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.

Riders on Sky Sports

Sky Sports have today announced their schedule for the new BBL championship season – games to be shown on Sky Sports Mix and Arena.

Leicester Riders will feature in the very first Sky game of the season later this month when they host Newcastle Eagles on Friday 29 October 2021, 7.30pm tip.

Riders will be back on Sky in December in the same fixture versus Newcastle on the 17th, again at the Morningside Arena.

February sees the Riders feature twice with their away game at London Lions on Friday 4th and home game against Manchester Giants on the 11th also being featured.

All other games will be streamed online via bblplayer.co.uk.

Jackson & Crandall named in weekly awards

Americans Zach Jackson & Geno Crandall have been named in this weeks’ BBL All-star 5 after a weekend that saw two wins in their South-West double-header.

Jackson scored an impressive 38 points over the two games with general Geno putting up 30 points and 13 assists in the west-country.

Zach also leads the votes in the BBL Show’s Player of the Week vote making it a double-honours for our no. 21.

Riders beat Patriots

The Riders dominated in Plymouth, leading the Patriots wire to wire to win 109-58. Zack Jackson’s hot form continued from his previous fixture, leading the team with 25 points and six rebounds, shooting a blistering 6/7 from three. 

For the second game running, dynamic duo Jackson and Geno Crandall topped the Riders box score. Crandall had 17 points, eight assists, five rebounds and three steals in just three-quarters of the blowout. The reigning MVP produced the play of the game in the third, driving to the rim among three defenders before finishing through contact, throwing the ball up high off-balance to lay in a circus shot for a three-point play. 

The game marked the return of BBL basketball to the Plymouth Pavillions, as the home fans got their first glimpse of their Plymouth City Patriots. Despite the heavy defeat, Patriots fans were in full voice throughout, appreciating the effort from their team. Denzel Ubairo provided reason to cheer, the 6’3” guard scoring 17 points in the first half and 22 in the game. 

Injuries played a significant role in the Patriots struggles, with starting point guard Elvisi Dusha and starting center Kingsley Okoroh both absent. Plymouth came unstuck against the stifling Riders defence, shooting 31% from the field and 23% from three. Leicester was dominant inside, blocking five shots, including two from 6’9” forward Marc Loving. 

The game was all but won in the first half, the Riders bursting out the gate to enter the locker rooms up 55-30. In their fifth game of the season, Leicester’s offence clicked, dishing out a monumental 33 team assists. All five Riders starters scored in double digits, and every Leicester player scored at least five in an emphatic scoring night.

The visitors set the tone with a commanding opening quarter, establishing a 26-15 lead. They exuded confidence from the tip, encapsulated by Crandall’s outrageous deep three from several feet behind the line hitting nothing but net midway through the period. Crandall scored 12 in the first quarter, leading his team to a red hot start. 

Winning the second quarter 29-15, the Riders stretched their lead to 25 by halftime to put the game beyond much doubt. They assisted on all 17 of their field goals through the first two periods, shooting 51% from the floor in a fluid offence. 

Leicester kept their foot on the pedal, displaying professionalism and ruthlessness to kill the game. With points difference a potential factor at the end of the group stage, the Riders ran up the score to put themselves in a secure position in the table. They won the third quarter by 14, taking a 39 point lead into the final period. 

A 28-16 fourth quarter capped off a display of dominance, the Riders hitting six threes in the period to finish the game in style. Young Charnwood star Victor Ndoukou gained valuable on-court minutes, the 18-year-old scoring five in the quarter in just his fourth year playing basketball. The Riders finished the game up 51, their tenth biggest win in their BBL history and their biggest against Plymouth. 

The Riders head to Surrey on Friday, to take on the Scorchers in the final game of their road stint. They hope to improve to 4-1 in their BBL Cup group to place themselves in a solid position to qualify for the knockout stages. 

Preview: Riders at Patriots

Season So Far – Riders

In their previous fixture, the Riders beat the Flyers 75-67 in a close-fought affair to improve to 2-1 in their BBL Cup group. Geno Crandall and Zack Jackson led the way with 13 points each, as the Riders steadily build chemistry with the pair absent for preseason. 

The Riders sit second in their BBL Cup group with a game in hand, hoping to start their season positively by qualifying for the knockout stage. 

Season So Far – Patriots

After splitting their preseason results 1-1, beating Team Wales after falling to the Manchester Giants 61-59, the newly founded Patriots have endured a difficult beginning to their franchise’s first season. They began with a three-game road trip, starting the season 0-3. Most recently, they lost 65-57 to the Surrey Scorchers. 

Denzel Ubairo has led the Patriots in all three games, averaging 20 points and five rebounds early in the season. The 6’3” guard dropped 15 points against the Scorchers, which was a one-possession tie with two minutes remaining. 

Ones To Watch

Plymouth has BBL Cup winning experience on their roster, with former Newcastle Eagle Joe Hart suiting up for the Patriots. The 6’4” wing is playing in his ninth professional season, after spending the last two in the German fourth division with Wolmirstedt. Hart has experience playing in Italy and Spain, and is a natural leader, captaining GB u20s back in 2013. 

Zack Jackson found his form in the previous game after missing most of last season through injury. Jackson led Omaha University in scoring in his junior and senior years and shot 44% from three for the Riders last season. Against the Flyers, Jackson enjoyed an efficient night, shooting 6/12 from the field for his 13 points. The 6’7” wing will look to carry his hot shooting into the next Riders run of games. 

Previous Meetings

This is the first-ever game between these sides, with the Plymouth City Patriots forming in the offseason. The tie is Plymouth’s first home fixture, so expect a rampant crowd in a tricky away fixture for the Riders. 

Riders defeat Flyers on the road

The Riders move to 2-1 in their BBL Cup group, tipping off their road trip with a 75-67 win against the Bristol Flyers. Reigning BBL MVP Geno Crandall stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals, leading the Riders over the line in a hard-fought encounter. 

With captain Darien Nelson-Henry going down with an ankle injury early in the third, the Riders relied on a team performance to secure the win. Four players scored in double digits, with Zach Jackson enjoying a solid shooting night, going 6/12 from the field for 13 points. 

The game proved to be a superb sequel to the thrilling season opener between these sides. The score went back and forth in a tug of war contest, with the Riders establishing several leads only to be pegged back by a gritty Flyers outfit. In the final four minutes, Crandall’s six points secured the win; the Gonzaga Graduate attacking the Flyers defence to score at will. 

The Flyers, led by 18 points from 6’8” big man Malcolm Delpeche, showed tremendous fight despite falling into significant deficits on multiple occasions. Runs in key moments kept Bristol in the game, as they hit big shots to fire up the Flyers faithful. 

The first quarter set the scene for a close encounter: the score swinging back and forth as the Riders edged a slight lead. Leicester’s defence was the key to their early advantage. The Flyers were forced to wait four minutes for their first field goal, beginning the game 0-5. Leicester found their offensive rhythm courtesy of Kimbal Mackenzie. The Bucknall graduate, who joined Leicester in the summer, scored seven in the first to put his team up 20-16. 

The Riders fired out the gate in the second quarter, stretching their lead to double digits for the first time in the tie. Another summer signing took over the game, with Patrick Whelan scoring eight in the quarter to build the Riders lead to 14.  

With the game slipping away from the hosts, Bristol crucially seized back momentum to close the half. Six straight Delpeche points helped the Flyers rally back into the tie, before the home crowd were lifted to their feet at the buzzer by a Mike Miller half-court three. Miller’s miracle shot brought the game back to a single possession, sending the Riders into the locker room up 36-39. 

The third quarter developed into a back and forth battle. The Flyers responded to the Riders reestablishing their double-digit lead with a run of their own, as both teams hit big shots to swing momentum to and fro. Leicester’s offence clicked, assisting on seven of their nine field goals in the third, while the Flyers hung in the game with key baskets. The Riders entered the final period up 60-55, the game firmly in the balance. 

With the encounter tied at 64 with five minutes remaining, the Riders closed out strongly. Marc Loving’s corner three kick-started an 11-3 Leicester run, in which Crandall took charge. His six late points sealed the game, as he relentlessly attacked his defender with his elite ball-handling ability. Crandall produced the play of the game during this run, dancing on Trejon Jacob before pulling up for a smooth mid-range jumper, putting the Riders up nine. 

After the win, the Riders have a quick turnaround, travelling to Plymouth for the second fixture of their three-game road trip. They face the Patriots in their first home game of the season. Expect a rampant, packed house, as the Riders hope to improve to 3-1. 

Preview: Riders at Flyers

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders return on the road after a fortnight break from basketball. They bounced back brilliantly after opening night heartbreak against Bristol, beating the Surrey Scorchers 96-80 at home to improve to 1-1 in their BBL Cup group. The hosts were cooking from deep, making half of their 20 three-point attempts to cruise to a confident win. 

Marc Loving led Leicester with 21 points, firing out the gate with 19 in the first half. The Ohio State graduate has hit the ground running for the Riders, averaging 15.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in his opening two games. 

Season So Far – Flyers

Bristol successful beginning to the season took a setback in their last fixture, a 90-80 home loss to the London Lions. After a 2-0 start, beating the Riders and the Plymouth City Patriots in their first two games, a slow beginning to the Lions game left them in a 22 point hole by halftime. 

They fought back valiantly, scoring eight points in the final two minutes to make it a 10 point game. These points may prove vital come the end of the group stage, should points difference prove a factor in the standings. 

Ones To Watch

After a solid 14 points and eight rebounds in his previous game against the Flyers, captain Darien Nelson-Henry will look to continue his hot start to this campaign. The Penn State graduate averaged 12 points and six rebounds, shooting 50% from the floor through the opening two games. Nelson-Henry led the Riders on a charge back into the Flyers fixture with four points and an assist in the final four minutes. His impact on the tie encapsulates the leadership Darien brings to the Riders. 

Malcolm Delpeche is enjoying a breakout season in his opening three games in his return to British basketball. Delpeche is leading his team in points and rebounds, putting up 16 and eight a night. Twin brother of Marcus, who competes in the BBL with the Sheffield Sharks, Malcolm helped Munster to the playoff final of the German Third division last season, averaging 10 points and eight rebounds per game. The 6’8” forward is a dominant paint presence, demonstrated by 12 of his 19 points against the Lions scored at the hoop. 

Previous Meeting 

These teams met on the opening day of the season, with the Flyers edging a thriller 84-85. Conner Washington had an open shot for the win fall just short, as Bristol survived a late Riders fight back. Jubril Adekoya led the Riders on his BBL debut, scoring 15 points, including a clutch three to tie the game late. Trejon Jacob led the Flyers, the 6’5” guard scoring 21 points on his first game in professional basketball. 

How To Watch

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

Riders team up with On Court

Leicester Riders are thrilled to announce they have formed a partnership with OnCourt, the exclusive distributor in the UK of Mega Slam Hoops, adjustable basketball hoops and systems of the highest quality.

“We are really happy to be teaming up with OnCourt and Mega Slam Hoops. They produce quality products and our first project with them is our hoop at our facility for our academy players at Field House.” Commented Riders MD Russell Levenston.

“We are an elite programme and we would recommend Mega Slam products to all our friends in the basketball community. Through the Riders we can offer our partners a discount to their products.”

Using the link https://oncourt.online/uk/riders/ , our friends and partners throughout the basketball community receive  5% discount.

Nathan Austin of On Court commented: “OnCourt.Online is the first truly specialist Basketball court and component supplier in the UK. If you want to go all the way, then investing in the tools to do so means there’s nothing in the way but your own convictions. Working out on a Mega Slam Hoop will calibrate your game for competition so that every minute spent training is a direct investment in your potential”. 

“As the exclusive UK distributor of Mega Slam Hoops, OnCourt.Online recognise the leadership and vision of a championship team like Leicester Riders, which is why we’re extremely proud to be able to play our part in supporting the growth and development of Basketball here in the UK”. 

Riders bounce back with win over Scorchers

The Riders earned their first win of the season, beating the Surrey Scorchers 96-80 in the BBL Cup group stage. Former NBA G-League forward Marc Loving led the hosts for the second straight game, stuffing the stat sheet with 21 points, eight rebounds and three steals. 

The win is Leicester’s 30th straight against Surrey, their most recent loss dating back to November 2012. They were red hot from deep, making 10 of their 20 three-point attempts, and locked in defensively, forcing the Scorchers into 18 turnovers. Reigning BBL MVP Geno Crandall continued his strong form with 15 points and eight assists. He stole the ball five times, making his tally through two games an impressive nine. 

Seven-year Scorcher Tayo Ogendengbe kept the game close through the first two periods. Following his 24 point performance in his previous game, he scored 28 in this fixture, missing his first shot midway through the third quarter. With just eight players listed, the Scorchers faded in the second half, but challenged the league champions for long stretches of the tie. 

Leicester jumped out to a double-digit lead midway through the first. Loving lifted the roof off the Morningside Arena with an electric sequence, draining a three before slamming down a monster jam on the next possession following a Crandall steal. Ohio born Loving led the Riders through a dominant first quarter which ended 34-24, with 13 points and two rebounds, making all five of his field-goal attempts. 

Despite struggling from deep in their previous fixture, the Scorchers hung in the game in the first half after hitting six of 11 three-point attempts. Ogendengbe carried the scoring load with 19 in the first half, while 7’1” center Legend Robertin proved to be a brick wall defensively, blocking three shots. 

The Riders snatched back momentum as the half came to a close. A three from Loving for his 19th points of the night was followed up a Crandall steal leading to an easy jam. They reestablished their double-digit lead, entering the locker rooms up 56-45. 

Coach Rob Paternostro made adjustments at halftime, as the Riders, who had difficulty inside against Robertin in the first half, often put the big man in the pick and roll in the second. With Robertin forced to defend away from the basket, the Riders had joy attacking the rim, with nine of their 12 baskets in the third quarter coming from inside the paint. 

Courtesy of six straight points from GB guard Conner Washington driving to the hoop, the hosts stretched their lead to 21 with a 13-0 run. Washington scored 10 in the quarter, helping the Riders enter the fourth with a 86-65 lead. 

Surrey went down fighting in the final quarter, scoring seven straight to cut into the Riders lead. Despite the late charge, Leicester saw the game out confidently, keeping their advantage to double digits to secure their first win of the season. Crandall and Loving produced the play of the game to send Riders fans home happy. They ran the fast break together, with Crandall throwing the ball up high for Loving to slam down. 

The Riders now have a two-week break from BBL action, playing their next fixture on October 8th. They travel to Bristol to take on the Flyers, hoping for back to back wins in their BBL Cup group. 

Preview: Riders v Scorchers

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders opened their season with an 85-84 loss to the Bristol Flyers, featuring a hair-raising finale. Leicester had an open shot for the win, but Conner Washington’s three from the corner fell just short to conclude a thrilling season opener. Jubril Adekoya led the Riders with 15 points on his BBL debut; the 6’7” forward out of Valparaiso University going 7/12 from the floor in a terrific introduction to British Basketball. 

Season So Far – Scorchers 

After a short two-game preseason, including a win against Team Wales and a loss to the Manchester Giants, the Scorchers endured a tough start to their season with an 85-86 loss to the London Lions. Due to a Covid outbreak among the Lions squad, they fielded an NBL roster for the game yet managed to pull out a win against Surrey in the final second. Tayo Ogendengbe led the Scorchers with 24 points as he enters his seventh year with the Scorchers, as the 34-year-old turned back the clock to shoot 66% from the field. 

Ones to watch

Playing in his first Riders game of the season against the Flyers, 2021 BBL MVP Geno Crandall seemed back to his brilliant best. The general’s 14 points, five assists and four steals earned him Premier Logistic’s Player of the Game, and his influence was evident with a +/- of 10. The 6’0” guard played his Senior year in college at the prestigious Gonzaga University, once home to NBA legend John Stockton, and signed his first pro deal with Turi Svitavy in the Czech first division. Off the back of his MVP season, Crandall is sure to get Riders fans on their feet as they get their first opportunity to see his spectacular showings in person. 

After averaging 8 points for the Scorchers last year, Martelle Mclemore hit the ground running in his season opener with 19 points and eight rebounds. The 6’5” wing made a clutch layup to put his team up one with seven seconds remaining against the Lions, as he led the team with a +/- of eight. The 33-year-old played in Surrey for the Heat in 2013, averaging 17.5 points per game that season. He is capable of a monster performance in big moments, demonstrated by his 42 points, 10 rebounds and nine steals in the NBL National Sheild final in 2016 for the Thames Valley Cavaliers. 

Previous meetings

The Riders are undefeated in the last 29 competitive games against Surrey, with their previous defeat dating back to the 11th of November 2012. Their most recent win finished 90-87 in March. Geno Crandall led Leicester with a 22 point double-double, scoring 10 in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. 

Tickets 

Tickets are still available to watch the Riders take on the Scorchers, CLICK HERE to secure your seat!

Riders fall to Flyers

The Riders tipped off the new BBL season with a 85-84 loss to the Bristol Flyers: a thriller to open the BBL Cup group stage. The Riders had a last-second shot for the win, but Conner Washington’s corner three fell just short to leave Leicester empty-handed. 

Jubril Adekoya led the Riders in his BBL debut with 15 points. The 6’7” forward, who spent his last four seasons playing in Spain, was 7/12 from the field, including a clutch three to tie the game late. Darien Nelson-Henry had 14 points and eight rebounds in just 20 minutes, getting his season started with a solid showing.

Leicester continued to build chemistry, with Zack Jackson and last season’s BBL MVP Geno Crandall playing their first Riders games of the season. In 29 minutes, Crandall had 14 points, five assists and four steals, looking close to his brilliant best already with a +/- of 10. 

Josh Rodgers came up with what was ultimately Bristol’s game-winning three late in the fourth: his 16th points of the night. Trejon Jacob led the visitors with 21 points on his professional debut to get his side off to a winning start. 

The Riders burst out the gate, scoring seven points in 30 seconds to jump out to a lead. Crandall showcased his talents to the Riders’ crowd early in the game, launching a full-court pass to Nelson-Henry who laid in his first points of the season. The big man out of Penn State had the best of the early going, with five points and six rebounds in the first. 

Jackson ended the quarter in emphatic style, making a three-point play to cap off a 9-0 run. The Riders ended the first quarter up 23-14, earning a standing ovation at the buzzer. 

The Flyers showed fight in the second, seizing momentum with a 12-2 run. Mike Miller, who competed in the Netherlands for the Den Helder Suns last year, hit a three from the corner to make it a one-possession game. The teams entered the locker rooms with the hosts up 42-39.

Starting the second half, the Riders asserted their authority with a 9-3 run, led by Kimbal Mackenzie scoring four quick points. Mackenzie, who played alongside Mo Walker in Canada for the Guelph Nighthawks this summer, scored nine in the third to contribute to his 11 points and five assists in his BBL debut. 

The Flyers made big buckets in the third to keep the game balanced on a knife-edge entering the final period. Mo Walker’s free throws for his tenth points of the night made it a two-possession game, with the game poised at 68-63. 

With six minutes left, Malcolm Delpeche gave the Flyers their first lead of the night. With the hosts down five, captain Nelson-Henry checked in with five minutes remaining to guide Leicester through the clutch. Just two minutes after his substitution, the Riders were back on level terms, with the score tied at 80.

Leicester trailed 85-84 with 25 seconds on the clock, following a clutch three from Bristol’s Rodgers. Rodgers turned quickly from hero to zero, however, turning the ball over with a five-second violation with six seconds remaining, giving the Riders a chance for the win. They found an open shot, but Washington’s missed corner three ended the game.

The Riders have an opportunity to bounce back quickly, with the Morningside Arena hosting a doubleheader of BBL basketball this weekend. They face the Scorchers on Sunday, hoping to earn their first competitive win of the season. 

Leicester Riders partner with University of Leicester

Leicester Riders are proud of parter with University of Leicester as they look to defend their BBL Championship title in 2021/22.

Established in 1967 and therefore the UK’s oldest professional basketball team, the University is proud to serve as an official sponsor in its own Centenary year.

The partnership will see University branding, celebrating the 100th anniversary of our foundation, featured in the Riders programme, on their website, and courtside at their Morningside Arena home in Leicester.

Students and staff will also be able to make the most of discounted tickets for matches, internship opportunities, and to connect with the Riders players through events and activities.

Further collaboration between University and Leicester Riders is planned to enhance business engagement in the city that will lead to organisations benefiting from employment, innovation and research activities. The Morningside Arena has also previously played host to both men’s and women’s basketball and netball Varsity clashes.

Leicester Riders are one of the most successful teams in BBL history, with five men’s Championship Titles, plus five Play-off Titles, on their roll of honour. They have also lifted two BBL Cups and three BBL Trophies. The Riders’ women’s team has a further three WBBL Trophies and a WBBL Cup to their name.

Speaking about the partnership, Kevin Routledge, chair of Leicester Riders, said:

“We are delighted once again to partner with the University of Leicester, and all the more so in this historic year for the University. The interactions we are able to achieve across a wide range of activities is hugely beneficial to the club as well as the University students.

“It is a very important year for the Club, as we welcome back fans to the Morningside Arena after 18 months behind closed doors, and we look forward to the University of Leicester community being part of another successful Riders season.”

Martyn Riddleston, Chief Operating Officer at the University of Leicester, added:

“It truly is an honour for us to formalise our support of Leicester Riders in what could be a historic season for the team.

“As we celebrate our Centenary year, we have been keen to give back to the community which has supported the University in its first 100 years – and there’s no better way of doing that than by backing such a well-loved team.

“The Riders’ own #ForTheCity campaign is a message we feel strongly about, and so we look forward to cheering on our partners at the Morningside Arena this season.”

Leicester Riders start their season with a BBL Cup clash with Bristol Flyers at Morningside Arena this Friday 24 September 2021 (8.00pm). Find out more and book tickets at riders.basketball.

Preview: Riders v Flyers

Season So Far – Riders

Leicester concluded their preseason in Sheffield, falling to the Sharks 88-80. The game was closer than the scoreline suggested, with the encounter tied with a minute remaining. The Riders’ youth prospects from Charnwood and Loughborough were trusted to finish the game in the fourth, and repaid coach Rob Paternostro’s faith with a tremendous showing, pushing the Shark’s BBL lineup to the final few seconds. 

New addition Marc Loving led the scoring with 22 points, while Charnwood Rider Victor Ndoukou scored six points in the fourth quarter to keep the game close. 

Season So Far – Flyers

Competing in the Mike Burton invitational tournament, the Flyers endured a packed preseason schedule, playing four games in two days. In a competitive tournament, in which none of the Flyers’ fixtures were won by more than single digits, Bristol finished with a 1-3 record. They ended on a high, however, beating the Cheshire Pheonix 64-56. 

Michael Miller led the Flyers in the game with 18 points seven assists, and academy graduate Josh Rogers enjoyed a hot shooting streak, going four for four from three.  

Ones To Watch

Ohio born Marc Loving signed with the Riders during preseason, and hit the ground running on British soil. The 6’9” forward led Leicester with 22 points through three-quarters of playtime, never looking back after scoring 12 in the first quarter. Loving displayed his elite shooting ability, making buckets from all over the court. His versatility on both ends makes him a force to be feared in this tie. 

6’10” big man Zach Simmons joined the Flyers fresh off the back of leading North Texas to their first-ever NCAA tournament win. Simmons averaged 10 points and six rebounds in his senior year, in which a 78-69 overtime win made March Madness history for UNT. The Texas native is his University’s all-time leader in field goal percentage (64%) and finished his college career 16th on UNT’s all-time scoring list. 

Previous Meetings

The Riders last came up against the Flyers in the first round of last season’s playoffs, beating them 161-135 over the two legs. A convincing 85-56 win in the first leg put the tie beyond much doubt, with Geno Crandall, Mo Walker and Darien Nelson-Henry combining for 51 points. 

Buy Tickets

Tickets are still available to watch the Riders take on the Flyers in the season opener, CLICK HERE to secure your seat!

Report: Riders at Sharks

The Riders rounded off their preseason with a 88-80 loss to the Sheffield Sharks. After signing with Leicester during preseason, Marc Loving got his first taste of basketball on English soil. Ohio-born Loving led the team with 22 points in three-quarters of game time kicking off life in British basketball in emphatic fashion.

Loving began with a bang, scoring 12 in the first to get the Riders on the board. His highlight of the quarter: a smooth fadeaway from the free-throw line over 13-year Shark, Mike Tuck. Tuck led the game with 23 points, playing hard down low. The Sharks edged a tightly contested opening period 22-21, with former Loughborough Rider Lucien Christofis scoring to close out the quarter. 

The Riders kept it close in the second, despite an early run from the hosts which stretched their lead. Mo Walker continued his hot preseason, scoring seven in the half as he battled with new Sharks addition Marcus Delpeche in the paint. Delpeche, who averaged 13.5 points and 7.7 rebounds for the Bristol Flyers last season, was held to five points in the first half against Walker’s stifling interior defence. The Riders entered the locker room down 44-38, with Loughborough’s Victor Ndoukou’s free-throws ending the half. 

Captain Darien Nelson-Henry opened the second half explosively, throwing down a monster jam over Delpeche for a three-point play. The Penn State graduate’s highlight injected momentum into the Riders, who took a narrow lead early in the third. Loving’s offensive form continued late in the third, scoring seven in the period which ended 66-64 in the Shark’s favour. 

Delpeche fouled out early in the fourth quarter, as coach Rob Paternostro turned to his youth to close the game. With a lineup consisting of Loughborough and Charnwood prospects, Leicester fought the Shark’s BBL lineup to the final minute, with the game tied at 80 with 60 seconds on the clock. Ndoukou led the Riders in the fourth with six points, driving to the rim repeatedly and finishing strongly against tough defence.

“Victor over the four or five preseason games that we’ve played has shown us something. He’s a guy that can fill in if we need him” said Coach Rob post-game. 

The hosts hit shots down the stretch to seal the win, but were pushed all the way by the Riders’ young stars spectacularly. 

Paternostro also commented on Loving’s breakout game: “We know he has that kind of talent. He can really shoot the ball and play defence, and I think as he gets more comfortable with the system, the surroundings and the players we’re gonna see some good stuff from him”.

This fixture was the Riders final preseason outing. They tip-off their season on Friday 24th September, hosting the Bristol Flyers in the BBL Cup.

Pre Season Preview: Riders at Sharks

Preseason So far – Riders

The Riders return from their trip to the Netherlands, where they gained valuable experience against dutch side Donar Groningen. In their four preseason games, the Riders new roster, featuring new additions Kimbal Mackenzie, Patrick Whelan and Jubril Adekoya, has been gelling with valuable playtime. Whelan impressed in the second of the two games against Donar, earning the Premier Logistics Player of the Game after a 17 point performance. 

Preseason So Far – Sharks 

This game will be the Sharks first opportunity to see their new roster in action. New additions Marcus Delpeche, Joe Jnr Mvuezolo, Aaron Anderson and Jonathan Williams will be unveiled in front of a home crowd at Ponds Forge for the first time this season. They look to build chemistry before their first game against the Cheshire Phoenix. 

Ones To Watch

Mo Walker has been in fine form of late after a strong playoff run at the end of last season. In the opening two preseason fixtures, the 6’10” big man earned Premier Logistics Player of the Game honours, averaging 22.5 points and nine rebounds. Canadian-born, Walker averaged 11 points and 7.5 rebounds in last year’s playoffs, and will hope to continue his dominance this season. 

This offseason, the Sharks announced the arrival of 6’7” forward Marcus Delpeche from the Bristol Flyers. Delpeche averaged 13.5 points and 7.7 rebounds for the Flyers last season, as the 25-year-old lit up the BBL with his speed and athleticism. The Bates college graduate averaged 15 points per game in his senior year, and looks to continue his upward trend in his fourth BBL season. 

Previous Meeting 

Love was in the air last time the sides met, with their previous fixture taking place on Valentines Day. The Riders took home the flowers, winning 107-93 on the road as captain Darien Nelson-Henry led the Riders with 23 points. 

Next Up

Riders return to action at the Morningside Arena next weekend when they face the Bristol Flyers and Surrey Scorchers in a double header to get their BBL Cup campaign underway, CLICK HERE to buy tickets.

Leicester Riders & Bentley Project Management Renew Partnership

Leicester Riders and the Bentley Project Management have renewed their partnership for Bentley Project Management to again sponsor the reigning BBL Champions for the 2021/22 season.

The Riders are one of the most successful teams in BBL history and have one of the top basketball academies in the country, as well as a large community engagement programme through their charity, the Leicester Riders Foundation. They also offer a range of corporate facilities at the Morningside Arena.

Mr. Jonathon Bentley, Managing Director of Bentley Project Management, was pleased to be extending his support to the Riders,

The Riders provide great family sporting entertainment and are doing excellent work in the community, and we are delighted to be helping support that work.”

“Our staff and customers all relish the unique atmosphere at Riders games and look forward returning to see them in action after more than a year away.”

“The fact we can also play our part in helping the Riders to invest in upgrading the facilities at the arena is something we are very proud to do.”

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

The Riders are delighted to work with Jonathon and his team as one of our commercial partners. 

“The club, Foundation and Arena has gone through very challenging times over the last eighteen months due to Covid, and it is great that Bentleys have increased their support to us at this critical time. We look forward to crowds returning to the Morningside Arena for the new season, along with our corporate partners.”

Leicester Riders Game Day Update

We are delighted to welcome Riders fans back to the Morningside Arena for the 2021 / 2022 BBL season and would like to update you on what has been happening behind the scenes since the last BBL game with fans in March 2020.

Refurbished Box Office

We have built a brand-new Box Office area in the main entrance to the Arena, including a new reception counter, new flooring throughout and turned the existing reception into a barista style café.

A significant element of this development is the installation of our new ticketing system – Total Tickets. This is a sophisticated system through which we manage our whole back of house operation and box office. The integrated turnstile and gate ensure we control access into the Arena and the handheld ticket scanners give us live attendance reports, as well as being important to your health & safety.

Event Entry

For the next period, entry to all events, including Riders fixtures, is through the Event entrance on the east side of the arena near Memory Lane through a temporary marquee. There is signage from the Arena entrance and crowd barriers in place to manage potential queues.

Please make sure you have your ticket ready to be scanned at the entrance – there will be no access to the game without an e-ticket. Ticket purchases, collections and enquiries can be made at the Box Office, and then entry to the game is via the Event entrance near the top of Memory Lane.

Keeping you safe

Throughout the gradual reopening of the Arena we have, in line with government guidance and advice from the Local Authority, kept strict measures in place with regards to Covid-19 safety. We have gained Covid Secure status from the Local Authority for the work we have done, and your comfort and safety remain our top priority.

We have sanitizing stations around the Arena and touch points are minimized, where possible. There are safety signs inside and outside the arena.

We have also installed additional doors in the main corridors to aid one-way flow.

We do recommend the use of face coverings when you are entering or exiting the arena, and to be mindful of social distancing when inside the Arena.

Access to Granby stand is now via the walkway behind Castle stand in the main arena, and not via the corridor – the corridor is being retained for players and officials only for safety reasons.

Food & Beverage

We have installed facilities in the external marquee to allow for improved social distancing.

We have also installed tables in the marquee for your enjoyment of the facilities. Additional food & beverage outlets in the main Arena will be added later.

We will also provide a live feed of the game in the marquee while you are queueing or at a table. Smoking can take place outside the marquee.


Toilet Facilities

We have built new toilet facilities (male & female) in the main Arena hall, in both of the old bars’ at the Granby and Victory corners, and these will be the facilities available for your use on gamedays. Access to the main corridor beyond the points of entry into the Arena near the Torr Waterfield stand are restricted to players and officials only.

Additional Barriers

We have installed some additional barriers for the time being in front of the Torr Waterfield Stand to protect the players and officials, as they are essential to the competition. These arrangements may vary as and when public health advice changes.

Parking

We strongly advise people to use public transport when attending events at the Arena. We do have limited parking available, on site, that is mainly for players, officials, staff and sponsors, and season ticket holders on a first come first served basis. However, there are additional facilities at many business locations on Charter Street and in the Leicester College parking facilities.

Please reference parking details on Riders or Arena websites.

New Stand Sponsor

We are delighted that Torr Waterfield Accountants have agreed to sponsor the Victory stand. It will be called the Torr Waterfield stand henceforth in all our Riders and Arena communications and ticketing.

Security & Stewards

We will have security and stewards to assist with car park, entrance and also within the arena. Along with Arena staff, these are fully briefed on revised spectator flows, and are in place to ensure everyone has an enjoyable experience but also to ensure that the safety guidelines are adhered to. Due to the numerous changes made as detailed above we would appreciate that any guidance they offer is followed.

And………most importantly…………………………………………………………do enjoy the game!!

Riders face tough test in Groningen

Leicester Riders came through two tough pre-season tests on Friday night and Sunday afternoon at Donar Groningen in the Netherlands, the Dutch side winning both 70-59 and 90-72.

Without American imports MVP Geno Crandall and Zach Jackson, the games provided an opportunity for new signing American forward Marc Loving to bed into the team, and to provide invaluable minutes for young players Justin Hedley and Victor Ndoukou, while hardening up the rest of the team, ahead of the new BBL season which starts in just under two weeks.

Having beaten a USA Select team on last Wednesday night, Rob Paternostro’s side were back in action 48 hours later in a tight gym in the neighbouring town of Wildervank on Friday night, having travelled to Groningen on Thursday. The Dutch side has quality European pedigree, having handily beaten Bakken Bears recently, Bakken having been too strong for Riders in Leicester’s only Champions League campaign to date three seasons ago.

On Friday night, Donar made the early head way running up an 8-0 lead, but Riders soon found their rhythm, with Kimbal Mackenzie and latterly Mo Walker drawing the Riders back into contention. The home side edged the first quarter 14-10, and in a tight defensive affair the home side was narrowly ahead 29-26 at halftime. The second quarter saw Conner Washington dominating the ball and keeping Riders in contention as found his range from beyond the arc.

Early in the third quarter, Riders found their rhythm, with Washington again dominant and combining well with Canadian guard Kimbal Mackenzie. Indeed, Riders were up 41-39 with 3.44 left in the quarter, but finally the home side started to use their strength in depth, and they closed out the quarter with a 10 to nil run, to lead 49-41 going into the final quarter. 

The final quarter saw both sides rotate their squads with the teams due to meet again 40 hours later, and Riders never threatened the Donar lead.

Washington finished up Rider’s top scorer with 15 points including 3 of 6 three pointers, while MacKenzie had a fine all-around game with 10 points, 3 rounds and 3 assists. Patrick Whelan added 11 points, including 2 of 3 three pointers. Riders were over-powered on the boards 41 to 29, with Donar scoring 15 second chance points, which proved decisive. 

On Sunday afternoon, in the more impressive surroundings of Donar’s normal home venue of the MartiniPlaza, with a capacity of 4,500, Riders took an early 5-3 lead. But the Dutch came roaring back with 3 three pointers by American shooting guard Austin Luke, which helped the home side to a 19-12 first quarter lead.

Riders were struggling to find their shooting touch and were put under severe defensive pressure by the physical Donar team and shot just 34% in the first half, including 2 of 10 from beyond the arc, and trailed 43-29 at halftime.

Washington was held scoreless in the first half but nailed two three pointers in the third quarter as Rider’s offence sparked to life and Walker made inroads inside. The home side just edged the third quarter 26-25 in a high tempo and high-quality period.

Washington and Patrick Whelan were both finding their shooting range in the final period, but Donar always had a response and Riders never threatened the home side’s lead.

Whelan led Riders with 17 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists, including 3 of 6 three pointers, and Washington scored 15 points, including 4 of 6 three pointers, along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists. 

Walker added 12 points and 6 rebounds. Donar’s greater strength in depth was again decisive, as they had 41 points from their bench, while Riders had just 14.

Riders begin their BBL Cup campaign at the Morningside Arena when they face the Bristol Flyers on Friday 24th September, CLICK HERE to buy tickets!

Riders are Loving it!

Leicester Riders have today confirmed the signing of American forward Marc Loving. Loving, who has played in the NBA G-League for Delaware BlueCoats and Agua Caliente Clippers, has flown in direct to the Netherlands for the Riders games with Donar Groningen.

The 6’9” power forward is due to make his debut in tonight’s pre-season game.

“I’m super excited to be joining the Riders this season,” commented Loving. “I am looking forward to competing for a championship this season with my new teammates.”

Head Coach Rob Paternostro commented: “We are excited to have Mark on board, he is a talented player who has competed at a very high level at Ohio State and in the NBA G-league.”

“He has good size and length, and his versatility allows him to play multiple positions which should fit into our roster very well.”

“He is an excellent shooter, with great range and with his size and length can get his shot off over defenders.”

Loving joins the 2021-22 squad as the fourth American signing alongside Darien Nelson-Henry, Geno Crandall and Zach Jackson after it was confirmed that William Lee would not be returning to the Riders this season due to personal reasons he has decided to retire. Everyone at the Riders would like to wish Will all the best for the future.

Riders open pre-season with win

Riders tipped their preseason off with a 144-69 win in the traditional Red vs Purple matchup, where they hosted feeder club Loughborough Riders of the NBL. Mo Walker led Leicester in a dominant 27 points and 11 rebound performance, while Patrick Whelan scored 21 in his Riders debut.

For the first time in over a year, Riders fans filled the Morningside Arena to applaud the league champions on to the court. Their support was rewarded with a first glimpse of this season’s squad, with new additions Kimbal Mackenzie, Jubril Adekoya and Whelan all starting.

Whelan made a lively start to Leicester life, draining two threes in the first period to establish an early lead. The William Jewell graduate drained two threes to start the game, with the ball looking good every time it left his hands. The hosts were firing from deep in the first quarter, making five attempts to end the period up 29-23.

Loughborough kept the game competitive for significant stints. It was a two-point game midway through the second before a 19 point Leicester run closed out the half strong. Mackenzie’s no-look pass to captain Darien Nelson-Henry gave him an easy look inside to stretch the lead to 11, before five Leicester steals in the final two minutes of the half helped them to a 21 point lead entering the locker rooms.

Leicester continued to build their lead in the second half, courtesy of nine quick points from Walker. The big man went four for four to start the third quarter, showcasing his versatility by draining a shot from deep, getting easy points in transition and backing down opponents inside. 17 of Leicester’s 24 third-quarter points were scored between Walker and Conner Washington, who finished the game with 19, as they entered the final period up 89-44.

Leicester closed out the tie comfortably. Walker continued his dominance, scoring six in the fourth before checking out with six minutes left. Adekoya produced the play of the game on his Riders debut, pulling down a rebound before slinging a full-court outlet pass to Charnwood prospect Louie Jordan for an open dunk. A 25-15 fourth quarter sealed a Leicester win.

The Riders continue their preseason on Wednesday, suiting up in their annual game against USA Select at home.

Pre-season home games announced

Leicester Riders have confirmed two home pre-season fixtures as Rob Paternostro’s side prepare for the 2021-22 BBL season.

Riders fans will get there first chance to get a glimpse of this seasons’ squad in the traditional RED v PURPLE game when Leicester host feeder side Loughborough Riders of the NBL.

The game will take place at 8pm on Friday 3 September at the Morningside Arena.

Riders have also announced their annual fixture with USA Select will take place on Wednesday 8 September at 7.30pm. The USA side are made up of touring American players hoping to gain a contract over in Europe.

Season ticket holders who purchase a USA Select game will receive a FREE ticket to the Loughborough Riders game.

Tickets can be purchased online for both Loughborough Riders and USA Select games.

Ndoukou named in Riders roster

British young gun Victor Ndoukou has been named to the Leicester Riders roster for the 2021-22 season.

Ndoukou, who is studying at Loughborough College, will also represent Charnwood and Loughborough Riders following on from last season.

“I’m excited to be part of the Riders roster again this season,” reflected Victor.

“Being able to compete with professional players everyday will help my development and I am grateful for the opportunity. I am really looking to push on and take my opportunities when they come.”

Head Coach Rob Paternostro commented:

“Victor is a very talented young player with good size and the ability to play inside and out.” 

“Competing against professionals everyday last season was really beneficial to  his game and we believe that he is a player that can do great things in the future.“

Riders will get their pre-season underway on September 8, before heading to the Netherlands for two games against Donar Groningen.

Riders confirm dutch trip

Leicester Riders have confirmed they will travel to Holland to face Donar Groningen as part of their pre-season.

Donar played in the Basketball Champions League qualifiers and FIBA Europe Cup last season and will act as a good test for Rob Paternostro’s men.

“Pre-season is a vital part of our preparations for the new season and we are excited to be able to head to Holland to face Groningen,” confirmed Managing Director Russell Levenston.

“These games are not only great for us ahead of the new BBL season but have acted as a good test and learning experience for us with a view to re-entering European competition in the future.”

Riders will face Donar twice on the trip on September 10 at 6.30pm (UK time) and September 12 at 1pm (UK time).

It is also expected that Riders fans will get their first opportunity to see the team at home on September 8 ahead of the trip to the Netherlands.

Riders add Mackenzie to roster

Riders have added combo guard Kimbal Mackenzie to their roster for the 2021-22 season.

Mackenzie, who’s been playing this summer in the CEBL alongside Rider Mo Walker and former Rider Corey Johnson, has signed a one year deal in Leicester after spending two seasons in Spain in LEB Gold.

“I’m so excited to be joining Leicester. I can’t wait to get to the UK for the first time, to get to know my teammates and the coaches, and to start building towards a championship,” commented Mackenzie.

“I’ve followed the team and heard great things about the program, coach Rob (Paternostro), and the overall culture of Leicester basketball. I’m looking forward to being a part of this winning program.”

Head Coach Rob Paternostro commented:

“We are looking forward to working with Kimbal, he is a really talented player that we have followed since his time at Bucknell. John Griffin, one of our former players coached him there and we spoke about him often. On the court and off the court we have heard great things.”

“He is a combo guard who can be very dangerous with the ball in his hands… but has also been very effective in college and in Spain at playing off the ball.”

“Kimbal has the ability to score in many ways and has a good understanding of how to read the defence in order to make plays. He has good experience in a good LEB Gold league in Spain and joins a team with a lot of experienced players.“

Hedley back with Riders

Guard Justin Hedley returns to the Riders for the 2021-22 season after making his debut for the club last season. Hedley who is studying at Loughborough University will be in Rob Paternostro’s twelve for this season.

“I’m excited to be a part of the Riders for another season. We’re all really looking forward to meeting with the fans again,” reflected Justin. “I’m really grateful for the opportunity that both the Riders and Loughborough University have given me.”

“Justin is a young player that continues to put the work in to improve, we have been really impressed with his work ethic,” commented Head Coach Rob Paternostro. 

“He has had a great summer working hard with our strength and conditioning team.” 

“He has great size and strength at the guard position, and has shown great ability to defend on the perimeter.”

Hedley has a dual citizenship having a British passport alongside his German heritage. Riders Managing Director Russell Levenston spoke of the partnership with Loughborough University:

“We are really happy to have Justin with us again next season. We have a great partnership with Loughborough University and we are able to provide players like Justin with a professional environment alongside his studies.”

“His attitude and work ethic last year has earned him a spot on our roster again this term.”

2021-22 fixtures released

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

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

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

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

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

Riders head South for BBL Cup

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders add Jubril Adekoya to roster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Season tickets now on open sale!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jackson returns to Riders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders confirm departing players

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

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

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

Riders sign Patrick Whelan

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

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

The Warrington-born star is keen to get started…

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

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

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

Head Coach Rob Paternostro commented:

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

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

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

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

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

2022 Cup Finals Tickets on Sale

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

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

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

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

Conner signs new deal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Riders HYPE Event 2021

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

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

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

A full schedule is below!

Morningside Arena announces plans for 1,200 metres squared extension

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you Jamell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paying tribute Head Coach Rob Paternostro commented:

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

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

Managing Director Russell Levenston commented:

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

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

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

*According to stats on record.

Torr Waterfield & Riders extend partnership

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BBL launches Community Wellness hub

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

William Lee back as a Rider

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greg Wild signs first professional contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walker signs new two-year deal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Captain Darien looking forward to new season

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

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

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

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

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

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

Geno signs back!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paternostro signs new multi-year deal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders Awards 2021

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

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

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

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

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

MVP – sponsored by Lumbers
Geno Crandall

Captains Log: An amazing season with an amazing team

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

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

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

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

All the best,

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: Proud of what we achieved this season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Geno crowned BBL MVP!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rob wins BBL Coach of the Year

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

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

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

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

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

Riders knocked out of Playoffs by Eagles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders

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

Eagles

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

Playoff Semi Final Preview: Riders v Eagles Second Leg

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

Season So Far – Riders

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

Season So Far – Eagles

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

How To Watch

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

And finally… Meet the Champions

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

BOOK YOUR SLOT

Join us on Wednesday 19th May for…

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

Photos with the Trophy

Meet and greet the players

Autograph and photo opportunities

Exclusive merchandise offers

Grab and go snacks available

A chance to tell us your thoughts and ask any questions

One way system in operation

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

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

BOOK YOUR SLOT

Riders take narrow lead into second leg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders

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

Eagles

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

Play Semi Final Preview: Riders v Eagles First Leg

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

Season So Far – Riders

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

Season So Far – Eagles

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Meeting 

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

How To Watch

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

Captains Log: On to the Semi Finals

On to the Semi Finals!

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

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

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

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

You Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: A very professional job over two legs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders through to Semi Finals after defeating Flyers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders

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

Flyers

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

Playoff Quarter Final Preview: Riders v Flyers Second Leg

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

Season So Far – Riders

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

Season So Far – Flyers

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Metting

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

How to Watch

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

Riders defeat Flyers in Quarter Final first leg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders

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

Flyers

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

Playoff Quarter Final Preview: Riders v Flyers First Leg

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

Season so Far – Riders 

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

Season so Far – Flyers

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

How To Watch

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

BBL & Riders join social-media boycott

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

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

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

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

Riders face Flyers in QF

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

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

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

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

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

Captains Log: We got it done!

I will keep this one short and sweet everyone…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders crowned League Champions after defeating Phoenix

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phoenix

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

Riders

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

Preview: Riders at Phoenix

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

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

Season So Far – Phoenix

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

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

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

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

Season So Far – Phoenix

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

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

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

How to Watch

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

Riders defeat Rocks after strong fourth quarter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders

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

Rocks

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

Preview: Riders v Rocks

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

Season So Far – Riders

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

Season So Far – Rocks

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous meeting

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

How To Watch

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

Riders fall short against Lions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May Madness Fan Pack Giveaway!

MAY MADNESS ULTIMATE FAN PACK GIVEAWAY – TERMS & CONDITIONS

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders at Lions

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

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

Season So Far – Lions

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

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

Ones to watch

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

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

Previous meetings

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

How to Watch

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

Captains Log: Ready to put our best foot forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: We need to react the right way

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

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

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

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

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

BBL announce May Madness!

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

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

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

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

Riders fall to Eagles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eagles

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

Riders

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

Preview: Riders at Eagles

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

Season so Far – Riders

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

Season So Far – Eagles

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

Ones to Watch

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

How To Watch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excited and thankful for all the continued support!

Your captain, Darien Nelson-Henry 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders defeat Raiders in Overtime

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders v Raiders

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

Season So Far – Riders

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

Season So Far – Raiders

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

Ones to Watch

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

How To Watch

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

Impressive defence leads Riders to victory over Wolves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wolves

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

Riders

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

Preview: Riders at Wolves

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

Season So Far – Riders

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

Season So Far – Wolves

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

How To Watch

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

Captains Log: Time to make our push

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope to see you all soon!

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: One game at a time

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders earn Easter Sunday win over Giants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giants

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

Riders

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

Preview: Riders at Giants

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

Season so Far – Riders 

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

Season so Far – Giants

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

How To Watch

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

Captains Log: It’s a learning experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: The race for the Playoffs is heating up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ball Out 3×3 dates confirmed

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

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

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

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

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

Finals
14 & 15 August – London, Finsbury Park

Details about Ball Out entries will be released very soon.

Ball Out CEO Julius Josephs said:

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

Pro basketball player and Ball Out veteran Orlan Jackman said:

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

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

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

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

Basketball England Technical and Talent manager Steve Bucknall said:

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

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

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

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

Ball Out competition categories:

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

Riders fall to Flyers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders

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

Flyers

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

Preview: Riders v Flyers

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

Season So Far – Riders 

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

Season So Far – Flyers 

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

Ones to Watch 

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

How To Watch

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

Riders beat Flyers on the road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders at Flyers

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

Season So Far – Riders

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

Season So Far – Flyers

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

How to Watch

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

Strong fourth quarter sees Riders defeat Phoenix

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders v Phoenix

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

Season So Far – Riders

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

Season So Far – Phoenix 

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

How to Watch

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

Captains Log: Focusing on improvement

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

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

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

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

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

Your captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: We know what we have to do

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

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

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

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

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

Riders grind out win against Scorchers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders v Scorchers

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

Season So Far – Riders

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

Season So Far – Scorchers 

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

Ones To Watch 

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

How To Watch

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

Captains Log: A season defining weekend

A huge weekend for the Riders!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: A long way to go

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strong defence leads Riders to victory over Lions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders

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

Lions

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

Preview: Riders v Lions

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

Season So Far – Riders

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

Season So Far – Lions 

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

How to Watch

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

Riders defeat Eagles to get back to winning ways

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eagles

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

Riders

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

Glencar extends Riders partnership

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders at Eagles

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

Season So Far – Riders

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

Season So Far – Eagles

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

How To Watch

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

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

Captains Log: Looking forward to this coming weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: A huge week ahead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders fall to Phoenix at the buzzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phoenix

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

Riders

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

Preview: Riders at Phoenix

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

Season So Far – Riders

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

Season So Far – Phoenix

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

How To Watch

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

Captains Log: Highs and lows

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

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

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

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

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

Your captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: Consistency will be key

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wolves snap Riders win streak in an overtime thriller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wolves

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

Riders

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

Preview: Riders at Wolves

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

Season So Far – Riders

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

Season So Far – Wolves

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

Ones to Watch

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

How To Watch

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

Corey Johnson’s clutch three seals victory over Wolves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders

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

Wolves

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

Preview: Riders v Wolves

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

Season So Far – Riders 

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

Season so far – Wolves

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

Ones to watch

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

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

Previous meeting

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

How to watch

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

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

Heron excited to get going

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

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

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

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

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

Heron joins Riders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Captains Log: Another great week for Riders

It was another great week for the Riders! 

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

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

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

All in all, another great weekend for The Riders. We are looking forward to a longer week of practice, as it feels like we’ve been playing an NBA schedule as of late. We are also looking forward to the double-header against Worcester this weekend, with a home Sky game to start it all off. Whoever they bring out surely won’t do as good a job as our very own Geno Crandall up in Newcastle last Friday night. 

Once again, thank you for the continued support! And as always, Go Riders!

Your captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: I’m delighted with our performances

We got a couple of nice wins in the last week and I was delighted with the performances.

Whenever we play Newcastle it is always a big occasion, and I was pleased with the response from the team. It is always a tough, tight affair when we play them, but I thought we responded very well with everything they threw at us. The fact they were without Justin Gordon meant it was a real opportunity for us, and we needed to take advantage.

I thought we had more energy than them, but it was not a perfect game for us by any means. When we can get Darien going this season it is always a huge plus, and it was very efficient all night keeping the pressure on their big guys. It was a great birthday present for him. In these games you always have to play to the last minute, and I thought we did that very well.

Against the Giants on Sunday, we went into that game with our previous match-up at the front of our thinking. It is not often we give up over 100 points to an opponent, so we knew we had to learn from that experience.We knew we had to be better on defence, and more intelligent on how we responded to their tactics. Credit to them, the Giants made some big shots in the first half, but we felt good about it, because they were under pressure doing it.

At halftime, when we talked about it, we knew we could wear them down, and we played a lot smarter. Geno Crandall was on three fouls, but still pretty fresh, so he was always going to be a handful in the second half.Without William Lee, it gave more of an opportunity to Jamell Anderson, and he is perfect for the situation. He did not put up a lot of points, but he was tremendous on defence, marking four positions at various times. And Geno in the second half does what Geno does, putting tremendous pressure on the Giants every time the ball is in his hands. Corey Johnson hit big shots when we needed him, and our interior players took it to the basket.I was particularly pleased for Ali Fraser because he got a good run and showed what he can do. We got contributions from a lot of guys which is really important.

A commanding second half sees Riders conquer Giants

Corey Johnson went off for 24 points with five threes to lead the team to a 91-77 win against the Giants. Corey Johnson, Geno Crandall and Dairen Nelson-Henry each scored in double-digits, combining for 57 points. The trio have now scored 184 of the Riders 281 points over the last three games, to help Leicester stretch their league winning streak to ten. This streak has catapulted the Riders to the best record in the BBL, with the win moving the Riders to a 13-1 record, six points clear at the top of the table. 

It wasn’t smooth sailing throughout, however, with Justin Satchell in his bag early for Manchester. He followed up his 25 point Giants debut in his previous game with a 15 point first half, to keep the game close by halftime. Bulgarian international Alex Ouande, who averaged 20 points a game in Italy last season, also had a big game for the Giants, scoring a season-high 20 points off the bench. 

The Riders set the defensive tone early, with Jamal Anderson getting a block and a steal on the first two Giants possessions. However, the first quarter developed into a battle between the Riders frontcourt and the Giants backcourt. Sam Cassel Jnr, son of three-time NBA champion Sam Cassell Snr, and Satchell went off early, making multiple tough shots off the dribble over Riders defenders to help Manchester jump out to a 10 point lead. They had 17 of the Giants 23 first-quarter points. 

The Riders responded with play from Nelson-Henry and Ali Fraser, who started out aggressive down low. They had six points each in the first quarter, both with their back to the basket playing bully ball at the rim. The big men led Leicester back into the game to end the quarter just three points down. Nelson-Henry had a dominant game on the glass in the absence of the Giants’ starting big man Breaon Brady.

Corey Johnson took over the tie to start the second, scoring seven points in the first two and a half minutes of the quarter to lead the Riders on a 13-3 run. The Riders took their first lead of the game, but the Giants kept the score close, going into the half with the Riders up 40-41. 

After being sidelined for much of the first half due to foul trouble, it was Crandall’s turn to run the offence coming out of the half. He had nine points in the third quarter, including two and-one plays, to earn the Riders some breathing room. They went into the final quarter up eight, a lead they would not surrender. 

Leicester kicked on from a strong third quarter, stretching the lead to double digits and never looking back. With Giants big-man David Ulph in foul trouble, the Riders attacked the rim to great effect to see the game home. Crandall put an exclamation point on the win, reaching the 20 point mark by throwing a huge dunk over Giants’ young star Franklin Agu. 

The win strengthens the Riders’ position at the top of the table, as they head home to play the Worcester Wolves on Sky Sports on Friday. 

Riders

Johnson 24, Crandall 21, Nelson-Henry 12, Fraser 11, Anderson 7, Jackson 7 Washington 5, Falzon 4

Giants

Ouandie 20, Satchell 17, Cassell Jr 12, Whelan 7, Ulph 6, Powell 5

Preview: Riders at Giants

Season So Far – Riders

A hard-fought victory at home to the Eagles in their last game put the Riders four points clear at the top of the BBL Championship table, with a 12-1 record. Holding their opponents to 75.8 points per game, their defence is the best in the league, and it was on full display in their last games. Riders held the third-best offence in the league to 75 points, suffocating their opponents by playing up on the perimeter players and making everything difficult. This style of high-pressure defence results in a lot of steals for the Riders, allowing their athletic stars to shine on the fast break. 

Season So For- Giants

The Giants come off the back of a commanding 20 point blowout win to the Worcester Wolves on Friday night, breaking a five-game league losing streak. Four Giants players scored in double digits, led by 25 points from Justin Satchell, to bring their record to 6-8. They sit seventh in the BBL Championship and will hope to put together a string of good performances, to solidify their position in a playoff spot. 

Ones to watch

Against the Eagles in his most recent game, Aaron Falzon had his season-high of ten points, draining key threes to keep his team in control of the game. Falzon spent four years at college in the NCAA Division 1, with three years at Northwestern, averaging nine points per game in his freshman year, before transferring to Quinnipiac for his senior year, where he averaged eight points per game. Playing in his first pro year, Falzon is a stretch four who can shoot the ball with great efficiency. He is shooting 39% from three on the year, and his length and quickness make him an asset on the defensive side of the floor also. Falzon will hope to build off his season high performance with another big game in this one. 

Breaon Brady has been a dominant force inside for the Giants, averaging a double-double on the season. Graduating out of Houston College in the NCAA Division 1, Brady plays bully-ball under the basket, generating his offence in the post, with a jump-hook he can hit from deep outside the restricted area. Should he be double-teamed, he has great passing ability out the post, and he’s is a great rebounder too, averaging 11 a game to go with his 17 points. An undersized big-man, Brady can move his feet quickly to guard smaller defenders and get across to help defensively and come up with huge blocks at the rim. Meanwhile, his strength allows him to out muscle bigger defenders in the post, and for offensive rebounds, averaging three a game this season. 

Previous meeting 

The most recent clash between the two sides occurred 16 days previous, and resulted in a 116-109 Riders win. In the high scoring affair, the Riders had two players with over 20 points, with Geno Crandall leading the way with 26, and tremendous 15 assists, his season-high in both categories. Meanwhile, the Giants had two players with 29+ points, most noticeably, Jordan Whelan, who achieved his season-high also. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

BBL has funding confirmed

The British Basketball League (BBL) have had significant funding confirmed in the latest round of funding from the Sports Winter Survival Package.

This is the second tranche of funding to be announced from the Government’s £300 million Sport Winter Survival Package that is focused on helping those major spectator sports severely impacted by coronavirus restrictions survive the winter.

The funding package has allowed the BBL and WBBL to undertake the 2020/ 21 season, with the leagues playing consistently since early November behind closed doors, with the outcomes of the BBL and WBBL Cup Finals, already determined. In addition, the respective Championship campaigns are already proving evidence they will be amongst the most competitive and exciting ever.

BBL Chairman Sir Rodney Walker said:

“We were very pleased with the outcome from our negotiations, which will go a very long way to sustaining the top flight of our great game, and to sustaining our associated community programmes.”

“We know the Government recognizes the impact of basketball, and the work of many BBL WBBL Clubs, through their Foundations and Community Interest Companies, goes well beyond sport. These activities by our Clubs go to the heart of the challenges faced by our young people in our disadvantaged communities, including related to physical activity, healthy eating, education related, social cohesion and mental health.”

“This support will be very important in sustaining these programmes when the Covid pandemic is behind us. The BBL would also like to thank the hard work by various DCMS and Sport England staff, who we know worked tirelessly to get to a position that the funding provided could be properly justified.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

“We are committed to helping our treasured sports through these challenging times. And today’s announcement is more evidence of our support for them.

“This targeted funding will enable sports to keep playing and inspire many more stars of the future.”

Chair of the independent Board, Sir Ian Cheshire said:

“Following thorough conversations with each party to assess their individual needs, the Independent Board is pleased to be able to confirm a substantial package of survival funding for netball, badminton, basketball and women’s football, totalling over £10 million.

“For those confirmed as recipients of support as part of this second tranche, this funding is vital in helping keep their respective clubs and leagues operational at this time.”

Strong fourth quarter leads Riders to victory over Eagles

The Riders continued their fine form in the BBL Championship with a 83-75 win against the second placed Newcastle Eagles. In a balanced team performance, Leicester had contributions from all over the court, with four players scoring in double-digits. Darien Nelson-Henry continued his hot form, with 20 points on his birthday. 

The birthday boy was at his best, leading the team in points for the second straight game. He dominated the paint, recording a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds, going 10-15 from the floor. The big-man came up big in the clutch with six points down the stretch to seal the victory for Leicester. 

The game was fast-paced, with both teams keen to get out and run the fast break. This was made possible through turnovers from both sides, as the defensive intensity matched the intensity of the fixture. Geno Crandall was especially active early, with two steals in the first quarter alone. The quickness of the game allowed him to shine on the fast break, kicking the ball ahead for open looks before the Eagles defence could set. Crandall stuffed the stat-sheet, performing in all areas of the game. He had 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, along with three steals. 

The Eagles made the game competitive until late, pushing the Riders all the way led by two-time BBL MVP Rahmon Fletcher. He led the game with his 25 points and had eight assists to go with them, running the offence to get his teammates open looks.  

The Riders, in typical fashion, started quickly, jumping out to a 13-6 lead, finding their offensive rhythm feeding Nelson-Henry down low. They had success in the paint, relentlessly attacking the rim for easy points. Despite the good start, the Eagles hung in the game by getting to the free-throw line often, eventually taking the lead 20-18 by the end of the first quarter. 

As has become a Rider tradition this season, William Lee came up with an emphatic play to get the Riders bench on their feet: a huge putback dunk midway through the second quarter. But the play of the game came from Crandall later in the quarter, who opened his full bag of tricks for a highlight play. He went between his legs to freeze his defender, before throwing a behind the back, no-look pass to the cutting Nelson-Henry for the easy two. The second quarter went back and forth, with five lead changes, and the teams went into the half all square at 39-39. 

The second half followed a similar trend, with neither team able to establish a clear lead. However, checking into the game midway through the final quarter, Crandall and Nelson-Henry took the reigns for the Riders with 14 fourth-quarter points between them. The Eagles had no answer for their key buckets down the stretch, which secured the win for Leicester. 

The Riders win takes their record to 12-1, further stretching their lead at the top of the BBL Championship. They head to Manchester on Sunday hoping to continue their nine-game league winning streak. 

Riders

Nelson-Henry 20, Crandall 18, Johnson 16, Falzon 10, Lee 6, Jackson 6, Washington 6, Anderson 2

Eagles

Fletcher 25, Defoe 15, Edwards 12, Maxwell 9, Sayers 9, Pflueger 5

Preview: Riders v Eagles

Season So Far – Riders

Coming into this top of the table clash, the Riders’ offence has been on fire. Over the last four league games, Leicester have scored 106 points on averaging, failing to score in triple digits just once. They sit top of the BBL Championship, with an 11-1 record and the best defensive record in the league, giving up 75.9 points per game. Their most recent game was a commanding 107-93 win against the Sheffield Sharks, in a game in which the Riders were cooking from deep, making 50% of their threes. 

Season So Far – Eagles 

The Eagles currently sit second in the BBL Championship, with a 10-3 record. The Eagles average 86.5 points per game which is third highest in the league, a large part of their offensive success has come through their rebounding. Newcastle pull down 38.7 rebounds per game and also lead the league averaging 9.2 steals per game giving them extra possessions at an extremely high rate. Their play to begin the year has earned them silverware early in the season, beating the London Lions in the BBL Cup final to lift the trophy.

Ones to watch 

In the Riders’ previous game, Darien Nelson-Henry put up a season-high 23 points to lead the team past the Sharks.  The American big-man, who led Pennsylvania in points, rebounds and blocks in his senior year in college, is averaging 11 points and five rebounds on the season and shooting 56% from the field. He can create his own offence effectively, backing defenders down in the post, and is skilled at passing out of the post to find an open teammate. Nelson-Henry is also an effective weapon in the pick and roll, setting hard screens and cutting hard to the rim. Expect the Riders to look to him early to get into a rhythm offensively. 

Justin Gordan has been leading the way offensively for the Eagles, averaging 16.4 points and seven rebounds on the season. Gordon enjoyed four years at Wofford College, making it to the second round of the NCAA tournament two years running, before averaging 11 points per game in his senior year. After graduating college, his professional career took him to Austria, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden, before finally landing in the BBL. Listed at 6’6”, Gordon gets his work done down low, outmuscling larger defenders and finishing at the rim. He is capable of highlight plays on both ends, using his athleticism to block shots and throw down at the rim. He is a big-game performer, proven by his BBL Cup final MVP performance earlier in the year. Gordon stuffed the box-score, with 17 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks to lead his team to the win. 

Previous meeting 

The last time these teams met was a tightly contested BBL Cup semi-final, in which the Eagles won 76-71. Evan Maxwell had a big game for Newcastle, scoring 19 points and pulling down eight rebounds, meanwhile, Geno Crandall put on a good show in the Riders loss, with 17 points, five rebounds and five assists. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Coach Rob: I’m happy with our progress

It has been a very unusual season for the Riders this last 6 months or so, but I have been very pleased with the way the team has adopted.

No professional sports Clubs are finding it easy, but the basketball has been to a high standard throughout the season, and the BBL is more competitive than ever.

We have had to put up with some idiosyncratic draws in the cup competitions and are disappointed we did not go further. They are a part of the BBL schedule we really enjoy, and we produced some great performances, but unfortunately did not meet our ambitions.

Meanwhile I am very happy with our progress in the BBL Championship. The team has turned in a number of very good performances and deserve to be where we are.

A case in point was last Sunday in Sheffield – it was a top performance by the team. Obviously, we were very disappointed with the result in London in the Trophy, but we were glad of the quick chance to redeem ourselves.

We have been in this position before, where we have to come back quickly after a tough defeat, and we were ready for it. You saw a team that came out in the first half that showed it did not want to lose. We were really locked in offensively and defensively. In the third quarter we really blew the game open. I thought the ball movement at times was exceptional. I love watching when we are playing that way.

But there is a long way to go in the Championship.

With all these games in quick succession, as the schedule gets even more congested, it is really important we get everyone in the team contributing, and we did that against the Sharks.

Notwithstanding the challenges we are most grateful we are playing the game we love.

We really appreciate the support we get on-line from our supporters, and cannot wait until we have fans back at the Morningside. Hopefully, we can step up the engagement with you as the season builds to its climax.

Coach Rob

Captains Log: I’m proud of our teams resilience

It has been an odd season thus far to say the least, and as the lockdown and uncertainty continues we wanted to find a way to connect with you on a more personal level. Speaking on behalf of the entire team, I would like to say that we miss the regular interaction dearly (although it is nice to see your lovely faces up on the fan wall!). To supplement this I would like to take some time each week to fill you in on some of the “behind the scenes” action!

As you know, we lost a heart-breaker on Thursday down in London. While our Trophy aspirations are lost, it was a fantastic battle until the end. It was great to catch up with some of the familiar faces that have been around the Riders program since I’ve been here. I was able to catch up with Fahro on the freethrow line. Jordan Spencer was heckling me from the sideline while I sank the free throws late in the game to put us up two. And who else but JWH to put the dagger in our hearts?! 

While it was a tough pill to swallow, I am proud of our team’s resilience and determination heading up to Sheffield on Sunday night. Sheffield is never an easy place to play, or an easy team to play, as they are tough and disciplined. But, we got the job done! 

While the trip was fairly uneventful, the game proved exciting. Willy Lee had two crazy dunks… although I am still not sure how he managed to spin the basket 45 degrees, and I barely shook the thing! And, not to rub it in, but the camera angle doesn’t do Conner’s lob pass to him justice… the pass was at the corner of the backboard — and he STILL managed to flush it with authority! I think Will might be from another planet. Still running some tests. I will get you guys the results as soon as I have them back. 

In the end, we have advanced to 11-1 in the league standings, and we look to expand on that this Wednesday against Newcastle. I will be sure to note more happenings to report to you all next week. 

As always, thank you so much for the never-ending support! Hopefully, we will be able to catch up in person soon. Stay safe! And as always, Go Riders!

All the best,

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Riders bounce back with a win in Sheffield

Riders responded to their BBL Trophy loss to the Lions on Friday in emphatic fashion, putting up 107 points board as they defeated the in form Sharks. It was a clash between the two best-ranked defences in the league, however, the game developed into a high scoring affair, ending 93-107. This marks the third BBL Championship match in four in which Leicester have scored 100+ points, with their offence clicking into gear of late. 

The Riders shared the love in this Valentine’s day game, with contributions from all over the floor. Seven Rider players scored nine or more, and three scored 19+ points, as Darien Nelson-Henry led the team with a season-high 23. Coming off the back of a 16 point game in the loss to the Lions, Corey Johnson continued his hot shooting form with 19 points, going five for eight from three, while Geno Crandall continued to perform in his first BBL season with 20 points. ‘General’ Geno commanded the offence, and finished with a game-high eight assists, running the offence to great effect.  

The Riders were quick out the gate, jumping out to a 31-18 lead by the end of the first quarter, through success feeding the ball to Nelson-Henry. He had ten first-quarter points working down in the low-post, showcasing his impeccable footwork and finishing ability at the rim in a battle with 12-year Shark veteran Mike Tuck. Leicester also did a great job getting to the free-throw line in the early stages, attacking the rim and drawing fouls. They had 16 in the first half, making them at an efficient rate, shooting 93%.  

The Sharks trailed by as much as 21 in the first half, but climbed back in the game, bringing the score back to within single digits. Jeremy Hemsley put his team on his back early, with 17 points by halftime. The first-year pro out of San Diego State finished with 21, and his teammate in the backcourt, Antwon Lillard, carried the load in the second half to keep the game close. Lillard, who is averaging 15 points on the year, led the game in points with a season-high of his own, finishing with 23 and going eight of 12 from the floor. 

Despite the Sharks coming out strongly in the second half to cut the game to seven, the Riders weathered the storm and responded with a run of their own. William Lee had his usual flurry of highlight plays to swing the momentum in the Riders’ favour, throwing the ball down hard on the fast break causing a break in play for the rim to be fixed. Later in the quarter, Conner Washington threw up a lob which Lee climbed to the rafters to catch and throw down to put the Riders up 12 with three minutes left in the third. 

Sheffield continued to compete in the fourth through Kipper Nicholes, who had 10 points in the quarter. They cut the game to nine, but key baskets down the stretch for the Riders kept the Sharks at arm’s length, staving off any threat of a comeback. 

The Riders win takes their record in the BBL Championship to 11-1 with Newcastle to play on Wednesday Evening at the Morningside Arena. Meanwhile, the Sharks now sit with a 7-6 record, as this loss ends a three-game winning streak for the South Yorkshire side. 

Sharks

Lillard 23, Hemsley 21, Lewis 18, Nicholes 14, Ratinho 8, Tuck 7, Koch 2

Riders

Nelson-Henry 23, Crandall 20, Johnson 19, Lee 9, Anderson 9, Washington 9, Fraser 9, Falzon 5, Jackson 4

Preview: Riders at Sharks

Season So Far – Riders

Riders are currently leading the table with a 10-1 record however Coach Paternostro’s side will be looking to bounce back from their Trophy defeat to London on Thursday. The Riders have already claimed the head to head against Sheffield having beaten both their previous encounters in the Championship. In the recent game came down to the last two plays, Geno Crandall getting it to go in the dying seconds as the Sharks pushed Leicester all the way. Crandall has been a revelation for the Riders with a stat line stuffing 17 points, 5.9 rebounds and 7 assists per game so far and is a key part of another team that builds on defence in order to deliver success. The Riders get an extra day of rest having taken on London in the BBL Trophy on Thursday night and which could mean they may be the fresher side going into Sunday’s Valentine matchup.

Season So Far – Sharks

The Sharks are in good form having defeated Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle in their last 3 games. The Sharks currently have a 7-5 record in the BBL Championship and will be looking to continue to build on their momentum on Sunday afternoon. Sheffield are a well balanced side with multiple scoring options, this was on display on Friday night as they had 5 players score in double figures as they defeated the Eagles by 20. Coach Lyons will be looking for more of the same on Sunday afternoon as the Sharks look to put together 4 consecutive wins in the BBL Championship for the first time this season.

Ones to watch

On. Thursday in London William Lee showed his defensive abilities and why he earned the title of all-time leading shot-blocker at the University of Alabama. He finished the game against the London Lions with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Lee’s ability to both alter and block shots around the basket are a key ingredient to the success of the Riders defence.

Jeremy Hemsley has a key man for the Sharks since his arrival, averaging the most points, assists and steals for the Sharks and proving as to why he and his contribution have been vital assets for the team’s success this season. Even though in their last game against the Eagles he wasn’t as prolific as he normally would be, but he still managed to give 13 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists and will no doubt be a man the Riders will need to slow down on Sunday afternoon.

Previous Meeting

The Riders have the season head-to-head over the Sharks having won by 74-64 back in December and 75-73 a couple of weeks ago. Despite already having won the head to head Riders will be looking to make it 3/3 against the Sharks in the BBL Championship.

How To Watch

Although the game will be behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to watch the game by purchasing a game pass for just £4.99 from BBL Player.

Riders fall to Lions in the Trophy

The Riders fell to the Lions in the first round of the BBL Trophy 76-71 in a tightly contested affair in the capital. Ward-Hibbert hit a go-ahead three to give the Lions the lead with 48 seconds on the clock, the Riders were unable to reply and the Londoners sealed the deal from the free throw line.

It was a closely contested game up until the final buzzer, with nine lead changes in the fourth quarter. Despite the two sides coming into the game with their offences rolling, it was the defence that set the tone, with the teams holding each other a combined 37.5% from the floor. Four of Leicester’s starters finished with double digits points, however the Riders managed just six bench points in the game. The Riders had their difficulties from behind the three point line as they finished up going 6/27 from three, despite three from deep from Corey Johnson as he led the team in points with 16. 

He and William Lee were the bright sparks for Leicester. Lee finished the game with 15 points and 10 rebounds dominating the backcourt with highlights on both ends. A monster dunk in the first quarter from a Darien Nelson-Henry lob pass got the Riders bench on their feet early. Later in the quarter, Lee showcased the defensive abilities which earned him the title of all-time leading shot-blocker at the University of Alabama, with a huge block on two time BBL MVP Justin Robinson’s lay-up.

Robinson is shooting a red hot 51% from three in the league this season, and continued his hot streak going 5/9 from three in the game. He finished with 15 points and two steals, leading the way for the Lions. DeAndre Liggins, who played five years in the NBA previous to coming to the BBL, continued the playmaking efforts he has displayed this season with a season-high 12 assists. Liggins came up huge in the clutch for the Lions, scoring six of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. 

Both teams performed well defensively, neither team allowed the other to find any consistent offensive rhythm throughout. The Riders held the BBL’s best-ranked offence to just 13 first-quarter points, forcing the Lions to start the game 1-10 from the field. London responded, coming into the second quarter with greater defensive intensity. With roles reversed in the second quarter the Riders were unable to find their offensive grove with their first score of the quarter coming with 6:40 left in the first half. 

The Lions claimed the victory which sees them progress into the second round of the BBL Cup where they will face the Newcastle Eagles. The Riders now turn their attention back to the BBL Championship, in which they will face the Sheffield Sharks on Sunday afternoon. 

Lions

Robinson 15, Williams 15, Liggins 13, Parker 8, Ware 8, Alihodzic, Ward-Hibbert 5, Tawiah 4, Walker 3

Riders

Johnson 16, Lee 15, Nelson-Henry 14, Crandall 13, Anderson 7, Washington 4, Falzon 2

Preview: Riders at Lions

London Lions v Leicester Riders

Competition: BBL Trophy

Venue: Copper Box Arena

Tip off: 18:00

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders come into the first round of the BBL Trophy on a seven-game winning streak, with a 10-1 record which tops the BBL Championship table. Over the last three games, Leicester have kicked their offence into gear, averaging 105 points over the course of those games. The Riders have been shooting at an efficient rate, which was well demonstrated in their previous game, a 78-97 win to the Glasgow Rocks. They shot 54% from the floor, 38% from three and 94% from the free-throw line, with four players scoring in double digits in a balanced offensive effort. The offence was led by Geno Crandall, who has carried his hot form into February after winning the Molton Sports BBL Player of the Month award in January. He had 22 points, eight assists and four steals in this game, going 8-12 from the field. This was Crandall’s second consecutive game with 20+ points, and he is now averaging 17 points on the season. 

Season So Far – Lions

In their most recent game, the Plymouth Raiders gave the Lions their first loss since the opening day of the season, beating them 81-75 to end an eight-game winning streak to bring their record to 8-2. Scoring 93 points per game, they have the best-ranked offence in the BBL, led by their star paining of DeAndre Liggins and Dirk Williams. Liggins brings 5 years NBA experience to this London side, after being drafted by the Orlando Magic in 2011. His career year in the NBA was in 2016/17, averaging eight points per game for the Dallas Mavericks. This season for the Lions, Liggins has focused his game on getting his teammate involved with his passing, leading London in assists with seven a game.

Ones To Watch

Coming off the bench, Connor Washington has been Leicester’s third-leading scorer, and is second in assists and steals for his team. Washington has played nine seasons over three spells for the Riders and is having a career year in the BBL with his scoring with 11 points per game. Washington play with Geno Crandall in the backcourt has helped create a dangerous Leicester lineup, with both point guards taking turns to generate the offence for the team with their elite playmaking ability. Washington has been a threat off the ball also, draining 40% of his threes on the year. 

Dirk Williams has been London’s biggest offensive threat in the BBL Championship in his debut season for the Lions, averaging 19 points per game. Williams played his first two pro seasons in the BBL for the Sheffield Sharks, before spending a year playing in the Hungarian first division, averaging 17 points a game for Zalakeramia ZTE. Williams is capable of exploding offensively, going off for 37 against the Giants earlier in the season, nailing nine threes. He is a danger to opposing defences from every spot of the floor and standing at 6’6”, the athletic wing can throw it down over anybody should he get a drive to the rim. 

Previous Meeting

The Lions handed the Riders their only loss in the BBL Championship, in a game that came down to the final shot. Orlando Parker put London up 74-73 with eight seconds on the clock, before a Corey Johnson missed three away secured the win for the Lions. London’s leading scorer, Dirk Williams, had his usual high scoring game, leading the way for his team with 19 points. Meanwhile, Geno Crandall led the game in scoring with 23 in the tight loss. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to watch the game by purchasing a game pass for just £4.99 from BBL Player.

Riders overcome Rocks for second win of the weekend

Leicester Riders are out on top of the BBL Championship on their own, after a dominant 97-78 victory on the road against the Glasgow Rocks. This result was coupled with an upset defeat 81-75 at home for London Lions by the Plymouth Raiders on Sunday afternoon.

Riders were well on top throughout the first three quarters of the game, building a 35 point lead with thirteen minutes left in the game, before the Rocks came back to put a more respectable look on the result in the final quarter.

Riders won the game again through their defence, which turned over the Rocks 17 times, while Riders limited their own errors to just 6. Riders also converted 17 of 18 free throws as the Rocks struggled to contain Riders at any stage.

Leicester started out meaning business, with captain Darien Nelson-Henry scoring inside but Christian Keeling responded with a driving lay-up for the Rocks. William Lee then exploded for a three and followed that up with a huge dunk. A drive to the basket by Geno Crandall gave Riders a 9-5 lead midway through the first quarter, but the defences were on top at that stage.

Lee continued to cause problems for the Rocks big men with his movement, and he scored twice from the free throw line, followed up by another big dunk forcing the Rocks to a timeout, trailing 13-4.

Ali Fraser then came off the bench to a court very familiar to him from his time at the Rocks, and he immediately scored inside, followed by a three. Former teammate Gareth Murray took up the challenge from Fraser, and the Rocks player-coach hit a couple of scores in reply, to leave Glasgow trailing 24-12 after the first quarter.

Fraser started the second period as he completed the first, and he made a three point play which also led to a technical foul on the Rocks. The Riders kept coming, as Fraser drew fouls inside, and that led to yet another technical foul on the Glasgow bench, as Riders lead grew to 35-15. Glasgow finally regained their composure and Isa Brandon came off the bench to spark the offence. Julius Van Sauers hit a couple of big baskets, and at halftime the Rocks trailed 47-28. At that stage Crandall was dominant with 13 points and 4 assists.

Glasgow needed a fast start to the second half and a Marc Kwedi three followed by a 20 foot jumper by Keeling gave them that. But Corey Johnson responded with a three, Crandall intercepted for a lay-up, Zach Jackson hit another three and Riders went on a 12 to nil run. Another Keeling basket stopped the rot, but a three point play by Lee spurred Riders again. Johnson hit another three and another breakaway from Crandall had Glasgow reeling. American centre Ronald Delph then three baskets in quick succession and with Keeling hitting a triple the Rocks clawed the score back to a 78-52 lead with ten minutes left.

Glasgow gained confidence in the final period as threes started to drop from Fraser Malcolm, and Riders got a little sloppy. But Riders Head Coach Rob Paternostro called a timeout, steadied the ship and his team saw out the win with some comfort.

Crandall was once again the star man for Riders, finishing with the impressive stat-line of 22 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds, including 6 from 6 from the free throw line.

But William Lee was not far behind with 19 points, including 2 of 3 three pointers, and 9 rebounds. Fraser also caught the eye with 14 points and 2 assists.

Rocks

Keeling 16, Delph 15, Van Sauers 15, Malcolm 14, Brandon 7, Murray 6, Kwedi 3, Mpondo 2

Riders

Crandall 22, Lee 19, Fraser 14, Johnson 10, Jackson 8, Falzon 8, Washington 8, Nelson-Henry 6, Anderson 2

Preview: Riders at Rocks

Season So Far – Riders 

Winning an overtime thriller at home to the Giants continued Leicester’s now six-game winning streak, bringing the Riders to a 9-1 record, the best in the BBL. Giving up 74 points per game, their defence is good for the second-best in the league, however, it was their offence which brought them home in this game. Leicester scored 116 points, 102 in regulation, to see off the Giants: their second consecutive game scoring over 100 points, after not managing this feat once previously in the season. Geno Crandall has averaged 22.5 points and 12.5 assists through these two games, as he continues his hot form which earned him January’s Molton Sports BBL Player of the Month award. 

Season so far- Rocks

Contrary to Leicester’s hot form, the Rocks’ come into this game on a nine-game losing streak, earning them a 2-12 record, propping up the BBL Championship table. Scoring just 69 points a game, their offence ranks last in the BBL. The Rocks average 30% from three and 49% from the field, managing to score over 80 points in a game just once this season. Most recently, the Rocks suffered a 77-61 loss to the Sharks, in which they shot 41% from the field, and just 38% from the free-throw line. Christian Keeling and Ronald Delph were the gems amongst the Rocks, both with 14 points in a game where Glasgow struggled to generate consistent offence, as has been the case all season.

Ones to watch

One of the four Riders players averaging points in double digits this season, Zack Jackson has put together a consistent run of games for the Riders. Playing for Omaha in the NCAA Division 1 in college, Jackson averaged 18 points as a senior, before beginning his professional career in the Ukrainian first division for Kharkivski Sokoly. Jackson is a great scoring option for the Riders, with his effectiveness in catch and shoot situations and taking defenders off the dribble. Scoring on all three levels, he is a threat to opposing defences every game. 

Recording a season-high 25 points in the Rocks’ game against the Scorchers, Ronald Delph comes into this tie with a hot hand. He went 11-14 from the field and grabbed 10 rebounds to record his second double-double of the season. Delph spent three years at Florida Atlantic in college, averaging 15 points per game in his senior year, before taking his talents overseas to play in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and most recently Canada, playing for the Moncton Magic. Standing at seven feet tall, the American big man has delicate touch around the rim, dropping in hook shots from the post with ease. His touch extends out to the midrange and three-point line too, giving him the ability to stretch the floor, opening up the paint for his team. Defensively, Delph is a presence inside and is averaging a career-high one block per game in the BBL this season. 

Previous meeting

The previous meeting between the two sides occurred just two weeks before this fixture, with the Riders coming out on top 90-58. Corey Johnson went off for 20 points and eight rebounds, a season-high in both categories, draining five threes. For Glasgow, it was a difficult night, with their leading scorer, Christian Keeling, finishing the game with just 11 points. The Riders shot 52% from three in the game to the Rocks 29%, a statistic which proved to be the difference between the teams. 

How to watch

Although the game will be behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to watch the game by purchasing a pass from BBL Player.

Preview: Riders v Giants

Season So Far – Riders

Leicester secured a superb 103-76 win over to the Surrey Scorchers in their most recent game, this helped them go top of the table with a game still in hand and gives them a current record of 8-1. The Riders have proved how strong their offence is with back-to-back 30-point quarters which saw them take the game away from Scorchers. They achieved such an emphatic score line because of their exceptional shooting which included 15 three pointers at 48%, and their 41 rebounds in comparison to Surrey’s 24. Riders enter this game having won their last five games comfortably, and will be pushing for another victory to continue such fine form.

Season So Far – Giants 

Manchester on the other hand is not on such great form as of recent with injuries holding them back, the Giants have suffered 2 defeats in a row. Giving them a record of 5-5 and they are currently 4th in the league. The Giants last game was against the Cheshire Phoenix and within this first half they were struggling to get anything going at both ends of the court. The Giants will be hoping to bounce back with a win on the road against the Riders.

Ones to watch

Geno Crandall has been on a roll for the Riders yet again, proving that he plays a crucial role for the team this season. He is the centre figure in the Riders attack contributing more assists in the Leicester team than any other player and his rate of assists is greater than average for players in the league. In the team’s most recent win, Crandall had a mesmerising performance by finishing up the game 9 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists. He was just 3 rebounds away from securing a triple-double. With his effectiveness for providing chances for his team mates it shows that he is a serious threat against opposition defences.

Sam Cassell Jr, having just signed for the Giants back in August and the son of the infamous three-time winner NBA Champion and All-Star Sam Cassell, was brought as a key component for the rebuild for 2020-21 season. He has featured twice in the NBA Summer League, first for the Cleveland Cavaliers and latterly in 2018, for the Washington Wizards. Cassell Jr also played for BBG Herford in Germany, where he led the team on a season average of 21 points, five rebounds and four assists per game, while shooting 35% from three-point range, and finishing as a Conference First Team selection as Herford won 73% of their games in 2018-19. He has played all of the Giants games up until this point, and in phoenix game was vital to their cause with his stat line of 16 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.

Previous meeting

The last time these two sides met was just under a year back in March, where the Riders comfortably won 105-82. It was a game where five Riders players scored double digits.

How to watch

Although the game will be behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to watch the game by purchasing a pass from BBL Player. Season Ticket Holders will be able to access the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Geno named POTM

Geno Crandall has won the Molten BBL Player of the Month for January after five straight league wins to join Lions at the summit of the table. Crandall’s biggest moment coming when he hit a buzzer-beating floater to secure a 75-73 home win over B. Braun Sheffield Sharks.

The 24 year-old Minneapolis native joined Riders in the summer after a season in the Czech Republic, and has been quick to establish himself as among the league’s leading point guards.

He started the month with his season high of 23 points in a narrow defeat to London Lions, and in seven games he went on to average 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists – consistently looking like one of the players most likely to register a triple-double – shooting 51% from the field and 84% at the free-throw line. Overall, Crandall is fourth in the league in assists and third in fouls drawn

He provided particular torment in back-to-back road wins over Plymouth Raiders, hitting 10-12 (83%) free throws in the first, and coming close to a huge triple-double in the second meeting with 18 points from 8-10 (80%) interior shooting, 17 rebounds and eight assists

He rounded out the month with a BBL All-Star 5 appearance after another near triple-double of 19 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds as Riders saw off Surrey Scorchers.

Crandall is back in action tomorrow night when Riders host Manchester Giants LIVE on bblplayer.co.uk, 6pm tip.

Riders team up with XPS

Britain’s oldest BBL franchise, Leicester Riders, has partnered with XPS, the sports coaching software which helps coaches monitor and improve team performance.

Riders, and its pathway, have access to the state of the art software and are delighted to be teaming up with XPS.

“It’s fantastic for us to be able to work with XPS throughout the whole pathway – that covers Charnwood Riders, our University programme at Loughborough, the WBBL and our BBL side,” reflected Leicester Riders Managing Director Russell Levenston. 

“It gives us consistency across our whole programme and allows us to store all our data centrally to be shared with each of our coaches. I know the coaches are finding it an invaluable tool to use and it’s really helping them in preparing for games and analysing performance.”

“We are a club that strives to be ahead of the game in terms of technology and this software is certainly part of that.”

Agust Thorkelsson – CEO Sideline Sports

“It’s a joy to work with the whole of the Leicester Riders organization. Professional demands from great coaches and staff who care passionately about the development of their players. We look forward to continuing this exciting cooperation over the next years.”

Rob Paternostro – Riders Head Coach (BBL):

“We are extremely excited to be working alongside XPS to help all our teams throughout the pathway. With our BBL side we’ve been really able to utilise the software’s functionality to assist what we are doing in preparation and analysis on court.” 

“The software is one of the leading of its kind and we are delighted to be working with XPS.” said Leicester Riders Head Coach Rob Paternostro. 

Mark Jarram – Loughborough University Head Coach (NBL/BUCS) 

“It’s been a great addition to our programme. To have pretty much everything in once place is such an asset.”

“We’ve mostly utilised the ability to have calendar and the entire team on the same page and has been invaluable to have the ability to easily remind, report and collect daily wellness data.” 

“These have led to some crucial conversations we wouldn’t necessary have been able to have before.  Would recommend it to any programme who are serious about taking things to the next level.”

Jesper Sundberg – Riders Women Head Coach (WBBL) 

“The XPS Network and the Sideline Video Analyzer have been a huge reason for our team’s success. We are using the video editor, calendar and wellness monitor daily. To have everything in one place and to be able to share information around the program with staff and players is creating lots of possibilities for us. The work we do around our player pathway has improved a lot since we started using XPS.”

If anyone is interested in using XPS with their basketball club/programme please feel free to contact Riders Assistant Coach Pablo Vazquez on [email protected].

Riders blow out Scorchers to complete double win weekend

Leicester Riders moved to joint top of the BBL Championship with an emphatic 103-76 win over Surrey Scorchers on Sunday. The Scorchers kept the game tight in the first quarter, even building small leads, but Riders started to assert their authority in the second period, and then took over in the second half.

Riders won it with exceptional shooting, including 15 three pointers at 48%. They also outrebounded the Scorchers by 41 to 24 and they moved the ball extremely well, totalling 27 assists to just 16 for Surrey.

Surrey was coming off a morale boosting victory on Friday night in Glasgow and started off in confident style with their talisman, Point Guard Tony Hicks, pulling the strings. He hit an open jump shot followed by a three pointer and the visitors had an early 7-4 lead. The Scorchers captain Tayo Ogedengbe followed that with a long range three, which Geno Crandall immediately matched. Both teams were exceptional shooting from beyond the arc as the points piled up, and Leicester were forced to a zone defence, to try and stem the tide.

Ex-NBA player 7 foot Ryan Richards came off the bench to make an immediate impact forcing himself inside for a bucket against two Riders defenders, and then following that up with a three pointer. Aaron Falzon came off the bench to also hit a three, and Conner Washington followed that up with two of his own, as the first quarter shootout finished with the Scorchers just ahead 25-23.

Jamell Anderson got Riders going in the second period with a powerful move to the basket, which drew a foul. Riders were more aggressive offensively in the second period and the Scorchers were starting to pick up fouls. Crandall missed on the second free throw from one of his trips to the line, but used extraordinary athleticism to fly over the other players to tip in his own missed shot. 

Consecutive threes by Washington and Anderson forced Surrey to a timeout trailing 38-33, with six minutes left in the half. But Riders kept coming with another three from Crandall and some good footwork inside by Darien Nelson Henry and Riders were steadily pulling away. William Lee got into the act with a three of his own and Riders closed out the first half leading 55-43.

If Surrey were going to get back into the game the start of the third quarter was critical but after a Hicks three pointer, Riders took over. Corey Johnson finally got going with a three, Crandall followed that with a driving lay-up and Zach Jackson a twenty foot jumper to push Riders lead to 62-46 and the Scorchers were reeling. Lee then hit a three followed by a dunk and by another Johnson three to cap a 10 nil Riders run. When Johnson penetrating the restricted area for a twelve foot fadeaway jumper Surrey were forced to a timeout trailing 74-51. But Riders were not letting up and the long range shots kept dropping, and by the end of the third the match was effectively over Riders leading 85-59.

The fourth quarter was all about managing the minutes and Riders did it very well never giving the Scorchers a sniff. Head Coach Rob Paternostro was able to run his bench without giving Surrey any chance of a comeback and the century of points came up with ease.

Once again Geno Crandall was mesmerising, finishing up with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists. His back court partner Conner Washington was also in exceptional form with 15 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists.

Lee was exceptional efficient, with his 15 points coming from 6 of 7 shots, and he added 8 rebounds, and Ali Fraser had one of his best games yet for the Riders with 11 points and 5 rebounds.

Riders

Crandall 19, Lee 15, Washington 15, Anderson 13, Fraser 11, Jackson 9, Nelson-Henry 8, Johnson 8, Falzon 3, Ndoukou 2

Scorchers

Ogedengbe 19, Hicks 14, Cashew 12, Richards 9, Walshe 8, Cook 6, Raftopoulos 5, Wanliss 2, Rickman 1

Preview: Riders v Scorchers

Season So Far – Riders

A 75-73 win to the Sheffield Sharks in their most recent game, in part thanks to a go-ahead bucket from Geno Crandall with five seconds left on the clock, moved the Riders to a 7-1 record to start the season. Leicester defence has set the tone for them, and they’re the only team in the league to hold their opponents to under 70 points per game. The Riders have seven players averaging a steal a game, making it difficult for opposing teams to take care of the basketball, earning Leicester extra possessions. In their previous game, Leicester doubled the steal tally of the Sharks, a demonstration of their perimeter defence which held their opponents to 26% from three.

Season So Far – Scorchers

A 2-5 record to start the season has left the Scorchers near the bottom end of the table, having played the fewest games in the BBL. They possess the worst defensive record in the BBL Championship, giving up 88 points per game. Despite their difficulties to begin the season, Surrey picked up a win in their previous game which they will look to build off of against the Riders. The win came against the Rocks, 93-86, behind 20 points from star guard Tayo Ogedengbe. Ogendengbe has focused on facilitating his teammates early in the season, and is averaging a career-high eight assists per game to compliment the 12 points he is scoring for his team. 

Ones to watch

Geno Crandall has been on a tear in the BBL Championship this season, failing to score in double digits just once on his way to 15 points per game. He leads the team in points, assists and steals, and has earned his nickname, ‘the general’ with six assists a game. Crandall is second on the roster in rebounds, and in a 17 rebound performance against the Raiders, Crandall set the record for the most rebounds for a guard in the BBL since April 2019. His flair and creativity has brought excitement to the BBL, creating highlight plays with emphatic dunks and flashy passing.

Returning to the Scorchers after two years in the German second division, Tony Hicks leads Surrey in point per game to start the season. Hicks, who averaged 19 points a game for the Scorchers in 2018, played four years in college, firstly for Pennsylvania, before transferring to Louisville for his senior year.  He averaged 11 points per game across his college career, before crossing the Atlantic to start his professional career with the Scorchers. Hicks uses his speed and handles to get to the rim with ease, and has crafty finishing ability inside, however, the biggest strength of Hick’s game is his defence His ability to cut passing lanes to pick off passes allows for easy points on the fast break, and Hick’s ability to pick up players full-court makes it difficult for opposing offences to advance the ball quickly. With a season-high 24 points coming against the Phoenix, Hicks is capable of going off for big points totals every night. 

Previous meeting

The previous meeting between these two sides was the first game in this year’s BBL Championship campaign for the Riders. It was a game they won 72-84, with four players scoring over 14 points. Most noticeably Jamell Anderson led Leicester with a season-high 16 points, missing just one of his eight shots. Tayo Ogedengbe also achieved his season-high, leading the Scorchers with 17 points from just eight shots. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to watch the game by  purchasing a pass from BBL Player. Season Ticket Holders will be able to access the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Crandall floater seals win for Riders

Leicester Riders held on to win a superb contest at the Morningside Arena against the Sheffield Sharks, 75-73, to retain their bright start to the BBL Championship, and maintain the pressure on the league leaders London Lions. There was nothing in the game for three quarters when a burst from Riders gave them a ten point lead in the final period. But this experienced Sharks side then went on a 9 to nil run and it took a penetrating drive by Geno Crandall and an eight foot floating jump shot to seal the victory, with one second left.

It was the Sharks that started the game the better, with a three from new signing Jordan Ratinho, and with veteran Mike Tuck cleaning up after a missed Sharks shot, the visitors took an early 7-2 lead. Geno Crandall then hit a jumper, and that was followed by a trademark three from Corey Johnson. Zach Jackson hit a jumper of his own and Riders were back on level pegging with the scores tied on 9 points after 5 minutes. 

William Lee edged Riders in front with a put back, but the teams were trading blow for blow giving nothing away defensively. Some sloppy passing by Riders helped to keep the Sharks in touch, in spite of another Johnson three, and the Sharks were just ahead 17-16 after the first quarter.

A Bennett Koch strong move to the basket pushed Sheffield’s lead out, to start the second period but that was cancelled by an Aaron Falzon three. Koch was causing Riders problems inside on offence and Ali Fraser was picking up fouls trying to contain the Sheffield big man, and with Kipper Nicholls hitting 5 points in succession, Riders were forced to a timeout trailing 29-24. 

That steadied the ship and Johnson hit another three out of the break, and Lee followed that up with one of his ow