturday 8th October, as the Riders look to bounce back and get themselves into the win column.

BBL Championship Preview- Riders at Lions

The Riders tip-off their title defence in the capital, taking on the London Lions. The game against the highly touted league contenders will commence a three-game road trip to start the season as Leicester look to maintain momentum from their treble-winning year. 

Running it back

The treble-winners are back, as the Riders have retained most of last season’s roster for the upcoming year. Captain Darien Nelson-Henry, leading scorer Patrick Whelan and sharpshooting stretch-four Marc Loving are among nine players returning to the Morningside Arena, as the tightly knit group will attempt to replicate last season’s successes. 

A notable departure, back-to-back BBL MVP Geno Crandall, took his talents to Germany in the offseason, but the new additions of exciting young wing Blake Bowman and high-flying guard Derryck Thornton add to a versatile roster with strengths in every department. 

Last season, the Riders were the premier scorers in the league, leading the BBL in points per game, three-point percentage and field goal percentage. On the other end, they held their opponents to the lowest points in the league, as they won the title by a franchise-record margin. 

Their treble was concluded with a playoff final victory against the Lions, as they added the BBL Championship, BBL Cup and BBL Playoffs to their trophy cabinet. 

Lions’ revamped roster 

After a trophyless season last year, the Lions have taken a different off-season approach to the Riders, having retained just two players from last season’s roster. Arriving in London is a star-studded cast from around Europe, as they hope to improve on last year’s third-place league finish. 

Among them are GB international Ovie Soko and experienced NBA players Kosta Koufos and Sam Dekker, who led the way for London with 23 points in their season opener against Sheffield. Dekker played four NBA seasons from 2016 to 2019 and averaged 13 points in the Turkish first division last season. 

It was a convincing Lions’ win in Sheffield, as they led by as much as 22 points late in the fourth quarter. They showed their strength in depth with points contributions from 11 players, as the team shot an efficient 52% from the field. 

The win will give the Lions confidence heading into their clash with the reigning champions. 

Key matchup 

The battle in the paint will be highly anticipated in this one, as Riders’ captain Darien Nelson-Henry goes head to head with former NBA center Kosta Koufos. Nelson-Henry was one of the league’s biggest stars last season, being named to the BBL Team of the Year. 

The Uni of Penn graduate put up 12 points per game last season and has established himself as one of the BBL’s most efficient scorers in his three seasons in the league. His 65.8% field goal percentage topped the stats chart last season of those who took over 100 shots. 

Meanwhile, his opponent was competing in the NBA G-League, after 12 seasons in the NBA. Drafted by the Utah Jazz in 2008, Koufos played for the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings and Memphis Grizzlies, putting up eight points and seven rebounds per game in the 2012/13 season in Denver. 

Last year, the Greek-born big man stands at 7 feet tall and shows delicate touch from around the rim to finish in close. At 33 years old, Koufos can still get up for athletic plays at the rim, able to throw it down for highlight plays. 

Both sides will look for big nights from their bigs to establish their presence in close, as the Riders turn to their captain to lead them out the gate. 

How to watch

The game will be available to watch on Sky Sports Arena, with the broadcast beginning at 7:30 pm for a 7:45 pm tip-off. It will also be available to stream on the Sky Sports YouTube channel. 

Riders sign point guard Derryck Thornton!

Riders are thrilled to announce the signing of American point guard Derryck Thornton! The high-flying playmaker adds to an exciting Riders roster looking to build on last season’s treble-winning success. 

“I’m really excited and eager to get going,” commented Derryck Thornton.

“I know it’s a really competitive league, with great fans. I’m just really excited to get out here and compete.”

The third-year pro averaged 18.4 points and 5.4 assists per game in the Austrian first division last season, playing for Riders’ captain Darien Nelson-Henry’s former side Kapfenberg Bulls. He set the league alight with his flashy handles and electrifying dunks, attacking the rim to set up plays for himself and his teammates. 

“We are happy to have Derryck with the team,” commented Head Coach Rob Paternostro. “He is an explosive guard who we feel will add a lot to our team.”

“He has certainly performed at high levels in college and has two seasons of international play under his belt.”

“He is a guard that can score and facilitate, he can get into open spaces and eliminate defenders. He has great quickness and a good feel for the game.”

Thornton played four years of college before going pro, competing for Boston College in his senior year. He scored 12.7 points per game in the NCAA division one, then took his talents to Serbia to play for Borac Cacak. 

Thornton replaces guard CJ Jackson who has parted company with the Riders. All at the Riders would like to wish CJ the very best for the future.  

Riders fall in BCL Qualifiers

The Riders fell just short in the opening round of the Basketball Champions League Qualifiers, losing 70-61 to CSO Voluntari to conclude their venture into Europe. 

The deficit was just four points with three minutes remaining, after they fell down double-digits in the third quarter. But the Romanian side had enough to hold onto the lead, knocking down their late free throws to secure the win. 

Conner Washington led the team with 14 points, the 11-year Rider taking the game by the reigns to lead the comeback. The Bedford-born point guard injected energy into the Leicester offence off the bench, driving into the heart of the Voluntari defence to make plays for his team.

But despite late momentum, which built from late in the third, Leicester fell just short of the win.

The Riders found their feet quickly in the game. The benefits of retaining most of last season’s roster were evident, as a 7-2 Leicester start followed the tip-off. The teams exchanged jabs through the first period, which ended 20-16 in Leicester’s favour after buckets inside from Jubril Adekoya and Mo Walker.  

There was little to separate the sides through half of the game. Walker continued to do damage inside, leading the game’s scoring at halftime with nine. However, Voluntari held the advantage heading into the locker rooms, snatching the lead at the buzzer. 

It was Texas Tech graduate Toddrick Gotcher who had the final say of the half, nailing a halfcourt shot to take the Romanian’s first lead of the quarter. 

In the third, Voluntari clicked into gear, forging a double-digit lead with three minutes remaining in the quarter. The Riders responded in gritty fashion, fighting hard to maintain a foothold in the tie. 

Washington stepped up, leading the charge back into the game for Leicester. He took it to the Voluntari defence, drawing fouls before nailing a three as the clock ticked down in the quarter to cut the deficit to seven.

A blown dunk from Voluntari’s Tekele Cotton concluded the third, with the Riders in touching distance with a quarter to play. 

Down 10 with five minutes remaining, Leicester made their charge back into the game. It was Washington again, forcing a Voluntari timeout with a deep two to make it a six-point affair.

With three minutes on the clock, new arrival CJ Jackson drained a three to keep Riders’ hopes alive, cutting the Voluntari lead to four. But there was not enough clock to complete the comeback, as they fell just short.

The Riders now turn their attention to their domestic campaign, with a trip to London up next. They face the Lions at the Copperbox Arena next Friday, hoping to start their title defence with a win in the nation’s capital.

Sponsors support Riders in Europe

On the day of our return to European competition, Leicester Riders have highlighted the fantastic support it has received from sponsors for its BCL Campaign, Jelson Homes, Morningside Pharmaceuticals, Lumbers Jewellers and Hilton Leicester.

“Over my time as MD of Leicester, Jelson Homes have been a critical sponsor in support of this club. We have been on a journey with Robert and the Jelson team and we are so thankful for all they do for us.”

“They have been a major part of our success over the last 15 years and we are thrilled to have them on board as we compete in the Basketball Champions League.”

“Morningside Pharmaceuticals, Lumbers Jewellers and Hilton Leicester, are three names that the Leicester fans will know well. Morningside have played a huge role since becoming the Arena’s naming rights sponsor, we are tremendously grateful that this has expanded to support our team.”

“Lumbers Jewellers have been a supporter of our club for many years, and we are delighted to have them on board again for this European adventure.”

“Hilton Leicester, have come on board this season and again are crucial for us to be able to host these high-level teams at the very best of hotel complexes.”

“All our sponsors have made this European adventure possible.”

Managing Director of Jelson Homes, Robert Jelly commented:

“To see the Riders play in Europe again is fantastic for the community of Leicester but also British Basketball as a whole. We are so happy to support the club over the last 15 years and look forward to seeing the club progress.”

Dr Nik Kotecha OBE DL, Chairman of Morningside Pharmaceuticals, said:

“As the named partner of the Morningside Arena, Leicester, we’re very proud of the huge success of the Leicester Riders, who call the venue their home.

“The Riders’ six British Basketball League titles have really put Leicester and the Morningside Arena on the map, so it’s great to also see them competing against the best teams in Europe, as part of this prestigious international basketball tournament.

“From everyone at Morningside Pharmaceuticals, we would like to wish the Team the best of fortune in the European Champions League qualifiers and beyond.”

Managing Director of Lumbers, Dominic Gomersall commented:

“We are delighted and proud to have helped the most successful British Basketball in their quest for European recognition. At a time that patriotic thoughts are at a high – Riders will work hard to wave the Union Jack successfully in this hard fought and ultra-competitive league.”

Director at Valary Hotels, Rajiv Nathwani, owners of Hilton Leicester commented:

“It is a pleasure to support basketball in Leicester and to see The Riders competing in European competition. I wish the team the very best for the upcoming qualifiers and look forward to being a small part of the continuing success on and off the court.”

Tonight’s game against Voluntari will be streamed LIVE on the BBL’s Youtube Channel at 5pm (UK time).

BCL Qualifiers Preview- Riders vs CSO Voluntari

The Riders tip-off their European campaign with a trip to North Macedonia for the first round of the Basketball Champions League qualifiers. There, at the Boris Trajkovski Sports Centre, they will take on Romanian side CSO Voluntari in the hopes of progressing to the second qualifying round. 

BCL Qualifying format 

The Qualification Round is a three-round knockout format, with the winners of four separate tournaments achieving qualification for the BCL regular season. The teams were drawn against each other based on their BCL ranking, and unseeded teams were seeded according to their country ranking. 

To qualify for the BCL regular season, the Riders need to win three straight qualifying games against increasingly difficult opposition. 

CSO Voluntari- Recent successes 

This game marks Voluntari’s first venture into the BCL, having enjoyed the most successful period of the franchise’s history in recent seasons. 

They are the reigning champions of the Romanian Cup, an annual cup competition, and finished runners-up in the Liga Națională last season. They entered European competition for the first time in the 2020/21 season, making the second round of the FIBA Europe Cup. 

Competing on the continent represented the recent successes the franchise has experienced domestically, allowing them to make the leap into BCL qualification. Voluntari have won two pieces of silverware in their 17-year existence and will hope to continue to build on their highest-ever league finish from last season. 

“We have to prepare for a very good Romanian team,” commented head coach Rob Paternostro ahead of the game. “

“They’ve recruited high-level players, and they’re a European team that’s in it for the whole season. We’ve got to come out and continue to play defence. This will be the biggest challenge we’ve had so far.”

Key matchup 

American guard Toddrick Gotcher represents the biggest Voluntari threat to the Riders after leading his team with 15 points per game last season. He will face up in the backcourt against Zach Jackson, who impressed in preseason, earning Premier Logistics player of the game versus Dutch side Donar Groningen. 

Gotcher is a Texas Tech graduate who led his college to the NCAA Tournament in his senior year. He then spent his first professional season in the prestigious Greek first division and went on to compete in France, North Macedonia and Japan before signing with Voluntari last season. 

Gotcher is a sharpshooter from deep, knocking down 39% of his three’s last season. He will need to be guarded closely by Jackson, who established himself as one of the BBL’s elite perimeter defenders last year.

The Omaha graduate averaged 10 points per game last season, shooting 49% from the field while playing elite defence on the other end. Throughout his second Riders’ season, Jackson showcased his ability to take over games, scoring 10 straight points in the playoff quarter-final to see the Riders progress to the semis. 

The battle in the backcourt may prove to be pivotal to the game’s outcome, as the two sharpshooters duel it out from deep. 

How can you watch?

The game will be available to watch here, on the BBL Official YouTube channel. Tip-off is 5pm UK time, so be sure to tune in to support your Riders!

Know our name!

While the Riders are in Basketball Champions League action this Wednesday the domestic league gets underway this Friday.

To celebrate the talent, culture and excitement around the league, the BBL and clubs have launched the “Know Our Name” campaign to ignite fans’ passion ahead of the start of the new season.

After an incredible 21/22 season which saw domestic attendance records broken, the BBL are looking to continue the momentum by launching the beginning of another year of exhilarating basketball action.

With players from across the league striving to be hero figures both on the court and in their local communities, fans are set to support their sides up and down the country, as they strive for glory when the season comes to it’s traditional thrilling end at the play-off finals at London’s 02 Arena on Sunday May 14th 2023.

With new signings making the move to the UK from Europe, American and fellow league rivals, the BBL and there is set to be some passionate and fiery match-ups throughout the season.

The BBL is one of the most culturally diverse league’s in the world, with 70% of its players hailing from BAME backgrounds (*Source: Sport England). Whilst the passion shines through on the court, the respect for the talent on show each week is clear to see from players, fans and coaches alike.

Ahead of the new season, Riders Managing Director Russell Levenston gave his hopes for the new season ahead:

“After returning the majority of our treble-winning roster, this season we have the added challenge of the Champions League Qualifiers. We feel that we’ve pulled together a roster to compete on all fronts with a sustainable approach that has brought us great success over the last 10 years.”

All Riders games throughout the season are available via the BBL’s YouTube channel, Sky Sports and the BBL player, so you won’t miss a minute of the action.

Riders conclude their preseason with a win!

The Riders concluded a successful preseason campaign with a 76-72 win against back-to-back Swedish champions Norrköping Dolphins. They took the game by the reigns late, seizing their first lead of the second half in the fourth quarter and seeing it out in the clutch. 

Big man Mo Walker led the team with 14 points and six rebounds. Walker went 6-12 from the fields in a dominant display down low, getting the better of his opposition inside all night long. Zach Jackson and Marc Loving backed up their big with double-digit nights of their own, scoring 13 and 12 points respectively. 

The victory leaves Leicester undefeated in preseason, with back-to-back wins against Dutch side Donar Groningen following a 108-75 win against USA Select. 

Just two points separated the sides at the half after the Riders came back from down eight to make it a two-point game entering the locker rooms. They showed competitive spirit throughout an intense preseason fixture, coming back from down almost double-digits on two occasions for a comeback victory. 

“This team, on this court, no matter whether it’s September or April believes that somehow, someway they’ll get the job done,” said Paternostro postgame. 

“Defensively we’ve really shown something, especially in the second half and fourth quarter of games. Our depth has really been key for us. We feel really confident with that second unit on the floor and I think that in the last three games the bench has really picked it up on defence and made a real impact.”

The Riders’ season tips off with an exciting fixture next Wednesday, as they take on Romanian side CSO Voluntari in the Basketball Champions League Qualifiers. A win would see them progress to the second round of qualifying, as the Riders hope to achieve qualification to the BCL regular season.

“Now it’s about preparing for a very good Romanian team. They’ve recruited high-level players, and they’re a European team that’s in it for the whole season. We’ve got to come out and continue to play defence. This will be the biggest challenge we’ve had so far.”

The game takes place in North Macedonia’s Boris Trajkovski Sports Centre, tipping off at 7pm. Details on how to watch will be announced in the coming days! 

Riders unveil new European kits

Leicester Riders today unveiled their brand new kit designs for the 2022-23 season!

With the side entering European competition, Riders have today launched their European Edition featuring sponsors Jelson Homes, Morningside Pharmaceuticals, and Hilton – Leicester.

Fans will get to see the new kits for the first time in person at tonight’s game with the squad sporting the brand new white kit!

Should Riders make it through the Champions League Qualifying the BCL patch will be added to the upper left side of the design.

Tonight’s game to be played behind closed doors

Due to the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, this evening’s game against Donar Groningen will be held behind closed doors out of respect.

Riders’ second preseason friendly against Donar on Sunday 11th, and their final preseason game against Norrkoping Dolphins on Wednesday 14th, will be played, and the clubs will pay their respect with a 2 minutes silence and wear black bands on their left shoulders.

Any tickets purchased for tonight’s game are transferable to one of the remaining friendly games, but if you already have tickets for these games, please contact us at [email protected] with your name and booking reference number and we will refund your tickets.

We appreciate this may not be the news you wanted to hear but thank you for your understanding during this difficult time.

Whelan named in Eurobasket GB roster

Ahead of an eagerly anticipated FIBA EuroBasket 2022 that will see some of the world’s best basketball talent compete for supremacy, Great Britain Men’s Head Coach Nate Reinking has confirmed the 12-man roster selected to represent the team at the showpiece tournament.

Riders star Patrick Whelan has been named in the twelve, alongside former Rider Jamell Anderson.
 
GB’s Men have travelled to Milan for the Pool Stages of EuroBasket 2022 – set to take place from September 2 to September 8 – where they will face Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Italy and Ukraine for a place in the knockout stages, which will be contested in Berlin.
 
This will be the Men’s team’s first major tournament outing since the 2017 EuroBasket, and the 12-man roster contains several GB stars who have experienced the biggest stages in basketball, as well as several top British talents sampling the major international tournament for the first time.
 
This EuroBasket is being hailed as the best continental basketball tournament ever, with a field of teams full of incredible talent, and as such is a testament to GB’s achievement in securing a place at the top table of European basketball.
 
Speaking ahead of the competition and following the announcement of the final roster, Head Coach Nate Reinking said:
 
“This is a proud moment for the National Team to be embarking on its fifth EuroBasket competition out of the last six iterations. The team has been on a long journey to get to this point and have shown themselves to be capable of competing with the very best teams on the continent and this EuroBasket provides another opportunity to showcase British Basketball.
 
“It shouldn’t be lost on people just how much of an achievement this is for our players and staff to be heading to Milan for the competition, but we’re not just going there to compete – we want to win, and make some history for Great Britain.”
 
Great Britain’s journey to FIBA EuroBasket 2022 qualification began all the way back in November 2018 at the FIBA EuroBasket Pre-Qualifiers, before a historic 11-3 run over the course of three years – including marquee wins over European powerhouses France, Germany and Montenegro – secured qualification to FIBA EuroBasket 2022.
 
All of Great Britain’s fixtures at EuroBasket 2022 can be watched live on FIBA’s streaming platform, Courtside 1891. Head to courtside1891.basketball and use the promo code ‘EUROGB25’ now to get 25% off an annual pass to the platform.

Great Britain Men’s National Team Roster – FIBA EuroBasket 2022
Jamell Anderson
Kavell Bigby-Williams
Dan Clark
Myles Hesson
Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye
Ben Mockford
Luke Nelson
Gabe Olaseni
Ovie Soko
Devon van Oostrum 
Carl Wheatle  
Patrick Whelan

Riders agree partnership with Applied Nutrition

Riders are happy to announce their continued partnership with Applied Nutrition which began in the second half of last season and will see the nutrition brand as an official supplier the 2022-23.

Applied Nutrition are the UK’s fastest growing sports nutrition brand and a trusted and highly regarded player in the category. Riders will use their Informed Sport, batch-tested range of products to support the team pre, during and post games/practice.

“It’s a great partnership for us as it allows us to support our playing staff with the very best of products from a trusted supplier. We enjoyed working with Applied Nutrition last year and we are really happy to be working with them again,” commented Riders Managing Director Russell Levenston.

“The players all loved the products, we believe that correctly fuelling the team with the best nutrition can give us an edge.”

Applied Nutrition currently work with a large roster of international athletes and teams including Fulham FC, Team GB Sprinter Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and UFC superstars Paddy the Baddy and Molly McCann. After a successful partnership last season, Applied Nutrition are back on board to support Rob Paternostro’s team again this year.

Thomas Ryder, Applied Nutrition’s Managing Director said:

“Our products are perfectly suited to the huge physical demands a basketball season can put on players and we are delighted to be continuing our partnership with the Riders.”

“What the team achieved last year was an incredible demonstration of commitment, hard work and an amazing team spirit and we couldn’t be happier to work with such a talented squad of players.”

“We’re looking forward to supporting Russell and the team in both the BBL and Europe this season to achieve even more.”

Riders sign CJ Jackson!

Riders are thrilled to announce the signing of talented point guard CJ Jackson for the 2022/23 season! Georgia-born Jackson has played three pro seasons in Scandinavia, averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds per game for Bisons Loimaa in the Finnish first division last season. 

Jackson is a graduate of Ohio State, playing three seasons with the Buckeyes. During his time in college, he played alongside Riders’ sharpshooter Marc Loving for the 2016/17 season. He scored 12 points a game in his senior year before going pro in 2019. 

In his first game as a pro, Jackson showed his clutch genes, hitting a game-winner with 0.8 seconds left on the clock for Swedish side Köping Stars. He played two seasons in Sweden, averaging 17 points, five assists and four rebounds during his time there. 

“I’m super excited to be joining the Rider family,” reflected CJ.

“I can’t wait to start the season. Playing with an old teammate like Marc (Loving) is exciting, and I’m looking forward to going into battle with him again!”  

Head Coach Rob Paternostro commented on the signing:

“We are looking forward to working with CJ. He is a talented guard who can do a variety of things on the basketball court. Throughout his career he has shown that he can be effective both on the ball or off it and can be really difficult to defend.”

“His three point shooting , attacking the basket and passing ability will be a nice addition to our team.”

“We liked his experience, he played in a very good conference in the big ten and played very well, he also has had some very good professional seasons where he was a standout performer.”

Riders play their first pre-season game this Friday against USA Select – tickets are on sale here. Having just landed CJ is expected to make his debut the following week against Donar Groningen.

We’re Hiring!

We are looking for a Sales Manager to work with our club partners and on our group ticketing offers.

For more information on the role you can access the job description here.

Riders announce BBL staff structure for 2022/23

Riders have announced the BBL support staff for the 2022/23 season. After winning the treble last season, the club are delighted to announce the addition of some key staff members.

“It’s awesome for us to welcome the new faces to the backroom team”, commented Head Coach Rob Paternostro.

“It’s important for us to have a great support staff to support our players for the season ahead and beyond. I’m looking forward to working with them all.”

Former Riders WBBL coach Matt Pitkin returns to the club and joins Pablo Vazquez and Will Maynard on the sideline under head coach Rob Paternostro. Matt will also head up a new role for the club as Pathway Manager.

“It’s an awesome feeling to be back at Leicester after the last five years,” Matt Pitkin reflecting on his return.

“The opportunity to work with one of the BBL’s most decorated teams in the last ten years was one that really excited me. Rob is a serial winner and I’m looking forward to supporting and learning from him.”

“I’m really motivated to support the club in their journey to connect and collaborate their extensive pathway.”

Tom Austin succeeds Jordan Godfrey as the strength & conditioning coach, whilst Ben Pogmore (Head of Medical) and Callum Stevens (Performance Analysis) join the backroom.

Head Coach – Rob Paternostro
Ast. Coach – Matthew Pitkin (previously Harber)
Ast. Coach – Pablo Vazquez
Ast. Coach – Will Maynard
Team Manager – Donna Phillips
Strength & Conditioning – Tom Austin
Head of Medical – Ben Pogmore
Performance Analysis – Callum Stevens

Managing Director Russell Levenston commented “Over the last 5 years we have really developed our support staff to help Rob take the team to next level and this year we feel we have a great group to support for the BBL team and other areas of the club.”

“It is really exciting times for the club following last years’ success and the preparation for the Champions League qualifiers in September.”

Walshe returns to Riders

British guard Evan Walshe has returned to the Riders squad for the 2022-23 season. Walshe, who previously played & studied in America for Barry University, will continue his studies at Loughborough University, undertaking a two-year masters degree. 

Walshe was added to the Riders squad last term and as well as enjoying minutes in the BBL, played a pivotal role in Will Maynard’s NBL D1 side. This time around Walshe will add some depth to the Riders BBL roster and be eligible to play in the Loughborough University BUCS side.

“It was awesome to work with Evan last season and we are looking forward to having him back,” commented head coach Rob Paternostro. “He is a talented young player who continues to develop his game. We were very impressed with him as a player and competitor last season.“

“He has good size for the guard position, he can shoot the three and he is a physical player that competes on both ends of the floor. He is a guy that can really get to the basket both in the half court and in transition.”

Last season Riders picked up three major trophies in the League Championship, BBL Cup and Playoff title, Walshe is excited at the prospect of being reunited with his fellow treble-winners.

“It feels great to sign back and to get a full season with the Riders. With all the success of last season, and bringing the majority of the squad back, there is a lot of excitement for the upcoming season,” commented Walshe. 

“Working day in day out with Coach Rob last season gave me a taste for his passion for the game and gave me a new wind in my sail so I’m excited to have the privilege of working under the coaching staff again this season.” 

“When the masters was offered to me it was really a no brainer, the opportunity to continue my education alongside playing is something I couldn’t turn down. Loughborough is a great University and will allow me further success off the basketball court when it’s all said and done”

Riders would like to place on record our thanks and appreciation for the continued support of Loughborough University in helping to support our players’ education. 

Riders partner with Vertu Motors

Leicester Riders are thrilled to announce a three-year partnership with Vertu Motors and their Leicester dealership – Vertu Toyota Leicester.

The leading car dealership, who also have dealerships in Loughborough, Nottingham, Derby, Mansfield and Grantham, are supplying the team a fleet of Toyota vehicles

Chris Taylor, Group Operations Director at Vertu Motors, said: “Leicester Riders have enjoyed huge success on the court over the years and most importantly they are revered for the work they do to support local communities. We hugely admire their dedication to developing young people of all ages, through working with schools in the area and player
pathways in Leicester and Loughborough. We are very proud to partner with the team.”

Robert Forrester, Chief Executive of Vertu Motors, added: “Following our Group’s successful partnerships with Newcastle Eagles and Glasgow Rocks, we are delighted to announce a further deal within the British Basketball League, with Leicester Riders. We are focused on continuing to drive brand awareness with key audiences; this partnership will serve to cement our name within the local community, and we can’t wait to get the season started.”

Russell Levenston, Managing Director at Leicester Riders, commented:

“It gives us great pleasure to welcome Vertu Motors as an Official Partner for the upcoming season. The Riders are committed to working with national brands that have a link to the local community and we are keen to help the region in becoming a more prosperous location for their business.

“We take pride in providing success both on and off the court, and we feel that this partnership, with Vertu Motors’ renowned quality service and customer care, will help us accomplish just that.”

Vertu Motors hold partnerships with a number of sports clubs across the country, including in football and cricket, with Burnley FC, Middlesbrough FC and Sunderland AFC, alongside Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club, Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Durham Cricket.

Riders add Dolphins to pre-season schedule

Riders will face Swedish side Norrköping Dolphins at Morningside Arena on Wednesday 14 September at 7.30pm tip, as they prepare for the new season.

Dolphins won the league title in Sweden last year and will also feature in the Basketball Champions League Qualifiers on 21st.

After facing Rob Paternostro’s men, Norrköping will travel to the north-east where they face Newcastle Eagles on 16 September.

Tickets for our home pre-season game versus Dolphins are available here.

Marc Loving returns!

Riders are excited to announce the re-signing of former Ohio State forward Marc Loving for the 2022/23 season. The sharpshooting stretch-four scored 12 points a game last season on an efficient 46% from the field. 

Loving played an integral part of the Riders’ treble-winning season last year. His season-high of 32 points game back in November, torching the Cheshire Phoenix to settle into Leicester life quickly, before earning Player of the Month in December.

Prior to last season, Loving competed in the NBA G-League for the Delaware Bluecoats and the Agua Caliente Clippers. This came after a successful four-year stint at Ohio State, where he averaged 13 points and five rebounds across his junior and senior years. 

Loving became a fan favourite throughout the season and will bring a bounce to the Morningside Arena with his highlight plays.

“I’m looking forward to being back & building on what we accomplished last year,” said Loving. “I’m happy to be back with a great coaching staff and fan base. This year should be really exciting!”

Head Coach Rob Paternostro reflected on Loving’s return:

“We are thrilled to have Marc back for another season. He is a very talented player with a high basketball IQ whose versatility allows him to play in many different positions on both ends of the floor.”

“I thought he was excellent last season. He is a player that you feel comfortable with on the floor because he consistently makes the right plays both offensively and defensively.”

“His three point shot is a great weapon in our offence, he has unlimited range out there but I also think that his passing and playmaking were very important to our offence last season.”

Crandall departs for Germany

Riders have accepted a bid from German BBL side BG Göttingen to buy BBL MVP Geno Crandall out of his new contract.

Despite signing in July, BG Göttingen’s bid triggered a release in the contract with Crandall that allows him to leave if an exceptional opportunity presented itself.

As such Crandall will now play for the FIBA Europe Cup side in Germany this coming season.

“We always said that if a team came in for Geno, and he wanted to go, we wouldn’t stand in his way, provided the club was compensated,” commented Managing Director Russell Levenston.

“He’s been the MVP in the league for the last two seasons and he was always going to attract attention from bigger European Clubs and leagues.”

“We were hopeful it wouldn’t be the case having recruited the majority of players back from last season.”

“He has tremendous ability and made an immeasurable impact not only on our club but also the BBL as a whole.”

“We wish Geno, Tasha and his young family all the best for the future in Germany and beyond.”

Riders Head Coach Rob Paternostro reflected on Geno’s departure:

“We wish Geno all the best and thank him for a tremendous two seasons. He is a fantastic player and competitor who produced in so many ways.”

“To say it’s a big blow would be an understatement. Obviously, we built this team with the thought that Geno would be back so now we have to adjust.” 

“We have a tough resilient group that will be ready to rise to challenge.”

Riders head to North Macedonia for BCL

FIBA have released the four host venues for the Qualification Rounds – TFT Skopje (MKD), Unicaja (ESP), SL Benfica (POR) and FMP Meridian (SRB), taking place in September.

These four tournaments will determine the last four spots in the Regular Season of BCL’s seventh season. Riders will travel to North Macedonia, the home of Skopje for their games.

Qualification Round Tournament 1 (Group A) – Skopje, MKD – Boris Trajkovski Sports Center

Game days: 21, 23 & 25 September 2022
Participating Clubs: Fribourg Olympic (SUI), Tofas Bursa (TUR), CSO Voluntari (ROU), Leicester Riders (GBR), NINERS Chemnitz (GER), TFT Skopje (MKD)

Quarter-Final 1: Leicester Riders vs CSO Voluntari
Quarter-Final 2: TFT Skopje vs NINERS Chemnitz

Semi-Final 1: Tofas Bursa vs Winner of Leicester Riders/CSO Voluntari
Semi-Final 2: Fribourg Olympic vs Winner of TFT Skopje/NINERS Chemnitz

Final: Winner SF1 – Winner SF2

The four winners of the Qualification Round tournaments will qualify for the Regular Season, joining the 28 directly qualified teams.

Tip-off times will be determined at a later stage.

Jackson re-signs with Riders!

Zach Jackson returns to Leicester for the 2022/23 season, after the star guard played an integral role in the Riders’ treble-winning season last year! 

The Omaha graduate averaged 10 points per game last season, shooting 49% from the field while playing elite defence on the other end. Throughout his second Riders’ season, Jackson showcased his ability to take over games, scoring 10 straight points in the playoff quarter-final to see the Riders progress to the semis. 

Jackson’s season-high came against the Bristol Flyers, where he scored 28 points on 57% shooting to earn a hard-fought road win. He brings elite scoring ability, defence and a team-first mentality to the Morningside Arena. 

“I’m excited to be coming back to Leicester after the success we had last season. I’ve learned a lot playing under coach Rob and with the other talented players we have,” said Jackson.

“Playing in the Champions League is a big step-up in competition, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to return for my third season as a Rider!”

“We are thrilled to have Zach back with us for another season,” commented Rob Paternostro.

“He was excellent for us last season. You name it, and he did it. Defence, offence, clutch plays: he is an all-around player who knows how to win. A physical player with good size, who can score in many different ways and from many different spots on the floor.”

“Zach’s professionalism has been fantastic from day one. He continues to add to his game and is always improving. He knows how to work, and is a guy that prepares very well.”

Jubril Returns!

Riders are delighted to announce that Jubril Adekoya has signed a new contract for the 2022/23 season. The American/Brit was central to the Riders’ BBL best defensive record last season, the versatile power forward playing with intensity and hustle all season. 

Adekoya scored a season-high of 18 points against the Glasgow Rocks last season, and his 16-point performance in the BBL Cup Quarter-Final helped the Riders win the competition on the way to their treble. 

The Valparaiso graduate’s talent transcends the box score, however, and will look to continue to help the Riders to further successes with his defence and basketball IQ. 

“I’m excited to be back for a second year in Leicester, and add to the number of guys returning to build on what we started last year as a group”, said Adekoya.

“It was an easy decision to return, especially with the number of guys coming back.”

Coach Rob Paternostro commented: “Jubril had a great season for us. He was a great teammate who was always prepared to play. We are excited to have him back.”

“He provided us with a versatile skill-set, high IQ and toughness that played a huge part in our treble-winning season.”

“Defensively, he is very versatile. He understands team concepts and has the ability to cover multiple positions. Offensively, he is comfortable in many spots on the floor. He can play in many different lineups and can do damage both inside and out.”

X2 BBL MVP Geno Crandall pens new deal!

Back-to-back BBL MVP Geno Crandall returns to the Riders! ‘The general’ led the Riders to a treble-winning year last season, and will look to help bring yet more silverware to the Morningside Arena.

Winning MVP last season, Crandall became just the fourth player in BBL history to win the award back-to-back. It was one of three individual awards for Crandall this past season, having also picked up the BBL Cup final MVP and the BBL Playoff final MVP.

Crandall led the Riders to their biggest league-winning margin in franchise history, as the Riders concluded the year with a 27-2 record, 16 points clear of second place. He put up his season-high scoring effort to clinch the league title with 25 points against the Plymouth City Patriots.

The Gonzaga graduate finished the season averaging 13.1 points and 6.8 assists, his assist tally ranking in the top five in the BBL. He also ranked second in +/- and top 10 in steals, as his efforts showed up all over the box score.

“We are thrilled to have Geno back in Leicester, he is a proven winner with hardware to back it up,” commented head coach Rob Paternostro.

“He is a guy that has provided an elite level of play from day one. He can do it all on both ends of the floor, his playmaking and ability to eliminate defenders really makes us go on offence, and his athletic ability, ball pressure and intelligence have been valuable to our defence.”

Crandall is looking forward to taking the Riders into Europe: “I’ve always wanted to challenge myself to reach the highest levels I can as a player and entering into European competition gives me the opportunity to do that.”

Geno becomes the seventh player announcement of the summer alongside Darien Nelson-Henry and Blake Bowman, joining multi-year players Conner Washington, Mo Walker, Patrick Whelan and Kimbal Mackenzie.

Riders measured approach in Europe

Earlier this month Leicester Riders confirmed they would take part in European competition in the form of the Champions League Qualification rounds again this season.

Managing Director Russell Levenston explains the decision to enter Europe in the Champions League competition this term.

“Our ambitions are to be competing at the top-level of Europe and believe champions league is the right competition for our club. We assessed the merits of us joining the FIBA Europe Cup if we don’t qualify but decided that wasn’t right for us.” 

“Each competition comes with its own financial and logistical pressures, and believe the commercial level of the Champions League is the correct one for us.”

“We have to build the foundations, it’s a learning process for us. Our aim is to be competing on the European stage each season, but it’s pivotal that this is done within our means and in a measured and sustainable way to build on our successes.”

“I’d like to thank our sponsors for continuing to support us – particularly Jelson Homes, Morningside, Lumbers Jewellers and Hilton Hotels & Resorts.”

“We are all looking forward to the game against CSO Voluntari, they had great domestic success last season and it will prove a test for us.”

Riders play CSO Voluntari in Champions League opener

Riders have been drawn against CSO Voluntari of Romania in the first game of the Champions League Qualifying Rounds.

The game will be played on 21 September with the central venue being confirmed on 20 July.

Should Riders make it past CSO Voluntari, Rob Paternostro’s men then face TOFAŞ Spor Kulübü of Turkey.

The third knockout game would be against one of TFT Skopje (North Macedonia), Niners Chemnitz (Germany) or Fribourg Olympic (Switzerland).

Should the Riders reach the Champions League regular season they have been drawn in Group A alongside UCAM Murcia (Spain), Falco Szombathely (Hungary) and SIG Strasbourg (France).

Leicester Riders last competed in Europe in the 2018-19 season.

Riders sign Bowman!

Riders have signed exciting young British star Blake Bowman on a multi-year deal, his first professional contract! The 20-year-old Derby native has played his last three seasons with his hometown Trailblazers in the NBL, before setting his sights on turning professional. 

Bowman averaged 19 points, six rebounds and three assists in the NBL last season, and helped bring silverware to the midlands too. He played a pivotal role in their L Lynch Trophy win, averaging 17 points and 6.5 rebounds through the tournament, and putting up a double-double in the final. 

“We are thrilled to have Blake join our club, he is coming off an excellent season for Derby and we are looking for him to come in and display those skills right away,” commented head coach Rob Paternostro.

“I really enjoyed watching him play this season, he is very athletic with good size and length that can really get to the rim. He has a versatility to his game that’s exciting for now and for the future.” 

“We have had some very good young players who have studied at Loughborough and played professionally with us. Conner Washington, Jamell Anderson and Josh Ward-Hibbert are players that flourished in that situation both on and off the court.”

Bowman will continue his studies at Loughborough while competing for Leicester in the BBL, the 6’6” wing is excited to get going… 

“I’m very excited to be going up against the best players in the country week in, week out. I’m looking forward to the challenge of playing against established pros,” said Bowman. 

“The level of competition within the team is the highest in Britain. Competing with these guys everyday in practice will only make it easier come game time.”

Blake’s father Barry had a spell in the BBL during his professional career, while his uncle, Marc Hawley played 56 games in two seasons for the Riders between 1997 and 1999.

The move to Riders has been made possible with the great relationship held between the club and Loughborough University/Loughborough College who continue to support giving the next generation of players opportunities to further their education.

Riders to compete in Basketball Champions League Qualifiers

Leicester Riders are excited to announce their inclusion in the qualification rounds of the Basketball Champions League (BCL) for the 2022/23 season. The prestigious competition is the top-tier of basketball organised by FIBA Europe.

Leicester will participate in a 24-team qualification round, in which four teams will progress to the regular season of the BCL. The draw for the qualification round will take place on Thursday 7 July at 10am.

“It’s an exciting time for the club to test ourselves at the next level in Europe. With our recent success in the BBL, it’s the right time for us to take on the challenge of the Champions League Qualifiers,” commented Managing Director Russell Levenston. 

“The players and staff have earned this opportunity, and I want to thank the sponsors for their support in making this happen.”

Riders would like to thank Jelson Homes, Morningside, Lumbers and Hilton for supporting the club in it’s return to European competition.

2022/23 Schedule Released

Riders will travel South to take on the London Lions to kick off their 2022/23 campaign, scheduled for Friday 30th September. Fans at the Morningside Arena will welcome the Riders home for the first time in the upcoming season on Friday, 21st of October as they host the Manchester Giants. Keep your eyes on our social media channels and website for the full schedule! Here’s how the rest of the league shapes up:

The countdown to another showstopping season of British Basketball League (BBL) action can begin as the fixtures for 2022-23 campaign were announced today.

The curtain will rise on the new season on Friday, September 23rd, with six clubs opening the BBL Championship season. In the opening round of matches Bristol Flyers host Manchester Giants, Sheffield Sharks take on London Lions and Surrey Scorchers meet Cheshire Phoenix.

The fixtures come thick and fast, with a repeat of last season’s Play-off Final scheduled for the second weekend of the campaign with last season’s champions Leicester Riders doing battle with London Lions

Elsewhere the BBL Cup gets underway on October 2nd as teams battle it out once again to make the showpiece final at Birmingham’s Utilita Arena on Sunday, January 29th.

Meanwhile, the BBL Trophy begins on Friday, January 13th, with the final set to take place in late March, with the exact date and venue to be confirmed in due course.

The six non-BBL sides entering the BBL Trophy this season will be:
• Basketball Wales
• Derby Trailblazers
• Nottingham Hoods
• St Mirren
• Thames Valley Cavaliers
• Worthing Thunder

Earlier this month, the British Basketball League announced that the 2022-23 Championship will follow a new format, with each side facing the other on four occasions throughout the campaign.

The season will reach its conclusion with the end-of-season Play-Off Finals scheduled to take place on Sunday 14th May at The O2, London.

British Basketball fans can catch all of the action throughout the season on Sky Sports Arena, Sky Sports YouTube Channel, and the BBL Player.

All fixtures are subject to change.

Nelson-Henry returns!

After leading the Riders in a treble-winning year, Captain Darien Nelson-Henry has re-signed and will return to Leicester for the 2022/23 season.

The University of Pennsylvania graduate earned a spot on the Molten BBL Team of the Year in back-to-back seasons, after being named to the team this year. He averaged an index rating of 28.8, ranking second in the league, and was an efficient force down low, leading the team to the title by a franchise-record margin with 12 points and 5.6 rebounds a game. 

The upcoming year will mark the 6’11” big man’s fourth season in Leicester, as he looks to add to the four pieces of silverware he has brought to the Morningside Arena so far. 

“I am extremely excited to be back for another season with Riders. After all the success we had last season, we’re obviously trying to carry it over. On top of that, we have a European campaign to look forward to,” said Nelson-Henry.

“Hopefully, the success we had last season can be repeated along with an intensified schedule in Europe. We have managed to keep a lot of the squad together which is fantastic, as we had phenomenal chemistry last season. I am looking forward to another great season, with great people surrounding the club yet again!”

Head coach Rob Paternostro commented: “We are thrilled to have Darien back for another season. He has been a great player and leader for us both on and off the court.

“He is a very skilled high IQ player, who does a great job of scoring from the post or the pick and roll, he is also a tremendous passer who does a very good job of finding the open man.”

Riders to host Donar Groningen in preseason

The Riders will host Dutch outfit Donar Groningen during their upcoming preseason. The games will take place on Friday the 9th and Sunday the 11th of September, both at the Morningside Arena.

Leicester faced Donar home and away in last year’s postseason, the Dutch side proving a stern test for the Riders. The fixtures provided key minutes to the newly formed Leicester squad, setting them up for their treble-winning season. 

Donar enters their preseason off the back of a decorated year of their own, finishing third in the BNXT League and emerging victors of the NBB Cup. It was the seventh time Donar have lifted the trophy and secured their third-place league finish with a 14-6 record. 

These fixtures accompany the previously announced game against the USA Select, which takes place on Monday the 2nd of September.

Get your tickets here!

Riders Pre-Season Games

In anticipation of the 2022/23 BBL season, your treble-winning Leicester Riders are back for pre-season this September!

Leicester Riders vs USA Select
Friday 2nd September – Tip-off 8 PM


Pre-season Tickets

Adult £10
Concession £7.50
Child £5

Click here for tickets!
Corporate Packages for Club 1967 will be also available for these Riders pre-season games, please contact the Morningside Arena Box Office for more information.

Season Tickets

Leicester Riders 2022/23 Season Tickets are also now available! Secure your seat for all Riders Championship, Cup and BBL league games throughout the 2022/23 BBL Season by visiting:

riders.basketball/ST23

Four Riders continuing multi-year deals

Four contracted Riders players are returning to Leicester for next season, as Patrick Whelan, Mo Walker, Kimbal Mackenzie and Conner Washington continue their multi-year deals. The quartet played a pivotal role in the Riders’ treble-winning season, and will look to bring further success to the Morningside Arena. 

Whelan was named in the Molten BBL Team of the Year, and the Molten BBL British Team of the Year last season! The Warrington-born two-guard led the Riders with 15.3 points per game, and was the BBL’s second-best three-point shooter on the year, averaging 48% from deep. 

Mackenzie and Washington combined to create an elite backcourt duo off the bench. They averaged 7.9 and 7.3 points respectively and stepped up in the biggest moments of the season. Washington played big minutes late in the Playoff semi-final and final, scoring 20 points in the semi-final’s second leg, while Mackenzie’s season-high of 15 points came in Leicester’s BBL Cup final win. 

Canadian/British big man Mo Walker was dominant down low, averaging 11.6 points and 5.2 rebounds a game. He shot 61% from the field and 71% from the free-throw line in an efficient season, putting up a season-high of 20 points and eight rebounds in March. 

“All four players were very influential in our team’s success last season,” commented head coach Rob Paternostro. “They displayed talent, professionalism and team play, and we are thrilled to have them back and look forward to watching them perform.”

BBL confirm new format

The British Basketball League (BBL) are excited to reveal new changes to the format of the BBL season ahead of the start of the 2022-23 campaign.

The new season will begin in September with BBL Championship action, with each team now facing each other four times (2H, 2A), playing 36 games across a 28-week league season. Basketball fans will be able to watch weekly action via both official broadcast partner Sky Sports and the BBL player.

The BBL Cup competition will now be a knockout competition featuring all 10 BBL teams. Those teams who placed 1st-6th in the 2021-22 league season will receive a bye into the Quarter Finals with seeds 1-4 receiving a guaranteed home date in the Quarter Finals.

The Semi-Finals will be an open draw. All rounds will be one-legged ties, as teams battle it out to make the final at Birmingham’s Utilita Arena for the final which takes place on Sunday 29th January.

The BBL Trophy will retain the same 16-team knockout bracket format, with the 10 BBL teams joining six invited non-BBL teams, who are to be announced in due course.

Those who made the Trophy Quarter Finals in the 2021-22 season will receive a guaranteed home tie in the First Round of the 2022-23 Trophy, with an open draw determining ties and seeding. All rounds will be one-legged ties.

The BBL Play-offs will retain the same format, with the top eight teams in the BBL Championship standings advancing to the Play-offs.

The BBL’s Chief Operating Officer, Andy Webb, said:

“We’re really excited to be announcing the new format for the 2022-23 season. The changes will help fans stay across all of the action taking place in the BBL Championship, Cup and Trophy, with each competition given precedence across dedicated weekends throughout the season. We’re looking forward to finalising and announcing the full fixture calendar to supporters in the coming weeks as preparations for another thrilling season of action continue.”

Fixtures for next season will be revealed in full later this summer, for further updates please visit bbl.org.uk and the leagues social media channels.

Rob Paternostro’s testimonial report!

The BBL All-Stars emerged 94-91 victors against the Riders Legends in coach Rob Paternostro’s testimonial game, honouring Paternostro’s tenure so far as Riders coach. 

The game came down to the final seconds, as the teams traded the lead in the final minute. The Riders Legends had a shot to tie, but Tyler Bernardini’s shot fell short to end the game. 

The fixture was hotly contested, with both sides hustling on both ends in a fitting tribute to coach Rob. Stars from past and present knuckled down on defence to create a high-quality display of basketball fought buzzer to buzzer.  

The opening stages were tightly contested, as former McDonald’s All-American Taylor King turned back the clock to start the game, draining his first three to get the action underway. Midway through the first, the BBL All-Stars edged a 10-12 start, with Dirk Williams of the London Lions leading the game with a pair of triples. 

Making their first changes of the game, the All-Stars fielded five of the BBL’s current elite to see out the quarter. They stretched their lead to eight to close the period, with Surrey Scorchers legend Tayo Ogendengbe laying in a fastbreak score to make it 27-19. 

Five quick Legends points started the second quarter, as big man Barry Lamble stringed a three to cut the deficit to one possession. The sides traded buckets in the period, before Zaire Taylor, who featured on the 2013 BBL Team of the Year, ran the fast break to tie it up with a layup. 

With two minutes remaining in the half, the Riders caught fire from deep, draining four straight to explode out to a double-digit lead. They carried their advantage into the half, leading 53-46 at the break. 

To start the second half, the BBL All-Stars fought back with back-to-back threes, as Dirk Williams’ deep shot made it a three-point game. In response, the Legends went on a run of their own, as Hassan’s midrange pull-up rebuilt the lead to nine. 

They held the All-Stars at arm’s length until two minutes left in the third, before they commenced a run to climb back into the game. Matthew Bryan-Amaning dished a flashy behind-the-back pass to the BBL’s most decorated player Darius Defoe, who tied the game up in close. 

Six quick Legends points to close the third made it 72-66 in their favour entering the final period. Bernardini took it coast to coast and drained a deep three at the buzzer, giving the Riders their narrow advantage. 

The sharpshooter stayed on hot form in the fourth, getting the period underway with another triple. Jorge Calvo rode the wave of momentum, hitting a shot at the buzzer to claim the Legends’ first double-digit lead. 

The All-Stars chipped away at the advantage, cutting it to three with three minutes remaining. Manchester Giants’ Josh Steel turned up in the clutch, driving to the hoop to make it a one-point game a minute later. 

Josephs, who averaged 18 points in the BBL last season, took the All-Stars first lead of the fourth with a triple, setting up a tense finale with 40 seconds on the clock. With 4 seconds left, the Riders had a shot to tie at the buzzer, but Bernardini’s shot fell short to end the game. 

The fixture completes the season’s basketball at the Morningside Arena, as Rob and the Riders look forward to the next season to earn further silverware. 

Rob Paternostro testimonial Preview: Riders Legends

A roster of Riders Legends return to the Morningside Arena to celebrate Coach Rob Paternostro’s legendary tenure at the reigns, suiting up to face the BBL All-Stars in an All-Star testimonial game. 

Players from across Rob’s 14-year tenure as head coach will be competing, as Riders fans will get an opportunity to see legends from past eras at the Morningside Arena once more. 

Tickets are available here!

After competing in Leicester in the 2016/17 season, former G-League power-forward Taylor King has returned from retirement for the game. King averaged 12.5 points and eight rebounds in his season at Leicester, winning the league, trophy and playoff treble and being named to the BBL Team of the Year. 

“I’m feeling very grateful to be able to head back to Leicester, where I had so many great memories, just to have the opportunity to suit up again and go hoop with a bunch of very talented players,” said King. 

“Rob is the best. I played for lots of great coaches in my career, and he is up there with the best of them. I’m extremely lucky and thankful to be able to head back to Leicester, where I cemented so many great memories, and reunite with many great players who I keep in contact with today. 

“I’m also thankful to be able to play in front of the Riders faithful. To see that amazing fanbase again is a blessing!”

Joining him from the 2016/17 season are Drew Sullivan, Harrison Gamble, Shane Walker, Andy Thomson and captain Tyler Bernardini. The group have 20 Riders seasons between them, and together helped build the most successful period in franchise history. 

Sharing the court with them in honour of Rob is Jay Couisnard, who played two seasons for the Riders from 2012 to 2014. The 6’6” two-guard averaged 16 points per game in his second Riders season and is looking forward to his return to Leicester. 

“I’m honoured and happy to be involved. Being able to come back to show appreciation for Coach Rob and the Riders organization was a no-brainer for me. I’m excited to see everyone including the fans and former teammates.” 

Couisnard played a fundamental role in securing Paternostro’s first silverware, in a treble-winning year in 2013. Accompanying him from that roster is Jorge Calvo, Zaire Taylor, Drew Sullivan and captain Barry Lamble, who got the ball rolling for Paternostro’s winning ways in Leicester. 

Completing the roster is Rema Lascelles, a 6’6” guard who played three seasons from 2017 to 2020, and Rashad Hassan, whose two seasons in Leicester starting in 2013 kick-started his seven-year professional career, which continues to flourish with the Plymouth City Patriots.

“I feel honoured to be a part of the game. Rob is a champion on and off the court, and I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to have started my professional career with the Leicester Riders,” commented Hassan. 

“It’s going to be fun catching up with my former teammates and players I’ve played against throughout my career as well. There’s going to be some amazing talent playing in this game so I’m sure the fans will be in for a fun and competitive game.” 

 Coach Rob’s right-hand man, assistant coach Pablo Vazquez, has shared the sidelines with Rob since 2016. He added: “The commitment and hard work since the moment Rob arrived at this club has created a legacy.

“It will be a great event with so many players who have created history in British Basketball. I’m hoping for a great crowd to celebrate Rob’s commitment to the Leicester Riders organisation!”

In anticipation of the game, coach Rob commented:

“I’m so excited about Saturday. Seeing so many friends in one place will make it a night to remember. I feel honoured to be given this testimonial game and I appreciate all the people who have helped put this night together.”

The game should be a high level of basketball, and that’s something I really wanted to have. The rosters are filled with so much talent, so it should be fun watching all those great players go at it.”

Rob Paternostro Testimonial Preview: BBL All-Stars

Coach Rob Paternostro’s All-Star Testimonial game will see the BBL All-Stars take on Riders Legends in a highly anticipated fixture. A collection of some of the greatest talent to grace the BBL will suit up to form a star-studded cast, as the All-Stars will prove a formidable outfit in what is set to be a hotly contested game.  

Get your tickets here!

London Lions’ walking bucket Dirk Williams, GB’s most consecutively capped player Teddy Okereafor and Manchester Giants’ sharpshooter Josh Steel represent some of the BBL’s elite set to take the court. 

“I’m excited! It’s cool to be named to play alongside all of these other great players,” said Steel, the London-born two-guard who shot 42% from deep last season. “The Riders always put on a good show, so I’m looking forward to a good night and to be able to lace them up with some talented guys.”

Some of the BBL’s all-time greats will don the black and yellow of the All-Stars. Sheffield Sharks’ all-time leading scorer Mike Tuck and the league’s most decorated player Darius Defoe are just two names on a roster stacked with accomplishments. 

Mathew Bryan-Amaning is another, the 6’8” forward has played 14 pro seasons, five in the BBL. “The roster that has been put together is excellent, with a lot of active guys who play to a high standard,” commented Bryan-Amaning, who averaged 20 points per game for the London Lions in 2014.

“It should be a good event, and a good day of basketball. The fans don’t get to see these guys playing often, especially all at one time, so it will be a good event to celebrate Rob’s achievement’s so far!”

Among those to recently grace the BBL are electric GB guard Kofi Josephs, who averaged a league-best 21 points for the Plymouth City Patriots last season, and Jordan Williams, who has eight BBL seasons to his name, including last season spent with the London Lions.

Joining them is Surrey Scorcher legend Tayo Ogendengbe, who has competed in the BBL for the last 12 seasons, averaging 17 points in the 2018/19 season.

Completing the squad is 17-year European pro Devon Van Oostrum, who averaged 16 points for the Leeds Force in 2015, and Newcastle Eagles’ legend Charles Smith, the 2014-15 BBL MVP winner who averaged 18.6 points that season.

Coach Rob’s right-hand man, assistant coach Pablo Vazquez, has shared the sidelines with Rob since 2016. He added: “The commitment and hard work since the moment Rob arrived at this club has created a legacy.

“It will be a great event with so many players who have created history in British Basketball. I’m hoping for a great crowd to celebrate Rob’s commitment to the Leicester Riders organisation!”

In anticipation of the game, coach Rob commented:

“I’m so excited about Saturday. Seeing so many friends in one place will make it a night to remember. I feel honoured to be given this testimonial game and I appreciate all the people who have helped put this night together.”

The game should be a high level of basketball, and that’s something I really wanted to have. The rosters are filled with so much talent, so it should be fun watching all those great players go at it.”

Testimonial rosters announced

A host of Riders legends and BBL All-stars will be on court at Morningside Arena for Rob Paternostro’s testimonial on 11 June 2022. With a few big name additions still expected to join the current line-ups, the final line-ups will be announced later this week.

The teams will be split along Riders lines with generations of Riders stars to play a BBL All-Stars team.

Riders Legends
Tyler Bernardini
Jorge Calvo
Jay Couisnard
Harrison Gamble
Rashad Hassan
Taylor King
Barry Lamble
Rema Lascelles
Zaire Taylor
Drew Sullivan
Andy Thomson
Shane Walker

BBL All-stars
Matthew Bryan Amaning
Darius Defoe
Kofi Josephs
Tayo Ogedengbe
Teddy Okereafor
Charles Smith
Josh Steel
Mike Tuck
Devon Van Oostrum
Dirk Williams
Jordan Williams

Coaching staff will be announced this week and the line-up for the half-time 3-point contest competitors!

Tickets are available here.

Award named after Eric

Tonight sees the End of Season Awards for the Riders BBL & WBBL squads at Morningside Arena. As a special dedication, the club has announced that the Coach’s Player of the Year will be named after Eric Robertson.

Eric, who passed away earlier this year, was a part of the Riders family from 2016 to 2018, making 87 BBL appearances and winning six trophies (x2 Trophy, x2 League, x2 Playoff).

The Coach’s Player of the Year goes to that player who stands for everything a coach would want in a player both on and off court.

It’s an honour for us to recognise Eric’s impact and his legacy through the Eric Robertson Award.

Riders win BBL Playoff Final!

The Leicester Riders secured the treble in a thriller at the O2, winning the BBL Playoff Final with a 78-75 victory against the London Lions. 

After being crowned back to back MVP a day previous, Geno Crandall took the game by the horns in the clutch to snatch the victory. He scored or assisted on the Riders’ last six buckets, and won the game with a steal on a Lions inbound with two seconds on the clock. 

Crandall was named the Final MVP with his 22 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals. It is his third individual award of the season, after winning the BBL Cup Final MVP and league MVP earlier in the year. 

The Riders’ bench played a pivotal role in the game. Leicester entered the final quarter down eight, and the second unit led the charge back into the game, before handing the reigns to Crandall. Conner Washington was key down the stretch, his wealth of experience keeping Leicester heads cool in the heat of battle. 

For London, their star guard Isaiah Reese put up a monster 29 point performance, despite his team falling just short. The former G-Leaguer, who led the BBL in scoring this season, went back and forth with Crandall down the stretch, making big buckets back to back as the clock ticked down. 

And it was the Lions who had the better of the first period, starting the game 22-13. Their backcourt pairing of Dirk Williams and Reese scored 19 points in seven minutes to get the game underway. 

Two and-one plays, from Darien Nelson-Henry and Zach Jackson, marked Leicester’s highlights of the opening period, which finished 29-23 in London’s favour. They finished the first on a 6-2 run, with Mo Walker laying in a putback to cut it to six. 

The Riders turned to their captain, Nelson-Henry to start the second. The Kirkland born big man battled down low for back to back and-one plays, which tied the score and snatched the game’s momentum. 

A jaw-dropping underhand pass from Geno Crandall to Zach Jackson allowed the Riders to take the lead, which they grew going into the half. Leicester finished the second on a 13-6 run, taking an advantage into the locker rooms. Crandall, Jackson and Nelson-Henry had double-digit points by halftime, as Crandall’s basket to close the half made it 46-39. 

The Lions started the second half the stronger of the sides, with a three from Lorenzo Cugini taking a London lead four minutes into the third quarter. The Riders struggled to make shots, scoring five points in seven minutes out of the locker rooms. London continued their hot form through the quarter, taking an eight-point lead into the fourth. 

The Riders bolted out the gates in the final quarter, They scored five quick points, before a Washington steal in transition led to a Mo Walker jam to take the lead. Crandall checked in and took the reigns, scoring four points in under a minute to give the Riders an advantage going into crunch time. 

The sides traded buckets in a tense final few minutes. The Riders turned to their back to back MVP to steer them home. Crandall scored 10 points in the final six minutes to make it a three-point game with two seconds remaining. On the Lions’ cross-court inbound, Crandall came up with the steal to secure the Riders’ fifth BBL Playoff win. 

Geno crowned back to back MVP!

Geno Crandall has been named the 2021/22 Molten BBL MVP! Crandall has won the MVP in each of his two Riders seasons, becoming just the fourth player in BBL history to win the award back to back. 

It is Crandall’s second individual award this season, having picked up the BBL Cup final MVP in January. The Minneapolis born point guard’s 26 point performance in the final led the Riders to their first trophy this season, which they followed up with their sixth league title. 

Crandall has led the Riders to their biggest league winning margin in franchise history, as the Riders concluded the year with a 27-2 record, 16 points clear of second place. He put up his season high scoring effort to clinch the league title with 25 points against the Plymouth City Patriots. 

The Gonzaga graduate finished the season averaging 13.1 points and 6.8 assists, his assist tally ranking in the top five in the BBL. He also ranked second in +/- and top 10 in steals, as his efforts showed up all over the box score. 

Rob named Coach of the Year!

Coach Rob Paternostro has been named the 2021/22 Molten Ed Percival BBL Coach of the Year! It is Rob’s seventh time receiving the award, the most in BBL history! 

Rob has led the Riders to their biggest ever winning margin, with their 27-2 record winning the title by 16 points. The Riders have secured two pieces of silverware this season, having won the BBL Cup final in January. 

Leicester became only the third team in BBL history to lead the league with the best offensive and defensive record this season, scoring 91 points per contest, while giving up 72 on the other end. 

The award is Rob’s third of the season, having been awarded two Coach of the Month Awards during the year!

The club granted Coach Rob an All-star Testimonial event being played on 11 June – be sure to get your ticket here.

Three Riders named to BBL Team of the Year!

Geno Crandall, Darien Nelson-Henry and Patrick Whelan have been named to the Molten BBL Team of the Year! The trio led the Riders to a title-winning season, all playing pivotal roles in their success. 

Crandall finished the season averaging 13.1 points and 6.8 assists, his assist tally ranking in the top five in the BBL. The Gonzaga graduate also ranked second in +/- and top 10 in steals, as his efforts showed up all over the box score.

One of the league’s elite snipers, Whelan was the second-ranked three-point shooter in the BBL, shooting 48% from the field. He also led the Riders in scoring on the year, averaging 15.3 points per game. 

Nelson-Henry averaged an index rating of 28.8 this season, ranking second in the league. The Riders’ captain was an efficient force down low, leading the team to the title by a franchise-record margin with 12 points and 5.6 rebounds a game. 

BBL Playoff Final Preview- Riders vs Lions

The Riders face off against the London Lions in the BBL Playoff Final at the O2 Arena! The game will take place on Sunday, tipping off at 4:15. 

Get your tickets here! 

Road to the O2- Riders

After lifting the BBL Cup and winning the BBL Championship by a franchise-record margin, the Riders have fought their way through the playoffs in an attempt to secure the treble. They entered the playoffs on hot form, having lost just two games in the regular season to earn a first-round draw against the eighth-seeded Plymouth City Patriots. 

Patrick Whelan led them through the first leg with 19 points, as the Riders earned a 15 point advantage with a 86-71 road win. The Patriots fought back in the second leg, taking an aggregate lead in the third quarter. But Zach Jackson scored 10 straight points in response before Leicester saw out the game to book a spot in the semis. 

They faced the seventh-seeded Glasgow Rocks in the semi-final, who came into the tie fresh off the back of an underdog win against the two-seeded Sheffield Sharks. After a closely fought opening half in the first leg, the Riders put one foot in the final by the final buzzer, taking a 21 point lead into the return fixture behind Geno Crandall’s 32 points, 11 assists seven rebounds and five steals. 

In the second leg, the Riders sealed the win in a professional display, beating Glasgow 104-78. Crandall led the team with 22 points and eight assists in 25 minutes, and Conner Washington exploded for 10 points in the fourth to log 20 points in the game, the GB guard closing out an impressive win.

Journey to the O2- Lions

London entered the postseason as the third seed, falling short of their title-winning aspirations to finish the season with a 16-11 record. They found form to end the year, winning three on the bounce as they prepared to face the Cheshire Phoenix in the first round. 

They started the playoffs with a bang, beating the Phoenix by 16 in the first leg at home, led by 17 from Julian Washburn. In the second leg, Cheshire put a scare into the Lions, exploding out the gate to a 53-24 lead midway through the second. But London regained their composure at the half, fighting back to win the tie by 14 on aggregate.

In the semis, they met the Bristol Flyers, a team who had tested the Lions with close encounters throughout the season. The first leg was no different, as London edged an 85-83 win going back to the Copperbox. There was little between the sides by halftime in the return fixture, before the Lions exploded in the second half to book their place in the final. Star tandem Isaiah Reese and Dirk Williams scored 28 and 26 respectively to lead their team through the game.  

One to watch- Riders

To book the Riders’ place in the BBL Playoff final, Conner Washington’s season-high 20 points in 18 minutes put the game beyond doubt. The 11 year Rider shot 50% from the field and 44% from deep, putting on a vintage display for the fans. 

“To come out and be aggressive is always my game plan,” commented Washington postgame. “Coming into this game, I didn’t want to hold back. I wanted to play hard defence and find my shot.”

The Bedford born point guard is a spark plug off the bench for Leicester, coming into the game off the bench to provide elite shooting, playmaking and defence. He has earned 12 trophies for the Riders in his career and was named to the BBL All-Defensive and All-British first teams in 2017. 

Washington’s championship experience will prove vital at the O2. “In the final, we’ll come out and be aggressive, stick to our principles and do what we do,” said the Loughborough University graduate. “We’ve played the Lions throughout the season and know them really well. It’s going to be a great game to watch, but the main focus for us is to stick to what we’ve been doing.” 

One to watch- Lions

After leading the BBL in scoring through the season, London’s star guard Isaiah Reese has been on a tear in the postseason, averaging 23 points a game. His 28 point performance was his postseason highlight so far, stuffing the stat sheet with eight assists, eight rebounds and six steals. 

The 6’5” two-guard played two seasons in the NBA G-League before signing with London, scoring 8.3 points per game in his second year with the Santa Cruz Warriors. This came after a successful three-year college career with Canisius College, where he became the 38th player in the school’s history with over 1000 career points. 

Reese is a bucket from deep, shooting 39% from behind the arc this season on eight attempts per game. He led the team in points and assists, dishing six a game to demonstrate his ability to score, and get his teammates involved. 

Previous meetings

The sides met seven times this season in all competitions, with the Riders taking the season series 5-2. Leicester knocked London out of the BBL Cup semi-finals over two legs in their most high-profile games of the season, and won a 103-67 blowout in their most recent game. 

Geno Crandall and Zach Jackson balled out in the win, both scoring 16 points as Leicester shot 55% from three. The Lions endured a difficult shooting night, going 36% from the field and 21.2% from three, as Italian sniper Lorenzo Cugini’s 16 points led them in the loss. 

Whelan named in BBL British Team of the Year!

Patrick Whelan has been named in the Molten BBL British Team of the Year! The Warrington-born two-guard led the Riders with 15.3 points per game this season, an integral part of their championship run. 

The GB international was the BBL’s second-best three-point shooter on the year, averaging 48% from deep. He scored 20 points on eight separate occasions, and recorded a career first double-double with a season-high 25 points and 11 rebounds in March. 

With two trophies in the cabinet this season so far, Patrick takes his spot in the side alongside Cheshire Phoenix’s BBL Trophy winners Teddy Okereafor and Michael Ochereobia, Rowell Graham-Bell (Patriots) and Dan Clark (Giants).

Riders Job opportunities

Leicester Riders have some new opportunities to join their programme. We are looking for a Physiotherapist/Sports Therapist, Physiotherapy Internship and four Strength & Conditioning Interns.

Physiotherapist/Sports Therapist
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Physiotherapy Internship
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Strength & Conditioning Work Experience/Intern (x4)
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Riders progress to BBL Playoff Final!

The Riders booked their spot in the BBL Playoff final, beating the Glasgow Rocks 209-162 over two legs. A 104-78 win in the return fixture marked a blowout win for the league champions, as Leicester showed composure and professionalism throughout. 

After his dominant display in the first leg, Geno Crandall led the team with 22 points and eight assists in 25 minutes. He averaged 27 points and nine assists over the two legs, asserting his authority in the fixtures. Off the bench, Conner Washington exploded for 10 points in the fourth to log 20 points in the game, the GB guard closing out an impressive win. 

Taking a 21 point advantage into the game, Leicester controlled the fixture, playing at their own pace to earn their spot in the final. They shot 52% from the field and a blistering 46% from three, stretching their lead to double digits in the third and not looking back. 

Off the bench, Falkirk native Fraser Malcolm led the Rocks with 17 points and six rebounds off the bench. Glasgow had no answer for the Riders’ BBL best offence in the two games, as the Riders scored over 100 in both. 

The Riders bolted out the gates to an emphatic 17-3 start, getting it done in both ends in the opening minutes. Zach Jackson’s monster block on Rocks’ big man Vance Johnson was the highlight of the early momentum, the Omaha graduate making an and-one play shortly after as the Riders ran away with the lead. 

After putting up a 32 point double-double in the first leg, Crandall continued his red hot form. He dished flashy passes and made tough shots from deep to lead Leicester to the lead, putting up nine points and four assists in the first. 

After being rocked in the opening stages, Glasgow regained composure to bring the deficit back to single digits shortly into the second quarter. After a 29 point game in the first leg, first-year pro Jordan Johnson hit a three to bring the game to six.

Glasgow won the second 21-17 to make it 46-38 on the night. But despite the Rocks’ fightback, the Riders entered the locker rooms with a 27 point aggregate lead. 

Leicester started the second half how they started the first, getting the action back underway with an 11-4 run. All five Riders starters had made baskets four minutes into the third, as the hosts built on their advantage. 

Crandall continued his scoring streak in the third, scoring nine points in the period. His coast to coast drive with a minute remaining was the highlight of the third, which ended 72-61 in Leicester’s favour. 

With the tie all but sealed, the Riders saw the game out in the fourth. Loughborough’s Evan Walshe checked into the game to log key playoff minutes, while Washington went off for 13 in the period. The sides traded buckets, before the Riders stretched their lead emphatically in the closing minutes to book their place in the final.

“To come out and be aggressive is always my game plan,” commented Washington postgame. “Coming into this game, I didn’t want to hold back. I wanted to play hard defence and find my shot.”

“In the final, we’ll come out and be aggressive, stick to our principles and do what we do. We’ve played them throughout the season and know them really well. It’s going to be a great game to watch, but the main focus for us is to stick to what we’ve been doing.” 

The final will take place at the O2 Arena on Sunday, tipping off at 4:15 PM. The Riders take on the London Lions, hoping to secure the treble. 

BBL Playoff Preview- Riders vs Rocks

The Riders return to Leicester for the second leg of the BBL Playoff semi-final. They take a 21 point lead to the Morningside Arena following the first leg in Glasgow.

Get your tickets here! 

Playoffs so far- Riders 

The Riders earned the top seed for the postseason in dominant fashion, winning the league title by a franchise-record margin of 16 points. They finished the year with a 25-2 record, earning a first-round matchup against the eighth-seeded Plymouth City Patriots.

Patrick Whelan led them through the first leg with 19 points, as the Riders earned a 15 point advantage with a 86-71 road win. The Patriots fought back in the second leg, taking an aggregate lead in the third quarter. But Zach Jackson scored 10 straight points in response, before Leicester saw out the game to book a spot in the semis. 

The first leg in Glasgow was a back and forth affair for the first half. In the second, the Rocks exploded to a double-digit lead, which lit a spark in the Riders’ offence. Leicester went 59-28 the rest of the way, led by a historic game from Geno Crandall. The reigning MVP put up 32 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and five steals, dominating every aspect of the game. 

Playoffs so far- Rocks

With a 12-15 record through the season good for the seventh seed in the playoffs, the Glasgow Rocks faced the second-placed Sheffield Sharks in the first round. The Rocks won the season series 2-1, matching up well with their opponents.

In the home leg, four Sharks scored over 15 points to leave the Rocks in a seven-point hole. But pre-game news of injuries to the Sharks’ star backcourt pairing, Antwain Johnson and Rodney Glasgow Jr, put the Rocks on the front foot for a comeback. The Rocks took advantage of the Sheffield injuries, beating the Sharks 96-72 to pull off the upset win.

The Rocks were led by first-year pro Jordan Harris in the first leg, who put up a season-high 29 point performance. However, to progress to the Playoff final, Glasgow will need to overcome a deficit from which no need has recovered in BBL Playoff history. 

One to watch- Riders

In the opening leg, Leicester’s star point guard put up a performance for the ages. His index rating of 40 was the highest in a game since 2012 for a Riders’ player, putting the team on his back in a blowout win. 

In his second Riders year, Crandall averaged 13 points and 6.8 assists through the season. His assist tally ranks fourth in the BBL, and his index efficiently third, as he shot 50% from the field and 39% from three. 

Last season, the Gonzaga graduate pulled the strings in the backcourt, averaging a BBL best nine assists in the playoffs. His team-high 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists sealed the league title for the Riders, and he is set to help the team through their playoff push.

Crandall is an elite offensive talent, with his flashy playmaking skills dominating highlight reels. He pushes the tempo quickly in transition to set up teammates for easy buckets, and has active hands defensively averaging  1.8 steals. With his ability to read the passing lane and take the ball from the opposition, he is a fantastic asset to Rob Paternostro’s side on both ends of the floor.

One to watch- Rocks

Despite his team’s loss, Jordan Harris’ 29 points were an impressive showing for the rookie in the opening fixture. The former Georgia Bulldog averaged 7.1 points per game as a senior in college, but improved to 17 points per game after he took the step up to the pros, settling into his new team seamlessly. 

The 6’4” guard gets it done on both ends, finishing top five in the BBL in steals with two per game. Harris’ active hands were on full display in the first leg, as he snatched five steals. He is an efficient scorer, averaging 48% from the field over the season, preferring to get it done at the hoop.

Harris has lit up the BBL this season with his athleticism, serving up posters all year long to become a prominent feature on the BBL’s top 10 plays of the week. His highlight plays date back to college, as his monstrous chase down block features in ESPN’s top 10 plays in his senior season. 

The Rocks will need every bit of production from Harris in this one, as they look to stage a historic comeback. 

Previous meetings

After the first leg win, the Riders are 4-0 against the Rocks this year after sweeping the season series. Each game was won in emphatic fashion, with Leicester taking each game by 15 points. Another win would see them advance to the Playoff final, as they pursue a treble-winning year. 

Riders win first leg blowout!

It is advantage Riders in the BBL playoff semi-final, after they won the first leg 105-84 against the Glasgow Rocks. 

After being named the British Journalists’ Player of the Year in the week, reigning BBL MVP Geno Crandall put on a show for the Riders, putting up an astonishing 32 points, 11 assists seven rebounds and five steals. The Gonzaga graduate’s points tally is his season-high, as he led his team a step closer to the final. 

It was a red hot performance for the league’s best offence, scoring 105 points by shooting 55% from the floor. In the third, where the Riders began to build their lead, they drained six threes, finishing the game making 54%.

The Rocks took a double-digit lead shortly after halftime, but fell victim to a Riders offensive explosion to which they had no answer. Jordan Harris went blow for blow with Crandall in a battle in the backcourt, leading the team with his season-high 29 points.

It was Leicester who got off to the better start. Back to back threes got the Riders on the board, as they jumped out to an 8-2 lead. They carried their early momentum through the first five minutes, led by eight points from Marc Loving, to force a Rocks timeout up 11. 

The Riders exploded on both ends through the first period, which finished 25-17 in Leicester’s favour. They shot 52% through the quarter while holding Glasgow to 33%, flexing their BBL-best offence and defence. 

Glasgow fought back into contention to start the second, tying the game courtesy of eight points from first-year pro Harris. Three Leicester turnovers in as many minutes allowed the hosts to build momentum on the fastbreak, as the Rocks started the quarter 12-4.

The score swung back and forth until the half, which Glasgow’s Jordan Johnson concluded with a three at the buzzer to make it 48-43 to the hosts. Crandall had 15 by halftime, the MVP taking the reigns for the Riders, while Harris put up a monster 20 point first-half performance for Glasgow. 

In the third, it was Glasgow’s turn to hit two threes to start the half, building their lead to double digits. Johnson nailed both, as the former NBA G-League point guard improved his game total to nine. 

The Riders’ response was immediate, as Whelan his team back into the game. The British Journalists’ British Player of the Year scored eight quick points to retake the lead in 90 seconds. Whelan’s play lit a fire under Leicester from deep, as they nailed five threes six minutes into the third quarter. 

Zach Jackson scored nine straight in the latter stages of the third, continuing his hot form from the quarter-final where he accomplished the same feat. the Omaha graduate’s play put the Riders up 77-69 entering the final quarter.

Conner Washington kicked off the fourth with five quick points to stretch the Leicester lead. The 11-year Riders put his team in good stead as they looked to close out the tie. 

Crandall took over the dying stages of the game, scoring seven points in the final five minutes to stretch the lead to 19. The Riders commenced a 9-2 run late in the tie to consolidate their advantage going into the return fixture. Crandall closed the game with a free throw, making it a 22 point game. 

The return leg will take place on Monday, with the game tipping off at 7:45. Should the Riders win over the two legs, they will book their place in the Playoff final at the O2 Arena.

Louie Jordan commits to Weber State

Leicester-born Louie Jordan has committed to division one NCAA school Weber State and will travel to America for the 2022-23 season.

Jordan, who has been a key player throughout the Riders pathway, has played for Charnwood College, Loughborough Riders and Leicester this past season. 

“I’m excited to commit to Weber State. I have always wanted to go and test myself in the NCAA and I’m really grateful to Weber State for the opportunity to fulfil a dream”, said Jordan.

“Winning the EABL title is the perfect way to leave Charnwood College. I owe a big thank you to the whole Rider programme – the staff and coaches who have supported me in my time here.“

Jordan’s announcement follows on from Victor Ndoukou committing to join North Dakota earlier this week. 

Ndoukou commits to North Dakota

EABL Finals MVP Victor Ndoukou has committed to division one NCAA school North Dakota and will start his American college career with the Fighting Hawks next season.

Ndoukou, who came through the Charnwood College programme, played for both Loughborough Riders and Leicester this past season. 

“I’m really happy to commit to North Dakota. I’ve had several conversations with Coach Sather and liked what he had to say about the school and the team,” commented the 6’8” forward.

“It’s been a dream of mine to be playing in America and I’m grateful for this opportunity. I can’t wait to get started.”

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my coaches and support staff here in the Riders programme for their support.”   

North Dakota, the former school of BBL MVP Geno Crandall, currently play in the Summit league where they face Zach Jackson’s former team Omaha. 

Crandall, Whelan & Paternostro win BJA Awards

For the second straight season, Leicester Riders guard Geno Crandall has scooped the Player of the Year in the Basketball Journalists Association’s annual awards for the 2021-22 season.

Crandall averaged 13.1 points and 6.8 assists a game this season, shooting an efficient 50 percent from the floor during the regular season, as he led the Riders to a league and Cup double.

“It’s an honour to be recognised by the British basketball media that cover the game,” Crandall said.

“To be rewarded for the work that I have put in not just throughout the season but also during the off-season where I made commitments to better myself and my game certainly means a lot.”

Manchester Giants’ Tyrik Armstrong finished second in the voting with Riders’ Patrick Whelan, third.

Along with Crandall, Leicester Riders Rob Paternostro also won back-to-back awards as he claimed his second straight Coach of the Year accolade.

Thanks to Paternostro’s leadership, Leicester secured a 25-2 record for the season, achieving a BBL record-winning margin of 16 points between them and second placed Sheffield Sharks.

“It’s been wonderful to work with our team this season,” Paternostro said.

“Their talent, togetherness and commitment has been on display since we came together in August.

“It’s been fun to come to work each day, working with the players and staff that we have assembled here. It’s been awesome.”

Lloyd Gardner, who led Manchester Giants to their first final in 21 years and a first playoff spot since 2014 was second in the voting with Sharks coach Atiba Lyons in third.

Completing a hat-trick of awards for the Riders is Patrick Whelan, as he wins the Pete Jacques Award for Best British Player in the BBL.

One of the leading shooters this season, Whelan shot 47.9 percent from three-point range and 54.2 percent from the field, overall, averaging 15.3 points per game.

“From such a strong pool of British players in this league, I’m extremely blessed and grateful to even be considered for this award, let alone win it,” Whelan said.

Manchester Giants’ Dan Clark was second in the voting with Cheshire Phoenix’s Teddy Okereafor in third.

Karlie Samuelson of Spanish side Perfumerias Avenida won this season’s Syd Lipski International Award for top British performer on the global stage.

The Great Britain international reached the EuroLeague Women Final Four for a second straight season and secured a bronze medal in the process.

Samuelson averaged 7.3 points as well as shooting 48 percent from three-point range in Europe’s premier competition with season-high performances of 17 points on two occasions in the regular season.

Temi Fagbenle, who reached the EuroCup Women semi-finals with CBK Mersin, was second in the voting with Myles Hesson of Japanese league side, Saga Ballooners, third.

BBL Playoff Preview- Riders at Rocks

The Riders will face the seventh-seeded Glasgow Rocks in the semi-finals of the BBL Playoffs! The first leg will be played on the road, on Saturday 7 May at 2 pm. The teams return to the Morningside Arena for the return fixture on Monday 9 May, tipping off at 7:30 pm.

Get your tickets for the home leg here!

Playoffs so far- Riders

The Riders earned the top seed for the postseason in dominant fashion, winning the league title by a franchise-record margin of 16 points. They finished the year with a 25-2 record, earning a first-round matchup against the eighth-seeded Plymouth City Patriots. 

After a slow start to the first leg, the Riders had control of the tie by the third quarter. They took a 15 point advantage into the return fixture, led by a 19 point performance from GB sniper Patrick Whelan. 

In the second leg, hosted at the Morningside Arena, the Patriots fought back, eventually taking the aggregate lead midway through the third. But Omaha graduate Zach Jackson responded with 10 points unanswered, snatching back momentum that the Riders carried to the finish. 

“Geno going out brought us together in the third. It really motivated us. I was ready to go,” said Jackson postgame. 

“We’ve got to be ready to play, it’s the playoffs. Plymouth was the eighth seed and gave us a tough run. We’ve got to be ready in the next round.” 

Playoffs so far- Rocks

With a 12-15 record through the season good for the seventh seed in the playoffs, the Glasgow Rocks faced the second-placed Sheffield Sharks in the first round. The Rocks won the season series 2-1, matching up well with their opponents.

In the home leg, four Sharks scored over 15 points to leave the Rocks in a seven-point hole. Glasgow’s player/coach Gareth Murray scored 20 to keep them in the tie heading to Sheffield, but their 3-11 away form through the season left them as heavy underdogs against the two-seed. 

But pre-game news of injuries to the Sharks’ star backcourt pairing, Antwain Johnson and Rodney Glasgow Jr, put the Rocks on the front foot for a comeback. The Rocks took advantage of the Sheffield injuries, beating the Sharks 96-72 to pull off the upset win. 

One round away from the playoff final, the Rocks will hope for another underdog win to progress to the O2. 

One to watch- Riders

Warrington born Patrick Whelan led the Riders through the first round of the playoffs, averaging 18 points over the two legs, good for tenth in the BBL. He went 5-11 from three, and 11-11 from the free-throw line, an efficient showing in his first BBL playoff action. 

Whelan was the BBL’s second-best three-point shooter this season, hitting 48% of his deep shots. His 15 points per game led the Riders, and he has carried his form into the postseason. 

Whelan’s bucket getting capabilities, combined with his elite defence on the other end, make him a formidable opponent for opposing teams. With seven 20 point performances on the year, the William Jewell graduate is capable of big games to lead Leicester to wins. 

One to watch- Rocks

After leading the Rocks through the season with 18.4 points per game, Jordan Johnson put up big numbers against the Sharks to help Glasgow to the semi-final. Johnson scored 17.5 points over the two legs, with an 18 point performance in the second leg seeing his side through. 

His scoring ranked top five in the BBL this season, and he made waves with his playmaking ability too. The UNLV graduate dished 8.4 assists per game, the 13th most in a single season in league history. 

The former G-Leaguer, who played his first pro season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, is a dual-threat point guard, able to score and set up his teammates at an elite level. Slowing down Johnson would go a long way to helping the Riders through to the playoff final. 

Previous meetings 

The Riders swept the season series against the Rocks, winning all three games in the season. Leicester won the games by an average margin of 24 points, blowing out their opponents in all three meetings. 

Their previous game was the second-last fixture of the Riders’ season, a 101-86 victory in Glasgow. Mo Walker led the team down low, scoring 17, while Jordan Harris led the game with 19 for the Rocks. 

Riders through to the Playoff semi-finals!

The Riders booked their place in the BBL Playoff semi-finals, beating the Plymouth City Patriots over two legs. A 88-87 win in the second leg built on the 15 point advantage they’d built in the first, a solid showing over 80 minutes. 

Zach Jackson led the team with 18 points, the Kansas born wing scored 12 in the third quarter after Plymouth took an aggregate lead. Jackson was backed up by 17 from Patrick Whelan and 14 from Geno Crandall, a team showing sealing a hard-fought win. 

Leicester got their offence going at the line, driving to the rim to shoot 33 foul shots. They made 88%, and drained 38% of their threes to see them past the Patriots. The win makes it 7-0 in the season series and improves the Riders’ win streak against Plymouth to 38, a run dating back to 2012. 

Plymouth had two 20 point performers in the game, with Antonio Williams and Rowell Graham-Bell scoring 25 and 24 respectively. The visitors had a solid scoring night, shooting 51% from the floor, but ultimately fell short against the league champions. 

As they did in the first leg, the Patriots got off to the better start, jumping out to a 14-2 lead in the opening minutes. Their big man tandem of Graham-Bell and Rashad Hassan scored eight points between them on the run, forcing an early Riders comeback. 

Whelan kick-started the Riders’ response, scoring five quick points including a tough and-one finish. 

On the defensive end, a chase-down block by Marc Loving denied Patriots’ sniper Josh Hart at the rim, before a strong finish from Mo Walker inside brought the game to within a score. Walker led the Riders through the first with seven points off the bench. 

After falling in an early hole, Leicester came back with a 24-12 run in the rest of the quarter. The first ended with the Riders up 109-87 on aggregate. 

The Riders exploded for seven quick points to start the second, taking their first lead of the game. Their BBL-best defence locked in, holding the Patriots scoreless through the first four minutes. Whelan added seven more points to his game tally, as Leicester grew their lead.

Plymouth made a nine-point run to end the half, taking a 45-42 lead into the locker rooms. A ten-point quarter from Crandall meant he led the Riders with 12 points by the half.

The Patriots came out of halftime strong, scoring eight quick points. Graham-Bell built on the Plymouth momentum to score seven straight, as Plymouth took the aggregate lead. Crandall picked up his fifth foul, sidelining him for the remainder of the game. 

Jackson responded, driving to the lane on four straight possessions for eight points. The Omaha graduate took the game by the reigns, snatching back the lead with 10 points unanswered. 

Riding the wave of momentum, Leicester’s 17-2 run tied the game in a raucous Morningside Arena. Jackson’s free throws made it 63-63 entering the fourth. 

Conner Washington took over the scoring load to start the final quarter, scoring six points to stretch the lead. The sides traded buckets in the fourth, as the Riders kept their opponents at arm’s length. 

With two minutes on the clock, Jackson drained a three to take the roof off the arena. Washington drained four free throws down the stretch, sealing the win for Leicester. 

“Geno going out brought us together in the third. It really motivated us. I was ready to go,” said Jackson postgame. 

“We’ve got to be ready to play, it’s the playoffs. Plymouth was the eighth seed and gave us a tough run. We’ve got to be ready in the next round.” 

The Riders will head to Glasgow for their next game, the first of two legs against the Rocks. A win in the game would set the Riders up to progress through the semi-finals, as they go for the treble on the season. 

Playoff 2nd Leg Preview- Riders vs Patriots

The Riders face the Plymouth City Patriots in the BBL Playoff quarter-final, the second of two legs. The first leg was played in Plymouth, an 86-71 Riders win. The return fixture is at the Morningside Arena, tipping off at 4pm on Sunday. 

Get your tickets here!

Season so far- Riders

The Riders locked up the one-seed with five games to spare, winning the BBL Championship by a franchise-record 16 point margin. Leicester earned their 25-2 record with the BBL’s best offence and defence, making them the third team in BBL history to lead the league in points scored and conceded. They put up 91 points per contest while giving up 72, dominating on both ends. 


To tip off the postseason, the Riders put in a dominant away display against Plymouth. Despite a difficult shooting start, Leicester kicked into gear through the final three quarters, shooting 50% from the field and 40% from three in the game. 

Read our report from the win!

Patrick Whelan kicked off his postseason campaign with 19 points and seven rebounds, while Geno Crandall’s six-point fourth quarter sealed the first-leg advantage. The win was the Riders’ 37th straight against Plymouth, a streak dating back to December 2012. 

Having won the BBL Cup and the league title earlier in the year, the Riders are going for their fourth-ever treble in the playoffs. With a commanding lead going into the second leg, they will look to continue their red hot home form to secure a spot in the semi-finals. 

Season so far- Patriots

After a 0-8 start to the season, a Patriots’ miraculous turnaround earned them a playoff place, going 12-7 since. A dramatic “win or go home” game against the Newcastle Eagles, with the winner taking the final playoff spot, secured 8th place for Plymouth.

They jumped out to a hot start to their postseason, forcing an early Riders timeout with a 10-2 run to start the game. But they left themselves with work to do in the second leg, as the Riders came back to take a 15 point lead by the final buzzer. 

Kent State point guard Troy Simons led the team with 16 points, while his backcourt teammate Anotnio Williams put up 15 points, nine assists and 5 rebounds in a stat sheet stuffing performance. The Patriots’ offence struggled for consistency against the BBL’s best defence, shooting 44% from the field and going 4-16 from three. 

A monumental turnaround is needed to get Plymouth back into the tie, as they attempt to make the second round in their first season as a franchise. 

One to watch- Riders

Scoring ten straight Riders’ points to end the third quarter, Zach Jackson played a pivotal role in building the Leicester lead in the first leg. The Omaha graduate finished with 14 points, going 5-7 from the field in the win. 

Jackson averaged 18 points per game in his senior year at Omaha, before the Kansas born small-forward progressed to the Ukrainian league in his first pro season. Jackson is playing in his second Riders season and averaged 10 points per game this year. 

An elite scorer, Jackson is a threat from anywhere on the court, able to make big plays at the rim and score efficiently from deep. He is capable of exploding for monster performances, with a season-high of 28 coming against the Bristol Flyers earlier in the year. 

With his defence, scoring and team-first attitude, Jackson is the epitome of what makes Rob Paternostro’s side the BBL’s premier outfit. 

One to watch- Patriots

In his third Plymouth season, Rashad Hassan has been on a tear, having averaged a monster 17.3 points and 7.4 rebounds this season. He enters this game after dominating down low in the first leg, putting up 15 points and seven rebounds. 

Hassan is a former Rider, who played his first two pro seasons in Leicester. He averaged 18 points a game in his second season, before going on to play for the London Lions and Rueil in the French third division. 

Hassan averaged 19.2 points per game in his first two Plymouth seasons and helped them to 21-9 record last year. His contributions towards winning are needed now more than ever for the Patriots, as they look to make a comeback against the league champions. 

Club Statement

In the third quarter of tonight’s game our Head Coach Rob Paternostro was attacked by a spectator at Plymouth Pavilions.

We would like to thank the medical staff who attended to Rob for their swift response. 

Both Leicester Riders and Plymouth City Patriots strongly condemn the actions of the spectator. There is no place for this behaviour in our game. 

The matter is currently being investigated by the Police.    

Riders win Playoff first leg in Plymouth

The Riders tipped off their BBL playoffs campaign with a win in Plymouth, beating the Patriots 86-71 in the first leg of the quarter-finals. 

Patrick Whelan led the team with 19 points and seven rebounds in his first BBL playoff game, his strong third-quarter setting the tone for Leicester. The Riders won the third 25-18, building their lead before maintaining their advantage in the fourth. 

Reigning MVP Geno Crandall also put up big numbers in the win, scoring 18 points. His defensive efforts also showed in the box score, as the Gonzaga graduate, who finished the season ranking top 10 in steals per game, added another four to his season tally. 

After scoring just 12 in the first quarter, the Riders’ BBL-best offence clicked into gear and scored at a 100 point pace the rest of the way. They hit eight threes in three periods after not hitting one in the first, and shot their foul shots at an efficient rate, making 22 of 24. 

They held the Patriots to under 20 points in each quarter, despite a 16 point performance from Kent State point guard Troy Simons. Plymouth struggled to lock in from deep, going 4-16 from three, and turned the ball over 14 times. 

But it was the hosts who jumped out to a quick start, hitting their first five shots to build a quick 10-2 lead. Leicester endured early offensive struggles, starting 1-6 for two points in five minutes. They hung in the tie through their work on the defensive end, as the Patriots went 1-6 after their hot start. But six turnovers in the quarter meant the Riders trailed 17-12 after the first. 

The sides traded buckets to start the second, as Conner Washington got the quarter started with the Riders’ first three of the game, taking the lid off the basket. After former Rider Rashad Hassan responded with two quick Plymouth baskets down low, Washington drained another deep shot to tie the game three minutes into the second. 

The score continued to swing back and forth to close the half, which was concluded in style by Crandall. Isolating against the bigger Hassan, he jab-stepped before cooly draining a three in his face, taking a 37-36 lead entering the locker rooms. Crandall scored 10 points in the first half to lead Leicester to a narrow advantage. 

Three fouls in two minutes to start the second half sidelined Crandall, so it was Patrick Whelan who stepped up in the third. He scored eight points, including two threes to stretch the lead to eight. 

Zach Jackson closed the quarter scoring 10 straight Riders points, as a 10-2 run closed the period to put Leicester up double digits. The Omaha graduate drained a three as the clock ticked down, making it 64-52 in his team’s favour. 

Whelan and Jackson continued their form in the final period, scoring a basket each to get the action underway, as the Riders kept the Patriots at arm’s length in the fourth.

Crandall concluded the tie with a tough finish at the rim for his sixth points of the quarter, as the Riders carried a strong advanatge into the return leg. 

The Riders look to seal the deal in front of their home crowd on Sunday, as they host the second leg of this fixture. A win on aggregate score would see them advance to the semi-finals, as Leicester aim for the treble.

2022 Play-Off tees available Sunday!

Our 2022 Play-off tees are available for collection from 11.30am on Sunday, ahead of the WBBL game against Nottingham Wildcats (at 12pm) and BBL home Play-off Quarter Final versus Plymouth City Patriots (at 4pm).

A huge thank you to our tees sponsors – Jelson Homes, Torr Waterfield, Premier Logistics, Mather Jamie, 5or6, bespoke LED and RDL Technologies for supporting this years’ tees and covering the costs. This generosity means that all donations this year will go to the Riders Foundation.

The tees give a nod to Eric Robertson who sadly passed away this year, with Robertson 22 on the back of the tee.

The club can also confirm that your BBL ticket will also get you into the WBBL fixture. You can buy tickets here.

BBL confirm entertainment for Play- Off Final

With just over two weeks of epic action still to take place on the court to confirm the teams that will be contesting the British Basketball League (BBL) Play-off Finals at London’s 02 Arena, the BBL is delighted to announce the special guest performances that’ll take place during the event.

Concluding an epic season of action with this showpiece event in the capital on Sunday, May 15th , it has been announced that UK artist and producer Ayo Beatz will perform during the half-time show during the BBL Final, and UK dance group Flawless will perform during the interval of the WBBL
Final.

Ayo Beatz has produced records for some of the biggest artists in the world, such as Jason Derulo, Labrinth and Wiley, with his recent hits including ‘Habits’ in collaboration with Wes Nelson. Flawless were finalists of Britain’s Got Talent in 2009 and have since gone on to develop a leading reputation for their high-energy and exciting performances.

Between both finals will be the BBL Slam Dunk Contest, featuring some of most talented high-flyers in the world, including:

  • 2021 FIBA 3×3 World Tour Final Dunk Contest winner, Piotr ‘Grabo’ Grabowski from Poland
  • The best dunker in Britain, Joel ’The Royal Guard’ Henry
  • Europe’s most promising dunking prospect – 21-year-old Bartek Szwed from Poland
  • Leicester Riders’ Chris Yapo, who starred in the BBL Cup Final Dunk Contest

Tickets are continuing to sell fast for this fantastic event in London, and you can get yours at https://bit.ly/3vjdqwO

BBL Playoff Preview- Riders at Patriots

The Riders face the Plymouth City Patriots in the BBL Playoff quarter-final, over two legs. The first leg will be played in Plymouth, taking place at 7pm on Friday. The return fixture is at the Morningside Arena, tipping off at 4pm on Sunday. 

Get your tickets here

Season so far- Riders

The Riders enter the playoffs as the 1-seed, having been crowned BBL champions in the league season. They won the title by 16 points, the biggest winning margin in BBL history. Their 25-2 record won the league with five games to spare, as they secured the league against their playoff opponents. 

The Riders are also the third team in BBL history to lead the league in points scored and conceded. They put up 91 points per contest, while giving up 72, dominating on both ends. 

GB sharpshooter Patrick Whelan has led the team on the year, scoring 15.3 points per game on 48% from three, his efficiency from deep ranking the 12th best all time. The reigning MVP Geno Crandall has pulled the strings, also enjoying an emphatic season. His 13.1 points and 6.8 rebounds have been pivotal to Leicester’s success. 

In their last game of the season, Leicester faced their playoff opponents, winning 92-82. Bench tandem Conner Washington and Mo Walker led the team. Washington put up a season-high of 20 points, while Walker dominated inside with 17 points and nine rebounds. 

Walker saw the game as a scouting opportunity ahead of the postseason. “They’re a feisty team, they play really physical. We’ve got to do a better job in the playoffs, keeping them out of the paint and just defending better.” 

Having won the BBL Cup and BBL Championship so far this season, the Riders look for the treble in the playoffs. 

Season so far- Patriots 

In their first BBL season, the Plymouth City Patriots booked their place in the playoffs. A dramatic “win or go home” game against the Newcastle Eagles, with the winner taking the final playoff spot, secured 8th place for Plymouth.

They bested the Eagles 80-72 at home, in a tense affair. It was a four-point game with a minute and a half remaining before the Patriots closed with a 6-2 run to seal the victory. Rowell Graham-Bell closed the year with a season-high 26 points and 11 rebounds, backed up by former Rider Rashad Hassan, who put up 25 points and 12 rebounds.

After a 0-8 start to the season, a Patriots’ miraculous turnaround earned them a playoff place, going 12-7 since. They get to the free-throw line the most in the BBL, and can build on their 80.6 points per game by improving their foul shooting, as they currently knock down just 70%. 

Facing a mammoth task, taking on the league champions over two legs, the Patriots will rely on Antonio Williams’ scoring to challenge for the win. His 18.6 points per game in the season ranked second in the BBL, as he looks to continue his form in the postseason. 

One to watch- Riders

Reigning BBL and BBL Cup Final MVP Geno Crandall will look to kickstart his postseason with a win, after putting up 13 points and 6.8 assists through the season. His assist tally ranks fourth in the BBL, and his index efficiently third, as he shot 50% from the field and 39% from three. 

Last season, the Gonzaga graduate pulled the strings in the backcourt, averaging a BBL best nine assists in the playoffs. His team-high 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists sealed the league title for the Riders, and he is set to help the team through their playoff push. 

Crandall is an elite offensive talent, with his flashy playmaking skills dominating highlight reels. He pushes the tempo quickly in transition to set up teammates for easy buckets, and has active hands defensively averaging  1.8 steals. With his ability to read the passing lane and take the ball from the opposition, he is a fantastic asset to Rob Paternostro’s side on both ends of the floor.

One to watch- Patriots

The BBL’s second-ranking scorer and third-ranking assist maker Anontio Williams has been integral to the Patriots’ playoff push this season. His 8.32 assists per game ranks 15th for a single season in BBL history, as he looks to lead Plymouth on a postseason run.

Williams put up big numbers in his last game against the Riders, with 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists. The Chicago born guard did not take a three in the game, attacking the rim to shoot 11 free throws. 

Williams is a third-year pro, having spent his first two professional seasons in Estonia. The Kent State graduate scored 15 points per game in his senior year, and 17 points as a rookie. 

In his first BBL postseason, Williams will look to help his team defy the odds, as they attempt to best the league champions over two legs. 

Previous meeting

The teams have faced off five times in all competitions this season, with the Riders winning every affair. 

They last met in the Riders’ final game of the season, a 92-82 Riders win. Conner Washington put up a season-high of 20 points, and Mo Walker dominated inside with 17 points and nine rebounds. 

For Plymouth, Antonio Williams put up 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists. The Patriots will rue missed opportunities in the game, as they shot 56% from the free-throw line. 


Leicester currently possesses a 36 game win streak over Plymouth, dating back to December 2012. It is the longest winning run against an opponent in BBL history, and they look to extend it in this one. 

Riders beat Patriots in final league game!

The Riders concluded the league season with a win, beating the Plymouth City Patriots 92-82. They finish the season with a 27-2 record, their best ever winning percentage.

The Riders’ bench tandem of Conner Washington and Mo Walker led the team with 34 points between them, as Washington scored a season-high 20 to lead the team in scoring for the first time this year. The duo put up 23 points in the final quarter to seal the win, coming up big in the clutch.

The win marks the 36th straight against Plymouth, a streak which dates back to December 2012! It is the longest winning run against an opponent in BBL history, and completes a 5-0 season sweep. 

The victory also maintained the Riders undefeated home record this season. They are 13-0 at home in the league, making the Morningside Arena a formidable place to visit for teams entering the playoffs. 

Plymouth had two scorers put up 20 points in the defeat. They will rue missed opportunities from the free-throw line, as they made just 14 of their 25 foul shots. 

Offence ruled the early goings, as the teams traded baskets for an 8-7 Patriots start in the first two minutes. Crandall got the Riders’ offence flowing, dishing no-look passes to find open shooters in a back and forth first quarter. Following his season-high performance in his last game, Kimbal Mackenzie finished off the period with a rare breakaway slam cut a narrow Riders’ deficit to one. 

In the second, Mo Walker got the crowd on its feet with a monster putback slam for his ninth points off the bench. The play kickstarted an 8-2 Riders’ run, as the home side took the lead. 

Zach Jackson beat the buzzer with a long two to end the half, sending the Riders into the locker rooms up 48-41. Darien Nelson-Henry led the team with 10 in the half, as the Riders won the period 24-16. 

Leicester took a double-digit lead to start the second half, as Patrick Whelan scored five quick points. 

The Patriots, fighting for playoff contention, battled back into the tie. They commenced a 12-2 before tying the game at 60, as Williams scored seven straight points for Plymouth. 

In response, the Riders’ backcourt clicked into gear, as Conner Washington and Mackenzie scored five quick points. Deji Adekunle drove to the hoop for two Plymouth points to end the third, as the sides entered the final quarter with the score 66-63 in favour of Leicester. 

Washington started the fourth as he finished the third, draining a three to stretch the Riders’ lead. Building off his point guard’s play, Walker got to work down low, bruising his defender for three baskets from the post. 

Walker’s play rebuilt the Riders’ lead to double digits, putting them in a solid position to see the game out. Walker and Washington combined for all but two of the Riders’ 23 fourth-quarter points, getting it done at the free-throw line. The duo’s play was enough to get the Riders over the line, as they secured their ninth straight win.

“I feel like I’m in tip-top shape, and the team’s playing good right now”, said Walker post-game.

Walker has averaged 14 points and six assists in his last eight games, as he prepared for a playoff run.

“I’ve been patient, and the guys are really looking for me. I’m just playing my game, not forcing anything and playing team basketball.”

With the league season concluded, the playoffs are now upon us! The first leg of the quarter-finals will be played on the road, with the date and opponent yet to be decided, and the return fixture will be played at the Morningside Arena on May 1.

Tickets available for the Riders’ first home playoff game are available here!

BBL Championship preview- Riders vs Patriots

Season so far- Riders

The Riders conclude their league season against the Plymouth City Patriots, looking to finish their title-winning year with a 25-2 record. A win in this one would maintain their undefeated home record, as they head into the offseason looking for the treble. 

Leicester is in the midst of an eight-game winning streak and comes into this game off the back of two straight blowouts. Most recently, the Riders dominated in Glasgow, beating the Rocks 101-86. 

Click here to read the match report from the win! 

They had 11 different scorers, five putting up double-digit points. Riders’ tandem of Mo Walker and Kimbal Mackenzie combined for 32 points off the bench, with Walker leading the team with 17 points. 

The Riders have been the BBL’s premier outfit this year, boasting the best offensive and defensive record in the league. In this game, facing the Patriots will provide crucial intel going into the postseason, as they are a potential first-round matchup in the playoffs. 

Season so far- Patriots

After a 0-8 start to the season, the Patriots’ miraculous turnaround has left them in hot contention for a playoff spot. They are 11-6 since, and enter this game after back to back wins against the Surrey Scorchers and Glasgow Rocks. 

Three Patriots scored over 24 points, as American big man Rashad Hassan’s 31 points led them to a 115-105 win. They shot 62% from the field and 44% from three in an emphatic offensive effort. 

It has been another American native, Antonio Williams, who has led the team this season. The Kent State graduate leads the BBL in scoring with 18.9 points per game, picking up a Player of the Month award in the process. 

With this being Plymouth’s penultimate game of the season, a win would place them in a solid position to qualify for the postseason. 

One to watch- Riders

Canadian/British big man Mo Walker put on a show down low in his previous game. His 17 points off the bench against the Rocks came in just 15 minutes, as the Minnesota graduate went an efficient 6/9 from the field. 

Walker is playing in his third Riders season, having gained previous experience in Latvia, France and the BBL for the Worcester Wolves. Walker averaged a monster 18 points and nine rebounds per game for the Wolves. He led the league in rebounds and was the BBL’s fifth-highest scorer per game.

Standing at 6’10”, Walker dominates down low. His paint presence translates to both ends of the floor, using his size to bully the best big men the BBL has to offer. Walker has given the Riders double-digit points off the bench 13 times this season, as he makes big contributions in limited minutes. 

One to watch- Patriots

In his third Plymouth season, Rashad Hassan has been on a tear, averaging a monster 17.6 points and 7.4 assists. He enters this game after his second 30 point performance of the season, and his eight occasion scoring over 20.

Hassan is a former Rider, who played his first two pro seasons in Leicester. He averaged 18 points a game in his second season, before going on to play for the London Lions and Rueil in the French third division. 

Hassan averaged 19.2 points per game in his first two Plymouth seasons and helped them to 21-9 record last year. His contributions towards winning are needed now more than ever for the Patriots, as their last two games of the season are pivotal. 

Previous meeting

The team’s last met in April, in a significant game for the Riders. They were crowned league champions after beating the Patriots 77-60.

Geno Crandall led the Riders in the game with 25 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals- a stat sheet stuffing performance. Leicester shot 41% from three to torch Plymouth, taking a historic road win. 

For the Patriots, Antonio Williams led them in defeat with 20 points and five rebounds. They shot 36% from the field and 20% from three on a tough shooting night.

Riders beat Rocks on the road

The Riders won their final road game of the league season, beating the Glasgow Rocks 101-86. Having previously wrapped up the league title, the win is crucial for maintaining the team’s winning rhythm.

Leicester’s tandem of Mo Walker and Kimbal Mackenzie combined for 32 points off the bench, with Walker leading the team with 17 points. Mackenzie’s 15 points and six assists marks his best statistical performance of the season, as Glasgow’s defence found no answer for the Canadian. 

The lead rose to as much as 27 points before Glasgow’s late flurry of threes cut the game closer.  After taking a double-digit lead in the first half, the Riders controlled the game until the final buzzer. 

They shot 54% from the field and dominated the glass, doubling their season average with 14 offensive rebounds. Leicester had 11 different scorers, five putting up double-digit points, as coach Rob Paternostro split the minutes and the offensive load. 

The win improves the Riders’ record to 24-2, as they extended their winning streak to eight. The Glasgow loss dents their recent hot form, as the hosts entered the game having won nine of the last ten fixtures, and casts doubt on their playoff hopes in the process. 

Glasgow’s Jordan Harris led the game with 19 points in his side’s defeat. The first-year pro out of the University of Georgia went 9-13 from the field and used his elite athleticism to create a multitude of highlights at the rim. 

There was little to separate the scoreline through the opening period, as the sides felt their way into the game in the early stages. There were seven lead changes in the first quarter, one just one point in it with eight minutes gone. 

The Riders closed out the first with a 9-2 run, earning an advantage to end the period. Walker made the difference off the bench, getting to work down low as his matchup, Vance Johnson, picked up two early fouls. 

The Rocks fought back, with Vance Johnson and Jordan Johnson making up 18 of the team’s 22 initial points. Vance Johnson had nine points and six rebounds in a dominant first quarter display. 

But the second period belonged to Leicester, as they kept their opponents at arm’s length until the half. BBL MVP Geno Crandall turned up the style, handing-off an audacious 360 dish to Patrick Whelan down low to make it an 11 point affair. 

Whelan led the Riders into the locker rooms after a 13-point second quarter. The score was 53-44 at halftime, leaving Leicester in a commanding position. 

The Riders started the second half testing a new lineup, playing three guards in Crandall, Mackenzie and Whelan. Mackenzie rewarded his coach’s decision, draining a three to get things underway.

Another three from the Bucknall graduate five minutes into the third gave the Riders a 14 point advantage, their biggest of the night. The Rocks, led by six quick points from Harris, chipped away at the lead, cutting it to single digits. However, the Riders remained in control, responding to Glasgow’s blows with big shots of their own. 

Leicester ended the third with a 13-0 run, led by eight more points from Walker. His three ended the quarter with the Riders leading 83-61. 

With Leicester up 23 in the fourth quarter, Loughborough and Charnwood’s Louie Jordan and Evan Walshe checked into the game to log key BBL minutes. Both got on the scoresheet quickly, with Walshe driving to the hoop before making a tough finish for two, before Jordan drained a three from the corner. 

The Riders return home for the league finale on Friday. They face the Plymouth City Patriots, hoping to maintain their rhythm entering the postseason.

Riders at Rocks- BBL Championship preview

The final two games of the season are set to be useful for Leicester, as they will be played against two of the Riders’ potential first-round playoff matchups, the Glasgow Rocks and the Plymouth City Patriots. 

The games will provide the Riders will key information about their opponents heading into the postseason, starting with the Rocks on Tuesday night. 

Season so far- Riders

The BBL Champions are gearing up for the playoffs, after winning the league with four games to spare. Having lost just two of their 24 games, they are the BBL’s premier outfit and have the luxury of casting their attention to the postseason. 

Statistically, the Riders lead the league on both ends, scoring 90.6 points per game while giving up just 70. But it was their three-point shooting that saw them through their last game, a dominant 103-67 win against the London Lions. 

Leicester knocked down 16 threes in the game, and 11 by halftime, besting their season average of ten a game. All the Riders starters scored double-digit points in an emphatic team display, led by 18 from Marc Loving. 

GB sniper Patrick Whelan leads Leicester on the season scoring 15.2 points per game. The William Jewell graduate is not taking the last two games of the season for granted, having locked up the league title.

“At this stage of the season, we can try some different things having won the league already. We can test some different looks and that’s going to help us going into the playoffs, seeing how to guard certain actions. We’ll be ready.” 

Season so far- Rocks 

The Rocks are caught in a five-way scrap for the final playoff spot, as the season winds down. They sit in sixth position with a 12-13 record, with just four points separating fifth and eighth in the table. 

Their disparaging home and away form has led to their near-.500 record. Their home form ranks among the best in the league, as they boast a 9-3 record. However, away from home, their record is 2-11, leaving them with inconsistent form. 

In their previous game, however, the Rocks picked up a crucial win on the road against the Sheffield Sharks. Down one with 0.5 seconds remaining, Jordan Harris put in a lob pass on the inbound to snatch a win, a monumental basket for the Rocks’ playoff chances. 

 Harris is one of four Rocks players to average over 15 points per game this season, helping Glasgow to the third-ranked offence in the BBL this season. Jordan Johnson leads the team with 18.8 points per game, his 15 points against the Sharks snapping the former G-Leaguer’s seven-game streak of scoring over 20 points. 

With the playoffs firmly in their sights, a win against the league champions would go a long way in securing a postseason spot for the Rocks. 

One to watch- Riders

Leading the team with 18 points in his previous game, Marc Loving lit up the Morningside Arena in Leicester’s blowout win. The Ohio State forward went 6-12 from the floor and hit two threes, and made the play of the game with an acrobatic 360 layup to send the home crowd, and the bench, into a frenzy. 

Loving is averaging 12.6 points and four rebounds on the season, and a steal and a block per game. Head coach Rob Paternostro loves the way Loving fits seamlessly into his lineups. 

“Marc’s a great all-around basketball player. He doesn’t go hunting his shot, he just tries to play the right way,” said Paternostro. “If he gets an open look, he’s taking it. I love his floor game too. His shot is amazing, and the way he plays the game is very intelligent. He’s a player that helps us in many ways.” 

Loving is a former G-League forward, having played with the Agua Caliente Clippers and the Delaware Bluecoats after his four years at Ohio State. Standing at 6’7”, Loving is a danger to defenders all over the court, able to rise up from anywhere to make shots. 

With a season-high of 32 points coming against the Cheshire Phoenix earlier in the year, Loving is capable of a monster night whenever needed, and will put on a show with his shot-making ability each and every night. 

One to watch- Rocks 

Leading Glasgow with 18.8 points per game, Jordan Johnson has taken his team into playoff contention this year with his elite scoring ability. Johnson ranks second in the BBL’s scoring charts, and his 8.2 assists per game ranks third in the league. 

With his scoring and playmaking ability, johnson has amassed nine double-doubles this season and put up a season-best performance against the Scorchers with 32 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds early in the year. 

The former G-Leaguer played his rookie year with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers after graduating from UNLV, before playing last season in the Netherlands. 

Johnson is a shifty, pass-first point guard, who dished the 23rd most assists in the country in his senior year in college. Shooting 50% from the floor, Johnson plays with high IQ, taking good shots consistently while focused on making the right basketball play. 

Previous meeting

The Riders last faced the Rocks back in Febuary, in a statement Leicester win. The Riders were up 30 by halftime, and cruised to a 105-76 road win, despite the absence of MVP Geno Crandall. 

Whelan and Loving led the team with 23 and 22 points respectively, as the Riders knocked down 15 threes in the game. Former Rider Ali Fraser scored 17 in his team’s defeat, going 7-15 from the field. 

Riders beat Lions in dominant display

The Riders made it seven wins on the bounce with a cracking Easter Sunday display, beating the London Lions 103-67. 

All of Leicester’s starters scored double-digit points in an emphatic team effort. Marc Loving led the team with 18 points in 27 minutes, while Geno Crandall put up a near double-double with 16 points and nine assists. 

The league champions put on a clinic from wire to wire, blowing out their opponents to maintain their hot form entering the postseason. The Riders hit 16 threes on the game to torch the visitors.  

For the Lions, it was their fourth straight loss as they struggled to contain Leicester’s league-leading offence. Italian sniper Lorenzo Cugini led the team with 16, going 8/16 from the field. 

Crandall pulled the strings to get the game underway, the MVP scoring or assisting on five of the Riders’ first seven baskets. The MVP’s play led Leicester to an explosive 18-8 start, with Zach Jackson’s back to back threes establishing the double-digit lead.   

Crandall’s play extended through the entire first period, as he scored eight points in his first seven and a half minutes of play. He was bested only by Jackson, who led the Riders’ early three-point barrage to drain three of their seven made triples, as the Riders finished the first up 33-15. 

The Lions fought back in the early stages of the second, playing through their star guard Isaiah Reese. Reese, London’s leading scorer on the season, had ten points midway through the quarter, as they cut their deficit to 10.

Crandall checked back in to retake the reigns and made an immediate impact. The Gonzaga graduate drove hard to the rim, before laying in an acrobatic finish through heavy contact for an and-one play. 

With momentum back under them, Leicester continued their red hot three-point shooting. The Riders entered the game making 10 threes per game, a tally they had bested by halftime having made 11 entering the locker rooms. 

Loving made the play of the game with a circus shot in close, making his 16th points of the first half. He met Julian Washburn at the rim, pulling off a 360 layup to get the fans on their feet. The strong finish to the quarter capped off an astonishing offensive display, which put the Riders up 62-37 by halftime. 

The three-point shooting remained locked in out of the locker rooms, as Patrick Whelan kicked off the second half with back to back triples. He and Nelson-Henry combined for 10 points unanswered to start the third, putting Leicester up 35. 

The Riders clicked into an offensive rhythm, swinging the ball around the court in a display of elite ball movement. The Lions showed heart, finishing the third with a 10-2 run, but the score entering the final period was 83-55 in Leicester’s favour. 

Leicester kept their foot to the floor in the fourth, starting the period with a 10-1 run. Holding a 39 point lead, young prospects Louie Jordan and Greg Wild checked into the game to log valuable BBL minutes. 

Jordan got the crowd up late, draining a three from the corner with two minutes remaining. A minute later, Jubril Adekoya sealed the deal with a three of his own, breaking the 100 point mark for his team. 

“It’s nice to have the league wrapped up, and now we can play a bit looser. Tonight we were on point for most of the game,” said Whelan after his 13 point performance.

“We showed to the league that we’re not messing around. We’re here to win every game, and that’s what we’re going to try and do every time we go out there. We’ve always got out foot on the pedal.”

With just two games remaining on the schedule, the BBL Championship season will be concluded in the coming week for the Riders. They head to Glasgow on Tuesday to take on the Rocks, before returning home to take on the Plymouth City Patriots on Friday, in the final game of the year. 

Rob Paternostro granted all-star testimonial game

The club have announced they have granted Head Coach Rob Paternostro an All-star Testimonial Game in celebration of his achievements in his 14 years at the helm. 

The game will take place on Saturday, June 11 – 6pm tip, and will follow a kids coaching session led by Coach Rob at 3pm.

The game is set to be very competitive, with squads made up of current BBL players, Great Britain Internationals and Riders legends!

To round off the day’s festivities, an after-party will be held at the arena, with a DJ set until 12pm.

Ticket prices are set at £20 for adults, £17.50 for concessions, £7.50 for children and £17.50 for the training camp.

“We are all thrilled to be able to grant Rob a testimonial event. He has had unrivalled success as our head coach and we are sure he will achieve even more in the years to come,” commented Managing Director Russell Levenston.

“He’s a hall of fame level coach and we’re excited to put on this event as a celebration of his achievements so far. He’s a passionate and competitive coach and we expect the game to be similar!”

“Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for players being announced… there’s a few surprises in there that not just the Riders fans, but the whole BBL will be excited about seeing.”

Rob has enjoyed a prosperous basketball career, dating back to his high-school career in his home city of Waterbury, Connecticut.

He attended Holy Cross High School, and was named into the All-State second team in his senior year after amassing over 1000 points in two seasons.

Rob then spent a successful four years at New Hampshire college, becoming their all-time assist leader to earn a spot in their Hall of Fame.

He became the first player in his college’s history to receive the NEBCA Bob Cousy Award, and won a total of seven individual awards for his performances in his senior year.

After turning pro, Rob joined the BBL in 2000, where he started a multi-year stint with the Birmingham Bullets. In 2006, Paternostro was first welcomed into the Riders’ franchise, spending the season running the point for Leicester. 

After a further playing season in Birmingham, Paternostro hung up his jersey and was appointed head coach of the Riders.

In his first year, 2008/09, he recorded Leicester’s best-ever top-flight league finish up to that time, and the following season he became the first coach in franchise history to record back-to-back 20-win seasons.

His performances in his first coaching year made him the first Riders coach to win the BBL Coach of the Year. Five years later, Paternostro turned his club’s good performances into silverware. 

The Riders secured their first treble-winning year in 2013, winning the BBL Championship, BBL Cup and BBL Playoffs. Since then, Rob has led Leicester to the most successful period in franchise history. 

Paternostro has won 16 trophies in his 14-year coaching stint at the club and has six Coach of the Year awards to his name, making him the Riders’ most decorated coach. The Riders have won five of the last six league titles, the most successful stint for any club in BBL history.

Rob brings passion, intensity and character to the Leicester sideline, and will hope to add yet more silverware to the Riders’ trophy cabinet in years to come.

Tickets on sale here.

BBL Championship Preview- Riders vs Lions

Season so far- Riders

The BBL Champions are gearing up for the playoffs, after winning the league with four games to spare. Having lost just two of their 24 games, they are the BBL’s premier outfit and have the luxury of casting their attention to the postseason. 

Statistically, the Riders lead the league on both ends, scoring 90 points per game while giving up just 70. They locked in defensively to win the title against the Plymouth City Patriots, holding their opponents to 60 points. 

Patrick Whelan has led the scoring for Leicester, the GB guard scoring 15.3 points per game. But it was reigning MVP Geno Crandall who led them over the line, putting up 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists against the Patriots. 

Crandall scored 23 points in the Riders’ previous fixture against the Giants, putting on a show on their coronation night as league champions. 

Coach Rob Paternostro explained the team’s mindset in the closing stages of the season: “We’ll take it day by day, and game by game. We’ll make sure everyone is healthy and in a nice rhythm. I think we’ve earned the right to do that.”

Season so far- Lions

Entering the season with expectations of challenging for the title, the London Lions have endured a disappointing season thus far, going trophyless with just one piece of silverware left up for grabs. 

They sit fourth with a 13-8 record, and are locked in a tight battle for second in the standings. The fight took a setback on Friday night, as they fell to the second-placed Sheffield Sharks in overtime. 

Isaiah Reese led them in the game with 22 points, despite his side’s loss. The Lions will hope that the overtime period did not take much out of their legs, as they continue their road trip to face the Riders with just a day between fixtures. 

The Lions’ offensive production has held them back, as they score just the sixth-most points in the BBL. They shoot just 45.5% from the field and come into this game out of rhythm after scoring 71 points in an overtime defeat. 

A win against the league champions would put the Lions’ season back on track, as they look to string some wins together, and build some form entering the postseason. 

One to watch- Riders

Putting up solid numbers in key minutes off the bench, Kimbal Mackenzie has run the point for the second unit to great effect this season. Averaging 18 minutes a night, the Bucknall graduate has put up double-digit point performances 13 times on the year. 

The third-year pro came to the Riders having spent two years in Spain, and the summer playing with for the Guelph Nightwaks in Canada alongside Riders big man Mo Walker. This came after a successful college career, averaging 17.2 points per game in his senior year at Bucknall. 

A natural athlete, Mackenzie captained his high-school football team, demonstrating the leadership ability he brings to Leicester. Able to sideline his ego for the good of the team, and put his outstanding abilities to good use from the bench, Mackenzie symbolised the team-first mentality which runs through the Riders roster. 

One to watch- Lions

American guard Isiah Reese has been a fundamental component for the Lions this season. They have a 12-8 record with him and went 1-2 after he went down injured in March, demonstrating his influence on the team.

Resse is averaging 18.6  points and 6.6 assists in the league this season, ranking top five in the BBL in both categories. The 6’5” guard has scored 25 points on three occasions, including in back to back games to get April underway. 

Before arriving in London, Reese spent his first two professional seasons in the G-League with the Santa Cruz Warriors, averaging eight points per game in his second season. This followed a college career at Canisius College, where he became the first Canisius sophomore since 1993-94 to earn All-MAAC First Team honours.

Reese is a pass-first, playmaking guard with a high IQ, able to score himself or get teammates easy baskets. Shooting 37% from three this season, he can score on all three levels, and won’t allow the Riders’ defence a moment’s relief in this one. 

Previous meeting

The Riders will look for revenge in this tie, having fallen to the Lions 79-77 in their previous meeting in Febuary. 

The Riders fought back from double digits down, draining threes to make it a ball game late.

Patrick Whelan put up 20 in Leicester’s efforts, but despite Marc Loving’s late three to make it a two-point game, the Riders fell just short, with Isiah Resse scoring 23 for London. 

A Riders win would be the fifth against London on the season, after seven meetings in all competitions. 

Charity game at Morningside Arena for Andi Peel

Morningside Arena will host a basketball game to raise money for research into brain tumours as a local player battles the disease. 

Andi Peel, 30, from Groby, Leicestershire, was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumour in January 2020.

The otherwise fit and healthy Carphone Warehouse manager suddenly started getting strong headaches in August 2019. By January 2020, his headaches became so severe that he had to pull over when driving. On 20 January, he went to Leicester Royal Infirmary and had an MRI scan, which revealed a mass on his brain.

Ross Bland, 34, who has known Andi for 15 years, said: “When I was told he had a GBM, it completely crushed me because I knew the prognosis is not good.

“It was devastating because he’s like my little brother. We met through basketball and we’ve played in many teams together, and we created our own successful team, ‘Ferndale Fury’, together in 2013.

“Andi’s brain tumour has taken over everything. It’s horrible to watch the way he has declined because of it.”

Andi had the tumour removed at Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) in Nottingham, followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Ross, a product manager, has brought together friends and players from across the basketball leagues who are connected to Andi through the sport. Proceeds from the game on 17 April will go to the Brain Tumour Research charity.

The game will take place at the Morningside Arena, and afterwards, the Leicester Riders will play against the London Lions in the British Basketball League (BBL).

Ross said: “It’s going to be incredible and big thanks go to the Leicester Riders. Everyone’s come together, and it’s all through Andi and basketball.

“Brain tumours are hugely underfunded and more needs to be done. Brain Tumour Research is important to me and I want to do everything I can for them.

“Andi’s been involved in organising the event, and it’s given him a new lease of life.

“We may be too late to save Andi, but we want to help others avoid what he’s going through.”

Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer yet, historically, just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease. Brain Tumour Research is the only national charity in the UK singularly focused on finding a cure for brain tumours through campaigning for an increase in the national investment into research to £35 million per year. It is also fundraising to create a sustainable network of brain tumour research centres in the UK. 

Matthew Price, community development manager at Brain Tumour Research said: “We’re really grateful to Ross, Andi, Leicester Riders, and the basketball community as it’s only with the support of people like them that we’re able to progress our research into brain tumours and improve the outcome for patients like Andi who are forced to fight this awful disease.

“Unlike many other cancers, brain tumours are indiscriminate. They can affect anyone at any time. Too little is known about the causes and that is why increased investment in research is vital.”

Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure.

Donate here

Riders beat Giants in retro night thriller

On the night of their coronation as league champions, the Riders won an 88-82 retro night thriller against the Manchester Giants. 

With the league wrapped up, the Riders produced the same intensity which has earned them their 23-2 record on the year, in a game that remained within single digits for the full 40 minutes. 

Geno Crandall led the scoring for the second straight game with 23 points and six assists, the MVP scoring eight in the final five minutes to inspire a clutch win. 

For Manchester, Texas graduate Tyrik Armstrong put on a show with a 21 point double-double. His passing talents were on full display, reaching into his bag of flashy passes to dish 10 assists on the night. 

Coach Rob Paternostro reflected on the win: “They wanted to win. No question. We said before the game, let’s just play the way we’ve been playing. The energy in the building helped us go on and that was key in the game.”

This marks Paternostro’s sixth league title as Riders head coach. “It never gets old. Every year is different. Every group is different. But the one thing that stays constant is the fans and the people of Leicester. I feel honoured to be able to work in such a great sporting city.”

Whelan got the game underway with a breakaway two, kickstarting a Riders 9-0 run out the gate. Any notion of a Leicester comedown after the recent title win was quickly quashed, as a Crandall three capped off an electric Leicester start. 

The first Giants score came five minutes into the tie, as veteran Dan Clark forged Machester’s first way through the stifling Leicester defence. Clark caught fire for 11 first-quarter points, GB’s all-time leading scorer putting his team on his back to tie the game. 


In response, Mo Walker got to work down low, scoring six points in a minute in close. The teams traded buckets to close the first, which ended 21-20 in the Giants’ favour. 

Walker started the second how he finished the first, hitting a smooth jump-hook over David Ulph. Followed up by a Washington three, his play was the start of a 9-2 run to begin the period, as Manchester found themselves in the penalty seven minutes from the half. 

The game remained competitive throughout the second quarter, as the Riders fended off Manchester’s efforts to climb back into the tie. Martaveous Mcknight scored five of the Giants’ 14 points in a low scoring period. 

Darien Nelson-Henry drained a rare three to end the half, as the teams entered the locker rooms with the Riders holding a narrow 40-35 lead. 

Leicester got away to another hot start to a quarter, with a 7-2 run getting the second half underway. A Whelan three capped off the burst of momentum, as the Riders gained a narrow advantage. 

Despite the Leicester success, the game remained close, with the Giants making key buckets to peg back the Riders’ lead. Manchester took their first lead since the start of the second, with a three from Mcknight making it 49-47 to the visitors. 

The Giants rode their wave of hot form, as Tyrik Armstrong’s free throws made it a seven point game. 

It was Leicester’s turn to show their grit, climbing back into the game. They got to the line effectively, getting four quick foul shots, before Jackson’s solo breakaway bucket cut the deficit to two. 

Jackson channelled the electric energy in the Morningside Arena to take the game over. With a minute to go in the third, he came up with back to back steals, producing the play of the game with a behind the back pass for Crandall to slam down to take the lead. 

The score continued to swing back and forth in the final period of play. Six minutes into the fourth, neither team managed to establish an advantage, with just one point the difference to set up a tense finale. 

With three minutes on the clock, Whelan and Marc Loving combined for a momentum grabbing sequence. With Armstrong driving to the rim, Whelan came up with a monster chase-down block, before dishing it to Loving who knocked down a three. 

The play lit the spark in Leicester to seal out the game. They commenced on a 9-0 run to take an 83-74 lead with a minute remaining, enough to win the tie.

The Riders return next week, where they will host the London Lions on the 17th of April. They will look to maintain their form on the road to the playoffs, as they attempt to go for the treble.

Retro night preview- Riders vs Giants

The Riders take on the Giants on retro night! There will be throwback tunes and special guests, as your champions are presented with the BBL Championship trophy!

Season so far- Riders

The Riders began the season 12-1, the best start to a season in franchise history. They never looked back, with their 22-1 record enough to confirm them as back to back BBL Champions. They have now won five of the last six league titles, the most successful period of any team in BBL history. 

Patrick Whelan has led the Riders on the season. The GB sharpshooter is enjoying a career year, scoring 15.5 points per game and leading the BBL in three-point shooting by making 48% of his attempts from downtown. 

The Riders won the league in style, leading the BBL in points scored and conceded. Their success has stemmed from sharing and protecting the ball, as they turn it over the least in the league while ranking second in assists. 

A 77-60 road win against the Plymouth City Patriots brought the silverware back to Leicester, as last season’s MVP Geno Crandall led them over the line. He stuffed the stat sheet with 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, as the Riders cruised to a blowout. 

The Riders will lift the trophy, their second of the season, after the game. They will look to maintain momentum in the final stretch of the season, as they enter the postseason looking to win their fourth-ever treble. 

Season so far- Giants 

There is much to play for as the season winds down for the Giants. They are in hot contention for second place in the league, as they are set to make the playoffs for the first time in seven years. 

They enter this tie having won five of the last six games, off the back of a solid road win against the Bristol Flyers. Their offence has been in red hot form, scoring over 90 points consistently, led by Tyrik Armstrong’s 21 points in the previous game. 

Armstrong leads the team on the season with 16.6 points per game. The first-year pro out of Texas Southern has enjoyed an emphatic rookie year, after averaging 14.3 points in his final year in college. 

The Giants’ recent form has catapulted them to second in the offensive standings, as they look to make a final push for a high playoff seeding. A win against the Riders would put them in a solid position to continue their red hot finish to the year. 

One to watch- Riders

Riders veteran Conner Washington played his role to great effect in his previous game, scoring nine points in four minutes to close the third quarter. He maintained the Riders’ lead in a crucial stage of the game, all but sealing the win. 

Washington is a 14-year pro and an 11-year Rider, bringing championship experience to the team having won 14 pieces of silverware with Leicester. His composure in the biggest moments is a great asset to the Riders, as he steps up in the biggest moments with steely composure. 

The 6’0” Bedford-born guard is elite on both ends, having been named on the 2016/17 BBL all-defensive and all-British first teams. The fan-favourite has put up efficient numbers in limited minutes this season, and his experience will be pivotal to the Riders’ playoff preparation. 

One to watch- Giants

Giant’s veteran Dan Clark brings experience from the highest level of European basketball to Manchester, having spent 14 seasons in the Spanish first division. The GB captain is his country’s all-time leading scorer, winning over 100 caps. 

The 6’11” power forward is one of the best passing big men in the league, and the 33-year-old is putting up 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes a game for the Giants. 

His standout game this season came against the Lions, as he dominated down low for 17 points and 17 rebounds, dishing five assists and grabbing two steals in the process.

The Giants will lean on Clark’s leadership down the stretch, hoping to continue their good run of games to secure the BBL’s second spot. 

Previous meeting

The sides last did battle in Manchester back in Febuary, as the Giants edged a close one 85-83. Armstrong led the victors with 24 points, as Will Saunders’ go-ahead three with less than a minute remaining was enough to win the hosts the game. 

For the Riders, Patrick Whelan recorded his first career double-double with 25 points and 11 rebounds. The Warrington born guard drove to the rim on the final possession, but found no whistle through heavy contact to give the Riders their second loss of the year. 

Riders beat Patriots to win BBL Championship!

The Riders were crowned BBL Champions with a 77-60 win against the Plymouth City Patriots! Their 22-2 record cannot be caught, as they win their sixth league title. 

It is the second back-to-back Championship in franchise history, and last season’s MVP Geno Crandall led them over the line. He scored his league season-high 25 points, recording a near triple-double for the second straight game with eight rebounds and seven assists. 

The Riders were composed and confident with the title in reach, taking a double-digit lead in the second quarter and never looking back. After exploding out of the locker rooms to take a 20 point lead, they cruised to a comfortable win in the second half. 

Leicester flexed their BBL-best defence throughout, holding Plymouth to under 20 in every quarter. They forced the Patriots into 20 turnovers, suffocating the hosts for 40 minutes. 

Mo Walker dominated off the bench, scoring 15 points in 19 minutes. He shot 6-11 from the floor and grabbed four rebounds, leading the Riders bench. 

For Plymouth, Kent State graduate Antonio Williams led the way with 20 points, in an impressive individual display, He scored a third of the Patriots’ points, playing 37 minutes in his team’s valiant effort. 

The hosts came out the gates strong, as the Riders were locked into a battle in the opening stages. GB big man Rowell Graham-Bell, inserted into the Patriots’ lineup for this fixture, had seven quick points as his team jumped out to a 13-8 lead. 

The Riders fought back through Crandall, who had six first-quarter points off 75% shooting. Building off his point guard’s play, Walker got to work down low off the bench, scoring six straight points to earn the Riders their first lead of the night. 

Back to back threes from the Riders got the ball rolling in the second quarter, as their league-leading defence remained locked in. Plymouth scored just two points in the opening four minutes of the period, as the Riders’ lead gradually grew. 

Crandall and Darien Nelson-Henry linked up for the play of the first half to make it an eight-point game. Running the pick and roll, Crandall drove into the lane and threw it up high for the cutting Nelson-Henry, who slammed it down with authority. 

Zach Jackson finished the half with a flurry to take the Riders’ first double-digit lead of the night. He had five in the final two minutes, including a corner three, to make it 43-31. Crandall came up with a monster block to swat Troy Simons’ three-point shot out of bounds, sending the sides into the locker rooms. 

Crandall took the game by the horns coming into the second half, driving into the teeth of the Plymouth defence to be sent to the line. On the next possession, he finished off a flashy behind the back pass from Nelson-Henry, before coming up with a steal which led to a Marc Loving three. 

Within two minutes, the lead shot up to 17 after a 5-0 Riders start to the third quarter. Leicester gained firm control of the tie after bolting out the gate, and played solid basketball the rest of the way. 

Crandall showed off his footwork down low, dropping Cameron King in the post with a pivot before finishing in close. His three on the next play stretched the lead to 20, as he recorded his 17th points of the game. 

Riders’ veteran Conner Washington took over the game with four minutes left in the third, scoring six points to close the quarter. The GB guard scored nine points off the bench in 11 minutes, playing a pivotal role in sustaining the Riders’ advantage, 

Plymouth’s Albanian guard Elvisi Dusha then concluded the period with a two in close, as the sides entered the final stanza with Leicester leading 67-46. 

Ten minutes from the title, Crandall got his head down to put the game beyond doubt. He scored four quick points to make it a 23 point lead, as Leicester had one hand on the silverware. 

Crandall came up with the play of the game with six minutes left. Running the fastbreak, he faked a behind the back pass to dupe his defender before finishing in style at the rim, receiving applause from the Plymouth crowd. 

The Riders return home on Friday, where the Morningside Arena will host retro night! They face the Manchester Giants in front of what is sure to be a raucous crowd, welcoming their champions to the court. 

Preview: Riders at Patriots

Season So Far – Riders

A win in this one would secure the Riders the BBL Championship! It would be the second time in their history winning back to back Championships, as they would lift their sixth league title. 

Going 12-1 through the opening stages of the year, the Riders burst out the gate to their best-ever start to a season. They haven’t looked back since, and are in the midst of a four-game winning streak. 

Their previous game was a dominant display against the Newcastle Eagles, as the Riders won 103-77 led by 18 points from their captain, Darien Nelson-Henry. They improved to a 20-2 record with five games remaining of the season. 

Patrick Whelan leads them on the season, the GB sniper is averaging 16 points per game on 48.8% three-point shooting. This percentage ranks highest in the BBL for those who have taken over 100 threes, earning him his first international call up. 

With the best-ranked offence and defence in the BBL, the Riders have been the league’s premier outfit from the jump, and will be keen to lift their second piece of silverware of the season in this fixture. 

Season So Far – Patriots

After a difficult beginning to their campaign, starting the season 0-8, the Patriots have turned their season around to climb into the playoff places. The addition of American point guard Antonio Williams coincided with a 9-5 run, lifting Plymouth to seventh in the standings. 

Williams is leading the Patriots in scoring with 17.9 points, in a Plymouth side ranking seventh in the BBL scoring charts with 79.2 points per game. They lean heavily on their free-throw shooting, attacking the hoop to average the most foul shots in the league. 

After an 18 day break from basketball, the Patriots returned to action on the 1st of April against the Sheffield Sharks. Rowell Graham-Bell led the team with 18 points, but his efforts couldn’t take his team to the win, as Plymouth took a 71-61 loss on the road. 

With just one win separating ninth from sixth in the standings, every game is pivotal for the Patriots’ playoff chances, as the season ticks down. They have five games remaining to separate themselves from the teams around them, and a win against the league leaders would go a long way in doing so. 

One To Watch – Riders

With two perfect performances in a month, captain Darien Nelson-Henry has been at his efficient best in the paint for Leicester. He scored 21 points against Surrey, and 18 in the Riders’ most recent game against the Eagles, all without missing a shot. 

The Penn graduate is playing in his third Riders season, after leading his college in points, rebounds and blocks in his senior year. He gained experience playing in Poland and Austria before moving to Leicester and quickly became a fan favourite. 

Nelson-Henry has been one of the BBL’s most efficient players throughout his Riders tenure and is leading the BBL in FG% for those who have played over 10 games. His dominance down low is a vital part of the Riders’ success, as they are a game away from back to back championships. 

One To Watch – Patriots 

Leading his team in scoring since he joined in January, Antonio Williams has led his team into the playoff places. His play earned him player of the month in Febuary, after averaging 18.7 points per game, including a 35 points game, and leading the Patriots to a 5-2 record. 

Williams spent his first two pro seasons in Estonia, after a college career at Kent State and Indian Hills Junior College. He helped Indian Hills to a 30-0 record before transferring to Kent State, where he led the team in steals as a senior with 1.8 per game. 

Williams is one of the BBL’s premier scorers, ranking second in the league’s scoring charts with 17.9 points per game. Despite standing at 6’0”, he can attack the rim effectively, using his athleticism to rise high and finish strong in close. 

Previous Meeting 

The teams last met back in December in a Riders blowout. It was the biggest Leicester win of the season, as they emerged 106-60 victors. 

Nelson-Henry led Leicester with 22 points, the big man at his efficient best going 7-8 from the field. Kofi Josephs led Plymouth with 21, the GB shooting guard having since departed from the team.

Riders defeat Eagles to close in on league title

The Riders are a win away from their second straight league title, after beating the Newcastle Eagles, 103-77. With the win, the Riders sweep the season series against their long-standing rivals 3-0, winning each of the games by over 20 while scoring over 100 points. 

Darien Nelson-Henry led the Riders after a dominant first half, putting up 17 points and five rebounds, not missing a shot as he went 8-8 from the field. Leicester had seven players score in double digits in an emphatic team display. 

In 25 minutes of play, MVP Geno Crandall put up a near triple-double showing with 12 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. Meanwhile, GB sharpshooter Patrick Whelan made everyone better, finishing with a +/- of 28. 

Leicester attacked the basket all night long to great effect, as they shot a scorching hot 73% on two-point shots. They got easy buckets on the fastbreak, scoring 37 fastbreak points by snatching 11 steals. 

For the Eagles, Justin Gordan and Rahmon Fletcher scored 21 each in their side’s losing effort. Gordon nearly had a triple-double of his own, with nine rebounds and seven assists, but the Charlotte-born forward’s play still left Newcastle short in a heavy defeat for the hosts. 

The Riders’ got to work on their gameplan from the tip, attacking the hoop to get the action underway. Their first six baskets came in close, and the paint wide open for the Riders to attack, the opposite was true on the other end, as Leicester blocked two shots in the opening five minutes. 

All of Leicester’s starters got on the board in five minutes, their team play seeing them through a tightly fought first quarter. But a monster 16-0 run at the end of the period, led by five points from Geno Crandall, allowed the Riders to establish their first lead of the night, as they ended the first up 28-14. 

After finishing the first quarter with a steal and a basket, Jubril Adekoya came up with another steal and four more points at the start of the second, the Valparaiso graduate capitalising on his side’s momentum. 

Leicester continued their hot streak, as Kimbal Mackenzie caught fire to score 10 points in five minutes and stretch the lead. The Riders found themselves up 23 four minutes into the second. 

Nelson-Henry showed off his passing skills midway through the period, making the play of the first half with a behind the back dish to a cutting Zach Jackson. He got to work on the next possession, the captain getting his back to the basket and laying the ball in for his seventh points of the night. 

The Eagles fought back behind two-time MVP Fletcher towards the end of the half, going on a 13-2 run, with the seven-year Eagle scoring eight. The Newcastle run meant it was a 58-43 Riders lead entering the locker rooms. 

The Riders started the second half with suffocating defence, getting two steals, finished off by two fast-break buckets from Crandall. They put up 12 quick points to re-establish their 20 point lead, as a Patrick Whelan three caused an early Eagles timeout. 

Whelan continued his hot stretch, the Riders’ points leader scoring five points out of the timeout to continue the Leicester run. The William Jewell graduate had ten in the quarter, as Leicester cruised into the final period.

It was Crandall’s turn to show off his flashy playmaking skills, as his behind the back pass to Mo Walker down low gave him his 10th assist of the evening. The Riders won the third 26-13, entering the final quarter up 84-58. 

Walker came out aggressively in the fourth, scoring the Riders’ first seven points of the quarter. Leicester stretched the lead to 30, as they continued to play hard until the final buzzer against their rivals. Loughborough’s Evan Walshe checked into the game, and his bucket put the Riders over the 100 point tally in a blowout win. 

The Riders could be crowned league champions before their next fixture, should the London Lions lose their Sunday night clash against the Sheffield Sharks. Should London win, Leicester will get a shot at back-to-back titles on Tuesday, with a win against the Plymouth City Patriots enough to secure their sixth BBL Championship title. 

Riders make ‘disgusting’ signing

In a shock move for the start of April, Riders are delighted to announce the addition of former Glasgow Rocks star & GB captain Kieron Achara MBE.

Achara, 38, retired in 2019 after a third spell with the Rocks, but has come out of retirement to join the Riders in a last bid to pick up some BBL silverware.

It is believed the Scot will suit up for tonight’s game in Newcastle as well as holding down his media duties for Sky Sports.

“I have always wanted to join the Riders,” commented Achara. “They have secretly been my favourite BBL team and they look on course to win another trophy or two.”

“I spoke to Ali Fraser and he told me about the good old times when he won silverware. I thought I should go get myself some.”

“Some people may call me a glory hunter and they would be right.”

After negotiations with the BBL, the Riders, who have been chasing Achara since 2015, were able to extend the player signing deadline to April 1st.

Preview: Riders at Eagles

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders are two wins away from retaining their BBL Championship title, sitting top of the table with a 19-2 record.  A blowout win against the Scorchers in their previous game brought them one step closer to the silverware. 


Patrick Whelan led them in the game with 23 points, the GB sharpshooter scored an emphatic 47 points in a back to back over the weekend. These performances have been consistent of Whelan all season long, as he leads the Riders in scoring with 16.1 points per game on 48.7% three-point shooting. 

Whelan’s efforts has helped Leicester to the best offensive record in the BBL, with the team scoring 90.2 points per game. They have dominated on both ends, also possessing the best defensive record in the league, giving up just 70.5 points a contest. 

A win against their long-standing rivals in this one could be enough to secure the league title, should the London Lions lose one of their upcoming fixtures against Newcastle or Bristol. It will certainly bring the league to within touching distance however the results fall. 

Season So Far – Eagles

This season will not go down as one of the more successful years for the esteemed Eagles franchise. They sit third bottom of the league table with an 8-11 record, and have gone trophyless through the season so far. 

Defence has been the area of concern for Newcastle. They give up 90.6 per game, leaving them near the bottom of the BBL’s defensive rankings. Should they resolve their issues on that end, they will feel confident of making a playoff run, as they rank third in the offence charts, scoring 87 per game. 

Justin Gordan has led the Eagles after rejoining the team midseason. Gordon enjoyed a successful stint in Newcastle last year, and took a half-season away in Hungary before returning to Tyneside.  The 6’6” two-guard is the BBL’s third leading scorer, putting up 18.5 points per game. 

A win in this game will snap a three game losing streak for the Eagles, as they look to secure a playoff place. 

One To Watch – Riders

Sealing the deal with eight points in the final quarter against the Scorchers, Conner Washington showcased the value he has brought to the Riders over his 11 years in Leicester. 

The GB guard has won 12 trophies with the Riders, and was named to the BBL All Defensive team and All British First Team in the 2016/17 season. The Bedford born point guard is known as a two way threat, still able to lock up the best guards the BBL has to offer, while draining shots from deep on the other end. 

Washington had 11 points, three rebounds and three assists in his previous game, and will look to put on another solid showing in this one. 

One To Watch – Eagles 

An ever present feature of the Eagles over the last decade, two-time BBL MVP Rahmon Fletcher is continuing to put up big numbers in his seventh season in Newcastle. The 33 year old point guard is leading the BBL in assists with 10.4 per game. 

Fletcher is a graduate of the Green Bay Phoenix, where he graduated averaging 15.6 points in his senior year. After two season’s in the Netherlands with B.A. Limburg, he signed with the Eagles in 2014. Despite taking a year out in 2017 to play in Slovakia, Fletcher has played every other season since 2014 in Newcastle, helping the BBL’s most decorated franchise to yet more success. 

A gritty player on both ends, Fletcher is a team-first guard, able to play elite defence and set his teammates up to great effect on offence. Fletcher hold the record for the most BBL team of the year appearances, with five, and his two MVPs are tied for the most in BBL history. 

Previous Meeting

The teams last met in December, with the Riders taking a convincing 100-72 home win. Geno Crandall led Leicester with 22 points, as the Riders had six players scoring in double digits. 

For Newcatsle, former Rider Corey Johnson put up a team high 15 points, his efforts failing to inspire a comeback for his team. 

Riders defeat Scorchers for second win of the weekend

The Riders are two wins away from a second straight league title, after convincingly beating the Surrey Scorchers on the road. Patrick Whelan led the game with

Whelan wasn’t the only Rider player to reach the 20 point mark, as Mo Walker put up a season high 20 points in as many minutes off the bench. The Uni of Minnesota big man grabbed eight rebounds to pair with his points tally in an impressive effort. 

It was raining threes for Leicester, as they knocked down 16 threes in the game in a red hot scoring effort. Whelan made six, and Washington drained three of his own as Leicester scored over 100 points for the eighth league game this season. 

For Surrey, Stanley Davis Jr put on a show with 23 points. The Morgan State two-guard had nine rebounds and eight assists in a near triple-double effort, while taking just nine shots.  

Despite Davis Jr’s play, it was a convincing win from start to finish, as Leicester won every quarter on the way to a blowout. After falling in a 6-0 hole with a quick Scorchers start, Marc Loving and Patrick Whelan kicked off the Riders’ response with eight points between them in two minutes. 

The pairing’s play clicked Leicester’s BBL-best offence into gear, as they commenced a 15-2 run to take an early advantage. 

Whelan went off in the first, hitting all four of his threes in the opening period of the game. The William Jewell graduate scored 14 of the Riders’ 28 first-quarter points, as Leicester got off to a hot start, entering the second up 10. 

Following up six points in as many minutes in the first, Walker continued his work down low in the second, starting the quarter with two made free-throws. As the Leicester lead grew, the Scorchers made a run back into the game, led by four points from 10-year Scorcher legend Tayo Ogendengbe, cutting a 20 point Riders lead to 13. 

In response, the Riders took back the game’s momentum via a five-point burst from Whelan. Bucknall graduate Kimal Mackenzie ended the period for Leicester how it started, with a pair of free throws to make it 54-39 in the Riders’ favour. 

Geno Crandall started the second half from deep, getting the Riders underway with a quick three. He made two in the quarter as the reigning MVP locked in offensively, scoring nine points in the third. 

The Riders won the period 26-16, extending their lead further to set up a comfortable finish. Walker added four more points to his tally in the closing stages of the quarter to make it 80-58 by the buzzer. 

Walker added another two to start the fourth, working down low to maintain the Riders’ offensive momentum. Leicester saw out the game comfortably, as GB guard Conner Washington scored eight to seal a dominant win.

Loughborough’s Evan Walshe ended the game with a three from the corner, as the Riders improve to 19-2 on the season. 

They head to Newcastle on Tuesday, hoping to better their rivals and take another step towards their sixth league title. 

Preview: Riders at Scorchers

Season So Far – Riders

After a win against Bristol the day previous to this fixture, the Riders are three wins away from retaining their BBL Championship table. They possess an 18-2 record, and the best offence and defence in the BBL. 

A huge clutch win against the Bristol Flyers put them one game closer in their previous fixture. Leicester earned an 87-82 win after Geno Crandall blocked Trejon Jacob’s three-point effort in the dying seconds, before Zach Jackson sealed the deal with a breakaway jam. 

Patrick Whelan led the Riders in the game with 23 points, as he has done all season. he’s putting up 15.7 points and five rebounds a game on 47.3% shooting, a career year for the William Jewell graduate. 

“We had a great reaction when things weren’t going our way. It lit a fire under the team and that’s going to be a key for us going into the playoffs,” said Whelan after the Flyers win. 

“We have one hand on the trophy, but we’re going to take it game by game as we have all season. We’ll go to Surrey tomorrow and try and get the dub.”

Season So Far – Scorchers

The Scorchers prop up the BBL Championship table, possessing a 2-15 record and having won one of their last 11 games. This is the second game of a back to back against the Riders for Surrey, and they will hope for a better result this time around. 

It was an 80-62 Riders win, in a game that was within single digits late until the Riders pulled away. It made the season series between the sides 2-0 in Leicester’s favour, with both games being won convincingly. 

Stanley Davis Jr has led the team through the season with 16.7 points per game, the Morgan State point guard putting up 6.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists to stuff the stat sheet. Davis Jr’s productions will provide little solace for Surrey, however, who rank last in offensive production with just 72.9 points per game. 

Despite their record leaving them out of playoff contention, a win against the league leaders would go a long way towards turning the Scorchers’ season around. 

One To Watch – Riders

Stepping up in the biggest moment of the Riders’ previous game, Geno Crandall’s MVP talents were on full display in the clutch. Picking up the red hot Trejon Jacob one on one with 10 seconds remaining, Crandall forced Jacob into a tough, contested three-point attempt, which Crandall blocked to seal the game.

Crandall has been one of the BBL’s premier playmakers this season, ranking top five in the league in assists, dishing 6.8 per game. He has shown his prowess on both ends, ranking top three in steals with two per game. 

The Gonzaga graduate has led the Riders to their successes all season long, continually putting winning ahead of statistical accolades. He has earned in his fair share of individual success, winning the BBL Cup final MVP to help the Riders to their first silverware of the season. 

‘The General’ will look to lead the Riders to the win in this one, to take a big step towards retaining their BBL Championship title. 

One To Watch – Scorchers

Joining the Scorchers in Febuary, Desmond Ringer has hit the ground running for his new team. He is averaging 14.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, ranking second on his team in both categories. 

The Mercer graduate, who led Eagles Landing to their first ever state championship in high school, is playing in his second pro season, after competing in France last year. 

Standing at 6’9”, Ringer is a versatile offensive threat, able to take defenders off the dribble and pull up from deep. He is able to run the floor, with his vision and passing ability allowing him to make plays for his team. 

He provides a headache for any defence he goes up against, with his size and strength combined with his shooting creating mismatches with most defenders. The Riders will need to guard Ringer close to prevent him from continuing his hot streak. 

Previous Meeting 

The sides last met last time the Riders went on the road, the game going Leicester way with an 82-60 win. The Riders locked in to hold Surrey to nine points in the final period after the teams entered the fourth with the game in the balance.

Darien Nelson-Henry dominated down low, scoring 21 points in 26 minutes. For Surrey, Desmond Ringer scored 14 in his team’s efforts, as the Riders took a 2-0 advantage in the season series. 

Riders edge Flyers to open the weekend with a win

The Riders won a hard-fought battle against the Bristol Flyers, finishing 87-82 victors. Patrick Whelan led the team with 23 points, going 5-10 from the field and 11-11 from the free-throw line. 

With 11 seconds left and up three, Geno Crandall sealed the win for the Riders with a clutch block on Trejon Jacob. Leicester blocked nine shots on the game, this one the most pivotal as they improve to 18-2. 

In the absence of Flyers’ star Marcus Evans, who served a one-game suspension in this one, Trejon Jacob stepped up in the Bristol backcourt. He had 17 points and six assists in his team’s efforts, hitting two big threes in the clutch to keep it close. 

Three more wins will secure the Riders’ second-straight BBL Championship, as they sit 12 points clear atop the table. They fought back against a hot Flyers start to take a big step towards the silverware. 

It was Josh Rogers who led them out the gate, the sharpshooter put up eight points in three minutes to give Bristol an early edge. 

With the Riders in a 14-5 hole in the opening five minutes, the captain, Darien Nelson-Henry, stepped up to give his side a jolt of momentum. He scored four quick points after a Leicester timeout to bring the game to within five. 

But despite the big man’s efforts, the Flyers’ offence remained in a rhythm through the rest of the first. They shot 65% in the quarter, to take a 32-21 lead into the second. 

Leicester fell back on their league-leading defence to get back into the game. Steals on three straight possessions got the home crowd on their feet, as a Marc Loving off-balance three cut the deficit to single digits. 

The Riders continued their charge back into the game, locking down on defence to go on a 12-0 run. Patrick Whelan’s free-throws gave Leicester their first lead since early in the first, after Loving scored eight on the Riders’ run to give them a 46-43 halftime lead. 

The teams to start the second half, as the score stayed locked within a possession for the entirety of the third. Mo Walker scored four to close out the period, while the Flyers’ Mike Miller dropped eight before going down with a leg injury. 

Zach Simmons closed the third with a pair of three throws, to send the game into the final quarter with the score 64-61 to the visitors. 

The Riders took the game by the horns in the fourth, going on an 8-0 run to start the quarter and take the first two-possession lead of the second half. Running the fastbreak, Jubril Adekoya sent the crowd into a frenzy by finishing hard at the hoop through contact, making an and-one play. 

The Flyers came back, making three contested threes to take a narrow lead with two minutes left. It was time for the MVP to take the reigns, as Crandall drained a running three-pointer early in the shot clock to take an 81-79 lead. 

With 11 seconds left and the score 83-82 to Leicester, Nelson-Henry went to the line and made both, coming up clutch for his team. With the game on the line, Crandall came up with a huge block, and Jackson knocked down two more free throws to seal a hard-earned Riders win. 

“We had a great reaction when things weren’t going our way. It lit a fire under the team and that’s going to be a key for us going into the playoffs,” said Whelan post-game. 

“We have one hand on the trophy, but we’re going to take it game by game as we have all season. We’ll go to Surrey tomorrow and try and get the dub.”

Preview: Riders v Flyers

Season So Far – Riders

With eight games remaining, the Riders are strong favourites to retain their BBL Championship title. They sit 10 points clear atop the table with a 17-2 record, with a game in hand on the Manchester Giants below. 

Leicester possesses the best statistical record on both ends, scoring 89.7 points while giving up just 69.6. Their defensive prowess was on full display in their previous fixture, as they bested the Surrey Scorchers 82-60 on the road. 

It was an 11 point game going into the fourth, but the Riders held the Scorchers to just nine points in the final quarter to secure the win. Riders captain Darien Nelson-Henry led them to the win, scoring his 1000th BBL points with 21 in the game. 

On the season, it is William Jewell sniper Patrick Whelan who is leading Leicester. His 15.3 points per game, on 48% three-point shooting, has been integral to the Riders’ league-leading success thus far. 

“We know there are not many games left. We’re in a great position and we’ve got to keep going,” said coach Rob Paternostro postgame. “One thing I love about these guys is that they are not bothered by any of the noise. They’re not worried about who we’re playing, they come out and play professionally.”

The Riders will need every ounce of that professionalism to come away with the win in this one. 


Season So Far – Flyers

The Flyers have a shot at rising up the ranks of the BBL Championship table, having played five games less than the second-placed Manchester Giants and being eight points behind. Their defensive know-how has been the key to their consistency this season, as they rank third in the BBL by giving up just 77 points per game. 

The Flyers are 8-2 when they hold their opponents to under 80 points this season. Trejon Jacob sets the defensive tone on the perimeter for Bristol, the FIU graduate ranking fourth in the BBL in steals, with two per game. 

On the offensive end, the Flyers have struggled to establish a rhythm, scoring the fewest points per game in the BBL. Marcus Evans leads them in scoring with 15.9 points per game, but he will sit out this game to serve a one-game suspension. 

Without their leading man, the emphasis on slowing down the Riders’ league-leading offence is even greater for the Flyers, should they want to start their potential rise up the table. 

One To Watch – Riders

Returning from injury in the Riders’ previous game, Mo Walker left his mark on the Scorchers down low on limited minutes. The Minnesota graduate scored eight points in the first half, muscling his defender in the paint. 

Coach Rob Paternostro reflected on his center’s efforts: “Mo’s first half set us up and put us in a great position. He was unstoppable for a time, and it really helped us get the lead.”

“We like a lot of his matchups every game, and we knew he could get good position down low, and he’s so skilled down there.”

The Canadian/British big man has been a vital component to Leicester’s success this season. He leads the BBL in winning percentage and also tops the league charts in index rating per 100 possessions. 

Walker brings a wealth of experience to the Riders roster, having played in Italy, France and the NBA summer league with the Orlando Magic after graduating college. At the Uni of Minnesota, Walker led the team in rebounding and blocks, and came second in the scoring charts in his senior year. 

“Big Mo’s” return to light a spark in the Riders in the closing stages of the season, as his contributions to winning are contagious throughout the team. 

One To Watch – Flyers

With his defensive efforts ranking among the best in the BBL, Trejon Jacob has announced himself as an elite talent on both ends in his first professional season. The Louisianna born guard is scoring 15.6 points per game on 39% three-point shooting, and leading the Flyers with 8.3 rebounds a game. 

Jacob enjoyed a successful college career. He scored 451 points as a sophomore at FIU, the second-most in college history. He finished his senior year with 11.6 points per game before graduating and signing with the Flyers. 

Jacob has gone off for 20 on three occasions this season, and in his previous game put up a 17 point, 11 rebound double-double against the Sheffield Sharks. The 6’5” sharpshooter has a quick trigger from deep, and can explode for high volume three-point shooting, as demonstrated by the seven threes he made against the Cheshire Phoenix in Febuary. 

Last time against the Riders, Jacob had 17 points and six rebounds and will be hoping for another big performance in the absence of his backcourt running mate, Evans. 

Previous Meeting

The last time these teams met, the game went down to the final buzzer, with the Riders taking a narrow 78-75 victory. Zach Jackson led Leicester with 28 points and hit a go-ahead step-back three with less than a minute remaining to win the game for the Riders. 

Evans led the fight for Bristol, scoring 18 points. The backcourt pairing of he and Jacob scored 35 points, but Evans’ three at the buzzer was too long as the Riders took home a hard-fought victory. 

Riders win on the road in Surrey

The Riders improved their BBL best record to 17-2, beating the Surrey Scorchers 82-60 on the road. 

Darien Nelson-Henry led the team with 21 points and five rebounds, not missing a shot as he went 8-8 from the field. Nelson-Henry’s shooting was consistent throughout the team, as Leicester enjoyed a characteristically efficient shooting night, going 56% from the field. 

Entering the final quarter with a slight advantage, the Riders flexed their league-leading defence to seal the win. They held Surrey to just nine points in the final period, as the Scorchers went 3-11 from the floor and turned it over six times. 

The game marked the return of Mo Walker from injury, who put in a solid effort in limited minutes. The Minnesota graduate scored eight points in the first half, muscling his defender in the paint. 

Coach Rob Paternostro reflected on his center’s efforts: “Mo’s first half set us up and put us in a great position. He was unstoppable for a time, and it really helped us get the lead. 

We liked his matchups today, especially against the second unit. We like a lot of his matchups every game, and we knew he could get good position down low, and he’s so skilled down there.” 

After a tough Riders shooting stint to start the game, Marc Loving took the lid off the basket. He threw down a monster alley-oop slam to send the Leicester bench into a frenzy, before converting an and-one play to keep the early score close. 

Building off his teammate’s play, Walker made his first buckets after returning from injury. The Canadian/British big man scored six in three minutes to give the Riders a 21-17 lead to end the period. 

Loving came out into the second quarter in attack mode, getting to the line twice in three minutes including another and-one play. Spurred on by the Ohio State graduate’s play, the Riders took their first double-digit lead of the night, courtesy of Patrick Whelan’s three. 

On the next play, Loving came up with the play of the game. Following up Whelan’s missed layup, Loving rose high over Sol Rolls-Tyson, and threw the ball down two-handed on the 6’8” forward’s head, silencing the home crowd. 

The Riders rode a wave of momentum from the play, and entered the locker rooms up 45-30. 

After a 6-0 Scorchers start to the second half, the Riders attacked the hoop to put their opponents in early foul trouble and reestablish their lead at the free-throw line. Crandall ran the offence with his elite playmaking, showing off his flashy passing by throwing an assist over his head to Zach Jackson on the perimeter. 

But the Scorchers responded, getting to the line themselves to great effect to take eight free-throws in three minutes, cutting the difference to single digits. Kimbal Mackenzie ended the period with a layup for the Riders, ending the third with the score 62-51 in Leicester’s favour. 

Mackenzie carried his form into the final period, scoring five points in two and a half minutes. But Surrey continued to get to the line, and Stanley Davis Jr’s foul shouts cut the Riders’ lead to nine. 

In response, with five minutes left in the game, Whelan scored five quick points to give Leicester a firmer grip on the game. After Whelan’s burst of offence, the Riders went on a 10-0 run, all but sealing the win. 

The win brings the Riders a step closer to retaining their league title, with just eight games left to play.

“We know there are not many games left. We’re in a great position and we’ve got to keep going. One thing I love about these guys is that they are not bothered by any of the noise,” said coach Rob postgame 

“They’re not worried about who we’re playing, they come out and play professionally. Coming off last week’s game, which was a heartbreaker, and come out here and dominate as we did was excellent.”

Preview: Riders at Scorchers

Season So Far – Riders

A 16-2 record is enough to put the Riders 10 points clear atop the BBL Championship table. They have dominated the BBL on both ends, possessing the league’s best offensive and defensive record by scoring 90.2 points and giving up just 70.1. 

The Riders start to their season was the best in franchise history, placing themselves as hot favourites to retain their league title. Patrick Whelan is leading the way with 15.3 points per game, the Warrington born shooting guard earning his first GB call up after a career-best season thus far. 

In their previous game, the Riders fell for the second time this year, taking a loss on the road to the Manchester Giants. It was a closely fought game that came down to the final possession, with neither side able to establish a double-digit lead throughout. Whelan drove to the rim on the final play, but did not find a whistle through heavy contact as the Riders fell 83-85. 

They will look to bounce back in this one, as they head to Surrey to face a Scorchers team with newfound confidence. 


Season So Far – Scorchers

The Scorchers won their second league game of the year in their most recent fixture, beating the Glasgow Rocks 95-86. The victory broke a nine-game losing streak, as they look to build off the momentum to turn their season around. 

Desmond Ringer led the Scorchers with 20 points, the new acquisition is averaging 19.5 points in his last two games, hitting the ground running in his new home. 

Despite the recent win, the Scorchers prop up the league table with a 2-16 record. Their struggles have stemmed from their offence, as Surrey is producing just 73.8 points per game on a league-worst 40.6% from the field. 

But a win against the league leaders in this one, securing back to back wins, would go a long way to instilling the confidence for the Scorchers’ resurgence. 

One To Watch – Riders

Despite the loss in the Riders’ previous game, Patrick Whelan put on a show for Leicester. He recorded his first career double-double, putting up 25 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 50% from the field. 

After the game, Whelan wasn’t content with his individual stats. 

“You play to win, so it doesn’t really mean anything. Obviously, it’s nice to play well, and I feel like I’m in a good rhythm, but not getting the win is disappointing for all of us.”

Whelan has been in a rhythm all season long, with the second-best high-volume three-point percentage in the BBL with 48.5%. He is a top 20 scorer in the league, scoring 15.3 points per game, leading the Riders to the top of the BBL Championship table. 

His focus has been on the upcoming fixture since the previous loss. “We take losses personally, that’s why we only have two of them. We’ll come out hard, we’ll come out strong and we’ll be ready for the next one.”

One to watch- Scorchers

Ranking ninth in the BBL scoring charts, Stanley Davis Jr. has been on a tear for the Scorchers this season. His 17.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game has been integral to his team in his second professional season. 

Davis Jr arrived at the Scorchers after a season in Albania, taking Vllaznia Shkoda to the playoffs averaging 18.5 points and shot 43% from three. This came off the back of a successful college career at Morgan State, where he averaged 14 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in his senior year.

To pair with his sharpshooting ability from the outside, Davis Jr is an athletic wing, able to attack the basket and make contested baskets in close. He has scored over 20 on five occasions in the league, highlighted by his 26 point effort against the Newcastle Eagles on opening night. 

Previous Meeting

The teams last met early in the year in Leicester. The result was a blowout for the hosts, as the Riders secured a 90-61 win. 

Geno Crandall put on a show for the home crowd, putting up 24 points, nine assists and making five threes. The Scorchers, without Davis Jr, were led by 14 points from Martelle McLemore, while Bowie State big man Saiquan Jamison grabbed a monumental 21 rebounds. 

Riders fall on the road to Giants

The Riders took their second defeat of the season in a thriller, falling to the Manchester Giants 85-83. 

Losing their MVP Geno Crandall to injury after the first minute, the Riders fought hard all game to keep it close. There was never double-digit points between the teams, as the game came down to the final possession. 

The final play came down to Patrick Whelan, who recorded his first career double-double with 25 points and 11 rebounds. He drove strong to the hoop, but found no whistle through heavy contact before the final buzzer sounded. 

Riders captain Darien Nelson-Henry led them out the gate, scoring the first five points including an and-one play. The big man’s buckets led Leicester through the opening stages, as a flurry of fastbreaks gave them a 12-5 lead. 

In response to the hot Riders start, the Giants charged back into the tie led by GB international Will Saunders. The London born wing scored eight, including back to back threes to give Manchester the lead. 

The game swung back and forth for the remainder of the period. Marc Loving hit a three to tie the game at 20 by the end of the first, despite the Riders starting 1-8 from behind the arc. 

Whelan came out into the second quarter aggressively, making two three-point plays to retake the Riders lead. Despite this, they struggled to find their offensive rhythm, turning the ball over five times in the period. They hung in the game, courtesy of nine from Whelan, and Kimbal Mackenzie hit a floater at the buzzer to make it 41-38 at the half. 

Shots started to fall in the third, as Zach Jackson, Loving and Washington hit their first three-point attempts of the half to give the Riders a narrow lead. They carried their advantage all the way into the fourth, as Leicester locked in with their BBL best defence to hold Manchester to 15 in the third. 

But it was the Giants who came out the stronger of the sides in the final quarter, going on a 7-2 run. Whelan hit a three to tie the game up, setting up a tense finale with the score 70-70 with five minutes remaining.

As the clock ticked down, Nelson-Henry took over the game down low. He scored seven straight points, including a monster two-handed slam and a tough and-one finish. The Penn graduate’s play gave the Riders a five-point advantage, their biggest since the first quarter. 

The Giants came back at Leicester with a run of their own, with Jamell Anderson and Tyrik Armstrong making baskets to cut the game to two. Mackenzie responded with a layup on the other end, before Armstrong made a three to make the score 83-82 in the Riders’ favour with a minute left. 

Both teams locked in to keep it scoreless until the final five seconds. It was Saunders who came up with the goods for the hosts, draining a three to put the Giants up two. Whelan drove to the rim on the next play in an attempt to tie, but his shot was stuffed with heavy contact to end the game. 

“Things weren’t going our way, and we tried to fight through it and gave it our all but came up just short,” said Whelan post-game. 

His thoughts are on the next game, where the Riders will look to bounce back against the Surrey Scorchers. 

“We take every loss personally, that’s why we only have two of them in the league. We’ll come out hard and come out strong. We’ll be ready for the next one for sure.”

Preview: Riders at Giants

Manchester hosts retro night in this one, with classic kits, tunes and special guests set to feature! The Riders will be throwing it back to the early 2000s, sporting a blue and orange for the contest. 

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders sit top of the BBL Championship table with a 16-1 record, their best start to a season in their history. They enter this tie on a four-game winning streak, after beating the Cheshire Phoenix 80-59.

The victory in their previous game clinched a playoff spot for the Riders, but captain Dairen Nelson-Henry says his sights are set on bigger goals. 

“We’re not satisfied with just that. We want to go and win the BBL Championship, and go on and win the finals. It’s a nice little pat on the shoulder, but we want more.”

Nelson-Henry had three blocks in the game, acting as the anchor to the BBL’s best defence. No team has scored 80 against Leicester in the league this season, as they hold their opponents to 69 points a game.

On the other end of the floor, the Riders have the best offence in the league also, scoring 90.6 points per game. Patrick Whelan is leading the team with 14.8 points per game, the GB sniper shooting a scorching hot 50% from three-point range, the second-best percentage in the BBL.

A win in this one would see the Riders take another step towards retaining their league title, continuing their record-breaking season. 

Season So Far – Giants

A BBL Cup Final appearance against the Riders has been the highlight of the Giants’ season so far. In the league, they’ve enjoyed a successful campaign so far, sitting joint second in the table with a 10-8 record. 

They enter this game having won two on the bounce, beating the Newcastle Eagles 110-89 on the Sky Sports cameras. Geno Artison led the game with 23 points and eight rebounds in just 26 minutes, going 9-11 from the floor and 6-7 from three in an electric performance. 

The Giants are the fourth most productive offence in the BBL, scoring 87.7 points per game, and rank third in assists with 21.1. Tyrik Armstrong has led the way for Manchester this season, the Houston native scoring 15.8 points per game. 

Manchester will be keen to secure a win in this one to see themselves go clear in the tightly contested second spot in the BBL Championship table. 

One To Watch – Riders

A force in the paint and a leader in the dressing room, Riders captain Darien Nelson-Henry has been at his efficient best this season. Putting up 11.8 points and 5.8 rebounds, the Uni of Penn big man is ranked seventh in the BBL in field goal percentage with 61.5%. 

In college, Darien led Penn in points, rebounds and blocks in his senior year, his performance in the season earning him an All-Ivy selection. After gaining experience in Poland and Austria, he joined the Riders, and is competing in his third year in Leicester. 

Efficiency is what Nelson-Henry hangs his hat on, having averaged over 58% from the field in every one of his professional seasons. He gets his back to the basket often, using his supreme strength to fend off the best post defenders the BBL has to offer, and uses his touch at the rim to finish. 

Darien will look for another efficient night in this one, and steer the Riders to a fifth straight win. 

One To Watch – Giants

Former Rider Jamell Anderson is in the midst of one of the best seasons of his 11-year career. Known as an elite defender throughout his 10 years in the BBL, featuring on the Molten BBL Defensive Team of the Year last season, Anderson is scoring 10.6 points on 51.6% from the field, playing great basketball on both ends. 

Anderson spent eight seasons at the Riders, winning eight pieces of silverware in the process. Standing at 6’7”, the Nottingham-born wing is a versatile defender, able to guard any position from anywhere on the court.

He is the epitome of a “three and D” player, pairing his elite defence with 39.5% three-point shooting this season. Anderson gives opponents continual headaches, with the Riders needing to be at the top of their game on offence to get the better of him. 

Previous Meeting

The sides last met in mid-Febuary, as the Riders emerged 86-69 victors in Leicester. Nelson-henry led the way for Leicester with 23 points, as an electric second quarter saw the Riders establish a lead. 

Armstrong had the best of the Giants’ efforts, putting up 15 points and eight assists. The Riders forced the Giants in 39% shooting, playing suffocating defence to secure the win. 

Riders defeat Phoenix to clinch playoff spot

The Riders improved to 16-1 at the top of the BBL Championship with a comfortable 80-59 win against the Cheshire Phoenix. With the Rocks losing their game against the Surrey Scorchers, the Riders clinched a playoff place with the win. 

A team effort saw the Riders take the win, as eight players scored eight or more points in the game. Geno Crandall and Patrick Whelan led the Riders with 13 each, with Crandall dishing five assists and stealing the ball twice. 

Leicester put on a defensive clinic with their BBL best defence to dominate the game. They continued their record of holding every opponent under 80 points this season, forcing the Phoenix into shooting 34% from the field. 

Despite his team’s loss Central Michigan graduate Larry Austin Jr. put on an excellent offensive effort for Cheshire, with 18 points and 10 rebounds marking his second double-double of the season, and eight steals matching his career-high.

The Riders got going in electric fashion, as Marc Loving’s chase-down block on Namon Wright followed up Whelan’s three to start the game. Despite the hot start, they were engaged in a closely fought battle in the first period. 

Both teams competed with tough defence in a low scoring quarter, which finished 14-11 in the Riders’ favour. Leicester established a narrow advantage with two fast-break scores, including an and-one play from Crandall, as they kept Cheshire scoreless for the final six minutes. 

Whelan started the second period as he did the first, draining a three to get the Riders underway. This time around, the three put the wind in Leicester’s sails as they built a lead with a 9-3 run in the first three minutes. A threaded bounce pass from Jubril Adekoya down low to Zach Jackson gave him an easy layup before he attacked the rim himself to make it 23-14. 

Fending off bursts of offence from the Phoenix, the Riders kept their opponents at arm’s length until the half. They had great success at the line in the first half, making all 13 of their attempts to lead 39-26 into the locker rooms. 

Crandall got the second half underway with a bang, jamming home a two-handed slam in traffic. The Riders continued to play stellar defence, holding Cheshire to just one field goal in the opening five minutes of the third.

The Phoenix suffered from poor free-throw shooting, going 1-5 from the line as Whelan nailed two more threes to make it a 20 point game. Crandall turned up the heat, showing off his MVP talents by running rings around the Phoenix defenders, his flashy handles getting him to the rim in style.

Rest in peace Eric

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of one of our former players Eric Robertson.

Out with being an outstanding basketball player and all his accomplishments on court, Eric was a stand out human being who’s light shone so brightly. He was a man of family and faith. His infectious smile and energy made him an amazing teammate, a pleasure to coach and a firm fan favourite.

The statistics will show that Eric was a part of the Riders family from 2016 to 2018, making 87 BBL appearances and winning six trophies (x2 Trophy, x2 League, x2 Playoff). He also enjoyed a successful BUCS career representing Loughborough University winning two BUCS golds. In truth his impact on the programme and the people he met transcended basketball and ‘E-Rob’ will forever be etched into our history and remain part of our Riders family.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Jerica, Luca James and all of Eric’s family and friends. We pray his faith is a comfort to you all at this sad time. Rest in peace Eric.

Preview: Riders v Phoenix

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders are clear at the top of the BBL Championship table, having lost just one of their 16 games this season. They are the BBL’s premier side on both ends of the floor, scoring 91.3 points per game while giving up less than 70. 

Shooting efficiency has been the key to the Riders’ success this year. They have the second-best field goal percentage in the league, and are the best three-point and free-throw shooters in the BBL. 

GB sniper Patrick Whelan has led the statistical charge for Leicester, earning himself his first international call-up. Shooting 48.8% from three, Whelan has scored a team-leading 15 points per game. 

Leicester enters this game on a three-game winning streak, and are in prime position to retain their league title. 

Season So Far – Phoenix

Despite a 0-4 start to the season leaving them propping up the BBL Championship table, the Phoenix have won seven of their last nine games to rocket up the league. They enter this tie in third place, in the midst of a five-game winning streak. 

The Phoenix crash the glass and dominate the paint, not allowing second-chance points by leading the league in defensive rebounding. British big man Michael Ochereobia is a top-five rebounder in the BBL with 8.6 per game, ranking third in offensive boards. 

Former Rider Namon Wright leads the points column for the Phoenix, putting up 16.6 points per game. It has been the best statistical season of his career, improving on his 15.8 points per game with Leicester in 2020. 

The Phoenix will look to ride their wave of momentum to best the league leaders, continuing their good run of form. A recent win against the Glasgow Rocks earned them a spot in the BBL Trophy final, highlighting the rise of the Phoenix organisation into a silverware contending outfit. 

One To Watch – Riders

After posting a colossal effort in his previous game against the Bristol Flyers, Zach Jackson enters this tie in hot shooting form. His 28 points led Leicester to a closely fought win, hitting a go-ahead three with less than a minute left. 

Seemingly everything Jackson put up hit net in the game, as he shot 57% from the field and went 3-4 from three. 28 points was his season-high effort, after putting up 26 on opening night. 

Jackson is an Omaha graduate, and has sporting prestige in his family. His mum was a national champion high jumper at Kansas State, the University of Jackson’s home city. He uses his athletic pedigree to rise high above the rim, making plays at the hoop to open up his three-point shot. 

He will look to continue his rhythm against the Phoneix, putting up another efficient effort. 

One To Watch – Phoenix

Taking the BBL’s spotlight with a monster posterising dunk in the Trophy semi-final, Larry Austin Jr has been integral to Cheshire’s success this season. The high-flying American two-guard is averaging 14 points and five rebounds a game, and has scored in double-digits in his last four.

Austin Jnr spent his college senior year at Central Michigan University, averaging 17.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and six assists. He was an elite force on both ends, being named to his conference’s All-Defensive team and on the All-Conference second team. 

Since college, he spent two seasons in Europe, taking his talents to Turkey then Portugal, before moving to the BBL for his third professional season. Austin Jnr electrifies the BBL with his rack attacking, getting the lion’s share of his points with athletic finishes at the hoop. 

Previous Meeting 

The teams last met in January, as the Riders put up a blowout win in Cheshire. The score was 76-59, the lowest points tally the Phoenix have managed all season. 

Whelan led the game with 16 points, shooting 62.5% from the floor and making two of his five threes. 

The Phoenix, led by Wright’s 15 points, shot just 19% from three against the suffocating Riders perimeter defence. 

Riders edge Flyers on the road

The Riders won a battle in Bristol, emerging 78-75 victors against the Flyers. Zach Jackson put on a show throughout, scoring 28 points and leading Leicester down the stretch. 

The game came down to the final shot after Jackson’s three put the Riders up one with less than a minute remaining. He and Geno Crandall made their late free throws, before Trejon Jacob’s three at the buzzer fell short to secure a victory. 

It would have been Jacob’s 20th points of the evening, but he finished with 17, accompanied by six rebounds and three assists in a solid display. However, despite the FIU guard’s play, the Riders’ BBL best defence maintained their record of holding every opponent to under 20 in the league. 

The win makes the Riders record 15-1, their best start to a league season in franchise history. They sit 10 points clear at the top of the BBL Championship table, in good shape to retain their title. 

Jackson got the Riders underway with eight quick points as they bolted out to an early advantage. The Kansas born sniper hit his first two threes to get Leicester off to a hot start. 

“I got going with a couple of threes, and when we were struggling from the field I was able to hit some shots.” said Jackson after the game. “If you’re the one hitting shots, you’ve got to keep shooting. That’s what the team need you to do.”

Crandall made the plays of the quarter, dishing a one-handed bullet pass through the teeth of the Bristol defence, finding a cutting Loving to give Leicester a 14-8 lead. He followed the play with a colossal chase-down block on Marcus Evans to silence the home crowd.

The Flyers fought back into the game’s opening stages, and Jacob’s smooth stepback three made it a one-point game with four minutes left in the first. Jacob tied the game up with an and-one play a minute later, making it all to play for after a quarter. 

The game remained tied for the first half of a low-scoring second quarter, as two of the top three BBL defences locked in. 10 points were scored between the sides in the first four minutes of the period before the offences clicked into gear.

A Bristol run saw the Riders down seven going into halftime, led by two dunks from Bates graduate Malcolm Delpeche. But out of the locker rooms, the Riders charged back into the game with a 6-2 run to cut the game to a possession. 

Leicester attacked the hoop in the third, scoring 10 points in the paint led by six from Jackson. But it was a deep shot that tied the game, with Kimbal Mackenzie draining a corner three to make it 57-57 with 1:30 left in the third. 

A series of Flyers free-throws put them up three entering the fourth, the game in the balance. 

After a layup from Adekoya cut the Riders’ deficit to one, Conner Washington nailed a three off the dribble to claim Leicester’s first lead since the second quarter. 

Jacob made tough shots down the stretch to rebuild a Flyers lead. His off-balance contested three made it 73-66 with 3:38 remaining, forcing a Riders timeout. 

Out of the timeout, Jackson pulled up from midrange before making an and-one on the fastbreak in the next play, stealing back momentum. His five point outburst cut the game to two. 

At the line with a minute remaining, Evans missed both to give the Riders a chance to take the lead. Leicester took the opportunity, as Jackson drained a step-back three to put the Riders up 74-73. 

They stood firm on the next defensive possession, forcing the Flyers into a deep three which was missed, before Jackson was put to the line, making both. With a three point deficit, the Flyers drove to the rim to cut the game to one, Jacob throwing down a two-handed slam. 

It was Crandall to be sent to the line next, as he hit both of his foul shots to rebuild the Riders’ three point lead. The final shot came down to Jacob, whose three fell short to seal a hard-fought Leicester win. 

“We have to find ways to win when things aren’t going our way,” said Rob Paternostro post-game. “I think we’ve done that this season, and that’s why we’re 15-1.”

The Riders return on Friday, hosting the Cheshire Phoenix. A win would extend their lead atop the BBL Championship table, and bring their winning streak to four. 

Basketball Stands Together

BBL and WBBL clubs unite to show solidarity in support of Ukraine.

The British Basketball League (BBL) and its 23 Men’s and Women’s clubs will stand together over the next five days in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, showing support at all matches from March 4th-9th.

The thoughts of the British Basketball community are with all of those who have been impacted by the Russian’s invasion of the Ukraine and we unequivocally reject Russia’s actions and wish to show our support for the people of Ukraine

As such the BBL’s Men’s and Women’s teams will all take part in 24 seconds of reflection and a show of solidarity before tip-off at each game between March 4th-9th. 

Clubs will also show the blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag with the wording ‘Basketball Stands Together’ on screens at their arenas.

This message of solidarity will also be visible to the BBL’s global fanbase across our digital channels, as logos and profiles on those platforms will change to represent the colours of the Ukrainian flag.

Retro Night announced!

Retro kits, top tunes and special guests are all in store for the Leicester Riders & Manchester Giants remaining league games against each other.

Leicester’s trip to Belle Vue, Manchester will have a twist on Sunday 13 March 2022 with both teams playing in a version of a RETRO kit from years’ gone by (tickets available here).

Both teams will also be in RETRO kits for the return fixture in Leicester on Friday 8 April 2022 (tickets available here).

Riders have played a number of games in special kits before having worn a St Patrick’s Day, Diwali and Neon jersey in years’ gone by. This time around Riders will wear a blue and orange number throwing this back to early 2000s!

Watch out for more announcements and the kit reveals soon!

Flyers game now on Sky Sports

Riders home game with Bristol Flyers has been selected to feature on Sky Sports. As such the game on 25 March 2022 will now tip-off at 7.30pm.

With an international break this weekend, Riders are back in league action away at Bristol on Saturday 5th before returning to the Morningside versus Cheshire on Friday 11th – tickets available here.