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.

Riders defeat Rocks for second win of the weekend

The Riders dominated the Glasgow Rocks wire to wire, taking a 105-76 road win to improve to 14-1. 

Patrick Whelan led the Riders with 23 points in 22 minutes, exploding from three to hit six of his seven attempts. Joining him in a hot shooting night were Conner Washington and Marc Loving, who went 3-7 and 4-9 respectively. 

The Riders bolted out the gate to score 68 by halftime, their highest ever points tally in a half of basketball. Loving, Washington and Whelan had 47 points entering the locker rooms, as Leicester hit 11 first-half threes to leave the Rocks shellshocked. 

In the absence of MVP Geno Crandall, Conner Washington stepped into a starting role seamlessly, playing every minute of the first half and scoring 15 by halftime. The GB guard put up his season-best scoring tally to help his team to a commanding win. 

Another man stepping up for the shorthanded Riders was Jubril Adekoya, who acted as a sixth man as Mo Walker sat out with an injury. He also put in a season-high performance with 18 points, hitting both of his threes and eight of his 11 field goals. 

Entering the final period with 46 points, the Rocks showed heart in the final ten minutes. They scored 30 in the fourth to make it a respectable scoreline. 

Glasgow’s two high volume scorers, who both sit top in the top 10 of the BBL scoring charts Ali Fraser and Jordan Harris, went off for 17 each. Harris grabbed six rebounds and dished five assists in a well-rounded game, the former Georgia Bulldog putting in the bulk of his points in the latter stages. 

The win makes it two on the trot for Leicester, who extended their lead at the top of the league table. Loving has exploded for back to back big shooting nights, after leading the Riders to the win last time out. 

He spent no time backing up his team-leading performance in his previous game, pulling up from all over the court to score eight points in less than a minute in the first. The Ohio State sniper drained back to back deep threes, getting the Riders off to a perfect start. 

Loving’s shooting was infectious, as the Riders went 8-9 in the first five minutes of the game, bolting out to a 12 point lead. Whelan quickly bested his teammate in the points column, making three straight three-point plays to bring his tally to 11 in the first quarter. 

With Loving and Whelan taking a well-earned rest on the bench, Adekoya checked in and quickly set the tone down low. He scored seven points in four minutes, including a steal and a breakaway jam to end the period 33-17 in Leicester’s favour. 

After the Riders hit five threes in the first quarter, Washington continued the barrage from deep, hitting two of his own to get the second period underway. 

With momentum firmly behind the Riders, big man Adekoya showed off his playmaking skills, throwing a halfcourt lob to Darien Nelson-Henry who flushed it down with two hands. The connection between the front-court pair was evident throughout, as Nelson-Henry repaid the favour on the next possession by dishing an assist to Adekoya inside. 

The Riders’ lead continued to grow as they neared the halfway mark, with everything they threw up seeming to go down. They hit six more threes in the second quarter, in which they scored 34 points to enter the half up 68-37. 

Leicester began the second half like they ended the first, continuing to grow their already colossal lead. Scotland international Fraser scored 7 straight for Glasgow in an attempt to chip into the deficit, but a Whelan three put a quick stop to the Rocks run, before Nelson-Henry made it a 40 point affair. 

Loving’s fourth three of the night concluded the third, as the Riders entered the final period up 90-46. The Riders flexed their BBL best defence in the third, holding the Rocks to just nine points. 

The Rocks showed heart despite the deficit in the final quarter, scoring 12 in the first five minutes. Adekoya got to work down low in response, putting Fraser in a spin cycle in the post to lay in his 18th points of the night, a season-high tally. 

With the game in no doubt in the final stages, Evan Walshe saw 10 minutes of floortime, scoring six points. The small forward, who gained international experience with GB u20s, received his season-high minutes total in the game, valuable game time for the 23-year-old. 

The Riders return in another road game next time out, as they head to Bristol to take on the Flyers. A win would bring their record to 15-1, as they continue their best-ever start to a season. 

Preview: Riders at Rocks

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders are once again the team to beat in the BBL, as they sit top of the league table with a 13-1 record. They are in a strong position to retain their BBL Championship title, playing elite basketball on both ends. 

Leicester possesses the BBL’s best offensive and defensive record, scoring 91.2 points while giving up just 69 a game. No team has scored 80 points against the Riders in the league this season, and they held the Sharks to 14 in the fourth in their previous game to maintain that record. 

The final score was 90-77, a deceptive scoreline to what was an intensely fought game. Marc Loving played all 40 minutes, leading the Riders with 23 points. Loving scored 11 in the fourth as the Riders stretched their lead late, after entering the period up just two. 

It was the perfect response to their first league loss of the season, something Loving commented on post-game: 

“It was very important for us to get on the right track today. We had a long week of practice after the loss to London, and now we’re going back in the right direction.”

“Tonight I had to bring some scoring to the table, and I’m happy my teammates put me in a position to knock some shots down.”

The Riders hope to improve to 14-1 against the Rocks, continuing their best-ever start to a league season. 

Season So Far – Rocks

After a solid 3-3 start to the season, the Rocks enter this tie on a six-game losing streak which puts them second bottom of the BBL Championship table. They came close to breaking the streak in their previous fixture, but fell short in heartbreaking fashion.

It was the second of a back to back against the Newcastle Eagles, which they lost 97-95. They held a two-point lead in the final minute, but fell victim to former MVP Rahmon Fletcher’s game-winning jump shot to send the Rocks home empty-handed. 

It was former Rider and GB international Ali Fraser who led his home country Rocks in the game with 25. Fraser was one of two Glasgow players who scored 20, with Georgia graduate Jordan Harris scoring 21. 

Defence has been responsible for the Rocks struggles this year, as they hold the worst record in the BBL, giving up 93.23 points per game.

As they prepare to face the league’s most potent offence, they will need to buckle down to have any hope of breaking their losing streak in this one. 

One To Watch – Riders

Carrying the scoring load in his last game, Ohio State star Marc Loving went off in the fourth quarter to seal a Riders win. The 6’9” power forward knocked down three of his seven threes, and shot 56% from the field on his way to his 23 point night. 

Loving is stuffing the stat sheet this season, ranking second in scoring for the Riders with 14.4 points per game, and topping the rebounding charts averaging 5.6. His production comes efficiently, as he knocks down 40% of his threes and 47.3% of his field goal. 

Coach Rob Paternostro sings the praises of loving: “Marc’s a great all-around basketball player. He doesn’t go hunting his shot, he just tries to play the right way.”

“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.” 

Coming out of high school, Loving was the number one recruit in Ohio, after being named his state’s Mr Basketball in his senior year. He brings NBA G-League experience, after playing for the Agua Caliente Clippers and the Delaware Bluecoats, and is a calm presence to the team in every occasion. 

One To Watch – Rocks

Jordan Harris has been on a tear for the Rocks this season, putting up 20 points in seven league games. The 6’5” guard comes off a back to back against the Eagles where he averaged 21 points and five rebounds.

The Georgia graduate averaged 7.1 points per game in his senior year with the Bulldogs, and gained experience playing alongside NBA number 1 pick Anthony Edwards in college. 

A human highlight reel, Harris is capable of serving up big plays on any given possession. His athleticism allows him to rise up high and throw down poster dunks, which he does often with his willingness to run in transition.

The first-year pro will look to continue his hot streak to end the Rocks poor run of form. 

Previous Meeting

The teams last met early in the year, as the Riders hosted a 105-76 blowout win. 

GB sniper made six threes for the Riders on his way to 22 points, as the Riders knocked down 18 threes in the game. 

Harris led the Rocks with 14 points and four assists, as his team shot 50% from the free-throw line in the heavy defeat. 

Riders get back to winning ways with Victory over Sharks

The Riders bounced back from their first league loss of the season, beating the second-placed Sheffield Sharks 90-77. They stretched their lead atop the BBL Championship table to eight points, possessing a 13-1 record.

Marc Loving played all 40 minutes to lead the team with 23 points. He scored 11 in the fourth to seal the win, in a tie that was closely contested throughout. 

The Riders put on the ultimate team display, as all of their starters scored in double digits. But as has been typical of this Leicester outfit, it was their defence that won the day. 

No team has scored in the 80s in the league against the Riders, as their streak continued in this one as they held Sheffield to 14 in the fourth. Jubril Adekoya had three steals, and his defence late was integral to Leicester’s success. 

The Sharks dominated the glass to stay competitive until the dying stages. Pulling down 10 offensive rebounds, their physicality challenged the Riders who were without their big man Mo Walker. 

Sheffield’s new star Antwain Johnson continued his scorching hot start to Sharks life, leading the game with 25 points and seven rebounds. The former NBA G-Leaguer carried the bulk of the scoring off the bench for large stretches going 8-12 from the field in 28 minutes. 

Getting the game underway, wing tandem Patrick Whelan and Zach Jackson got the Riders cooking early, scoring the first 11 Leicester points. Jackson stayed hot through the entire first quarter, scoring nine.

A Loving breakaway dunk capped off a hot Riders start, as they bolted out to a 15-8 lead. The Sharks battled back, with San Fransisco graduate Jordan Ratinho scoring back to back buckets, but Loving halted the Sharks’ surge with a monster baseline jam, lifting the roof off the Morningside Arena. 

Loving scored seven in the first, as the Riders ended the period up 26-19 after Kimbal Mackenzie got the roll of the rim to knock down a floater in the lane. 

Sheffield’s new man Antwain Johnson started the second with five points in a minute, cutting the score to a possession. The Riders, struggling to find the bottom of the net, buckled down defensively. They forced three straight turnovers out of the Sharks, who possess the best turnover record in the BBL. 

With Johnson scoring 10 in the second for Sheffield, the visitors won the period 22-12 to enter the locker room with a slender lead. Crandall’s finish through heavy contact cut the Sharks lead to 43-40 by halftime. 

To start the second half, Whelan drained a quick three to tie it up. The Riders snatched the game’s momentum, breaking out on a 7-0 run out of the locker rooms. 

The score swung back and forth as the sides attempted to secure a foothold in the game. There were 11 lead changes in the third quarter, with each team responding to each other’s baskets with big plays on the other end. 

Whelan finished the third with five points in the final minute, including a tough and-one in the lane. Johnson’s free-throws concluded the period, with the sides entering the final quarter with two points between them, the hosts with the advantage. 

Early in the fourth, Adekoya took over the game, scoring three points and stealing the ball twice in three minutes while playing stifling interior defence. Building off the big man’s play, a three from Whelan gave the Riders a seven-point advantage with five minutes on the clock. 

Playing physical offence, the Riders put the Sharks in foul trouble with the fourth coming to a close, as they got to the line effectively. With Sheffield unable to foul, the Riders clicked their offence into gear, taking the first double-digit lead of the night as Crandall dished to Adekoya down low. 

With a raucous Morningside Arena behind them, the Riders sealed the game in style, as Loving scored his 11th points of the quarter to put it beyond a doubt. 

After the game, Loving spoke on the importance of responding to their recent loss: “It was very important for us to get on the right track today. We had a long week of practice after the loss to London, and now we’re going back in the right direction.”

“Tonight I had to bring some scoring to the table, and I’m happy my teammates put me in a position to knock some shots down.”

The Riders head on the road for their next game. They face the Glasgow Rocks, looking to improve to 14-1 in their league title defence. 

Preview: Riders v Sharks

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders are the team to beat in the BBL Championship, as they currently top the standings with a 12-1 record. They possess both the best offensive and defensive records, scoring 91.3 points per game, while giving up just 68.4. 

Patrick Whelan’s play this season has earned him a place on the GB roster, leading the Riders scoring with 14.4 points per game. The William Jewell graduate led the Riders in their most recent game, their first loss of the year which came against the London Lions. 

Whelan dropped 20 in the 77-79 loss, the Riders struggled to find an offensive rhythm in the second half. Their defence maintained its impressive record of holding teams to under 80 points, however, with no Leicester opponent able to get into the 80s against their BBL best defence. 

The Riders face the Sharks in front of a home crowd, hoping to bounce back and protect their undefeated home record in the league. As the league’s leading assist makers, the Riders will look to keep the ball moving to generate consistent offence in this one. 

Season So Far – Sharks

The Sharks, struggling to find consistency this season, have won three of their last six, but come into this one on a three-game winning streak. 

Having scored in the 80s five times this year, but failed to break the 70 point mark four times, the Sharks offence can produce varying levels of success on any given night. 

The addition of Antwain Johnson has injected a jolt of momentum into the Sharks, the 6’2” Buffalo graduate has averaged 19 points in the two game’s he has played for his new team.

He scored 20 in his previous game, a 90-77 home win against the Glasgow Rocks. Sheffield caught fire to make 38% of their threes, something that has been key to their success as the third ranked three-point shooters in the BBL. 

The Sharks sit second in the league, and a win against the Riders would solidify their position. Their three-game win streak has earned them an 8-5 record, as they look to keep their momentum going. 

One To Watch – Riders

A key to the Riders defensive prowess this season has been strong perimeter defence, suffocating opponents. No Riders player represents that better than 6’7” wing Zach Jackson. 

The Omaha graduate, who led his college in scoring for his junior and senior years, uses his lateral speed, combined with strength and quick hands, to clamp his opponents down on the perimeter. 

His size also allows him to fight inside, able to contest shots at the rim and grab rebounds. Offensively, Jackson is capable of big shooting nights, demonstrated on the opening day of the season with his 26 points against the Newcastle Eagles. 

Having sat out most of last year with an injury, Jackson returned to the Riders in the offseason hoping to make a run at the championship, and he is an integral part of their success midway in the year. 

One To Watch – Sharks

Arriving to the Sharks roster in wake of Aaron Anderson’s departure, Antwain Johnson has gotten off to a flying start in Sheffield. He followed up an 18 point debut with a 20 point performance last time out, instantly earning the admiration of the Sharks faithful. 

This marks Johnson’s second professional season after spending three years in college. 

In college, the 6’2” guard spent two seasons with the Tennessee Blue Raiders before transferring to Buffalo. He scored 10.7 points per game in 27 minutes, before graduating to play his first professional season in the Georgian Superleague. 

He was then named in the 2021 Sioux Falls Skyforce training camp roster at the beginning of the season, the NBA G League affiliate of the Miami Heat.

The shifty guard attacks the teeth of the defence, using his athleticism to throw down monster jams, or his touch at the rim to make contested layups. The Riders rim protection will need to be on top form when Johnson drives to the hoop. 

Previous Meeting 

The sides last met at the dawn of 2022, playing in the BBL Championship in Sheffield. The Riders blew the Sharks out of the water, winning 100-62. 

62 points is the lowest home tally in Sheffield Sharks history, as the Riders flexed their BBL best defence. Big man Darien Nelson-Henry led the Riders with a 19 point, 11 rebound double-double, dominating down low. 

Riders handed first league loss by Lions

The Riders continue their record-breaking undefeated start to their season, improving to 12-0 with a 86-69 win against the Manchester Giants. Darien Nelson-Henry led the game with 23 points and six rebounds, hitting big shots throughout a dominant victory. 

The game was won largely in the second quarter, as the Riders league-best defence held the Giants to just four points, establishing a 21 point lead by halftime. Geno Crandall had eight points and six assist in the second, leading Leicester to a commanding advantage.  

Despite suffering a blowout in the second, the Giants won the remaining three quarters 62-60 to threaten the Riders’ lead. Manchester’s leading scorer on the season, Tyrik Armstrong, topped his team’s points tally again, scoring 15 points and dishing eight assists. 

The Riders played through the hot hands of their captain to begin the tie, as Nelson-Henry scored six points in the opening five minutes. The University of Penn big man hustled down low to hunt down missed shots, earning second-chance points for his team. 

Despite the big man’s play, the game remained close through the first quarter, which ended 24-23 in the Giants’ favour. Their star guard Armstrong scored eight while Presbyterian graduate Francios Lewis scored six off the bench. 

After a quick start, the Giants’ offence stalled in the second. The Riders locked in their BBL best defence to keep Manchester scoreless through the eight minutes of the period, as they established their first real advantage. 

Crandall broke away on the fastbreak to make it 31-24 in Leicester’s favour, forcing coach Llyod Gardner to call a Giants’ timeout. However, the break in play failed to halt the Riders’ surge, as Patrick Whelan’s finish over Manchester veteran Dan Clark put them up double digits. 

With the wind in their sails, the Riders rode into the distance to close out the half. Marc Loving’s double-clutch jam brought the roof off the Morningside Arena, before Crandall turned up the style with a between the legs dish to Whelan on the break. 

Clamping the Giants and making momentum-building plays, Leicester held a 49-28 lead into halftime. 

Rim protection was the key to the Riders maintaining their lead to start the second half, as Loving and Crandall’s colossal blocks denied the Giants’ kick-starting a comeback. 

However, after getting blown out in the second, Manchester did chip into the lead in the third. Former Rider Jamell Anderson’s breakaway slam cut the game to 16, and his denial out of bounds against Whelan on the other end made sure it remained a 16 point deficit.

Leicester responded with a bang, draining back to back threes to end the third, putting them up 70-48 entering the final stanza. 

The Giants started the fourth with an 8-0 run, threatening to make it a contest in the closing stages. After a Riders’ timeout, Nelson-Henry attacked the teeth of the Giants’ defence, scoring four quick points to keep Manchester at arm’s length. 

After their captain lead them through the Giants’ threat, Leicester saw the game out comfortably to maintain their undefeated record. 

Nelson-Henry commented on the performance post-game: “We pride ourselves on defence. We work on our defensive strategy all week. We’re smart enough and we communicate enough to figure things out on the fly, and it helps us that we have a high IQ group of guys.”

“It feels good to be back in the starting lineup, but whether I’m starting, coming off the bench, playing five or 40 minutes, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to get that W.”

The Riders face a quick turnaround in their next game, as they head to London to take on the Lions. A win would improve the Riders’ record to 13-0, continuing their best start to a season in franchise history. 

Preview: Riders at Lions

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders have asserted themselves as the premier team in the BBL this season. An 86-69 win against the Giants last time out improved Leicester’s record to 12-0, their best-ever start to a season. 

Picking up where he left off last season, reigning MVP Geno Crandall has led the way for the Riders this season, stuffing the stat sheet with 14.1 points, 7.8 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals a game. 

Crandall was at his brilliant best to help Leicester to their first silverware of the season, picking up the BBL Cup Final MVP with 26 points. It was the Giants again on the end of a 86-69 Riders victory, as they lifted their first BBL Cup in seven years. 

Defence has been the key to the Riders success this season, with no team able to score 80 points against them in the league. Leicester captain Darien Nelson-Henry spoke about the Riders’ defence prowess: 

“We pride ourselves on defence. We work on our defensive strategy all week. We’re smart enough and we communicate enough to figure things out on the fly, and it helps us that we have a high IQ group of guys.”


Set to play the second-ranked Lions’ offence in their next game, the Riders defence will need to be locked in to improve to 13-0. 

Season So Far – Lions

In their previous game, the London Lions made BBL history, becoming the first British team to win in the second round of the FIBA Europe Cup. An 82-75 victory against Danish side Bakken Bears in front of a raucous Copperbox Arena paved the way for future success for British teams in Europe. 

Domestically, the Lions haven’t enjoyed the same success. They sit with a 5-3 record, and face back to back league losses after falling to the Riders 80-67 last time out. The game was close entering the fourth, but the Riders defence held London to just four in the final quarter, securing an important victory. 

That quarter was uncharacteristic of the Lions, who possess the second-ranked BBL offence, placed behind the Riders. Their defence leaves a little to be desired, however, giving up 83.5 points per game compared to the Riders 67.6. 

Dirk Williams has led the hot Lions offence through the early stages, scoring 21 points per game. His scoring tally is ranked second in the BBL, and he is scoring at an impressive 53% from the floor.

To add to their roster, the Lions have called on reinforcements, signing 6’11” big Ryan Martin. Martin was last seen averaging 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Bakken Bears and will bring EuroCup experience to the center position. 

One To Watch – Riders

Getting back into the starting lineup after an injury early in the season, Darien Nelson-Henry got back to his brilliant best against the Giants last time out. The Penn graduate scored 23 points in the win, going 8-12 from the floor. 

“It feels good to be back in the starting lineup,” commented Nelson-Henry postgame. “But whether I’m starting, coming off the bench, playing five or 40 minutes, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to get that W.”

Graduating college in 2016, Nelson-Henry began his professional basketball career in Poland, signing with Jezioro Tarnobrzeg at the age of 22.

He would go on to play in Poland and Austria, enjoying a breakout year averaging a monster 20 points and 12 rebounds a game for UBSC Raiffeinsen Graz. Darien then took his talents to Leicester in 2019 to play for Rob Paternostro’s side.

Nelson-Henry is averaging 13.7 points and six rebounds on the season, and his intangible leadership qualities have been invaluable to the Riders over the last three seasons. 

One To Watch – Lions

In their historic game in Europe, Dirk Williams led the Lions to victory with 23 points. Shooting 64% from the field, Williams introduced himself to the European stage with a bang, taking over the tie with five threes. 

Spending his first two professional seasons with the Sheffield Sharks, this marks Williams’ fourth season in the BBL. He has made progress in each of his five professional years, having spent a year away from Britain in the Hungarian first division. 

The former UAB Blazer scored 10 points per game in the NCAA D1, spending two seasons in college before turning pro. The 6’5” guard is a relentless corer, capable of pulling up from anywhere on the court and going off for hot shooting nights. 

Previous Meetings

This is the sixth encounter between these sides this season, after a number of clashes in the BBL Cup. The Riders got the better of the Lions in the Cup, beating them 178-170 over two legs in the semi-final. 

They most recently met in the league, an 80-67 Riders win. Leicester held London to four points in the final quarter, clamping their opponents to secure an important win. 

Patrick Whelan led the Riders with 17 points, going 6-11 from the floor. On the other end, Dirk Williams went off for 16 points, despite his side falling short in the game. 

Riders continue record breaking run

The Riders continue their record-breaking undefeated start to their season, improving to 12-0 with a 86-69 win against the Manchester Giants. Darien Nelson-Henry led the game with 23 points and six rebounds, hitting big shots throughout a dominant victory. 

The game was won largely in the second quarter, as the Riders league-best defence held the Giants to just four points, establishing a 21 point lead by halftime. Geno Crandall had eight points and six assist in the second, leading Leicester to a commanding advantage.  

Despite suffering a blowout in the second, the Giants won the remaining three quarters 62-60 to threaten the Riders’ lead. Manchester’s leading scorer on the season, Tyrik Armstrong, topped his team’s points tally again, scoring 15 points and dishing eight assists. 

The Riders played through the hot hands of their captain to begin the tie, as Nelson-Henry scored six points in the opening five minutes. The University of Penn big man hustled down low to hunt down missed shots, earning second-chance points for his team. 

Despite the big man’s play, the game remained close through the first quarter, which ended 24-23 in the Giants’ favour. Their star guard Armstrong scored eight while Presbyterian graduate Francios Lewis scored six off the bench. 

After a quick start, the Giants’ offence stalled in the second. The Riders locked in their BBL best defence to keep Manchester scoreless through the eight minutes of the period, as they established their first real advantage. 

Crandall broke away on the fastbreak to make it 31-24 in Leicester’s favour, forcing coach Llyod Gardner to call a Giants’ timeout. However, the break in play failed to halt the Riders’ surge, as Patrick Whelan’s finish over Manchester veteran Dan Clark put them up double digits. 

With the wind in their sails, the Riders rode into the distance to close out the half. Marc Loving’s double-clutch jam brought the roof off the Morningside Arena, before Crandall turned up the style with a between the legs dish to Whelan on the break. 

Clamping the Giants and making momentum-building plays, Leicester held a 49-28 lead into halftime. 

Rim protection was the key to the Riders maintaining their lead to start the second half, as Loving and Crandall’s colossal blocks denied the Giants’ kick-starting a comeback. 

However, after getting blown out in the second, Manchester did chip into the lead in the third. Former Rider Jamell Anderson’s breakaway slam cut the game to 16, and his denial out of bounds against Whelan on the other end made sure it remained a 16 point deficit.

Leicester responded with a bang, draining back to back threes to end the third, putting them up 70-48 entering the final stanza. 

The Giants started the fourth with an 8-0 run, threatening to make it a contest in the closing stages. After a Riders’ timeout, Nelson-Henry attacked the teeth of the Giants’ defence, scoring four quick points to keep Manchester at arm’s length. 

After their captain lead them through the Giants’ threat, Leicester saw the game out comfortably to maintain their undefeated record. 

Nelson-Henry commented on the performance post-game: “We pride ourselves on defence. We work on our defensive strategy all week. We’re smart enough and we communicate enough to figure things out on the fly, and it helps us that we have a high IQ group of guys.”

“It feels good to be back in the starting lineup, but whether I’m starting, coming off the bench, playing five or 40 minutes, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to get that W.”

The Riders face a quick turnaround in their next game, as they head to London to take on the Lions. A win would improve the Riders’ record to 13-0, continuing their best start to a season in franchise history. 

Preview: Riders v Giants

Season So Far – Riders

Winning the BBL Cup and sitting undefeated through 11 league games, the Riders are in the midst of their greatest start to a season in franchise history. They face their Cup final opponents in this one, hoping to boost their chances of a league title defence. 

Team play on both ends has been the key to the Riders’ success this season. In the league, no team is yet to break the 80 point mark against Leicester, as they hold the best defensive record in the BBL giving up just 67.5 points per game. 

Offensively, the Riders share the wealth to generate open looks outside. They dish the most assists in the league, and shoot the most efficient three-point shot at 41.2%. A large part of their joy has come from Patrick Whelan’s 47.2% shooting on threes, his sharpshooting ability earning him his first GB call up. 

January’s BBL Player of the Month Geno Crandall has led the way for Leicester, as he did in his MVP season last year. His 14.5 points and 7.5 assists have been fundamental to the Riders winning streak, as they return home for the first time since December 27th wanting to continue their hot form.

Season So Far – Giants

Acquiring GB captain Dan Clark in the offseason, the Giants looked to take the next step towards challenging for trophies this season. The progress was evident midway through the season, as the Giants reached the BBL Cup final, taking on the Riders. 

They fell to the Riders in the final, but remained competitive until the dying stages to consolidate their status as a team able to challenge for silverware. 

In the league, the Giants enter this game sat second in the standings with an 8-5 record, off the back of an 81-74 road win against the Surrey Scorchers. Geno Artison led the game with 19 points, 17 of which came in the first half. 

Tyrik Armstrong sets the statistical tone for the Giants, leading the scoring with 16.2 points per game. Meanwhile, veteran Clark anchors the paint for Manchester, his 1.5 blocks per game ranked third in the BBL. 

In their previous fixture, the Giants saw themselves eliminated from the BBL Trophy losing 90-79 to the London Lions. A win against the league leaders in this one would mark the perfect response. 


One To Watch – Riders

Bruising big man Mo Walker put in a dominant display in his last game against the London Lions. Catching fire in the second quarter, Walker put up six points and six rebounds in five minutes to get on the board, and continued to bully the opposition down low to finish with a 16 point and 12 rebound double-double. 

Canadian-British Walker has added strength and post play to the Riders this year, after dealing with injury troubles over the last two seasons. Playing in tandem with fellow big man Darien Nelson-Henry, Walker has provided a one-two punch down low to terrorise the heart of opposing defences. 

Walker’s touch at the rim, combined with his size, makes him one of the league’s most efficient players. He ranks third in field goal percentage at 63.6%, with Nelson-Henry ranked right behind him in fourth. 

Walker has put up double-digit points on 11 occasions this season, and will look to follow up his dominant performance with another elite offensive display. 

One To Watch – Giants

Mr consistent Tyrik Armstrong has put up double-digit points in every league game he has played this season. The 5’10” point guard leads his side in scoring with 16.2 points per game, with a season-high of 40 points coming in late January against the Newcastle Eagles. 

Armstrong averaged 14.3 points in his senior year at Texas Southern University, before making his professional debut with the Giants this season. As has been the trend in the BBL, he scored double-digits in every playoff game in his senior season, scoring 16 points in the final. 

Armstrong has made a habit of strong final performances, as he led Manchester in the BBL Cup final with 18 points. He will hope to turn his play into trophies in the remainder of the Giants’ season. 

Previous Meeting

The sides last met in the BBL Cup Final, where the Riders emerged 83-69 victors. The win earned the Riders their fourth BBL Cup in their history, and their first four seven years. 

Geno Crandall put on a dazzling display to win Final MVP, putting up 26 points, six rebounds and five assists. 

Manchester kept the game close until late but ultimately fell short, led by Tyrik Armstrong’s 18 points. 

Riders make it 11 straight wins with victory over Lions

The Riders moved to 11-0, their best-ever start to a league campaign, beating the London Lions 80-67. 

Leicester’s BBL best defence locked in to win the game late, holding the league’s highest-scoring offence to zero points in the first eight and a half minutes in the fourth quarter. 

Patrick Whelan proved why he deserved his first GB call up before the game, leading the Riders with 17 points. Mo Walker also had himself a dominant performance off the bench, putting up a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. 

Meanwhile, off the back of a Final MVP performance in the BBL Cup final, January’s BBL Player of the Month Geno Crandall stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Crandall had key buckets in the third to keep it close, before the Riders jumped out to a lead in the fourth. 

The Lions’ offence, which was rolling through three quarters, was forced to a halt in the fourth. They went 2-12 from the floor, despite entering the period shooting 50%, and turned the ball over five times. 

Dirk Williams’ led the hosts in the game with 16 points, but his side managed just 10 points off the bench to the Riders’ 31, as Leicester flexed their strength in depth. 

The game, featuring the BBL’s two highest-scoring offences, began at an electric pace. Whelan and Darien Nelson-Henry owned the first quarter, which finished 26-23 in London’s favour, with 14 points between them. 

Nelson-Henry led Leicester through the tightly fought opening stages with five quick points, including an and-one to start the game. Whelan then took over the scoring duties, heating up with back to back threes.

The GB sharpshooter pulled up in transition for his second three, silencing the home crowd for his ninth points of the evening. But Williams’ explosion for eight points to close the period earned London the advantage. 

Walker led the line for Leicester in the second quarter, the bruising big man putting up six points and six rebounds in the first five minutes of the period. Walker fought inside to help the Riders to the lead. 

The sides battled it out to close the half, as Italian sniper Lorenzo Cugini caught fire for London to hit four threes in the quarter. Cugini closed the half with a three to put the Lions up 48-46 at halftime. 

After three straight London scores to start the second half, Crandall turned up his aggression on the offensive end to keep the Riders in the contest. The reigning MVP scored six quick points to tie the game at 54, hitting contested shots in close. 

The score swung back and forth to close the third, as there were three lead changes in the final two minutes. A pair of Crandall free-throws for his 10th points of the quarter took the lead for Leicester entering the fourth. 

The teams were locked in a stalemate to start the final period, as it took three minutes for the first score of the quarter. It came courtesy of Jubril Adekoya, who drained a corner three to put Leicester up six, their biggest lead of the night. 

The Riders’ defence locked in, putting a lid on the rim for London. With London failing to score for eight and a half minutes in the fourth, the Riders took a double-digit lead. Whelan’s three forced a Lions timeout with Leicester up 15. 

The win sees Leicester six points clear atop the BBL Championship table. They host the Manchester Giants in their next game, hoping to maintain their undefeated league record. 

Rob & Geno pick up monthly awards

Coach Rob Paternostro is named as the BBL Coach of the Month for January 2022, back-to-back after winning the award in December.

Geno Crandall was also named the BBL Player of the Month for January 2022, he last won the award in November.

Riders 10-0 start in the league continued through January, and with the BBL Cup Final win on Sunday, the Riders duo were firm favourites to win the awards. The cup win was Paternostro’s 15th trophy for the club he has led to be the most successful over the last decade.

Riders remain by far the league’s best defence, a Paternostro hallmark, conceding just 68 points per game and holding opponents to a stifling 39.5% from the field; but they are also prolific offensively, averaging 94 points per game and leading the BBL in both field goal percentage and three-point percentage.

Meanwhile, Crandall led the scoring in the final with a game-high 26 points, he scooped up the BBL Cup Final MVP award to add to his collection. Earlier in the month Crandall finished the Phoenix game with a first triple-double in his BBL career of 13 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.

For the month, he was the only player to average a double-double, of 12.4 points and 10.0 assists, along with 7.2 rebounds and 3.2 steals per outing.

Preview: Riders at Lions

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders have gotten off to their best start to a league season in franchise history, as they sit top of the BBL Championship table with a 10-0 record. Led by Marc Loving’s 14.8 points per game, they are in prime position to retain their league title. 

In their previous fixture, Leicester’s hot start was rewarded by silverware, as they lifted the BBL Cup after beating the Manchester Giants 83-69. Geno Crandall dominated the game, scoring 26 points to earn himself the Final MVP. 

“This is validation for the hard work we’ve put into the season up to this point,” said Crandall post-game. “It’s good to get another win under our belt to keep the momentum going, and we just want to build on this.”

Holding their opponents to just 67.5 points per game, the Riders’ defence has been the key to their early success. 

“We have a group of guys who believe in defence, and that’s important,” commented coach Rob Paternostro after the Cup win. “We really wanted to make this a defensive game, and we locked in nicely. To hold them to 69 is a great effort.”

The Riders are an elite outfit on the other end too, scoring the second-most points in the league with 94.4 a game. 

Three-point shooting has been their most effective weapon, leading the BBL to make 42.1% of their deep shots. Leicester have a plethora of weapons on the perimeter, with four players averaging over 40% from three-point range. 

Season So Far – Lions

For their high standards, the Lions have endured a difficult start to their BBL campaign. They sit sixth in the table with a 5-2 record, having played the least amount of games in the BBL due to their European commitments. 

The Lions made history in Europe however, becoming the first BBL franchise to win a European game since Nick Nurse’s Brighton Bears in 2002. They advanced to the second round of the FIBA EuroCup, where they finished with an 0-4 record. 

Led by Dirk Williams’ 21.7 points, the Lions possess the highest-scoring offence in the BBL with 95.7 points a night. They are also stifling at the rim, blocking a BBL best five shots per game, led by Kylor Kelley’s 2.7 per contest.

Following legendary coach Vince Macaulay’s departure, the Lions look to start their new era with a run of good form, and a win in this one would make it 3-0 in the BBL for their interim coach James Vear. 

One To Watch – Riders

Named Finals MVP after his 26 points, six rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals in the BBL Cup final & Molten Player of the Month for January, Geno Crandall added to his long list of team and individual BBL accolades. 

The Gonzaga graduate continues to set the league alight with his play after winning the BBL MVP last season. He’s averaging 14.7 points and 7.5 assists, but is more focused on winning than his individual statistics:

“I’m a big team guy, and I think winning is more important than anything you can do individually. It’s the ultimate mark of a player: how can you contribute to winning.”

Leading the Riders to a 10-0 record to start the year, Crandall’s contributions to Leicester’s winning efforts is key to their success. 

Coach Rob Paternostro sang the praises of his point guard: “He’s always a difference-maker. He’s can score and assist from so many places, and he’s a competitor. That’s what we love about him. When you couple that with a great IQ, you get a heck of a player.”

One To Watch – Lions

Shot blocking big man Kylor Kelley has patrolled the paint effectively for the Lions this season, blocking the second-most shots in the BBL with 2.7 a game.

The seven-footer from Oregon State University utilises his 7’3” wingspan to great effect, walling off the rim from any attackers. In college, Kelley was the PAC-12’s best shot blocker, averaging a monumental 3.4 blocks in his senior year. 

Kelley’s ability at the rim alone was enough to earn him NBA draft consideration. Now, his talents are at the Lions’ disposal, as the second-year pro is a key asset to his side. He has saved over 20 points on the defensive end this season, by far and away the most on his team. 

Should the Riders want any success at the rim in this one, they’ll have to go through Kelley. 

Previous Meetings

The Riders have gotten the better of their opponents in their meetings early in the year. The league rivals have met four times in the BBL Cup this season, with the Riders winning on three of these occasions. 

Most recently, they met in the semi-finals of the BBL Cup, with Leicester emerging 178-170 victors over two legs. 

In a hard-fought second leg, Zach Jackson led the Riders to a 79-74 home win with 16 points, as his team held the BBL’s best offence to 42% shooting. 


Isaiah Reese led the Lions effort with 20 points and seven assists, going 7-18 from the field. 

All-Star camp is back!

Loughborough All-Star basketball camp is back for 2022!

With limited places, booking is open for the All-Star 2022 Summer Camp! The week-long camp is held in the prestigious sporting facilities of Loughborough University every Summer.

Led by Loughborough & Leicester Riders’ elite coaching staff with masterclass sessions from professional players, spaces are sure to fill up fast!

When

Monday 1st – Friday 5th August 2022

Who

11-18 Years Old

Where

Sir David Wallace Sports Hall
Loughborough University
LE11 3TU

Pricing

£360 Residential – 9 AM – 9 PM
£220 Non-residential – 9AM – 5PM

Riders crowned BBL Cup Champions

Leicester Riders were crowned 2022 BBL Cup winners with a 83-69 win against the Manchester Giants. Geno Crandall was named Final MVP, after he put up 26 points, six rebounds and five assists in a monumental effort. 

Despite two of the competition’s top three offences clashing head to head, a low scoring game earned Leicester their first BBL Cup win since 2014. The Riders entered the tie as the BBL Cup’s best defence, and showcased their prowess by holding their opponents to 38.5% shooting. 

Texas Southern graduate Tyrik Armstrong led a valiant Giants effort with 18 points and four assists. Manchester lost an early advantage in the second quarter, and despite cutting it close in the final stages, could not climb back into the game. 

With the team’s trading blows to start the game, it was the Giants who had the best of the early running, taking a nine point lead lead by six from GB captain Dan Clark. Marc Loving steered Leicester through their difficult offensive start with seven points in the first quarter, pulling up from everywhere on the court. 

The Ohio state graduate’s play kick started a 6-2 Riders run to end the period, which Manchester’s Armstrong concluded with a pair of free-throws to make it 20-15 in his team’s favour. 

The Riders continued their fightback in the second, taking their first lead of the game courtesy of Crandall’s midrange jumpshot. Last season’s BBL MVP took the roof off the building on the following play, taking flight to block Armstrong’s layup. 

Crandall blew wind into the Riders’ sails, scoring 12 in the quarter to stretch the lead. His dazzling display led Leicester on a 30-8 second quarter performance. The half ended fittingly, with captain Darien Nelson-Henry beating the buzzer to put the Riders up 45-26. 

Crandall picked up in the second half where he left off in the first, snatching the ball from Armstrong and laying the ball in for two. The quarter exploded into life after five minutes, with the teams trading baskets back and forth. The Giants climbed back into contention, with Jordan Whelan’s three cutting the game to nine. 

In response, Loving went to work down low, twisting and turning against Armstrong before hitting a jump shot fading away for an and-one play. Loving scored four straight to reestbalish the Riders advantage, getting to the line again on the next play after a Zach Jackson steal. 

With under a minute remaining, Manchester’s GB wing Will Saunders picked up his second technical foul out of frustration, seeing him ejected from the game. Two quick scores in the final seconds from both teams meant the sides entered the final stanza with the score 60-51, the game on a knife edge. 

The sides bolted out the gate in the fourth, with momentum swinging back and forth at a tremendous pace. Crandall once again took the reigns, scoring tightly contested shots for six points in the first five minutes of the period. Kimbal Mackenzie came up with two huge threes after a Giants 5-0 run to keep Manchester at arm’s length, and Mackenzie’s string of late free-throws sealed the Riders’ fourth BBL Cup. 

Riders: Crandall 26, Mackenzie 15, Loving 12, Jackson 9, Whelan 6, Nelson-Henry 4, Walker 4, Adekoya 4, Washington 3, Wild, Walshe, Jordan

Giants: Armstrong 18, Artison 12, Anderson 9, Steel 9, Clark 8, Whelan 7, Lewis 4, Hudson 2, Saunders, Nwagboso, Ulph, Jones

BBL Cup Final Preview: Riders v Giants

The 2021/22 BBL Cup reaches its climax on Sunday, as the Riders take on the Manchester Giants in the final. They head to the Utilita Arena Birmingham, hoping to win their first BBL Cup since 2014.

Journey To The Final – Riders

The Riders tipped off their season with the BBL Cup group stage, which they progressed through with a 6-2 record. Six straight wins in the group saw them advance to play the Cheshire Phoenix in the quarter-final.

Leicester was faced with a tough outing against Cheshire, with the game coming down to the final possession. They saw the tie out in the clutch, courtesy of Jubril Adekoya’s go-ahead layup with seconds remaining, winning 85-84. 

In the semi-final, two of the BBL’s premier outfits collided, as the Riders took on the London Lions over two legs. After winning the first game on the road 99-96, the Riders defence locked down in front of a raucous Morningside Arena, as they bested the Lions 79-74 in the second leg.  


Reigning MVP Geno Crandall leads Leicester in the BBL Cup with 15.6 points, 8.6 assists and 2.7 steals per game. The point guard sets the tone for his side, who average the most assists and steals in the competition. 

A win would see the Riders lift their fourth BBL Cup, and their first for seven years. With a 10-0 record in the BBL Championship, their best-ever league start has a shot at getting even better. 


Journey To The Final – Giants

Three wins in a row saw the Giants progress through the BBL Cup group, as they finished top of the table. They blew out the Newcastle Eagles 111-73 to finish off the group stage, Martaveous Mcknight leading the Giants with 20 points.

The quarter-finals saw the Giants take on the Surrey Scorchers, as Manchester hosted a thriller. The game came down to the final possession, with the hosts winning 99-96. 

Surrey’s Lamer Hamrick hit a three with two seconds left to cut the game to a possession, but the Giants survived the late Scorchers’ charge to advance. 

The Glasgow Rocks met the Giants in the semi-final, and rocked them in the first leg with a 102-92 win. The Giants hosted the second leg, pulling off the comeback to win 92-79, 184-181 on aggregate. 

Tyrik Armstrong hit the game-sealing free-throws for Manchester, and led the game with 25 points to help his team to the final. This is the Giants’ first shot at a BBL Cup in their 10-year history, and a win will see the franchise win their first piece of silverware. 

Ones To Watch

With silverware on the line, this game features a battle between brothers, with the Riders’ Patrick Whelan facing off against the Giants’ Jordan Whelan. 

This will be the first time the brothers will face each other in professional basketball, with the BBL Cup final providing a fitting arena. 

With the pair both lining up in the shooting guard position, Jordan and Patrick are likely to end up face to face in the game, guarding each other as they go back and forth. 

Patrick enters the game on red hot form for the Riders, having led his team in scoring in their previous two fixtures. The William Jewell graduate is shooting a scorching 47.8% from three, the third-best high-volume percentage in the BBL. 

Jordan’s season-high came in the BBL Cup group stage against the Glasgow Rocks, where he scored 15 points and stole the ball four times. Jordan is capable of a big performance on any given night, having scored in double digits on seven occasions this season. 

Previous Meeting

This game will be the first between these teams this season. They last faced off last season in the BBL Championship, in a game that was contested from wire to wire. The Riders edged the game 90-87, after Jordan Whelan missed a three at the buzzer to tie. 

Darien Nelson-Henry came up huge for Leicester with a double-double, putting up 18 points and 10 rebounds. For the Giants, Whelan went off for 18 points and five rebounds as his team came up just short. 

Hot second half sees Riders defeat Phoenix

The Riders made it 10 straight league wins to start the season, beating the Cheshire Phoenix 76-59. Reigning MVP Geno Crandall stuffed the stat sheet with a triple-double, putting up 13 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.

The tie was tightly contested through three quarters, before the Riders’ BBL best defence locked in. They held the Phoenix to just two points in the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter, and exploded from three late, hitting five shots from deep to seal the win. 

Patrick Whelan led Leicester for the second straight game, scoring 16 points from just eight shots. He was one of four Riders players to score in double digits, with Kimbal Mackenzie and Darien Nelson-Henry getting in on the action off the bench. 

Cheshire fought tooth and nail throughout the game, led by former Rider Nahmon Wright’s 15 points. Leicester held the Phoenix to their lowest scoring tally of the season after they entered the tie having won five of their last seven league games. 

It wasn’t smooth sailing throughout, however, as Leicester fell victim to a hot 8-0 Phoenix start. GB sniper Ben Mockford hit his first two threes to get Cheshire on the board, as the Riders endured turnover troubles, ending the first with seven. 

Entering the second quarter down 18-10, the Riders tidied up their offence to climb back into the game. They got to the foul line effectively, with Nelson-Henry and Mackenzie knocking down their free-throws to cut the game to five. 

The Riders duo combined for the highlight play of the half, as Mackenzie threw a perfect lob to his big man who jammed the ball down two-handed. Their momentum play sparked a 9-1 Riders run which cut the game to one. 

With two minutes remaining in the first half, Zach Jackson bolted out on a fastbreak, laying it in to give the Riders their first lead of the night. Nelson-Henry scored eight in the quarter to lead the comeback, the Penn graduate’s dunk concluding a low scoring first half with his side up 31-30. 

A back and forth battle kick-started the second half. There were eight lead changes in the third quarter, before the Riders found their flow. Getting into their rhythm late in the period, Leicester took an eight-point lead, their biggest of the game. 

Whelan led the Riders on their run, scoring eight points in the third to help Leicester to their advantage entering the fourth. 

There was a nearly four-minute wait for the first score of the final period, with both sides locking down with the game on a knife’s edge. It was the Riders who broke the deadlock, with Mackenzie knocking down a three after Crandall spectacularly swatted a Phoenix lob attempt. 

Mackenzie caught fire to hit three straight deep shots, putting Leicester up 13 late in the game. His clutch play sucked the life out of the Cheshire crowd, sealing the game for the league champions. 

The Riders won the fourth quarter 19-9, starting the period with a 17-2 run. Charnwood’s Louie Jordan concluded the game with a corner three, capping off a dominant final period.

The Riders no turn their attention to their biggest game of the season so far, the BBL Cup final. They head to Birmingham where they will face the Manchester Giants, hoping to lift the trophy for the first time since 2014. 

Preview: Riders at Phoenix

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders top the BBL Championship table with a 9-0 record, their form making them the team to beat heading into the second half of the season. They have the league’s best offensive and defensive record, scoring 96.4 points per game while giving up just 68.4. 

Marc Loving has led the Riders through the opening stages of their league campaign, averaging 16 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. The 6’9” Ohio native is an efficient scorer, shooting 51.1% from the floor and 45.5% from three on the year. 

Last time out, the Riders dominated the Bristol Flyers on the road, beating their hosts 92-64. Sharpshooter Patrick Whelan led the team for the second straight game, scoring 25 points after a 16 point first quarter effort. 

The Warrington-born two-guard is guarding against overconfidence for the rest of the year: 

“It’s nice to be 9-0 now, but a lot of these guys have been in a similar position and it can go wrong really quickly. We’re taking it game by game.” 

Season So Far – Phoenix

Despite starting the season with five straight losses, the Phoenix enter this tie on a good run of form, winning five of their last seven league games. They sit fourth in the BBL Championship table with a 5-7 record, having played the most fixtures in the league. 

Cheshire comes into this game off the back of an impressive 107-87 win against the Glasgow Rocks. Former Rider Nahmon Wright led the game with 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists. 

Wright is the Phoenix’s leading scorer this season, averaging 17.3 points and 5.7 rebounds a game. The 6’5” American guard scored a season-high 28 points against the Manchester Giants and has scored over 20 in the league on five occasions. 

One To Watch – Riders

After missing a large portion of the start of the season due to injury, Darien Nelson-Henry has been at his brilliant best after returning to the Riders squad. 

The big man out of the University of Pennsylvania is averaging 13.3 points and 6.8 rebounds in just 20 minutes a game, shooting 64.7% from the field. This comes after Darien averaged 12 points and seven rebounds last season in a productive year.

The American born big man is a fan favourite, leading with respect and passion for Riders basketball. He captained the team to their 2020/21 BBL Championship, making his experience and leadership integral to their title defence this year. 

One To Watch – Phoenix

Team GB guard Teddy Okereafor has enjoyed domestic and international success this season, after helping GB qualify for EuroBasket 2022.

In his 50th consecutive GB appearance, Okereafor led GB to a famous win over Greece, ranked 32 places above them. He recorded 19 points, four rebounds and three assists, nailing all four of his three-point attempts. 

In the BBL, Okereafor is his side’s leading playmaker, dishing 6.6 assists per game. He’s scoring 11.5 points on the season, and he enters the Riders fixture on hot form, having scored a season-high 19 points in his previous game. 

The VCU graduate is an experienced eight-year pro, having played in Greece and Italy. The 6’3” point guard is an elite playmaker and shooter, knocking down 39% of his three-point attempts this season. 

Previous Meeting 

The sides last met earlier in the league campaign, with the Riders emerging as 94-72 victors. Marc Loving led the game with his season-high 32 points, catching fire from three to go 6-10. 

For Cheshire, team GB guard Teddy Okereafor with 17 points and 12 rebounds, as the Riders forced his team into 19 turnovers on the game. Leicester shot 50% from the floor and 45.2% from three in a comfortable home win.  

Riders bounce back with victory over Flyers

The Riders continued their undefeated league streak, beating the Bristol Flyers 92-64 to improve to 9-0. Sharpshooter Patrick Whelan led Leicester for the second straight game, scoring 25 points after torching Bristol with 21 in the first half. 

Whelan’s first-half effort gave the Riders a comfortable advantage entering the second half, allowing them to see the game out in the second. Leicester’s number 1 ranked BBL defence held its opponents to 33% from the floor, and 19% from three. 

Reigning MVP Geno Crandall was all over the box score, with six points, 12 assists and nine rebounds. The Gonzaga graduate demonstrated his ability to be effective without scoring, finishing with a +/- of 19. 

Despite cutting the game to within a score in the third, going on a run to start the second half, the Flyers struggled to get their offence clicking against the stifling Riders defence. Antwain Johnson led the Flyers with 17 points, the 6’2” American going 6-17 from the field. 

Whelan exploded out the gate for Leicester with 16 points in the opening seven minutes. The William Jewell graduate made momentum-building plays, making two and-ones to put Leicester up 25-15. 

A Flyers run to end the quarter made it 27-21 at the end of the first. Their momentum carried into the second, as they cut the lead to four courtesy of Antwain Johnson’s basket, forcing a Riders response. 


Crandall scored four straight to rebuild the lead, rebounding his own free-throw for a putback. Building on his teammate’s play, Canadian/British big man Mo Walker took the game over inside, scoring two straight buckets and going on to score 10 in half. 

With a 16-8 run to conclude the half, the Riders entered the locker rooms with a commanding 48-35 lead.

Bristol came back into it to begin the third with a 15-5 run, cutting the lead to three. Marc Loving stole back the momentum with a huge three, kick-starting an 8-0 Riders response, led by five from Loving. Kimbal Mackenzie concluded the third with a banked-in jump shot, putting Leicester up 68-54.

The Riders exploded for six straight points to start the fourth, getting up 20 with eight minutes left in the tie. Their advantage allowed Leicester to sub in Evan Walshe for his BBL debut. Walshe impressed, scoring four in two minutes of play. 

Leading the team for the second straight game, Whelan is on top form at this stage of the year:

“I’d love to take all the credit for myself, but it’s because all the other guys are really good scorers. It makes my job so easy. Usually I’m wide open when I shoot it, so it’s really a team effort.

“It was definitely a point of emphasis to be the enforcers here today. It’s nice to be 9-0 now, but a lot of these guys have been in a similar position and it can go wrong really quickly. We’re taking it game by game”. 

The Riders continue their road trip in their next fixture, heading to Cheshire to take on the Phoenix. A win would keep them top of the BBL Championship table with a 10-0 record. 

Preview: Riders at Flyers

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders have enjoyed a flawless start to their title defence, sitting top of the league table with an 8-0 record. It’s their best start to a season since 2016, when they went on to win the title by eight points. 

In the BBL Cup, Leicester awaits their first BBL Cup final since 2014, after beating the London Lions. They won with an aggregate score of 178-170 after Zach Jackson’s 15 points and six rebounds led them to a 79-74 second-leg victory.

Ohio State star Marc Loving has hit the ground running in Leicester, leading the Riders in scoring in his first Riders season. The former G-League forward is averaging 16.4 points on 53.8% shooting and is making 46.8% of his threes. 

Season So Far – Flyers

The Flyers have enjoyed a solid start to their league season, getting off to a 4-2 start. Bristol won three straight to rise up the standings, before taking an 84-87 nail-biting loss against the Glasgow Rocks in their previous league fixture. 

Bristol’s early success has come from their defensive prowess, as they hold the second-best defensive record in the BBL. They give up 73 points a game and lead the league in steals, averaging 9.2. 

Malcolm Delpeche has led the Flyers in the opening stages of the season, scoring 17.5 points per game, the 5th most in the BBL. The 6’8” big scored 26 on the opening day of the season, not looking back since. 

Most recently, the Flyers faced the Riders in the BBL Trophy, winning 71-68 to progress to the second round, led by Raphell Thomas-Edward’s 18 points. 

One To Watch – Riders

Picking up December’s BBL Player of the Month Award, Marc Loving has come into his own in recent games. Loving averaged 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds a game over the festive period, as he now leads the team in scoring with 16.4 points. 

Loving signed with the Riders midway through the preseason, having gained experience in the NBA G-League with the Delaware BlueCoats and Agua Caliente Clippers.

The Ohio State sniper averaged 13 points and five rebounds per game across his junior and senior years, and is shooting 46.8% from three for the Riders. 

Loving provides a well-balanced arsenal, his size and length giving him a strong defensive foundation, while his elite shooting ability combined with his 6’7” frame makes him a dangerous weapon on offence.

One To Watch – Flyers

Trejon Jacob has been on a tear this season for the Flyers, averaging 14.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.8 steals. His rebounding tally ranks third in the league, while his steals tally leads the Flyers. 

Jacob is a first-year pro out of Florida International University, averaging 12.2 points from 38% from behind the three-point line. He scored 451 points during his first year with the Panthers, the second-most by a sophomore in school history.

Jacob dropped a season-high 21 points against the Riders on the opening game of the BBL Cup group stage, going 8/16 from the field. He will hope for another efficient shooting performance in this one. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders get an immediate opportunity for revenge against Bristol, after they knocked them out of the BBL Trophy in their previous fixture. The Flyers came away with a 71-68 win, after a Riders 15 point fourth-quarter comeback fell just short. 

Raphael Thomas-Edwards led Bristol with 18, while William Jewell sharpshooter Patrick Whelan knocked down four of his eight three-point attempts, scoring 16. 

Riders knocked out of the BBL Trophy by Flyers

The Riders fell short of a 15 point fourth-quarter comeback, exiting the BBL Trophy with a 71-68 loss to the Bristol Flyers. 11 points in the fourth from Patrick Whelan came close to rescuing the tie, as he led the team with 16 on the game. 

Leicester had two shots to tie at the end, despite entering the fourth down 59-44. Their offence struggled through the first three quarters, but came to life in the fourth as their three began to fall. 

They charged back into the tie with 12 unanswered points, tying the game at 64 midway through the fourth. In the clutch, the Flyers came out the better of a back and forth finale, sealing the game after an inspired Leicester comeback. 

Reigning  MVP Geno Crandall took the Riders’ reigns, leading the offence with 16 assists. Seven of those came in the fourth, as Crandall scored or assisted on eight of Leicester’s nine field goals in the final period.

For Bristol, Raphell Thomas-Edwards led them through the game with 18 points, the Leicester born wing making seven of his 14 shots. The Flyers are ranked first in steals in the BBL, and stole the ball nine times in this one to disrupt the Riders offence. 

Despite scoring just 10 in the opening quarter, the Riders’ BBL best defence kept the game close by holding their opponents to 16. Zach Jackson hit back to back floaters to get the Riders on the board against a gritty Flyers start.

Darien Nelson-Henry was a spark off the bench in the first quarter, checking into the game to make two momentum-building plays. The second, a monster slam to make it a two-point game midway through the first. 

The Flyers’ lead grew in the early stages of the second, with Marcus Evans’ deep three putting them up nine. In response, Riders big man Mo Walker took over the game with six points in the period to keep the score close. 

After his team struggled offensively through much of the first half, Ohio born Marc Loving threw down an aggressive fast-break jam to kick the Riders into gear. Flying in on the fastbreak, Loving threw the ball down one-handed for the highlight of the half. 

Following up Loving’s slam, Crandall hit a deep buzzer-beating three to close out the first half. The triple cut the deficit to 38-34, a manageable scoreline entering the second half. 

Bristol came out of halftime firing, going on a 16-3 run led by five points from Trejon Jacob. The Flyers run put them up 17, forcing a Riders timeout. 

Coming out of the timeout, the Riders closed out the quarter with a 7-2 run of their own. A pair of Flyers trips to the free-throw line meant the teams entered the final quarter with the score 59-44. 

Nelson-Henry got the fourth off with a bang, throwing it down two-handed to kickstart the comeback. Whelan hit the Riders’ first three of the second half to make it seven Leicester points unanswered, cutting the Flyers lead to eight. 

The Riders run continued following a Bristol timeout, with Whelan hitting his second three to cut the game to a possession. Whelan’s shooting opened the floodgates for Riders triples to start falling, as the Riders hit four in five minutes to start the fourth. 

Whelan’s fourth-quarter heroics continued with a breakaway slam to tie the game at 64 with four minutes remaining. After a couple of buckets from the Flyers, Jackson’s clutch steal from a Bristol inbound gave the Riders the opportunity to send it to overtime. 

Loving found himself with space in the corner, but his three was just off as Leicester fell short of a heroic comeback. 

The Riders have the chance to bounce back immediately, returning to Bristol next Friday in the league. A win will maintain their undefeated league record, keeping them at the top of the BBL Championship table at 9-0. 

Preview: Riders at Flyers

The Riders tip-off their BBL Trophy campaign on the road to Bristol, where they will take on the Flyers.

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders sit atop the BBL Championship table with an undefeated record through eight games. They possess the league’s best offensive and defensive record, scoring 97 points a game while giving up just 69. 

In the BBL Cup, the Riders are gearing up for their first final since 2014 after beating the London Lions in the semi-final. They won with an aggregate score of 178-170 after Zach Jackson’s 15 points and six rebounds led them to a 79-74 second-leg victory.

Ohio State star Marc Loving has hit the ground running in Leicester, leading the Riders in scoring in his first Riders season. The former G-League forward is averaging 16.4 points on 53.8% shooting and is making 46.8% of his threes. 

Last time out, the Riders handed the Sheffield Sharks the heaviest home defeat in their history, winning 100-62. Darien Nelson-Henry led the team with 19 points, as Leicester’s big man trio of Nelson-Henry, Jubril Adekoya and Mo Walker combined for 38. 


Season So Far – Flyers

The Flyers have enjoyed a solid start to their league season, getting off to a 4-2 start. Bristol won three straight to rise up the standings, before taking an 84-87 nail-biting loss against the Glasgow Rocks in their previous fixture. 

Bristol’s early success has come from their defensive prowess, as they hold the second-best defensive record in the BBL. They give up 73 points a game and lead the league in steals, averaging 9.2. 

Malcolm Delpeche has led the Flyers in the opening stages of the season, scoring 17.5 points per game, the 5th most in the BBL. The 6’8” big scored 26 on the opening day of the season, not looking back since. 

One To Watch – Riders

Big man Mo Walker bolted out the gates with a dominant start in his previous game. The Canadian/British University of Minnesota graduate scored eight points in the first five minutes, with no match in the paint. 

Walker scored 11 points and seven rebounds a game in his senior year at Minnesota, earning him an All-Big Ten honourable mention selection before he progressed into his professional career.

This season, Walker has scored 10.4 points a game on 63.6% shooting, the most efficient percentage of all BBL players who have taken over 35 shots. 

One To Watch – Flyers

Leading his team with 17.5 points per game, Malcolm Delpeche has continued his season-to-season improvements since he signed his first professional contract. 

He played college basketball in the NCAA division three with Bates, averaging 13 points in his senior year before signing with the Flyers with his twin brother, Marcus. 

After a season with the Flyers, Delpche took his talents to the German third division, playing three seasons with Muenster. Scoring 10 points across his three seasons in Germany, the 6’8” big man returned to the Flyers. 

Delpeche is an athletic big, capable of highlight plays and posters on any given possession. He is elite on both ends, averaging a block and a steal a game through the beginning of the year. The Riders big men will need to perform to the highest standard to slow Delpeche down.  


Previous Meeting

The sides last met in the BBL Cup group stage, splitting the two games. Their most recent fixture was a 75-67 Riders road win. 

Geno Crandall and Zach Jackson led the Riders with 13 points each in a balanced team effort, while Malcolm Delpeche led the game with 18 points, going 8-14 from the field. 

Coach Rob picks up monthly award

Head Coach Rob Paternostro has been named the Coach of the Month for December by the BBL having posted a perfect month.

Riders won all five of their games in December, taking them to 8 and 0 in the BBL Championship and a BBL Cup Semi Final win over London Lions.

As a result, Paternostro will lead out his team in the BBL Cup Final for the fourth time – against Manchester Giants at the end of this month.

Riders ranked #1 for points for averaging 98 over the month and ranked #1 for points against averaging 75.6. Riders biggest win of the month came over Plymouth City Patriots when they ran out 106-60 winners.

Riders have now picked up 3 of the monthly awards, Geno Crandall and Marc Loving winning the Player of the Month award for November and December respectively.

Loving named Player of the Month!

Marc Loving has been named the Player of the Month for December! Riders had a perfect month with five wins from five games including two wins over London Lions in the BBL Cup Semi finals.

In the league, Loving hit 20 points against Glasgow Rocks, 14 a piece against Newcastle Eagles and Plymouth City Patriots. Over both legs in the Semi Finals, Loving totalled 28 points and 18 rebounds and 6 assists.

For the month Loving averaged 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds a game, 3.8 assists a game.

With a fine start in both league and cup, Loving has been a perfect addition to the Riders line-up this season. The award is the second Riders player this season to pick-up the honour, Geno Crandall having won it in November.

Riders open new year with victory over Sharks

The Riders tipped off 2022 with a win, cruising past the Sheffield Sharks 100-62. Darien Nelson-Henry led Leicester with 19 points in 21 minutes, going 9-14 from the floor. 

The win maintains the Riders undefeated league record, as they sit top of the BBL Championship table with an 8-0 record. 

Nelson-Henry dominated the glass in the game grabbing 10 rebounds, four of them offensive. The Riders outrebounded the Sharks 44-28, outhustling and outmuscling their hosts. 

The Riders bolted out the gates and never looked back, scoring 50 in the first half for the ninth time this season. Entering the game as the BBL’s best three-point shooting team, they shot the lights out yet again to go 9-18. 

The Riders also maintained their BBL best defensive record, holding their opponents to the 60s for the third time this league campaign. They forced Sheffield into 15 turnovers, stealing the ball 13 times as the Sharks shot 38% from the field. 

Leicester handed the Sharks their biggest ever home defeat. This was their first game since December 8th as they looked to shake off some rust. Uni of San Fransisco graduate Jordan Ratinho led the game with 21 points, making five of his seven threes. 

Mo Walker got off to a dominant start down low, scoring eight points in the first five minutes of play. The big man’s play led the Riders on a charge out the gate, as they bolted out to a 19-9 lead after Marc Loving’s triple. 

The Sharks responded with three threes from Jordan Ratinho and Kipper Nichols to get back into the game. The Sheffield explosion made it a four-point game to end the first. 

The Riders dominated the second quarter, locking in to hold the Sharks to 14. 

Kimbal Mackenzie took the reigns of the offence to start the quarter, scoring eight quick points to reestablish the Riders lead to 14. The Bucknall graduate attacked the teeth of the Sharks defence, getting to the free-throw line to great effect. 

The Riders lead continued to grow, as they hit three straight threes to put them up 20. Mackenzie hit a buzzer-beater to conclude the half with Leicester taking a 57-34 lead into the locker rooms. 

The Riders kicked on in the third, continuing their defensive dominance to hold the Sharks to 12 points. Late in the quarter, Crandall dished an audacious no-look assist to Darien Nelson-Henry, who put Leicester up 30, before finishing the quarter with a mid-range jumper. 

With a 30 point lead, Leicester comfortably saw the game out in the fourth. Nelson-Henry scored nine in the quarter to complete an emphatic win. 

“It helps in any game to start off strong, our starting lineup has done an amazing job of throwing the first punch for the most part”, said Mackenzie post game. 

“We feel good. We’re trying to keep it rolling, keep everyone healthy and keep getting better every day.”

The Riders continue their road trip on Friday, as they head to Bristol to take on the 4-3 Flyers. A win would improve Leicester’s record to 9-0, putting them in good stead to defend their league title. 

Preview: Riders at Sharks

The Riders face the Sharks in their first fixture of 2022, hoping to improve to 8-0 in the BBL Championship. 

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders finished 2021 with an undefeated league record, sitting top of the BBL Championship through seven games. 

They come into this fixture on a 12 game winning streak, having progressed to the BBL Cup final in their previous game with a 79-74 win against the London Lions. 

Leicester entered the tie with a three-point advantage after the first leg, and did enough in the second to progress to their first BBL Cup final since 2016, led by 15 points and six rebounds from Zach Jackson. 

Reigning MVP Geno Crandall leads Leicester in the league with 17.1 points and 6.6 assists; the 6’0” Gonzaga guard is top 10 in the BBL in both categories. 

Season So Far – Sharks

Sheffield enter this game with rested legs, having not played since December 8th due to fixture cancellations.

When they were last in action, the Sharks took back to back wins against the Plymouth City Patriots, improving their record to 5-2, good for third in the BBL Championship table. 

Their most recent win took place at the Plymouth Pavillions, where the Sharks bested the Patriots 66-61. Rodney Glasgow Jnr led the visitors with 18 points, going 7-12 from the floor. 

Glasgow Jnr leads the Sharks in the league with 13.3 points per game; the Virginia Military Institute graduate is shooting 53.5% from the field and 44% from three on the year. 

One To Watch- Riders

In the BBL Cup semi-final against London, Jubril Adekoya came up big in the clutch with two late buckets. The 6’7” Valparaiso graduate has provided size and hustle off the bench all season long. 

Coach Rob Paternostro sang the praises of his player after the win: “Jubril was excellent today. His pick and roll defence in the second half was a real difference in the game. He’s been a real unsung hero for us this year.”

Adekoya has stepped up in the biggest moments this season, scoring a game-winner against the Cheshire Phoenix. 

After the Lions win, Adekoya said: “I pride myself on being ready. I try to be prepared and bring something to the team. It’s cool if it’s two minutes or 40 minutes. I just want to bring something to the team.”

Having played the last four seasons in the Spanish second division, Adekoya brings much-needed experience and grit to this Riders roster.

One To Watch – Sharks

Sheffield was recently forced to replace combo guard Jonathan Williams after his departure to Poland. They signed American wing Devante Wallace to fill the hole in the roster. 

Wallace signed from Romania’s division A, where he averaged 13.8 points per game, shooting 43% from deep. 

Standing at 6’5”, Wallace is a versatile offensive talent, able to take defenders off the dribble and get to the hoop, or use his quick release to pull up for three. 

Defensively, Wallace likes to jump into the passing lane to steal the ball, generating fastbreak opportunities for his team. He averaged 1.7 steals a game in Romania, forcing his opponents to throw lose passes at their peril. 

Previous Meeting 

The sides last met in late November. The game was also played at Ponds Forge, and was won 80-72 by the Riders. 

The Sharks stayed in the game until deep into the fourth, before being dispatched by Leicester in the closing minutes. 

Marc Loving led Leicester with 23 points from just 10 shots, while Aaron Anderson scored a team-high 13 points for Sheffield. 

Riders beat Lions to advance to BBL Cup Final

The Riders emerged victors of a clash between the BBL’s titans, beating the London Lions 178-170 on aggregate in the BBL Cup semi-final. The Riders entered the tie with a 99-96 advantage, and won the second leg 79-74 to advance to their first Cup final since 2016. 

Led by 15 points and six rebounds from Zach Jackson, the Riders saw the game out after a dominant first half. The Riders romped the Lions 25-14  in the second quarter to build their lead, setting a foundation to win the tie against a spirited Lions comeback. 

The highly anticipated game lived up to its billing, thrilling a packed Morningside Arena. The raucous crowd saw their team progress to the Cup final in an emphatic fashion, as they acted as a vital sixth man for all four quarters. 

Coach Rob Paternostro put out a call to Riders fans before the game to come out in full force. Postgame, he thanked them for their support.

“I thought the crowd was fantastic. These types of games call for that type of crowd. That’s why you like to have the second leg at home. The players fed off that energy, and this group deserves to be in a final.”

In the end, the Riders defence got the job done, as they held the BBL Cup’s highest-scoring offence to their lowest tally in the competition. Former G-League guard Isaiah Resse led London with 20 points and seven assists, his third-quarter effort kick-started his team’s fightback. 

The Riders bolted out the game for a big lead. Patrick Whelan got the game going with a bang, throwing down a breakaway jam for the first bucket of the game. 

The dunk kick-started a wave of Riders drives to the hoop, resulting in Lions’ star shot-blocker Kylor Kelly ending up in early foul trouble. 

Kelly’s absence from the early stages opened up the lane to the hoop further, allowing the Riders to jump up to a 13-6 lead. The Riders run was capped off by Marc Loving’s strong drive, finished by a two-handed slam. 

In response to the hot Riders start, the BBL Cup’s leading scorer Dirk Williams scored five straight to get the Lions back close. Williams’ play got the visitors rolling, as they cut the lead to a point with back to back threes. 

The back and forth first period was concluded with a highlight from the reigning MVP. London looked to have stopped a Riders fastbreak, before Geno Crandall threw an audacious no-look pass behind his head to Kimbal Mackenzie, who laid it in for his eighth points of the quarter. 

Jackson took the roof off the Morningside in the early stages of the second quarter, going baseline before throwing down a dunk over a contesting Williams. Jackson scored back to back buckets to put the Riders up eight. 

The momentum remained with Leicester through much of the second quarter, as they built their lead to double digits. Crandall sent the home crowd into a frenzy, taking Resse off the dribble, dropping him with quick handles before draining a three in his face to force a Lions timeout. 

Leicester saw out the half with an 18-6 run, putting them up 52-34 as they entered the locker rooms. 

The Lions came out the gate swinging in an attempt to climb back into the tie, starting the second half with a 10-2 run led by eight from Reese. The hot start to the quarter allowed the Lions back into contention, cutting the lead to four. 

Leicester stopped the bleeding to close out the third, going on a 6-0 run finished off by a Crandall breakaway slam. The Riders entered the final period leading 67-57. 

The Riders recaptured their first-half form to start the fourth, building their lead to 14. In response, London recaptured momentum to continue their comeback. Williams’ three with four minutes left cut the game to five. 

The Riders held on, courtesy of two colossal buckets from Jurbil Adekoya in the clutch. The Valparaiso graduate has performed in the biggest moments all season long and scored four of his nine points in the fourth. 

“I pride myself on being ready. I try to be prepared and bring something to the team. It’s cool if it’s two minutes or 40 minutes. I just want to bring something to the team,” said Adekoya post-game. 

Paternostro sang the praises of his players after the game: “Jubril was excellent today. His pick and roll defence in the second half was a real difference in the game. He’s been a real unsung hero for us this year.”

Julian Washburn hit a three for the Lions to make it a four-point game, but a huge offensive rebound from Jackson late on led to game-sealing free-throws from Loving. 

The final will take place on the 30th of January at the Utility Arena in Birmingham. The Riders will face the Manchester Giants, hoping to win their first BBL Cup since 2014. 

Assistant coach Pablo Vazquez will be coaching in his first BBL Cup final in his tenure. He spoke on the test the game will present. 

“Manchester are a tough team. A lot of talent, and good British players. It will be special to play Jamell [Anderson] because it will be the first time we see him not wearing red. We’re going to try and do our thing and bring silverware back to Leicester”. 

Preview: Riders v Lions

Season So Far – Riders

After falling to the Bristol Flyers in the first game of their BBL Cup group, the Riders enjoyed a six-game winning streak to qualify for the knockouts. 

They then won a nailbiter in the quarter-finals, with Jubril Adekoya’s game-winner seeing them past the Cheshire Phoenix 85-84. 

Geno Crandall leads Leicester in the BBL Cup with 16.6 points and 7.8 assists per game, the reigning MVP picking up where he left off last season. 

The Riders enter the second leg with a slight edge over their opponents, having won the first game 99-96, led by Patrick Whelan’s season-high 25 point performance. 

 Season So Far – Lions

The Lions cruised through the BBL Cup South Group with a 7-1 record, topping the table to progress to the knockouts. They started their campaign with seven straight wins, losing only to the Riders.

In the quarter-final, London dominated against the Sheffield Sharks, pulling out a 100-68 win. Italian sniper Lorenzo Cugini led the game with 28 points, getting red hot from deep to make five of his 10 threes. 

The Lions fought back against the Riders after falling down big in the first leg, making the score manageable ahead of a highly anticipated clash in Leicester. 

One To Watch – Riders

Scoring 25 in the first leg, Warrington sharpshooter Patrick Whelan has enjoyed a string of solid performances in December. 

Whelan has averaged 19.5 points while shooting a scorching 65% from three this month, playing aggressively to put points on the board. 

A William Jewell graduate, Whelan played his first three professional seasons in Spain, achieving promotion to the Spanish second division with Real Murcia. 

Whelan can hurt defences in a number of ways from the two-guard position. He can play off-ball and hit shots, play in isolation by taking defenders off the dribble, and get out in transition for easy buckets. 

No matter how he gets it done, Whelan is capable of going off for big performances any given night. 

One To Watch – Lions

Dirk Williams has been on a tear this season, leading his team in the BBL Cup with 22.6 points per game. 

The 6’5” wing is in his second Lions season, and has scored over 20 in six of his eight Cup games this year, with a high of 30 coming against the Riders. 

Williams led London with 24 points in the first leg, going 10-13 from the field and 3-4 from three. 

Williams is a danger to opposing defences all over the court, his shooting ability opening up lanes to the rim where he can finish strong. The UAB graduate averaged 18 points per game last season and has taken leaps forward this year. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders looked in control for long stretches of the first leg, taking a 19 point lead into the fourth. But a late Lions resurgence makes it all to play for in the second leg, with just three points between the sides on aggregate.

Whelan led the game with 25 points, firing from deep to make six of his seven three-point attempts. For London, Williams kept London in the game with 24 points, while Italian sniper Lorenzo Cugini backed him up with a 22 point night. 

Riders partner with Hard Yards UK

Leicester Riders are thrilled to announce Hard Yards UK as their official sock provider.

Leicester Riders and Hard Yards UK both share the same belief that marginal gains are critical in elite sport to maintain a competitive edge and this partnership demonstrates their commitment to continuous improvement and innovation within their respective fields.

“It’s fantastic for us to partner with Hard Yards UK. They have a quality product and we are really enthused to be able to offer our players high quality socks,” commented Riders Managing Director Russell Levenston.

“Hard Yards UK are a forward-thinking company and we are a progressive club very much at the forefront in British Basketball. So it’s a great partnership for us.”

James Barker, director of Hard Yards UK, said: “We’re delighted to partner with Leicester Riders, one of the UK’s most successful basketball teams, as their official sock provider. This partnership highlights the quality of Hard Yards’ products and their considerable benefit for elite athletes to enhance performance, maximise power transfer and move with precision.”

Riders beat Patriots to continue winning run

The Riders blew out the Plymouth City Patriots 106-60 to extend their lead at the top of the BBL Championship table to four points. They improved to a 7-0 record, led by Darien Nelson-Henry’s season-high 22 points and seven rebounds off the bench. 

The win marks 34 on the bounce against Plymouth for the Riders, a BBL record. Leicester led wire to wire, leaving the game beyond any doubt by taking a 31 point lead into the half. Their offence continued its hot form, scoring over 100 for the third league game running. 

Leicester executed to an elite standard on both ends. Their league-best defence locked in, holding the Patriots to 15 or less in each of the first three quarters. The Riders had seven steals and four blocks in the game, suffocating their opponents. 

The loss left the Patriots winless on the season, as their record fell to 0-7. The BBL’s leading scorer, Kofi Josephs, struggled through much of the game, scoring 12 through the first three quarters before scoring nine in the fourth. 

Patrick Whelan owned the opening stages, putting up six points in four minutes to get the Riders on the board. His efforts helped the hosts to bolt out to a 15-6 lead, and his three ended the quarter with Leicester leading 27-15. 


Going 16-3 to start the second, the Riders domination continued. Nelson-Henry commanded the paint, the Penn graduate grabbing two offensive boards and scoring six points in the first five minutes of the period. 

Marc Loving came up with the play of the game with under two minutes left in the half, throwing down a monster putback slam over Rowell Graham-Bell and former Rider Rashad Hassan. The Ohio State forward had 11 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block in a balanced first-half showing. 

On the next play, Geno Crandall capitalised on the infectious energy in the Morningside Arena with a highlight of his own. He danced on Plymouth big Cameron King, leaving him stranded and stumbling before floating in a layup. 

The MVP finished with 12 points from nine shots and four assists, before taking well-earned rest in the final period. 

Leicester’s BBL best defence held Plymouth to just 10 points in the second, entering the locker rooms with the game in little doubt, the score 56-25. 

After running rampant in the first half, the Riders cruised home for the dub. Back to back Whelan threes made it 74-38 with two minutes left in the third, in a quarter Leicester won 20-15. Jackson’s deep two put the hosts up 38 entering the final period. 

The fourth saw Loughborough Riders star Greg Wild get big minutes, playing the entirety of the quarter. The 6’0” guard, who signed his first professional contract in the summer, scored seven to the delight of the home crowd. 

Another young star made his mark on the game in the fourth, as Charnwood’s Louie Jordan spiked Joseph’s layup out of bounds. To cap off a commanding win, Nelson-Henry hit a rare three to send Riders fans home happy. 

“We try to be multidimensional, and defence is a big part of our game. We know we’re going to get up shots and flow on offence, but getting stops is what we pride ourselves in. Holding them to 60 is a good night”, said Nelson-Henry post-game. 

Coach Rob Paternostro reflected on the win: “There was a focus on both ends on the floor today. We dominated in the first half to give us a great lead. The ball movement at times was exceptional.

“It was a very good effort from our guys. We were what we’ve been all year professional. We’ve had some really good performances on the offensive end. We’re really comfortable with each other, and you can see certain guy’s skills continue to develop. 

“That’s what’s great about coaching. Watching the team and individuals grow. There’s such a nice balance on the floor. You never know who’s going to burn you, and that’s the toughest team to defend.” 

The Riders turn their attention to an immense BBL Cup semi-final in their next game, as they face off against the London Lions. Leicester takes a three-point aggregate lead into the tie at the Morningside Arena, as they hope to win the competition for the first time since 2014. 

Paternostro stressed the importance of the fans ahead of the fixture: “It’s important for us to have a big crowd. We want it to be as full and as loud as possible. We need that home-court advantage.”

Preview: Riders v Patriots

Season So Far – Riders

The table-topping Riders are the BBL’s only remaining undefeated team, starting the season 6-0. They possess the league’s best offence and defence, demonstrated by their 101-72 dominating win against the Newcastle Eagles in their previous game. 

Geno Crandall put on a first-half clinic, scoring 20 points to put the game out of the Eagles’ reach. Crandall leads the team in scoring with 18 points and seven assists per game, kicking on from last season’s MVP winning year. 

Leicester are loaded with three-point snipers, shooting 41.8% from deep on the season. The Riders shooters space the floor, allowing for team-first ball movement which generates a BBL best 25 assists per outing. 

With the ability to shoot the lights out and lock down opponents defensively, the Riders are a force to be feared this season. 

Season So Far – Patriots

The Patriots sit winless at the bottom of the BBL Championship table with an 0-7 record. The newly formed Plymouth franchise look to find their feet in a competitive league, and are beginning to push teams from wire to wire. 

In early December, the Patriots kept a game against a strong Sharks team to within four with two minutes remaining, showing signs of an elite defensive outfit to hold their visitors to 66 points on the game. 

With just six players available to play in their previous game, Plymouth took a heavy defeat to the Cheshire Phoenix. The Patriots had four players playing the full 40 minutes, showing grit and heart throughout and will prove a stern test for the Riders.

One To Watch – Riders

After missing the start of the season due to injury, captain Darien Nelson-Henry has returned to the Riders to play in their previous two fixtures. The 6’11” big man has made the most of limited floor time, playing effectively whenever he sees the court.


In the first leg of the BBL Cup semi-final against the Lions, the Penn graduate put up 10 points, five rebounds and three steals in just 15 minutes. This efficiency has been consistent throughout Nelson-Henry’s Riders’ tenure, after he shot 57% from the field 73% from the line last season, making the BBL Team of the Year in his second season in Leicester. 

One To Watch – Patriots

Since joining the Patriots earlier in the year, Kofi Josephs has taken the BBL by storm. The 6’6” wing out of Fort Lewis is leading the league in scoring with 25 points per game, in his third tenure in the BBL.

Birmingham-born Josephs has previously played for the Glasgow Rocks and the Worcester Wolves, averaging 14 points with the Wolves in the 2019/20 season. 

He put the league on notice in his second Patriots game, dropping 46 points and eight rebounds against the Manchester Giants, draining five threes and going 11/12 from the free-throw line. The Riders defence will have to be on top of its game to ensure Josephs doesn’t explode for another hot night. 

Previous Meetings

The teams last faced off in the BBL Cup Group stage, with the Riders taking the victory in both of the fixtures. Their most recent game was played at the Morningside Arena, with Leicester winning 81-64 led by 20 points from Marc Loving. 

Denzel Ubairo led Plymouth with his 19 point effort, following up a 22 point performance in the first tie against the Riders.

BBL announce multi-million-pound investment 777 Partners acquire a 45% stake

The initial tranche of £7 million will ‘transform’ the League helping to unlock ‘huge untapped potential’ for basketball across the UK.

The British Basketball League (BBL) has today announced that Miami based alternative investment firm, 777 Partners, has invested £7 million in return for a 45% stake in the professional league.

Today’s announcement marks the initial phase of funding at £7 million, serving as a defining moment for the future of basketball in the United Kingdom. The investment will be used to deliver an ambitious plan that will span the entirety of the sport – from community grassroots through to the overall infrastructure of the elite game in the UK.

Central to the League’s plan is the creation of a significantly enhanced leadership team – including the appointment of a new CEO – to drive the League forward. There will also be major investment in a ‘digital transformation’ strategy to improve and enhance the product and to deliver the League and its content more effectively to the sport’s digitally native audience. Further recruitment, building a sophisticated data infrastructure and the adaption of new technologies are all also key to the deployment of investment.

With regards to the impact of the investment at game-level, strategic focus will extend both on and off the court, with initiatives ranging from elevating the quality of play and investing in official and refereeing development, to the upskilling of game-day delivery teams.
Under the new ‘BBL Supports’ programme, the League’s player-first approach will be further prioritised, with players given additional support across their basketball and wider career aspirations and additional investment made in the player onboarding process and athlete welfare programmes.

Funds will also drive the introduction of new in-stadia technologies to improve the fan experience and broadcast product. Sky Sports is the current broadcast partner of the British Basketball League, showing one League match live every weekend across the season.

Under the plans the League is also targeting at least four new, high-quality franchises to be added to the League within the next five years.

Through the BBL Inspires programme, the grassroots of the game will also benefit as the League enhances its collaboration with Leicester Riders on their work across their local communities, to help inspire and develop the next generation of British basketball talent.

A significant area of future League expenditure will be dedicated to creating the infrastructure to support clubs with operational, content and marketing initiatives – helping attract new teams whilst supporting existing Clubs in continuing to build and expand their reach. This initial investment is designed to act as a catalyst to trigger further significant investments in Clubs, with the aim also of creating much improved arenas and training facilities.

The BBL is also committed to increasing its support of the women’s game, with additional resource being channeled towards the Women’s Basketball League, and to working with the National Governing Bodies to help grow all levels of the game, including the Great Britain teams. Increased commercialisation of all the sport’s key assets working in partnership is a key objective of the investment.

Basketball is the second most played team sport in the UK, with a quarter of teenagers playing at least twice a month and 47% of participants coming from a non-white background – the highest of any sport (*Source: Sport England). There are also over 8.4 million basketball fans living in the UK, demonstrating the significant interest levels there are in the sport.

Commenting on the new investment Sir Rodney Walker, chairman of the British Basketball League, said; “To state that we are thrilled to have 777 Partners come onboard – as passionate investors who share our vision – is somewhat of an understatement. We couldn’t be more delighted that, as a result of this significant injection of capital, we are now able to fast track the League’s big ambitions and unlock the huge untapped potential that we know the sport of basketball has in this country.

“Basketball is unique in its ability to reach across cultural, societal and economic divides and in its ability to engage with a young, diverse audience. There is therefore huge potential to use the transformative power of sport for the benefit of our growing audience and to increase the impact we can deliver from the grassroots to the very top of the professional game.”

He added; “Basketball and the BBL is coming out of Covid looking forward to a very positive future, thanks in no small measure to the more than £3 million of support from the Government’s Sport Survival funding. Now, with this investment from 777 Partners, we can plan for the future with confidence.”

Joshua Wander, Managing Partner from 777 Partners, said, “Basketball is undoubtedly a disruptive force to the institutions that dominate UK sport. The current barriers to entry and lack of support at all levels of the game have a disproportionate and inequitable impact on underprivileged and minority communities that stand to benefit from its potential. Observing the systemic forces inhibiting the growth of British basketball has deepened our resolve as a stakeholder. We are determined to work closely alongside the clubs and within their respective communities to ensure our investment serves to incubate the sport more broadly. We thank Sir Rodney, the board, and the clubs for the opportunity to do so.”

The move expands 777 Partners’ sports portfolio, which also includes La Liga Club Sevilla and Serie A side, Genoa, which they purchased in September of this year. 777 also owns BBL Club London Lions.

* Sport England 2018/2019 report https://www.sportengland.org/news/active-lives-children-and-young-people-survey-academic-year-201819-report-published

Riders defeat Eagles to remain unbeaten in the BBL Championship

The Riders remain the BBL’s only unbeaten team, blowing out the Newcastle Eagles 101-72 to improve to 6-0. MVP Geno Crandall led Leicester with 22 points, four rebounds and four assists, as the Riders had six players score in double digits. 

Leicester dominated their long-standing rivals from start to finish, winning every quarter. They scored over 20 points in each period in a red hot offensive effort, scoring over 100 in their second straight league game. 

On the defensive end, the Riders suffocated Newcastle, forcing 17 turnovers out of their opponents. The Eagles’ 72 points was their second-lowest tally of the year, after their 55 point performance in their previous game. 

Mo Walker got into an early rhythm, scoring eight points to start 4-4. The bruising big man’s play got the Riders’ offence ticking, and finished with 12 points and seven rebounds. Back to back threes gave the hosts a double-digit lead late in the first quarter, which ended 27-15. 

Zach Jackson drove baseline to throw the ball down with authority in the opening stages of the second period, continuing the Riders’ momentum. They built their lead throughout the quarter, as Crandall hit two straight from deep to make it 42-25. 

Crandall had 12 points in the quarter and 20 in the half to put Leicester up 20. They entered the locker rooms up 54-38, after former Rider Corey Johnson concluded the half’s action with a fadeaway two. 

Marc Loving got the second half underway with a bang, draining consecutive contested threes. The Ohio State sniper, who led the Riders in scoring coming into the game, had 12 in the third to maintain Leicester’s lead. 

Patrick Whelan’s free-throws ended the third with the score 80-53 in the Riders’ favour. They cruised through the fourth comfortably with their big lead. Their advantage allowed Charnwood’s Greg Wild and Louie Jordan to check into the game. 

Jordan took the roof off the Morningside Arena late, nailing a three to put his sid rover the 100 points tally to finish the game. 

“We played really good basketball. Guys are committed on the defensive end, we had a great week of practice, and the team did a great job of executing tonight,” said coach Rob Paternostro post-game. 

“We’re a team with confidence right now; you can see that. When you have our combination of talent and intelligence, it’s tough to stop.

“These guys love playing basketball. That’s what’s fun about my job. When you have a group that loves to play and compete, no matter what’s going on around them, basketball is what they want to do. Tonight you saw a team that really loved playing together.”

With Sunday’s fixture against the Surrey Scorchers postponed, the Riders next fixture takes place after Christmas. They host the Plymouth City Patriots on the 27th of December, hoping to stretch their lead atop the table. 

Preview: Riders v Eagles

Season So Far – Riders

Leicester possesses the only unbeaten record in the BBL Championship, boasting a 5-0 record at the top of the league table. They look for their second league win against the Eagles in this tie, following the season opener. 

Marc Loving tops the Riders scoring charts with 18 points per game, the fourth-best scoring average in the BBL. Leicester ranks second in offence scoring 93.8 points, and defence, holding their opponents to 70.5 points. 

Last time out in the league, the Riders produced a statement 105-76  win against an exciting Glasgow Rocks outfit. Patrick Whelan had his best Riders performance of the year with 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists. 

Season So Far – Eagles

After a rocky start to their season, crashing out of their BBL Cup group with a 1-7 record, the Eagles have got their season back on track to begin their league campaign. They sit fifth in the BBL Championship with a 4-3 record, two points off the top spot.

Two-time BBL MVP Rahmon Fletcher has led Newcastle to their early winning record, averaging 18.2 points and 10.2 assists. His passing stats help the Eagles to the best playmaking tally in the BBL, dishing 25.2 assists per game. 

Despite their run of good form, the Eagles suffered a heavy 73-55 loss to the Bristol Flyers in their previous fixture. The Newcastle offence, which ranks third in the league, never clicked into gear. The hosts made 30% of their field goal attempts, going 5/21 from three. 

One To Watch – Riders

Patrick Whelan’s attack-first mindset in his previous two games has earned him his two best Riders scoring totals of the season. 

After dropping 22 against the Rocks, Whelan led Leicester against the London Lions in the first leg of the BBL Cup semi-final, scoring 25 points and going 6/7 from three. 

The two-guard out of William Jewell college has exhibited his full offensive bag, gunning from three and driving into the teeth of the defence. 

His ability to play relentless basketball on both ends makes Whelan a dangerous opponent, with opposing players unable to switch off for a second in his presence. 

One To Watch – Eagles

Rahmon Fletcher is playing to the best of his MVP-calibre talent to start the season. He is on pace to average a double-double, following up his league-leading 19.2 points and 9.3 assists a game last year. 

Fletcher has a complete playmaking arsenal, capable of making any pass and opening up defences with crafty handles. He uses his exceptional speed paired to beat defenders and get to the hoop. 

Despite standing at 5’10”, Fletcher is adept at finishing at the rim over taller defenders and can space the floor to significant effect, averaging 38% from three last year. 

Previous Meeting

The sides last met in front of the Sky Sports cameras, tipping off their season. The Riders dominated their long-standing rivals with a 100-77 home win. 

Zach Jackson led the game with a red hot 26 points, five assists and two steals to open his account for the year, as Leicester hit 11 threes to put the game beyond doubt. 

Riders edge Lions in Cup Semi Final first leg

The Riders take a slight advantage into the second leg of the BBL Cup semi-final after beating the London Lions 99-96. Patrick Whelan continued his hot scoring form with 25 points to lead the game, going 6/7 from three. 

Leicester led the game by as many as 23 points after winning the third quarter by 12. However, a spirited comeback from their opponents made it all to play for in the return fixture. The Riders had six players in double digits in a team effort, as their offence clicked to make 51% of their shots. 

Dirk Williams led the Lions with 24 points. He and Italian sniper Lorenzo Cugini scored 46 between them to set up a thrilling second leg. London made 13 of their 27 threes and got to the free-throw line effectively late, going 5/7 in the fourth quarter. 

Captain Darien Nelson-Henry returned to the Riders’ gameday squad after missing much of the start of the season due to injury. His solid display earned him 10 points in 15 minutes. Meanwhile, reigning MVP Geno Crandall had a double-double, scoring 11 points and dishing 10 assists. 

Crandall came out hungry in a tightly contested first period. He showed off his elite playmaking ability to dish four of his assists in the first quarter, attacking the Lions’ defence and finding open teammates. 

Whelan fed off Crandall’s passing, building off his Riders-high scoring performance in his last game with seven points in the first ten minutes. He led the game in the opening quarter, which the Riders finished up 31-25. 

Three Lions threes early in the second pegged the Riders’ lead to one. Crandall reached deep into his bag to take the game over, driving into the midrange and making tough shots in traffic as the game went back and forth. 

Ohio State’s Marc Loving capped off an 8-3 Riders run in the final two minutes of the half with a buzzer-beating three. His nine first-half points helped Leicester enter the locker rooms up 55-48, despite 20 from Williams. 

Whelan caught fire in the third, building Leicester’s lead to 21 with eight straight points. Loving rode the momentum to produce the play of the game, lifting the roof of the Copper Box Arena with a monstrous putback jam over the hapless Julian Washburn. The Riders scored 33 in the third quarter to enter the fourth up 88-69. 

With a fixture at the Morningside Arena still to play, the Lions showed fight to come back into the game, cutting the Riders lead down to a single point. Eight points from Cugini sparked the London momentum swing, as the hosts made it close ahead of the second leg.  

Loving’s free throws with seconds left put the Riders up 99-96, setting up a compelling second tie. The next leg is in Leicester on the 30th of December. 

Before then, Leicester will host their rivals in the Newcastle Eagles next Friday. A win improves the Riders’ record to 5-0 to start the year and will grant the Riders their second victory against the Eagles on the season. 

Preview: Riders at Lions

Season So Far – Riders

After falling to the Bristol Flyers in the first game of their BBL Cup group, the Riders enjoyed a six game winning streak to qualify for the knockouts. They then won a nailbiter in the quarter finals, with Jubril Adekoya’s game winner seeing them past the Cheshire Phoenix 85-84. November’s BBL Player of the Month Geno Crandall leads Leicester in the BBL Cup with 17.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, the reigning MVP picking up where he left off last season. 

The Riders enter the semi-finals brimming with confidence after a commanding 105-76 win against the Glasgow Rocks. They bolted out the gates, up 32-13 after the first quarter, and never looked back, torching the Rocks with 18 threes. Patrick Whelan drained six of those threes, scoring his Riders-high points tally with 22, accompanied by seven rebounds and six assists. 

Season So Far – Lions

The Lions cruised through the BBL Cup South Group with a 7-1 record, topping the table to progress to the knockouts. They started their campaign with seven straight wins, losing only to the Riders. In the quarter-final, London dominated against the Sheffield Sharks, pulling out a 100-68 win. Italian sniper Lorenzo Cugini led the game with 28 points, getting red hot from deep to make five of his 10 threes. 

In their previous fixture, the Lions bounced back from a loss to the Eagles by blowing out the Manchester Giants 107-80. Dirk Williams went off for 30, making 11 of his 16 attempts. The Lions showed their strength in depth with 40 bench points, Cugini scoring 18 in 23 minutes. 

Ones To Watch  

Doing the dirty work in his previous fixture, versatile forward Jubril Adekoya dominated the glass against the Rocks, grabbing 10 rebounds. He scored six points and dished seven assists in a balanced offensive outing, and was key to the Riders early dominance with four offensive boards in the first half. The Valparaiso graduate has played key minutes at the center position off the bench in the absence of Darien Nelson-Henry, his ability to defend any position adds flexibility to coach Rob Paternostro’s lineups. 

Leading his team in the BBL Cup with 22.4 points per game, Dirk Williams has been on a tear to start the season. The 6’5” wing in his second Lions season has scored over 20 in five of his seven Cup games this year, with a high of 30 coming against the Riders. Williams is a danger to opposing defences all over the court, his shooting ability opening up lanes to the rim where he can finish strong. The UAB graduate averaged 18 points per game last season and has taken leaps forward this year. 

Previous Fixture

With both teams having progressed to the knockout stages, the sides last met on the final game of their BBL Cup Group. The Lions took a 97-83 win to split the season series 1-1, with Conner Washington and Lorenzo Cugini leading the game with 20 points each.

Sharpshooting Riders earn victory over Rocks

The Riders remain undefeated to start their league campaign with a 105-76 blowout win against the Glasgow Rocks. They go a win clear at the top of the BBL Championship table with a 5-0 record, after Patrick Whelan led them to a home win with 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists. 

Scoring his Riders high points tally, William Jewell graduate Whelan went 6-10 from three in a scorching hot shooting night. He played aggressively on both ends, flying around the court to stuff the stat sheet. He was one of three Riders players with over 18 points, with Geno Crandall, Marc Loving and Whelan combining for 60. 

Leicester caught fire to make 17 threes, gunning from deep for a blowout win. They dominated the paint, outrebounding their opponents 49-31, led by 10 boards from Jubril Adekoya. Adekoya had four offensive rebounds in a dominant Riders first half. The hosts were up 30 at the half before cruising comfortably to the finish. 

On the receiving end of a tough loss, the Rocks were slow out the blocks and never recovered. Tyrell Green and Jordan Harris led Glasgow with 14 points each, as the visitors won the second half 41-40 to save some pride. 

Leicester bolted out to an early lead with an emphatic opening quarter, taking a 32-13 lead. They dominated on both ends, holding the BBL’s second-ranked offence to 26% from the field while making 52% of their own shots. Led by nine points from Zach Jackson, the Riders made five three’s in the first from five different players. 

The Riders buckled down defensively from the tip, holding their opponents to four points in the opening five minutes. They jumped out to a 12-4 lead, and capitalised on their early advantage by exploding for ten straight points late in the first. Crandall fuelled the momentum with a stepback three, the Gonzaga guard brimming with confidence after being named the BBL player of the month for November. 

In an attempt to fight back into the fixture, the Rocks went on a 12-4 run to start the second, led by five points from Jordan Johnson. The Riders response to the Glasgow surge was a 14-4 run of their own, capped off by a three from Conner Washington to stretch the lead to 20. Washington encapsulated the Riders effort on both ends, taking a charge from Johnson after his three-ball. Bedford born Washington had 12 points in as many minutes in the first half. 

To conclude the half, Crandall rocked Fraser Malcolm to sleep before draining a three for his 16th points of the evening. He scored 10 in the second quarter, leading the Riders into the locker rooms with a 65-35 lead.  

Loving kicked off the third quarter with a bang, hitting back to back threes to extend their lead. The teams traded buckets in the period, the Riders maintaining their 30 point advantage led by 11 points from Loving. 

Leicester saw the fixture out comfortably, with Charnwood and Loughborough prospects Greg Wild, Victor Ndoukou and Louie Jordan gaining key BBL minutes. Jordan scored the final Riders points of the evening, draining a late three to cap off a dominant win.

The Riders take a break from the BBL Championship in their upcoming fixture. They head to the Copperbox Arena to face the London Lions in the BBL Cup. The semi-final clash is the first of two legs, with Leicester playing with hopes of winning the competition for the first time since 2014. 

Geno wins BBL November award

Guard Geno Crandall has won the league’s monthly award for November 2021 after an excellent start to the campaign that has seen him build on his Molten BBL MVP award from last year.

Crandall has been BBL All-Star 5 on five occasions this season, more than any other player and including twice in the last three weeks, he averaged 19 points, eight assists, four rebounds and two steals per outing this past month, shooting 90% at the free-throw line.

Crandall finished with 24 points in the BBL Cup quarter final versus Cheshire including a key drive-and-dish for Jubril Adekoya that won the game with just a few seconds to play.

Riders have started the league campaign perfectly with a 4-0 record in the defence of their BBL Championship title.

Preview: Riders v Rocks

Season So Far – Riders

The table-topping Riders started the season 4-0, after battling past the Sheffield Sharks in their first road game of their title defence. Their patented Patenostro defence has clicked into gear, giving up a league-low 70.5 points per game through four games. “In the last few games, when you look at the points we’re giving up you can tell we’re in a good place”, said coach Rob after the Sharks win. The Riders enter this game brimming with confidence having won 11 of their last 12 contests.                                                                                 

Leicester won their previous fixture 80-72, led by star trio Geno Crandall, Marc Loving and Mo Walker’s combined 60 points. Loving’s 17.5 points per game leads his team in the early stages of the season, having led two games in scoring with 32 points against Cheshire and 23 against Sheffield. “He’s a heck of a player and he lets the game come to him. When you’re a coach and have a player that talented that lets the game come to him it’s a joy to watch, because he doesn’t need to force his way into the game.”                                                                              

Season So Far – Rocks

The ‘showtime’ Rocks have been lighting up the BBL this season, featuring in six of Hoopsfix’s top 10 plays from Week nine’s action. Their high-flying, highlight creating play has earned them two wins on the bounce, after an opening day loss to the Manchester Giants. They get their chance for payback in the BBL Cup, as they face the Giants in the semi-final. They hope to progress to the final, with the chance to win the competition for the first time in their history. 

Glasgow has six players averaging double-digit points through their first three league fixtures, led by Jordan Johnson’s 17.5 a game. The former G-Leaguer, who averaged 16.7 points for the  Rio Grande Valley Vipers, put up a season-high 24 against the Sheffield Sharks in the BBL Cup, and put up a monster 21 points and 15 rebounds later in the group stage against the Cheshire Phoenix. His playmaking ability has been on full display, as he leads the league in assists with 11.5 per game.

Ones To Watch

In a close fixture against the Sharks, with five lead changes in the fourth quarter, reigning MVP Geno Crandall got the Riders over the line with clutch play down the stretch. “I’m big on believing it’s how you finish, so when the time comes and it’s time to put a team away and make a push late, I pride myself on being a guy you can count on to score the ball or make the right pass,” said Crandall postgame. The Gonzaga graduate has started the season as he finished the last, lighting up the BBL with his hypnotising handles, dazzling drives and precise passing. He’s averaging 17 points per game and is second in the BBL in assists with an 8.8 average. 

After signing with his home country team from the Riders last season, Ali Fraser has enjoyed an emphatic start to the season, averaging 17.3 points per game for Rocks. The Falkirk-born big man had a season-high 23 points and 13 rebounds in the BBL Cup group win against the Newcastle Eagles, and has averaged 15 points through the competition. Last year, Fraser joined the Riders from France midseason, and was instrumental down the stretch in their title win with his elite rim protection and post play. 

Previous Fixture

The Riders last faced the Rocks on the penultimate game of last season, getting a vital 93-67 win en route to the league title. Ali Fraser scored 21 points against his current team, while Geno Crandall dished a game-high 11 assists in a double-double performance. 

Riders edge Sharks in tight encounter

The Riders won the first road game of their league campaign, beating the Sheffield Sharks 80-72 to improve to 4-0. Marc Loving led the game with 23 points, taking Leicester to the top of the BBL Championship table. 

The game was contested deep into the fourth, with a late Riders surge enough to tip them over the edge. Geno Crandall came up clutch in the closing stages, scoring four in the final two minutes to conclude a final period with five lead changes. Crandall scored 20 in the game and dished nine assists for a near double-double. 

Leicester attacked the hoop all game long, getting to the line 27 times. Loving knocked down all seven of his foul shots in an efficient game, the Ohio State sniper led his team for the second straight fixture at Ponds Forge. 

The Sharks had all five started in double-digit points in a team effort, but eventually fell short against a battle-tested Riders outfit. Aaron Anderson, who like Crandall attended the University of North Dakota, led his team with 14 points, five assists and four rebounds. 

The Riders fell behind early, getting into a 15-4 hole in the opening three minutes. Facing a Riders defence off the back of their best defensive display of the season against the Scorchers, the Sharks made 10 of their first 11 shots. 

Against the scintillating Sheffield start, the Riders captured momentum late in the first, with six straight points from Marc Loving making it a four-point game. Loving had 13 in the first period, keeping his team in the fixture. 

After the Sharks responded to the momentum shift with a 10-2 run, Leicester bounced back with a 15-2 run of their own, this time coming back to take their first lead since their opening shot. Crandall began to attack, scoring seven in the quarter including a go-ahead fastbreak bucket. 

Matched up against 38-year-old Sharks veteran Mike Tuck, Mo Walker got to work down low. Tuck had no answer for the bruising Canadian, as Walker cooked his opponent with his full bag of post moves. Walker had 12 points by halftime, as Conner Washington’s three marked the last Riders points before Leicester entered the locker rooms up 43-42.

As the sides traded buckets to start the second half, the Riders walled off the paint with elite interior defence, emphasised by shot-stopping swats by Walker and Zach Jackson. The Sharks edged a low-scoring third quarter 15-12, with the teams entering the fourth quarter with the game in the balance. The score: 57-55 in Sheffield’s favour. 

Loving kicked off the final quarter with a lead taking three. The shot was the start of a back and forth battle, as the teams traded blows until deep in the day. Neither team led by more than a point six minutes into the fourth. Leicester earned an inch of breathing room, making it a six-point game with two and a half minutes left. The lead was enough to make it a game of free throws, and Crandall knocked down his foul shots to seal a hard-earned road win. 

“I’m big on believing it’s how you finish, so when the time comes and it’s time to put a team away and make a push late, I pride myself on being a guy you can count on to score the ball or make the right pass,” said Crandall postgame. 

“We’re still meshing, so to be able to pull out games like this when we’re not at our best is important for guy’s confidence.” 

“We’re a team now. We’ve won 11 of 13 games, and we believe in ourselves” said coach Rob Paternostro. “This is an experienced group that don’t fear a close game. In crunch time we made the right plays when we needed to.”

“We believe in ourselves. Even though they were scoring for fun early we all knew if we buckled down we could get some stops. When you look up at the board and it’s another 72, you can tell we’re in a good place.”

The Riders return home for their next fixture, where they will face the Glasgow Rocks on Friday. 

Preview: Riders at Sharks

Season So Far – Riders

Starting the season 3-0, the Riders have played exceptional team basketball to start the season. Averaging 26 assists a game, the second-most in the BBL, Leicester’s elite ball movement and team-first style generates consistent open looks, allowing them to shoot 51% from the field and 43% from three. Led by league MVP Geno Crandall’s 16 points and nine assists per game, the Riders have five players averaging double-digit points, sharing the wealth among an abundance of offensive weapons. 

In their previous fixture, it was their defence that won the contest. They held the Surrey to a season-low tally of 61 points, forcing the short-handed Scorchers to shoot just 30% from the field and 21% from three. Crandall led Leicester with 24 points and nine assists in just 23 minutes, the Gonzaga graduate caught fire from three to knock down seven of his 10 attempts.

Season So Far – Sharks

The scintillating Sharks have started the league season emphatically with a 3-1 record. After falling short in a challenging BBL Cup quarter-final to the London Lions, losing 100-68, Sheffield has impressed through the opening stages of the season. An efficient outfit, shooting 50% from the field and 40 % from three, the Sharks make the most of every possession, of which they have many, turning the ball over just 10 times a contest. Second-year pro out of Illionois Kipper Nichols leads his side with 14 points and five rebounds a game, improving on his 10 point average from last season at Ponds Forge.

The Sharks dispatched the Newcastle Eagles on Sky Sports in their most recent game. They forced the Eagles into 44% shooting, while they torched Newcastle to make 43% of their three-point attempts. San Fransisco graduate Jordan Ratinho led the way in this department, hitting four of seven threes, and scoring a game-high 22 points. 

Ones to watch

In his second Riders season, off the back of a season-ending injury last year, Zach Jackson has returned better than ever. He is averaging 13 points, five assists and a steal while shooting 40% from behind the arc. The Omaha graduate led his college in scoring in his junior and senior years, averaging 18 points before going pro. He started his professional career in Ukraine for Kharkivski Sokoly, averaging 12 points per game, before taking his elite scoring and defensive talents to the Riders last season. The 6’7” wing lifted the roof off the Morningside Arena with a monster dunk against the London Lions, showcasing his ability to hurt defences in an abundance of ways. 

Kipper Nichols has taken the helm of the Sharks roster in the opening stages of the season. The 6’5” two-guard’s team-high 14 points per contest has led them to a winning start, after his successes as a rookie last year. The Cleveland native helped the Fighting Illini to a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten in college, graduating from the University of Illinois after averaging ten points in his junior year. Nichols is an elite scorer who can play both ends, averaging 1.5 steals and a block per game while knocking down 52% of his shots on the year. Nichols will hope his step forward from last season can lead the Sharks to success. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders have won four of their last five meetings with the Sharks, their only loss coming in the BBL Cup group stage as they listed a roster of Charnwood and Loughborough prospects. Their previous fixture was on Valentines Day, and it was Leicester who felt the love after a 107-93 victory. Captain Darien Nelson-Henry led the game with 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists, the Penn graduate scored 90% of his ten shot attempts. 

Riders beat Scorchers to open the weekend

The Riders blitzed the Scorchers with a 90-61 win to improve to 3-0 in the BBL Championship. Geno Crandall bested the game with 24 points and nine assists in just 23 minutes, his team leading wire to wire. 

The win is the 32nd on the bounce for the Riders over Surrey, their most recent loss dating back to 2012. This is the second-longest streak against an opponent in BBL history, after Leicester’s 33 game run against Plymouth. 

Leicester’s defence merited them the victory. They forced Surrey into shooting 30% from the field and 21% from three, stealing the ball 11 times and blocking four shots to hold the visitors to their lowest points tally of the season. 

“We want to keep improving on that end of the floor. We talked about how last week was a major improvement, and we’ve got to keep that going,” commented coach Rob Paternostro postgame. 

In his game leading effort, Crandall exploded from three, making five of his seven attempts. 

“He’s a guy that can hurt you in so many ways, and what’s noticeable this year is his three-point shot. He’s close to 40% from range, and while last year teams dared him to shoot it, this year if you give him that opportunity, he’s going to take it”. 

Offensively, the Riders enjoyed an efficient night, shooting 50% from the floor and 38% from deep. Accompanying Crandall’s performance, Mo Walker’s 14 points and five rebounds in 15 minutes marked a solid display from the big man. Walker anchored the Riders defence, protecting the paint to great effect in his battle against 7’1” Legend Robertin. 

Paternostro enjoyed his center’s performance: “When he’s around the basket he’s tough to go by, and he’s really strong. He did a lot of nice things out on the floor.”

Shorthanded Surrey’s struggles came in the absence of Lamar Hamrick and Stanley Davis Jr. Despite 27 points between Scorcher’s tandem Tayo Ogendengbe and Martelle Mclemore, the Scorchers fell into a hole early and never recovered. Surrey legend Ogendengbe had 11 by halftime but couldn’t replicate his successes in the second as he shot 41% on the game. 

To start the contest, Crandall hit back to back threes to get the Riders on the board early. They stamped their authority in the opening stages courtesy of two Walker blocks, bolting out the gate to take a double-digit lead. The Riders’ stifling defence set the tone, with five team steals leading to nine fast-break points in the opening period. 

Jubril Adekoya dominated defensively in the second quarter; his IQ was on full display as he covered every inch of the court. He earned two steals with his efforts, helping hold Surrey to four points in the opening five minutes. 

The Riders held their opponents at arm’s length, subduing a Scorcher resurgence led by six from Ogendengbe, maintaining a double-digit lead. Crandall cooked, once again hitting consecutive threes to start the game 4/4 from distance. The Gonzaga graduate scored 10 in the quarter and 18 in the half, as the Riders entered the locker rooms up 46-32. 

Eight Walker points to start the second half allowed the Riders began to extend their advantage. An 11-2 run put the hosts up 20, affording Leicester a comfortable final period, which they entered with a 69-45 lead. 

Canadian guard Kimbal Mackenzie got the fourth underway with a three, starting a quarter in which the Riders cruised to victory. Their lead allowed playtime for Loughborough and Charnwood prospects Joe Bielak, Louie Jordan and Victor Ndoukou. All three gained valuable experience against a BBL outfit. 

After the win, Leicester remains one of two undefeated teams in the league, positioning themselves strongly ahead of a long season. Next, they head to Ponds Forge for their first road fixture of the campaign, facing the Sheffield Sharks. 

On the game ahead, Paternostro said, “we’ve got a game this weekend against a really good team. Our defence will be tested on Sunday”. 

Preview: Riders v Scorchers

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders have enjoyed a flawless start to their title defence, beginning 2-0 with two comfortable wins. They enter this tie having won back to back games against the Cheshire Phoenix, one of which saw them advance to the BBL Cup semi-finals. The Riders have shot the lights out through their opening two league games, going 45% from three. Their team-first attitude and ball movement contribute to wide-open shots, their BBL best 26.5 assists a game generating excellent looks to Leicester’s shooters. 

In their previous fixture, the Riders dispatched the Phoenix with a monumental fourth-quarter effort. They won the final period 32-12, their defence in the second half described by coach Rob Paternostro as “the best we’ve played all year”. Marc Loving set his best Riders points tally with 32, the Ohio State sniper going 6-10 from three and grabbing six boards. 

Season So far- Scorchers

The Scorchers are enduring a challenging set of opening fixtures, having faced the Newcastle Eagles and London Lions to tip-off their league campaign. They have battled admirably but ultimately fallen short, entering this game with an 0-2 record. Surrey’s offence has struggled to generate points early in the year, putting up a BBL worst 76.5 points against elite opposition. 

Against the Lions, the Scorchers hung in the game for long periods, keeping the tie within single digits until early in the fourth quarter. However, the fixture ultimately got away from them, as they lost 72-85. Lemar Hamrick led Surrey with 17 points. The Portland State graduate playing in his first pro season was his side’s third-highest scorer in the BBL Cup, with 14.6 points per game.  

Ones “`To Watch

Surrey legend Tayo Ogedengbe achieved the monumental feat of 5000 career points in his previous fixture. The seven-year Scorcher had 11 points in the game, along with five rebounds and assists. Ogedengbe has been a fan favourite at Surrey Sports Park since his arrival in 2015, after having gained experience in British Basketball with the London Lions and Guildford Heat. The 6’5” wing is a versatile offensive player, with an abundance of shots in his arsenal and elite playmaking ability. 

Following his 32 point performance in his previous game, Marc Loving comes into this fixture in blistering form. Through two league games, Loving is shooting 63% from three and 59% from the field, on his way to 19 points per game. Rob Paternostro called him a “very intelligent basketball player” after his game against the Phoenix. Loving’s basketball IQ allows him to defend every position, fit seamlessly into any lineup and take efficient shots for hot shooting nights. 

Previous Fixture

The sides last met in the BBL Cup group stage, a game that the Riders won 94-89 in Surrey. Geno Crandall went off for 27 in the encounter, getting to the line repeatedly to male 16 of 18 free throws. For Surrey, Ogedengbe enjoyed a solid outing, putting up 19 points and eight rebounds, going a red hot 4 for 7 from deep. 

Hot fourth quarter sees Riders defeat Phoenix

The Riders’ continued their league title defence with a 94-72 win against the Cheshire Phoenix, improving to 2-0 to start the season. In a fiery second half, the Riders exploded to nail seven threes in the fourth quarter, which they won 32-12. Marc Loving had a monster 32 point performance, going 6/10 from three to lead the game. 

Ohio born Loving hit three straight triples to seal the game late. The Riders took just a two-point lead into the fourth, but took over in the final ten minutes in front of a deafening home crowd. After struggling from deep in the first half, going 33%, the BBL’s best three-point shooting team reverted back to their usual self in the second, finishing the tie making 45% of their attempts. 

The Riders forced Cheshire to wait for their first league win of the season, as their visitors fall to 0-5. GB guard Teddy Okereafor led the Phoenix with 17 points, but his side could not rise from the flames after being blown out of the sky in the fourth. 

Following a close encounter in the previous fixture between the teams, played out a week ago, this game started equally close. Patrick Whelan got the Riders going to start the game. The GB sniper scored nine of the Riders’ 19 first-quarter points, two of which came from an early highlight-reel play. Geno Crandall assisted Whelan behind his back on the fastbreak, gifting his teammate an easy bucket at the rim as the Riders finished the first quarter trailing by two. 

The Riders’ three-ball started to fall in the second, as they nailed three straight deep shots to hang in the game. Ben Mockford followed up his 30 point performance in the previous fixture with 14 points in the first half, as the teams continued to trade buckets until the buzzer, entering the locker rooms with the score 44-41 in the Phoenix’s favour. 

In the midst of a fiery third quarter, with emotions running high, Leicester climbed out of an eight-point hole after a couple of Phoenix baskets. An 11-3 Riders run gave the hosts the lead before Phoenix big man Radwan Bakkali saw himself ejected after a verbal exchange with Kimbal Mackenzie. His following protest sent the Morningside Arena into a fever pitch in support of their team. 

Back to back Riders threes kicked off the final quarter, as Leicester extended their lead backed by an explosive crowd. The hosts caught fire, nailing seven triples in six minutes to build an 18 point advantage. Loving cooked in the fourth, making three straight deep shots to secure a commanding win. 

“We had a pretty close game with this team last time, so we wanted to come out, play hard and not make it close this time,” said Loving post-game. “We’re both very competitive teams, and it got a bit chippy in the third. We just tried to get back to playing basketball and sticking to our game. I’m very happy with how we responded in the fourth. We came out playing hard, and it gave us a 20 point advantage.”

“Marc’s a good all-around basketball player.” said coach Rob Paternostro post-game. He doesn’t go hunting his shot and plays the game the right way. I love his floor game, and tonight he was outstanding. He’s a very intelligent basketball player that helps us in many ways.”

Paternostro was happy with his side’s efforts after the game: “After playing two games in a row, it’s gonna be a competitive battle. I thought both teams were aggressive and showed they really wanted to win the game. I thought the difference was our defence in the second half. To hold them in the twenties was the name of the game.”

Leicester’s homestand continues on Friday. They will take on the Surrey Scorchers at the Morningside Arena. A win would see them remain flawless through the opening stages of the season, with three straight victories to start their BBL Championship campaign.  

Preview: Riders v Phoenix

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders tipped off their league title defence in emphatic fashion, beating age-old rivals Newcastle Eagles 100-77 on Sky Sports. Zach Jackson went off for 26 points, draining four threes to lead the Riders to the perfect start to their league campaign. Jackson has enjoyed a blistering start to his second Riders season, averaging 13.5 points and making 40% of his threes. 

In the BBL Cup, Leicester has progressed to the Semi-Finals, beating the Phoenix in their previous game. The Riders are the BBL Cup’s best three-point shooters, knocking down a red hot 41% of their attempts. Geno Crandall leads the Riders in the competition, the Gonzaga graduate scoring 17.2 points per game and dishing 7.6 assists. 

Season So Far – Phoenix

After crashing out of the BBL Cup in the quarter-finals, the Phoenix turn their attention to the BBL Championship, where they have endured a rocky start. They are winless through their first four games, losing 109-81 to local rivals Manchester Giants in their previous league fixture. Former Rider Nahmon Wright went off for 28 in the game, but Cheshire gave up 53 bench points as the Giants had seven scorers finishing with double-digit points tallies. 

Wright’s scoring leads the Phoenix, his 19.3 points per game the most in the BBL for those who have played multiple games. Despite Wright’s performances, Cheshire has struggled on the road this season, going 1-7 in all competitions. They will need to turn their road form around in this one, as they travel to the Morningside Arena for the second time in as many weeks.

Ones To Watch

Ohio born marksman Marc Loving has settled quickly into Leicester life, making 50% of his threes on his way to 13.5 points a night. Loving’s versatility on both ends has proved a valuable asset in the power forward position, his ability to defend any position on the court contributing immensely to the Riders defensive prowess. Loving is competing in his first European season and has adapted to life across the Atlantic seamlessly, following two seasons in the NBA G-League. His size and length give him a strong defensive foundation, while his elite shooting ability combined with his 6’7” frame make him a dangerous weapon on offence.

GB center Michael Ochereobia has dominated inside for Cheshire to start the season. ‘Big Mike’ crashed the glass relentlessly in the BBL Cup, leading the league in rebounds with 12.3 per game. Ochereobia is playing in his second Phoenix season, after putting up a solid seven points and six rebounds last year. The 6’8” big man graduated from Western Illinois, averaging nine points as a senior, and has gained experience with the GB youth setup having played for the under-20s. At 32 years old, Ochereobia brings a wealth of expertise to Cheshire. 

Previous Meeting

The sides played out a thriller in the BBL Cup Quarter-Finals. The Riders got the better of their visitors after a Jubril Adekoya go-ahead basket won the game 85-84. Crandall led the Riders in the game with 24 points and seven assists, his final assist coming in the closing seconds, as he dished down low to Adekoya for a bucket at the rim. For Cheshire, GB sharpshooter Ben Mockford caught fire, scoring 30 points and making eight threes as his team fell just short of an underdog win. 

Tickets

Tickets are still available for Friday’s game, CLICK HERE to book yours now!

Riders fight back to keep cup run alive

The Riders keep their BBL Cup run alive, beating the Cheshire Phoenix 85-84 to advance the semi-final. Jubril Adekoya layed in a bucket for the win with two seconds on the clock, assisted by Geno Crandall who led the game with 24 points and seven assists. 

The Riders showed fight and determination as they found themselves in a tightly fought contest, coming back from three big deficits to win. Leicester struggled from deep, but found other ways to get a result, locking down defensively in key moments to stay in the tie. They play the London Lions in the semi-final, as they attempt to win the competition for the first time since 2014. 

Crandall duelled with GB sniper Ben Mockford in the closing stages, as the reigning MVP scored six points in the final two minutes to keep it close. Mockford dropped 30 for Cheshire, making eight of his 12 threes and five clutch points late. 

Off the back of a heavy defeat the day before, Cheshire came out hot and performed well. Coming into the tie, the Phoenix were the worst three-point shooting team in the league, but made 41% of their deep shots in this one. 

“When a team gets beat like that, you know the next night they’re gonna come out with something to prove”, said Rob Paternostro. “In these knockout games, you’ve just got to find a way. It’s not about how pretty it is, it’s about the W. As the game went on we found our urgency, and it was important for us to play with passion.”

In the first quarter, Jackson got the Riders on the board with six points in the first five minutes. The 6’7” wing out of Omaha University had success driving into the lane, displaying delicate touch at the rim to finish. Jackson’s early buckets kept the score close despite a hot Phoenix start, the visitors starting the contest with 28 points against the Riders’ BBL best defence. 

11 straight points from Crandall cut the Phoenix’s 12-point lead to three in the second. The reigning MVP took over the game in isolation against Cheshire’s Kyle Carey, nailing a three in his face before making an and-one play on the next possession. After Crandall cooked Cheshire to make it close, Jackson hit a floater at the buzzer to tie the game, completing a first-half comeback. 

Mockford caught fire to start the second half, draining four threes in as many minutes to reestablish the visitor’s double-digit lead. The Riders responded by locking down defensively, holding Cheshire to four points in five minutes as they climbed back into the tie. Back to back threes from Crandall and Marc Loving meant the Riders entered the final quarter down 64-59.  

Conner Washington took over the opening stages of the fourth, making a four-point play for his seventh points in two minutes to make it a two-point ball game. Washington’s play kickstarted a 9-0 Riders run, as Whelan made a three with seven minutes on the clock to give the Riders their first lead since the opening quarter. 

The team’s traded buckets down the stretch, setting up a thrilling finale. Mockford and Crandall engaged in a back and forth battle, scoring 11 points between them in the final two minutes. With 10 seconds remaining, former Rider Nahmon Wright took it hard to the hoop and was fouled, making both free throws to put the Phoenix up 84-83. 

The Riders had their chance to win it, getting the ball into Crandall at the top of the key. Crandall drove inside and dished to Adekoya, who laid it in to give the Riders the lead with 2 seconds left. The Phoenix’s opportunity to respond with two seconds left, but Wright left his three short, earning Leicester a hard-earned win. 

This game is a back to back against the Phoenix. The sides will face off again on Friday, as the Riders resume their BBL Championship title defence. Leicester enters the game hoping to improve to 2-0, continuing their hot start to the season. 

Preview: Riders v Phoenix

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders cruised through their BBL Cup group, winning six straight to qualify for the knockout stages with a 6-2 record. They are locked in defensively, holding their opponents to a BBL best 77 points per game, and have played fluidly on the other end of the court, their offence ranking second in the league. With a three-point percentage of a red hot 42%, the Riders are the best deep shooting team, helped by their ball movement, which generates a league-best 24.5 assists per contest. The Riders have a well-balanced roster, performing well in the absence of starting big man Darien Nelson-Henry. 

Their most recent game, an 83-97 loss to the London Lions, wrapped up their BBL Cup group. GB guard Conner Washington led the game with 20 points off the bench, in a fixture with opportunities for Leicester’s young stars. Charnwood’s Victor Ndoukou and Louie Jordan played significant minutes, with Ndoukou granted a starting role in the vacancy of Marc Loving due to injury. The pair had 13 points between them, performing excellently against elite competition. The Riders hope for a deep run in the BBL Cup, attempting to win the trophy for the first time since 2014. 

Season So Far – Phoenix

The ‘Nix endured a rollercoaster of a BBL Cup group stage, finishing third with a 4-4 record. They struggled to find consistency, never stringing back-to-back wins, but their home form secured their spot in the knockouts. The Phoenix won three of their four games in Cheshire, holding their opponents to a stifling 79 points per game. However, they will have to carry their home form on the road to progress in the Cup as they prepare to face the Riders at the Morningside Arena. 

Cheshire has enjoyed less success to start their BBL Championship season, starting 0-3. Their most recent game was a 76-68 road loss to the Bristol Flyers, in which their offence struggled, shooting 41% from the field. Josh McSwiggan led Cheshire with 12 points and eight rebounds; the former Charnwood forward was one of just three Phoenix players to tally double digits. After suffering back-to-back losses last weekend, Cheshire enter the Riders game looking to snap a three-game losing streak. 

Ones To Watch 

Former Rider Namon Wright has led the Phoenix through their BBL Cup group, averaging 18 points and five rebounds a game. The American guard is cooking from deep, making 42% of his attempts from three-point range. Wright is a Colorado graduate, who averged eight points per game in his two year tenure with the Buffaloes. Playing in his third professional season, Wright is a scoring machine, able to breeze past defenders off the dribble with his lightning speed and pull up to score from anywhere on the court. 

Catching fire off the bench in his previous game, 11 year Rider Conner Washington has been an integral part of the Riders roster for over a decade. Against the Lions, Washington scored 20 points in just 21 minutes, going 6/9 from deep in a red hot shooting night. The Bedford born point guard is a fan favourite, known for his elite playmaking ability and deadeye shooting, averging 37% from deep last season. Washington’s ability to run the offence off the bench is vital to the Riders success, adding strength in depth for the reigning league champions. 

Previous meeting

Champagne was sprayed and celebrations were thrown the last time these sides faced, as the Riders secured the BBL Championship title at the Cheshire Oaks Arena with a 97-65 win. Captain Darien Nelson-Henry led the team with 19 points, before lifting the trophy for the fifth time in the club’s history.

Tickets

Tickets are still available for Saturday’s game, CLICK HERE to book yours and get behind the Riders as they look to advance to the BBL Cup Semi Finals.

Spirited Riders fall to Lions

The Riders finished second in their BBL Cup group with a 6-2 record, following a 97-83 loss to the London Lions. The Riders cut a 15 point deficit to one in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t complete the comeback in a spirited performance. GB guard Conner Washington led the Riders with 20 points off the bench, knocking down six straight threes before his first miss. 

Coach Rob Paternostro demonstrated faith in his youth, with Charnwood prospect Victor Ndoukou granted a starting spot in the absence of Marc Loving. 

The 6’8” 18 year old rewarded Paternostro’s confidence with a stifling defensive effort, holding seven-foot big man Kylor Kelley to four points while Ndoukou was on the court. 

“Being a young guy on the team and going against a good player like that really helps my development”, said Ndoukou post-game. “I felt I did a good job today. I played solid defence and played hard. It felt good being out there with the guys”. 

For London, Italian sniper Lorenzo Cugini was on hot form, making four threes for 20 points. The 6’7” wing, who competed in the Spanish second division last season, went 53% from the field in an efficient showing. 

Both sides came out hungry in the first, the teams trading big blows as the scoreline swung back and forth. Back to back threes from Crandall got the Riders’ offence cooking before an and-one from Whelan’s fastbreak jam brought the house down midway through the period. Whelan led the Riders through the opening quarter, scoring seven, as his team trailed 28-25. 

Charnwood young-gun Louie Jordan kicked off the second quarter with a triple, as Lions’ shooting tandem Julian Washburn and Cugini built the visitors’ lead with 15 points between them. The Riders battled back to keep the game within reach, Crandall’s seven quarter points helping cut a 15 point deficit to 12, a Conner Washington buzzer-beater sending the teams into the locker room with the Riders down 59-47. 

The Riders fought their way back into the tie in the third quarter, recapturing momentum to cut the lead to single digits. A fastbreak putback from Mo Walker made it a five-point game, as Leicester went on a 10-0 run. The hosts locked in defensively, holding the Lions to ten straight possessions with no score and just 14 points in the third, their lead shortened to seven entering the final stanza. 

Back to back Washington three’s cut the game to one to start the fourth, the Riders close to completing their comeback. However, former G-League guard Isaiah Reese scored six points in two minutes to reestablish the Lions’ seven-point lead. Both offences’ dried up, with the game not seeing a score in three minutes before four quick London points sealed the game. 

With the BBL Cup group stage complete, the Riders focus on the knockouts, where the Cheshire Phoenix await them in the quarter-finals. The game will take place on Saturday 13th November,  9the Riders hoping to kick on and win the competition for the first time since 2014. 

Preview: Riders v Lions

The final BBL Cup South Group game between the Riders and the Lions will determine the top spot of the group, the winner taking home-court advantage to the knockout stages. 

Season So Far – Riders

Leicester have dominated their BBL Cup Group, entering the final game with a 6-1 record. They possess the best offence in the BBL, scoring 90 points a game, and hold their opponents to the fewest points, allowing just 74 points per game. The Riders have won seven games on the bounce in all competitions, after beating the Newcastle Eagles 100-77 in their league opener in front of the Sky Sports cameras. 

Zach Jackson led the team with 26 points, his season-high tally. The 6’7” wing has cooked from deep through the BBL Cup group stage, making 39% of his threes on his way to 12 points per game. Jackson’s deep shooting has been indicative of Leicester’s season. They lead the league in three-point percentage with 43%. 

Season So Far – Lions

The Lions possess the same 6-1 record as the Riders entering the final game of the group, their only loss coming at the hands of Leicester. They have the second-best defence in the league, in part thanks to their BBL best rim protection, blocking 5.6 shots per game. Kylor Kelly leads his team in this department, the former G-League big man blocking three shots per game in the BBL Cup. 

In Europe, London made history, beating dutch side Donar Groningen 85-67 to become the first British team since 2002 to advance to the second round of the FIBA Euro Cup. The Lions went undefeated through the group stage, but may feel the effects of extra travel and game time in the BBL. 

Ones To watch

Promising prospect Victor Ndoukou has gained valuable minutes in the BBL Cup this season, the GB wing getting large chunks of floor time in the first half of games. Ndoukou represents Charnwood, averaging 13 points and shooting 40% from three last season. The 18-year-old first picked up a basketball just four years ago and has made strides towards his professional career since, with the experience of travelling and playing for the Riders. Standing at 6’8”, Ndoukou has a versatile offensive game, able to score inside and out as well as run the offence with his playmaking skills. 

Dirk Williams has lit up the BBL in his second Lions season, leading the BBL in scoring with 22.5 points per game. The 6’5” two guard is getting his points at an efficient clip, enjoying a 50/40/90 season through the BBL Cup group stage. Williams is a danger to opposing defences all over the court, his shooting ability opening up lanes to the rim where he can finish strong. The UAB graduate averaged 18 points per game last season and has taken big leaps forward early in the year. 

Previous meetings

The Riders handed the Lions their first loss of the season in their previous encounter, beating London 93-76. Jackson’s monster slam over two defenders in the fourth quarter gave Leicester momentum to seal the game, in which Geno Crandall led the team with 20 points. The Riders dished 28 assists, 11 more than their opponents, generating good looks to shoot 51% from the field. Williams led the game with 30 points for the Lions, exploding to shoot 12-18 from the floor. 

Tickets

Tickets are just £5 for Sunday’s game, book yours now and get behind the Riders as they look to claim top spot in the BBL Cup South Group.

Morningside Arena hosts Riders against Lions for BBL Cup South decider

Leicester Riders will play London Lions at the Morningside Arena to complete the BBL Cup South qualifying on Sunday 7th November at 4pm. The teams are currently tied on 6 and 1 at the top of the South Group.

The winner will take first spot in the South Group, setting up a tie with either Sheffield Sharks or Cheshire Phoenix in the BBL Cup Quarter Final.

Riders have confirmed that the switch to the Morningside Arena means that Riders Season Tickets holders will have complimentary admission meaning that Season Ticket holders will have an extra home game on their calendar.

Game tickets are available online.

The date for the BBL Cup Quarter Final has also been confirmed as Saturday 13th November 2021 at the Morningside Arena.

Riders start the BBL Championship with a win

The Riders dominated their BBL Championship opener against their BBL rivals, beating the Newcastle Eagles 100-77 to continue their seven-game winning streak. Zach Jackson went off for a season-high 26 points through three quarters, Leicester’s 28 point lead allowing them to sit their starters in the fourth. Jackson’s performance came off just 14 shots, the Omaha graduate torching the Eagles by making four of his five threes.

The BBL’s best offence went off for a big scoring night on the Sky Sports cameras, making 11 threes for 47% from deep. Patrick Whelan, who had an 11 point performance on the game, enjoyed his success in the spaced offence.

“It’s great. A lot of times they have to close out on Zach, Marc or Kimbal, and it leaves me wide open. It makes my job so much easier”. 

The Riders offence clicked, its elite ball movement generating a massive 28 assists. Leicester had six players scoring in double digits, sharing the wealth in the blowout win in an electric Morningside Arena.

“Keep showing up and we’ll keep getting wins”, said Whelan in his post-game message to Riders fans. “We loved the energy in here tonight and next time we’ll win even bigger if you guys come out!”

On his return to Morningside Arena, former Rider Corey Johnson led the Eagles with 22 points. The Canadian wing made six of his eleven shots and all seven of his free throws in an attempt to battle back into the game. However, Newcastle’s league-worst defence continued in their struggles despite Johnson’s efforts, unable to contain the Riders fluid offence. 

Despite the final scoreline, there was little to separate a tightly contested opening period; the Eagles up 22-20 through ten minutes. Mo Walker and Whelan kick-started the Riders season with back to back dunks, as Marc Loving led Leicester’s first quarter with five points. 

The Riders established a lead in the second. Geno Crandall’s handles started a 12-4 Riders run, the Gonzaga graduate beat two-time MVP Rahmon Fletcher off the dribble before dishing down low to Mo Walker. Leicester took their first double-digit lead of the game, locking down the short-handed Eagles, who waited 15 minutes for their first bench points. Crandall finished the half with a drive and finish at the hoop, the teams entered the locker room with the hosts up 51-35. 

Leicester came out firing in the second half, knocking down five threes to extend their lead to 20. Jackson hit two deep shots, leading the Riders through the quarter with ten points to put the game beyond much doubt. The hosts entered the final period up 78-58, in a strong position to see the tie out. 

Up big in the fourth quarter, the Riders stepped on the pedal to blow the Eagles out the water. Seven quick points put Leicester up 28 with nine minutes on the clock before they saw out the game comfortably for their first win of the season.

“Our offence this year has been excellent. Three-point shooting, free-throw shooting, two-point shooting. Everything” said coach Rob Paternostro post-game. “The other stat that is important for us is 11 turnovers. When you shoot the ball, move the ball and take care of the ball that well, you’re going to put big numbers on the board”.

Paternostro gave credit to the fans for the energy on the court. “The atmosphere was great, and our players fed off that. Everybody loves playing in front of a packed house”. 

The Riders conclude their BBL Cup Group next Sunday, fighting for the top spot against the London Lions. They head to the Copperbox Arena, hoping to secure home-court advantage for the knockout stages. 

Preview: Riders v Eagles

Season So Far- Riders

The Riders kicked off their season in style, cruising through their BBL Cup group with a 6-1 record. After an opening day loss to the Bristol Flyers, Leicester won six on the bounce, including a statement win to hand the London Lions their first loss of the season. Their most recent game was a composed 81-64 victory at home to the Plymouth City Patriots, in which the Riders led from the opening quarter. Ohio native Marc Loving led the Riders with 20 points, the BBL’s most efficient three-point shooter (on over 25 attempts) going four of seven from behind the line. Leicester have dominated both ends of the court, possessing the league’s best offence and defence. They scored 90.3 points per game through the BBL Cup group stage, and gave up just 74 points. In addition, they have been red hot from three, knocking down a BBL best 42% of their attempts, contributing to the league’s most efficient offence, which makes 48% of its field goals. Led by last season’s MVP Geno Crandall’s 17 points and eight assists a night, the Riders look in solid contention to retain their BBL Championship title.

Season so far- Eagles

The Eagles defence of their BBL Cup title ground to an early halt, as they started their season 1-7 to crash out of the group stage. They enter this fixture on a four-game losing streak, enduring their worst start to a season in 22 years. The Eagles have been ravaged with injury problems early in the year, only listing seven players for their recent 99-84 road loss to the Cheshire Phoenix. While Newcastle’s offence, the third-best in the BBL, has been firing nicely with 86 points per game, their defence has been the root of their struggles this season. They give up a league-worst 90 points a night, their defensive inefficiencies highlighted by their 38 point loss to the
Manchester Giants. The Eagles gave up 111 points in the tie, allowing their opponents to shoot 66% from the field. They will hope to patch up holes in their defence before facing the best offence in British Basketball on Friday.

Ones To Watch

Earning Premier Logistics Player of the Game in his previous fixture, Jubril Adekoya has stepped up in the clutch since singing for the Riders. He and Loving scored 14 of Leicester’s 16 fourth-quarter points against the Patriots, Adekoya registering a season-high 16 points and three steals. The 6’7” forward has stepped up to play at center in the absence of Darien
Nelson-Henry, demonstrating his ability to play multiple positions. The Valparaiso graduate spent the last four seasons in the Spanish second division, after averaging 8.6 points and five rebounds as a senior in college.

Former Rider Corey Johnson has gotten off to a hot start to his Newcastle tenure, putting up 17 points, six rebounds and two steals a night. The 6’5” sharpshooter out of Harvard College has played all eight Eagles games so far, after averaging 11 points for Leicester last year. Johnson gained experience with the Canadian u19s team, and is capable of going off for a big performance any given game, scoring 20 on four occasions last season.

Previous Fixture

The teams last met in last year’s BBL Playoffs, the Eagles coming off the better of the two sides on this occasion. Newcastle won the second leg 69-88 after a close first leg, going on to beat the Lions in the playoff final. Darien Nelson-Henry put up a solid performance for Leicester, getting a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Tickets

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Riders beat Patriots to make it 6 Wins on the bounce

The Riders made it six wins on the bounce, beating the Plymouth City Patriots 81-64. Ohio graduate Marc Loving led the team with a 20 point performance, he and Jubril Adekoya scored 14 of the Riders 16 fourth-quarter points to seal the victory.

The hosts took a double-digit lead in the second quarter which they would never surrender, managing the game after taking an early lead. But despite falling down 24 in the second half, the Patriots fought back to make it a game late. However, the Riders survived the late Patriots charge to take the win, ending the BBL Cup group stage with a 6-1 record. 

Plymouth’s top scorer on the season, Denzel Ubiaro, scored 19 points to lead the Patriots back into the tie. The 6’3” guard shot 54% from the floor in an efficient shooting night, but his team will not advance to the knockout stages despite his best efforts. 

Back to back threes gave the Riders their first edge of the game, opening the floodgates for the BBL best Leicester offence. Adekoya led the Riders with nine of their 24 opening quarter points, the Valparaiso graduate’s hot start off the bench earning the home side a six-point lead. 

After a slow start to the second, with just four points scored between the teams in the first five minutes, the Riders began to extend their lead with a 12-3 run. They locked down the Patriots, holding them to nine points in the quarter to take a 40-27 lead into the locker rooms. 

In the second half, the Riders exploded out the gate, knocking down four threes in five minutes to stretch their lead to 20. Patrick Whelan led the deep artillery, the two-guard who spent three years in Spain making three threes in the third for eleven points. Despite falling into a deficit, the Patriots battled back into the game late in the quarter, cutting the lead to 13. The hosts took a 64-51 lead into the fourth. 

With Plymouth riding a wave of momentum entering the final quarter, the Riders had to stem the tide to reassert themselves on the game. Seven straight points from Adekoya snatched back the flow of the game for Leicester, who saw out the tie comfortably.

“After playing an emotional game on Friday night, coming back today is challenging, but I think we did enough to be in control most of the way” said coach Rob Paternostro post-game.

“They did a good job. They were much improved from the last time we played them. Their team is improving and they showed that today”. 

The win concludes the Riders BBL Cup group campaign. They begin their BBL Championship defence on Friday by hosting their rivals, the Newcastle Eagles, on Sky Sports. 

Preview: Riders v Patriots

Season So Far – Riders 

On Friday the Riders continued their winning streak as they defeated the red hot London Lions. A very close game was finally decided in the 4th after Zack Jacksons roof-raising dunk put the Riders up by 10, a lead they managed to add to making the final score 93-76. 

The victory puts the Riders in a great position securing them one of the top two seeds in their group. A win in their last game of the group stage would see them level the Lions 6-1 record in the group. The Riders remain the leading scorers this season averaging 91.8 points a game and also comfortably have the best 3 point percentage. 

Season So Far – Patriots

Plymouth City Patriots sit rock bottom of their BBL cup group having failed to win any of their 6 games. They also average the least points scored in the competition, averaging a mere 63.7 points per game, 10.8 points per game less than Cheshire Phoenix who sit second bottom of the points scored chart. Furthermore they have the worst field goal percentage inside and outside of the arc. 

Last time out the Patriots were beaten fairly comfortably in a must win game by the Bristol Flyers 69-82. It was the 5th game in a row that they failed to score 70 or more points. Patriots player Joe Hart led the game in points with 22, scoring 3 more than their star man and this season’s leading points scorer Denzel Ubario. The pair accounted for 41 of the teams 69 points. The Patriots managed just 4 second chance points compared to the Flyers 18 which isn’t unusual as they also average the second least rebounds in the league. 

Ones to watch

Due to Darien Nelson-Henry still being out injured, the Riders squad is significantly shorter but there’s still a big man in the team whose importance has grown. Mo Walker stands at 6’10 and dominates most players in the league. He also averages the most rebounds on the Riders team with 7.3 and gets just over 10 points a game. Mo Walker was instrumental in the Riders recent win, he kept them in the game with his dominance in the paint when they were shooting just 2 from 12 from 3. He shot 8 from 9 and ended the game with a season high of 16 points. He also added another 7 rebounds to his tally and an impressive 5 assists. 

The Patriots main outlet of points comes from the BBL Cups leading scorer Denzel Ubario who averages 19.2 points a game and Joe Hart who averages almost 3 field goals from outside the arc. One player to look out for however is 6’9 Centre Cameron King. The big man averages 9.2 rebounds a game which is the 4th highest in the league and averages 6.7 defensive rebounds which is the most from any player. He could prove to be vital in stopping a similar scoreline to when the two teams last met.  

Previous meeting

Because the Patriots are a newly formed team, the sides have only ever met once and it was one to forget for the Patriots. A 25 point game for Zach Jackson helped make it Rider’s highest scoring game of the season. It was a complete blow out and the game was finished at half time as the Riders led by 25 points, a lead they increased to 51 points to make the score 58-109 at full time.

Tickets

Tickets are still available for Sunday’s game, CLICK HERE to purchase yours!

Maynard & Vazquez step up in the New Era for Loughborough

Riders BBL Assistant and Head of Charnwood College basketball programme Will Maynard will take charge of the Loughborough Riders NBL division one side for the remainder of the season. 

Maynard, who continues his coaching journey having graduated from the programme as a player, Maynard will now return to the University side alongside his duties with the Charnwood basketball academy.

“We’re delighted for Will to have the opportunity to further his coaching career in the Division 1 moving up from coaching the Division 2 for the past few seasons.” Reflected MD Russell Levenston.

“Will is a shining example of fulfilling the pathway as a player, having graduated from that Loughborough team. And now following a similar route with his coaching and he is ready for the new challenge”

Maynard comments “I’m really excited about getting started with the division 1 group. it’s going to be a challenge for us in a tough league this year, but we have potential and will grow as the year goes on. I’m humbled to be given the opportunity to lead on a such a prestigious programme. I’m looking to continue to build on what Mark and the rest of the staff have built over the years.”

BBL Riders assistant coach Pablo Vazquez will take charge of the BUCS first team for the remainder of the season.

“We have a successful track record in BUCS having won gold in 2016-2019. Pablo comes with vast experience at the professional level assisting Coach Rob, so it’s great to be able to offer him the opportunity to head up our University BUCS team. Pablo has completed delivered many coaching roles within the club and excited to start his new role”

Coach Pablo Vazquez commented on his new role “I’m super excited for this new opportunity and challenge. Being able to work with this group of players and first class university like Loughborough is going to be great, everyone has been super welcomed so far. I would like thank everyone for believing that I was the right fit to take this role alongside wishing Coach Jarram all the best in his personal future and personally thank him for everything he is done for me since I first arrived in England.

Maynard will head coach today’s game when Loughborough Riders take on Hemel storm at Loughborough University at 4pm tickets to buy tickets visit riders.basketball/lougborough

End of an era for Coach Jarram

Loughborough University Head Coach Mark Jarram has decided to step down from his coaching role after eight and a bit seasons with Loughborough Riders.

Jarram, who has assisted in the BBL since 2012-13 season, took charge of the Loughborough programme in 2013 and went on to win eleven trophies working with the likes of Conner Washington, Jamell Anderson, Reiss Pinnock, Josh Ward-Hibbert, Levi Noel, Max Richardson and Lucien Christofis.

In 2015-16 he got the side promoted to the NBL division one, making the Playoff final in their first season in the top league, Jarram would go on to win the NBL division one league title the following season.

In the universities competition, Jarram won BUCS Gold four years in a row – 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 – and despite making the BUCS final in 2020, his side were denied the opportunity of a fifth straight trophy due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

During his time at the helm, Jarram won three Coach of the Year awards and two Team of the Year awards. 

Riders Managing Director Russell Levenston commented:

“We would like to put on record our thanks for the fantastic work that Mark has achieved during his time running our Loughborough programme. His impact on the lives of so many of our student-athletes has been immeasurable. Mark has helped to transform the programme the over the last 8 years and leaves it in a much better place than when he arrived”

“He decided he needs a new challenge in a different role and we fully support his decision and wish him all the best for whatever lies ahead.”

Coach Jarram reflected: “Being the Head Coach at Loughborough University has been an honour and a privilege. I close this chapter in the very same way I opened it, with gratitude.” 

“So many players, staff, volunteers and people have influenced the last nine years, to all I am extremely appreciative.” 

“Coaching and leading this program has been some ride. It’s never easy to leave something that has meant so much to you, the people and relationships are everything. This program will always hold a special place and that’s the thing about sports and the magnificent gift of teams – they get in you and never go away. It’s been an absolute blast, full of lifetime memories!!”

Everyone at the Riders would like to wish Coach Jarram all the best for the future.

An announcement will be made shortly as to Coach Jarram’s successor. 

Strong fourth quarter sees Riders defeat Lions

The Riders handed the Lions their first defeat of the season, beating London 93-76. A 25-12 fourth quarter sealed the tight affair, with Geno Crandall’s 20 points and nine assists leading the Riders to a 5-1 record. 

With four minutes remaining in the tie, Zack Jackson produced the play of the game to turn the tide for the Riders. The Ohama graduate drove at the hoop before rising high and jamming it down over two Lions defenders, sending Riders fans into a frenzy and putting Leicester up 10. The visitors never recovered against a rocking home crowd: Jackson’s jam giving the Riders the momentum they needed to see the game home with a 15-0 run. 

Dirk Williams caught fire for the Lions, dropping 30 points in his side’s loss. The second-year Lion, who averaged 18 a game last season, went 12 for 18 to quiet the home crowd with critical buckets. 

After the hosts fell into a slight deficit early, Jackson took the game by the horns midway through the first. Playing in isolation, Jackson demonstrated his ball-handling ability to take defenders off the dribble, going off for six successive points. The 6’7” wing shot momentum into the Riders team, who went on a 14-2 in the period to take an 18-10 lead. 

The Lions started the second quarter hot, pegging back the Riders to take the lead into the locker rooms. With two minutes remaining in the second, a Williams step-back three put the Lions up one, the 6’5” two-guard scoring 18 in the half. Down 42-39, the Riders were 2-12 from deep through the opening two periods. However, their defence and shot-making at the hoop kept the tie close, with big man Mo Walker scoring 10 in the half from just six shots. 

With their shot not falling early, the Riders took the ball inside to keep in the game. Feeding Walker, who scored six in four minutes to open the third, the Riders kept the score close, before a Jackson corner three reclaimed the Riders’ lead. Jackson’s bucket took the lid off the basket as Leicester made four straight threes to build their advantage. 

It was then the Lion’s turn to survive the Riders’ charge, with Williams making tough shots to keep the score tight. Williams had seven third-quarter points, rising above defenders to make deep shots. But, despite Williams’ scorching hot form, the Riders took a four-point lead into the fourth.

In a close final period, Jackson’s jam took momentum for the Riders to seal the win. They held the Lions offence to 12 in the quarter, locking up the visitors to claim the victory. “It was a great play from a player that had a really good night”, said coach Paternostro post-game. “Any time a player makes a play like that, the team and fans get excited”.

Paternostro also had praise for Valparaiso graduate Jubril Adekoya, who signed with the Riders in the offseason. With captain Darien Nelson-Henry sidelined due to injury, Adekoya stepped up off the bench to play key minutes at center. He had 11 points, four rebounds and a crucial, momentum building block late in the fourth. “Jubril was an unsung hero of the game tonight. His defence is excellent at that position, and his rebounding was really good”. 

The Riders improve to 5-1, sharing the top spot of their BBL Cup group with the Lions. They play their last game of the group on Sunday, facing off against the winless Patriots in the hopes of locking up the one seed for the knockout stage.

Preview: Riders v Lions

Season So Far – Riders

After an opening day defeat to the Bristol Flyers, the Riders have won four on the spin to cruise through their BBL Cup group. Their most recent game, a 94-89 win away to the Surrey Scorchers, earned them qualification to the knockout stages in coach Rob Paternostro’s 400th career win. The Riders now aim to top the group, with the one seed coming down to points difference should they win their two remaining games. 

Leicester leads the league in scoring with 91.6 points per game, helped by their BBL best 43.2% shooting from behind the arc. In Surrey, the Riders knocked down a red hot 13 of 24 threes, led by an immense 27 point performance by reigning BBL MVP Geno Crandall. Crandall tops the Riders scoring charts early in the year, continuing last season’s form with 17 points and seven rebounds a night.  

Season So Far – Lions

The Lions remain undefeated in the BBL this season, starting their Cup campaign 5-0. In response to the Riders’ dominant 109-53 win against the Plymouth City Patriots, the Lions balled out in their previous game with a 101-62 victory against the same opponents. London’s European campaign began emphatically also, beating the Netherland’s Donar Groningen 79-55 in the FIBA Europe Cup. They now turn their attention to the BBL to defend their top spot in the BBL Cup South group. 

The Lions, led by second-year Lion Dirk Williams’ 21 points per game, are the BBL’s most efficient shooters, making 51% of their 69 attempts per night. Their team brand of basketball early in the year has earned them the league’s highest assist tally, and their rim protection also tops the BBL, swatting away 5.3 shots per contest. 

Ones To Watch

Patrick Whelan has enjoyed a blistering start to Leicester life after signing for the Riders in the summer. Brother of Jordan of the Manchester Giants, the 6’5” two-guard has cooked from behind the three-point line, making 50% of his 22 attempts for 10 points per game. A William Jewell graduate, Whelan averaged 19.2 points in his senior year of college before achieving promotion to the Spanish second division with Real Murcia. Whelan’s shooting ability has contributed greatly to Leicester’s fine form, and is always a danger when afforded a yard of space. 

A man who may attempt to go punch for punch from deep at the Morningside Arena is Italian wing, Lorenzo Cugini. The High Point graduate caught fire in his previous game, going 9/12 from three on his way to 35 points. Cugini played last season in the Spanish second division for Palencia, after previously playing in Norway after college. Shooting 43% from three in his senior year, he possesses the ability to consistently knock down shots and explode for historic scoring nights. 

Previous Meeting

The teams last met towards the end of last season, as the Lions delayed Leicester’s league win with an 86-81 nail-biting win.  The Riders shot 19% from three in an off shooting night, while Dirk Williams scored 29, his third-highest tally of the year. 

Tickets

Tickets are still available for Friday’s game, CLICK HERE to secure your seats!

Riders seal victory in Surrey

The Riders secured a win in Surrey, beating the Scorchers 94-89. They improved their record to 4-1 in the BBL Cup group stage, surviving a late Surrey surge to seal a victory. 

For the third straight game, dynamic duo Geno Crandall and Zack Jackson led the scoring column for Leicester. Crandall had 27 points, seven assists and six rebounds: the reigning MVP dominating the fixture, while Jackson followed up his 25 points against Plymouth with 15. 

The win was coach Rob Paternostro’s 400th in his career, the third-most of any BBL coach. It also extended the Riders’ 31 game winning streak against Surrey, the second-longest in BBL history behind their 33 game streak against Plymouth. 

Leicester’s lead was built in the second quarter, which they won 32-20 after a cagey opening period. They shot 54% from three, shooting the lights out with 13 makes. However, after establishing a comfortable lead, they endured a 9-2 Surrey run in the final minute and a half of the tie, the hosts showing fight until the last seconds.  

7-year Scorcher Tayo Ogedengbe led the Scorchers through a hard-fought game. After scoring 28 in his previous fixture against the Riders, the 34-year-old scored 19 points from 13 shots, grabbing eight rebounds in the process. 

There was little to separate the sides through the best part of a gritty first half, with the score tied at 28 with four minutes left. Ogendengbe flew out to a hot start, scoring 10 in the opening period, yet Leicester caught fire to end the half, turning up the heat on the Scorchers to establish a lead. 

Crandall scored or assisted on four straight buckets to put the Riders up eight, showcasing his typical flair to breeze past defenders and drive to the hoop. Leicester, who leads the BBL in three-point makes, continued their superb form from beyond the arc by knocking down 10 in the first half, including a miracle half-court three at the buzzer from Marc Loving to send the teams into the locker rooms with the Riders up 48-37. 

‘General’ Geno continued to lead the Riders charge in the third, scoring 13 in the period to keep the Scorchers at arm’s length. Eight of those points came at the rim or at the free-throw line as the Gonzaga graduate forced the issue, playing aggressively to get points on the board. 

Despite Crandall’s emphatic scoring night, the Scorchers made it a game late. In the final 90 seconds, Surrey cut a 10 point deficit to two, forcing a thrilling finale from a game that seemed over. Nevertheless, Leicester survived Surrey’s surge, making their free throws to kill the tie and take home the win. 

The Riders will return home after a month on the road, facing the London Lions on Friday. The Lions are undefeated to start the season, but Leicester will look to end that in their quest to qualify out of the group. 

Preview: Riders at Scorchers

Season So Far – Riders

Having won their last three fixtures, the Riders enter this game brimming with confidence after dominating the Plymouth City Patriots 109-58. The win was their 10th biggest in the BBL and their biggest ever against Plymouth, leading from wire to wire in the 50 point blowout. Zack Jackson enjoyed a scorching shooting night, shooting 6/7 from three on his wat to 25 points. 

Marc Loving tops the Leicester scoring charts with 14 a game, shooting 50% from the field and 58% from three. Loving leads the BBL in three-point percentage for those who have over five attempts. 

Season So Far – Scorchers

The Scorchers sit second from bottom in the BBL Cup group, having picked up just one win in four games. They have endured a tough schedule, falling to the Lions twice and the Riders away, their victory coming at home to the newly founded Plymouth City Patriots.

7-year Scorcher Tayo Ogendengbe has led them through their difficult fixtures, averaging 17 points per game and two steals. Surrey leads the league in turnovers per game with 19. Should they cut out their mistakes and take advantage of extra possessions, they can put themselves in a position to qualify out of the group. 

Ones To Watch

The Riders’ sixth man, Kimbal Mackenzie, plays a vital role off the bench for his team early in the year. Playing behind reigning MVP Geno Crandall, Mackenzie has run the offence off the bench, averaging the third-most minutes on the roster this season. With a +/- of 24, the Riders have been a substantially better team with the Bucknall graduate on the floor, as he holds the fort superbly with Crandall on the bench. Mackenzie is averaging 10 points and five assists, his IQ and playmaking ability leading to ball movement and open shits. 

Lamar Hamrick torched the London Lions in the Scorchers’ previous fixture in just his second professional game, leading his team with 20 points. The 6’4” guard out of Portland State led St. Georges Tech to a state championship in high school, tallying 39 points and 15 rebounds in the title game. Delaware born sharpshooter Hamrick shot 44% from behind the arc in his senior year in college, able to hurt his opponents should they dare leave him open.

Previous Meetings 

The Riders are unbeaten in 30 games against Surrey, their most recent loss dating back to 2012. The last time the sides faced off was in September, a 96-80 win in Leicester’s favour. Loving led the scoring for Leicester, scoring 21 and going 7/10 from the floor. Ogendengbe scored his season-high for the Scorchers with 28 points and six rebounds. 

Season so far- Riders

Having won their last three fixtures, the Riders enter this game brimming with confidence after dominating the Plymouth City Patriots 109-58. The win was their 10th biggest in the BBL and their biggest ever against Plymouth, leading from wire to wire in the 50 point blowout. Zack Jackson enjoyed a scorching shooting night, shooting 6/7 from three on his wat to 25 points. 

Marc Loving tops the Leicester scoring charts with 14 a game, shooting 50% from the field and 58% from three. Loving leads the BBL in three-point percentage for those who have over five attempts. 

Season so far- Scorchers

The Scorchers sit second from bottom in the BBL Cup group, having picked up just one win in four games. They have endured a tough schedule, falling to the Lions twice and the Riders away, their victory coming at home to the newly founded Plymouth City Patriots.

7-year Scorcher Tayo Ogendengbe has led them through their difficult fixtures, averaging 17 points per game and two steals. Surrey leads the league in turnovers per game with 19. Should they cut out their mistakes and take advantage of extra possessions, they can put themselves in a position to qualify out of the group. 

Ones to watch

The Riders’ sixth man, Kimbal Mackenzie, plays a vital role off the bench for his team early in the year. Playing behind reigning MVP Geno Crandall, Mackenzie has run the offence off the bench, averaging the third-most minutes on the roster this season. With a +/- of 24, the Riders have been a substantially better team with the Bucknall graduate on the floor, as he holds the fort superbly with Crandall on the bench. Mackenzie is averaging 10 points and five assists, his IQ and playmaking ability leading to ball movement and open shits. 

Lamar Hamrick torched the London Lions in the Scorchers’ previous fixture in just his second professional game, leading his team with 20 points. The 6’4” guard out of Portland State led St. Georges Tech to a state championship in high school, tallying 39 points and 15 rebounds in the title game. Delaware born sharpshooter Hamrick shot 44% from behind the arc in his senior year in college, able to hurt his opponents should they dare leave him open.

Previous meetings 

The Riders are unbeaten in 30 games against Surrey, their most recent loss dating back to 2012. The last time the sides faced off was in September, a 96-80 win in Leicester’s favour. Loving led the scoring for Leicester, scoring 21 and going 7/10 from the floor. Ogendengbe scored his season-high for the Scorchers with 28 points and six rebounds. 

How To Watch

Fans can watch the game free of charge by either signing up or logging into their BBL Player account.Riders on Sky Sports.

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