Scouting Report: Cheshire Phoenix

Leicester Riders take on the British Basketball League’s only undefeated team in 2024, the Cheshire Phoenix, in their next Championship fixture.

The Phoenix have proved too much to overcome for every opponent this calendar year, including the League leading London Lions who they bested in the Trophy final.

Here have been the keys to their success…

Running the Fastbreak

Cheshire plays fast, with willing runners going coast to coast in transition at the highest rate of any team in the British basketball League. 

The Phoenix lead the League in fast break points with 18.97 per game, and get their opportunities on the break often by topping the points from turnovers charts with 16.77 per game 

Their ability to get buckets in transition stems from their ball pressure on the defensive end, where they rank first in steals with 8.53. 

Trophy Final MVP Laquincy Rideau has been key to getting the Phoenix on the run. The American point guard is first among all players in steals this season with 3.1 per game in his first season in the British Basketball League.

He also leads the League in assists with 6.8 per game, pushing the pace in transition and dishing off to his teammates on the run for easy buckets. 

Good shot selection and hustle in transition will be key to keeping Cheshire in the halfcourt in this one, and prevent easy baskets on the break. 

Offensive rebounding 

As well as getting easy looks on the break, the Phoenix crash the glass for second chance points to generate their offence. 

Cheshire ranks second, behind the Bristol Flyers, in offensive rebounding with 13.57 per game, leading to a League-high 11.80 second chance points per game. 

Front court pairing Ethan Chargois and Arryn Rai lead the effort on the glass, grabbing 2.5 and 2.4 offensive rebounds per game respectively. They both rank in the top 10 among all players in that department, their two pronged attack making it difficult to box out from missed Phoenix shots. 

The Riders have multiple players willing to do the work on the glass, from the League’s leading scorer Teddy Allen who pulls down a team-high 6.7 boards per game, to the Riders’ depth at the big position of Mo Walker, Sam Idowu and Duke Shelton who all take pride in their rebounding efforts. 

With the Phoenix shooting at a 45.55 % rate on the season- third best of all teams- the Riders cannot afford to give them second looks at the hoop. 

Points in the paint

Cheshire’s speed in transition, offensive rebounding and halfcourt approach means they rank second in the League in points in the paint. The Phoenix score 39.73 points in the paint per game, led by stars who relentlessly attack the hoop. 

Arryn Rai has been key to the offensive playstyle. The new acquisition from the NBL in the offseason is the team’s leading scorer and a top five scorer in the League with 18.3 points per game. 

Rai attempts 8.2 shots from within the arc per game, connecting on 62.2% of his looks in close.

This ranks third in the League of those who have taken over 100 shots. Rai’s aggressive drives to the rim opens up shots for teammates and draws fouls on opponents, highlighting the emphasis on the Riders being able to contest without fouling. 

The Riders have bodies to throw at Rai in the paint, but staying in front of the talented wing may be key to preventing a big scoring night. Cutting off Rai’s drives to the rim will be tasked with the Riders premier perimeter defenders, who are in for an intense night to limit Rai’s effectiveness.

We need you there!

The team need your help to get over the line in this one!

Get tickets here to get behind your Riders!

Key matchups: Leicester Riders vs Cheshire Phoenix

Leicester Riders take on the Cheshire Phoenix on Friday, in an important clash for the team.

The star-studded fixture features three All-Star starters, and some of the best talent the League has to offer going head to head.

Here, we take a look at the key matchups in the game…

Aaryn Rai vs Teddy Allen

Last season’s NBL Player of the Year, Aaryn Rai, has established himself as one of the League’s best in his step up to the British Basketball League. 

The Canadian wing ranks top five in scoring (17.38 points per game), sixth in rebounding (7 per game) and top 10 in field goal percentage (56.47%), as well as knocking down his threes at a red hot 41% rate. 

Rai leads the League in three point percentage from the top of arc, finding success pulling up in transition and losing his defenders at the top of the three point line. 

He has also relentlessly attacked the rim all season long, and his willingness to push the tempo in transition has been key to Cheshire’s high-paced, fastbreak offensive approach. 

Rai has exploded for huge games this season, the biggest of which was a 32 point outing against the London Lions. But he’ll be faced with the tall task of keeping up with the League’s leading scorer- Teddy Allen. 

Allen enters this game after back-to-back 35 point performances. Only two players have scored more points in their first eight Championship games. Allen has averaged 26.4 points per game in the League so far, and will look to continue to rack up the points in an attempt to overcome the Phoenix.

Laquincy Rideau vs Kimbal Mackenzie

Laquincy Rideau was instrumental to Cheshire’s Trophy success, hitting the game winning layup against the Riders in the Final Four, and winning Final MVP with 25 points and 10 rebounds against London Lions. 

He has been the League’s true point guard, leading all players in assists (6.8 per game) and steals (3 per game), making his impact felt on both ends of the ball. 

Rideau pulls the strings for Cheshire, and has logged double digit assists seven times this season. This has contributed to his seven double doubles so far, three of which coming against the Riders. 

He battled down the stretch with Riders captain Kimbal Mackenzie in the Trophy, Rideau having the final say on that occasion, but Mackenzie has stepped up consistently in the clutch for the Riders over the past few seasons, and will look to again when his number is called. 

He led the team down the stretch in a clutch win against Caledonia Gladiators, scoring six points in the final two minutes, and has hit a rich vein of form of late. 

Mackenzie had scored 15+ in his last three games, earning Player of the Game with his 21 point performance against the Gladiators. 

The Canadian has been a killer from midrange, getting to his sports consistently and connecting on over 50% of his looks. Expect a back-and-forth between him and Rideau from the backcourt in this one. 

Skyler White vs Sam Idowu 

A Cheshire weapon that has been effective against the Riders this season has been stretch four Skyler White, who has put up big numbers from behind the arc. 

Two of his best games of the season were against the Riders, the first a 22 point outing on opening night, and 23 points in the Trophy Final Four. 

White hit a combined 13 threes in those games, and chucked up 31. His high volume of three point attempts mean the Riders have to close out when he drifts to the perimeter. 

Sizing him up in the front court will be Sam Idowu, a versatile forward who is more than comfortable stepping up to the outside. 

Idowu has a versatile game on both ends, capable of hitting the three, taking defenders off the dribble and working in the post down low. He has the size to challenge White when he goes to work in the paint, and the athleticism and perimeter defence to follow him out to the three point line and contest his three point attempts. 

Idowu has enjoyed good form over the last few months, and went off for 20 against Plymouth City Patriots on February 9. The matchup at the forward position has been a significant factor between the sides this season, and it could be no different in this one.

We need you there!

The team need your help to get over the line in this one!

Get tickets here to get behind your Riders!

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Riders duo named to 2024 British Basketball League All-Star Team

Leicester Riders duo Teddy Allen and Jaren Holmes have been voted 2024 British Basketball League All-Star starters. 

They will suit up for the South, alongside London Lions guard Matthew Morgan and forward Sam Dekker, and Bristol Flyers center Brad Greene at the Copper Box Arena on March 24. 

Allen is the League’s leading scorer, and has been named captain after amassing the most votes of any player in the South. Since signing with the Riders in mid-December, he’s putting up 26.4 points and 6.7 rebounds, while shooting 47.6% from the field and a red-hot 46.5% from three in the Championship. 

Allen commented: “It always feels good to be recognised for what you do, in any light. Thank you to all the fans who took the time to vote!”

Holmes was the highest-voted player in the guard position in the South.  He is logging 13.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game in the Championship this season, impressing in his rookie year. 

Holmes commented: “It’s an honour to be voted an All-Star. I’m grateful to my teammates for putting me in the situations to be successful, and to the coaching staff for believing in my abilities day in and day out.

“Thank you the fans for voting me in, especially with this being my rookie year. I’m super excited to be making memories that will last a lifetime. I can’t wait to be there, and have a good time with the rest of the players.”

The full starting fives for the All-Star game are as follows.

GuardLarry Austin Jr. (c) –Newcastle EaglesMatthew Morgan- London Lions
GuardJordan Johnson- Newcastle EaglesJaren Holmes- Leicester Riders
ForwardAaryn Rai- Cheshire PhoenixTeddy Allen (c)- Leicester Riders
ForwardTajh Green- Newcastle EaglesSam Dekker- London Lions
CenterEthan Chargois- Cheshire Phoenix Brad Greene- Bristol Flyers

The remainder of the team will be chosen by the two head coaches, Caledonia Gladiators’ Gareth Murray for the North and London Lions’ Petar Bozic for the South. 

The reserves will be revealed on February 29. 

Get your tickets to the game here!

Riders fall on the road to the Patriots

The Riders fell on the road 109-93 to the Plymouth City Patriots. 

A second-straight 35-point performance from Teddy Allen wasn’t enough to overcome a red-hot shooting night from the Patriots. 

The hosts went 12-26 from three, led by 33 points from Tyrell Green who went from 8-10 distance on the night. 

The Riders fall to 14-12 in the British Basketball League Championship, faltering in their pursuit of the Caledonia Gladiators and Cheshire Phoenix above them in the table. 

The Riders came gunning out the gate, with Mo Walker and Allen combining for their first 17 points. Allen made the highlight of the first, pulling up from near the logo and banking in a three to make the score 17-10 with 4:20 left in the first. 

The Patriots came into the game as the worst three-point shooting team in the League, but caught fire from deep to cut into their early deficit. They hit three straight to cut the difference to three points, Green connecting back-to-back. 

The Patriots tied it up at the hands of Jules Dang-Akodo from deep with less than a minute left in the period, but Allen ended the quarter with his 12th points, making it 26-24 after one. 

The hosts found their groove in the second, riding the hot hand of Green for 6 points and starting the quarter 14-5. Green hit his fourth three with a contest in his face, making it a double-digit advantage at 41-31. 

The Riders came storming out of the following media timeout with eight straight points, Allen pulling up from deep once again for his 18th points to make it 41-39 within a minute. 

It took another three minutes to tie the game up, and it was Shelton who did it with a putback layup. It was the last score of the half, and the sides entered the break tied at 46. 

Allen got the second half underway with a finish at the rim to get Leicester the lead back. The sides exchanged buckets to start the third quarter, both attacking the rim relentlessly. 

Both teams couldn’t miss to start the third. They combined for 36 points through six minutes, Kimbal Mackenzie making the last score before the media timeout to make the score 65-63 in the Riders’ favour. 

But the Patriots were the team to find some separation, Green staying hot to knock down his sixth three from seven attempts. Dusha stole the following inbound and beat the buzzer at the end of the period to make it 82-73. 

Green hit another to start the fourth to help build the host’s lead to 14. Allen then responded with a three in transition and a spin move in the lane to get five points back. Next time up the floor, he hit a stepback three to complete an 8-0 run on his own. Out of the following timeout, Allen drained yet another triple for 35 points. 

The Patriots responded with two straight scores, Cam Copeland with the second at the rim. With the newfound momentum they scored eight straight points, Jacob Wiley’s fastbreak jam off a lob pass forcing a Riders timeout. 

Green hit a three out of the timeout, making the difference 14. The Riders couldn’t overcome that deficit and fell to the Patriots on the road.

The Riders return to action after the international break, hosting the Trophy champions Cheshire Phoenix on March 1. 

Get your tickets here.

Scouting Report: Plymouth City Patriots

Leicester Riders are set to play the Plymouth City Patriots on the road for the first time this season after beating their opponents twice at home so far this year.

A win would see the Riders improve to

Here are three things to look out for in our game in the South West…

Close games 

The Patriots have featured in 10 games that finished within single digits in the Championship this season. Their record in those games is 2-8, including three losses that finished within a single score.

Two games ago, they lost another heartbreaker against the Surrey Scorchers 94-92. Should they have secured a defensive board following Saquon Jamison’s deliberately missed free throw with five seconds left, they’d have had a shot for the win.

Plymouth are 0-2 against the Riders this season, and they remained in both games until late. The first was an 88-81 Leicester win, and the game was within two points with less than two minutes remaining. The Riders saw it out late, led by four points from Mackenzie.

Mackenzie has put the Riders on his back this season and scored six points in the clutch against the Caledonia Gladiators last week to secure an important win.

Should Plymouth keep it close once again, the Riders may look to their captain to get over the line. But the Patriots will expect these close games to bounce their way later in the season, as they look to step it up in the clutch.

TJ Atwood

Plymouth’s leading scorer this season, and a player who has been in hot contention for a place on the British Basketball League starting five, is American TJ Atwood. 

Atwood went off for 17 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists last time he suited up against Leicester, and has been one of the Patriots’ most effective players all season. 

He is putting up 15.26 points per game from an efficient 52% from the field this season, leading the team. His 6.74 rebounds per game is second most on the Patriots roster, and he also leads them in steals with 1.44 per game. 

Atwood doesn’t need much of the ball to do his damage. He ranks eighth on his team in usage rate at just 18.85%, meaning the Riders will have to remain aware through 40 minutes of his presence on the court off the ball. 

If they’re not, he can go off for 30 as he did earlier in the year against the Bristol Flyers. 

Offensive rating

Despite the firepower of Atwood, the Patriots’ offence has struggled for rhythm this season, ranking last in offensive rating with 99.95. They score 78.46 points per game, one more point than bottom-ranked Sheffield Sharks, but rely on their offensive rebounding for second-chance opportunities. 

Their lack of consistent deep threat has been a contributing factor to this, as they shoot the lowest percentage from behind the arc in the League at 28.67%. From two-point range, they rank fifth, finding success attacking the hoop.

In addition to their shooting percentages, the Patriots have struggled to take care of the ball. They rank second in turnover percentage, giving the ball away on 16.04% of their possessions. 

The Riders will need to maintain pressure on the ball to force mistakes while limiting chances within the arc and pulling down defensive rebounds to hold Plymouth to their season trends.

The Riders return to home action on March 1, taking on the Cheshire Phoenix.

Get your tickets here! 

Riders react to beating the Sharks

Leicester Riders made it four wins on the bounce with a 108-94 win against the Sheffield Sharks.

The win improved their record to 14-11 in the British Basketball League Championship, one win behind the Caledonia Gladiators in third.

Here’s how the Riders reacted to the win…

Teddy Allen- “Pressure is a privilege.”

Star guard Teddy Allen went off for his highest-scoring night in Riders red so far, exploding for 35 points and 12 rebounds. 

It was one of only two such performances in the last 15 years in the British Basketball League, as the leading scorer continues to take the League by storm. 

He put the scoring load on his back when the team needed him most last night. 

“Pressure is a privilege,” said Allen, when asked how he handles the scoring responsibility when the Riders need a basket.

“I’m happy my teammates put me in those positions and that I could deliver for them when my opportunities arose. I’m just happy to get this win at home with my team.”

The Riders found themselves in a double-digit hole in the first half, and gave up the highest-scoring half in the Sharks’ season so far. Defence was the priority for the Riders to come back. 

“We had to lock in on defence. You’re not going to win many games if you give up 57 in a half. We did that in the second half, and I’m proud of my guys.”

Allen has hit the ground running with the Riders since signing in December. He spoke about how his relationship with Head Coach Rob Paternostro has allowed him to succeed. 

“We have a lot of trust in each other. He has never got on me for a shot- he just wants me to play my game, and he trusts me in those moments. I can do nothing but thank him and be appreciative to have a coach like that.”

Rob Paternostro- “He’s worth the price of admission!”

Coach Paternostro repaid the compliment from Allen, signing the American’s praises after the win. 

“He’s worth the price of admission! He was awesome tonight. He had two quick fouls, but we rode him for a while, and he did a good job of not fouling. 

“What’s impressive about Teddy is his stamina. He has the ball a lot and takes a lot of shots, but he doesn’t get tired. He can stay on the floor for a long time without me needing to give him a break. He came up big tonight.” 

After a tough start to the game, unable to stop the Sharks’ scoring onslaught, Paternstro made adjustments at the half to slow Sheffield down. 

“To give them credit, they were really shooting the ball well, and we struggled to guard them in the first half. But we knew if we were in the game after they shot like that, then this one could be ours. 

“We had to do better in transition and stop second chance points, and we were much better defensively after halftime.”

The Riders saw it out in the clutch for the second straight game, after they beat the Caledonia Gladiators in the final minutes on the road last weekend.

Getting wins out of close games has given the group confidence in those situations. 

“It was an entertaining game! Anyone who was here tonight enjoyed that. We really made the big plays late in the game, which we’ve been doing as of late. We played really well in the second half. 

“Our guys were really confident late in the game. When it’s tight, we feel like we can see the game out, and earlier in the year, we didn’t have the same confidence after we lost a couple of close ones.”

It’s a quick turnaround for the Riders, who head to Plymouth to take on the Patriots on Sunday afternoon. Rest and recovery is the priority for the Riders. 

“Rest is our biggest focus now. We know Plymouth can be a difficult opponent and challenging on the road. It’s our first time there this season, so we have to go down here and have a solid game to finish the weekend right.”

The Riders return to the Mattioli Arena on March 1, taking on the Cheshire Phoenix.

Get your tickets here!

Report: Riders overcome red hot Sharks

Leicester Riders made it four wins on the bounce, beating the Sheffield Sharks 108-94 in a game contested wire-to-wire. 

Teddy Allen went off for 35 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 50% and 44% from three in a Player of the Game performance.

He was backed by Jaren Holmes who scored 19, hitting a tough three through contact to end the half to jolt momentum into the team. 

The Sharks started hot, scoring 57 points in the first half, their most in any half this season. But the Riders overcame it, ending the third quarter on an 11-0 run and seeing out a win in the clutch. 

Sheffield was led by Malek Green who put up 19 points and 11 rebounds. They entered the game as the lowest-scoring offence in the League, but caught fire from the off to challenge the Riders throughout. 

A slow start for the Riders, with them struggling to find the bottom of the basket despite generating good looks, saw them fall into a 10-3 hole after 5 points from Sharks’ forward Jordan Ratinho.

It became 15-6 after Green spilt out onto the fastbreak for an easy two, which forced a Riders timeout after 3:24. 

The Sharks poured in the points in the first quarter. Green was firing from the jump to put up double digits in six minutes, and he made it a double-digit lead at 22-12 with a triple. Sheffield found joy on the glass to snatch 5 offensive rebounds until the Riders closed in to end the period. 

The insertion of Duke Shelton into the game saw the Riders clean up the glass and get back into the game. An 8-2 end to the first meant they trailed 30-27 after one. 

The high-scoring start didn’t stop in the second quarter, with each of the teams scoring on their first two possessions. Sheffield rebuilt their lead to 10 as Rodney Glasgow Jr pulled up from midrange- the visitors continuing their offensive hot streak. 

But again, Leicester found form as the clock ticked down. They went on an 11-2 run, capped off by a triple from Mo Walker, to bring it back within a score with two minutes left in the half.

The Sharks bit back, bringing it back to an eight-point game with a pull-up from three in transition by Glasgow Jr, but Holmes ended the second period with a three-point heave, taking a foul for another point at the foul line to make it 57-53 at the half. 

Leicester quickly tied it up to start the second half. Allen and Samuel Idowu scored four quick points to even the score and set the stage for the remainder of the tie. They took their first lead of the game a few minutes into the half, and Allen pulled up from deep to find separation with the score 64-59. 

Leicester had momentum in the final few minutes, Allen lighting the spark after pulling up on the dribble from deep. He drew an unsportsmanlike foul on Jalon Pipkins after they tangled legs on the break, and Shelton followed his subsequent free throws with a monster two-hand jam. 

The Riders entered the final period leading 82-71. 

Allen made his mark on the start of the fourth, pulling up from the car park for his fourth triple. But the Sharks stayed in the game, finding runs to the rim to chip into their deficit. They started the fourth 12-5, RJ Eytle-Rock cutting the game to five at the foul line. 

It was a tie game with five minutes left, as Devearl Ramsey pulled up from midrange to lock the teams at 88. They took the lead next time down through Bennet Koch, the Sharks holding all of the momentum. 

Kimbal Mackenzie took it back with a corner three, off the back of his clutch performance last time out in Caledonia. He was followed by Holmes, who fought his way to the free-throw line and put Leicester up 94-90. 

Lall was the next to be sent to the foul line, and rebounded his own miss and made the putback as the Riders found form in the clutch. Idowu scored a layup next time up the floor to put Leicester up seven with 1:37 left, and the Riders saw the game out from there. 

The Riders return to action on Sunday, heading to Plymouth to take on the Patriots on the road.

Championship Preview: Riders vs Sharks

Basketball returns to the Mattioli Arena this Friday as the in-form Riders host a B. Braun Sheffield Sharks squad that have only won once in 2024.

Rob Paternostro’s team have recently pushed beyond .500 after carrying their strong British Basketball League Trophy form into the League Championship and sit comfortably in the top half of the standings.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs B. Braun Sheffield Sharks

Mattioli Arena, Leicester

Friday, February 16, 7:45pm

Get tickets here!

Huge Away Win

The Riders enter Round 19 of Championship play brimming with confidence after claiming one of the most impressive wins of the season – a 97-93 defeat of the high-flying Caledonia Gladiators on their home court.

Success for the Riders was crucial to maintain their current momentum and to avenge an agonising one-point loss in Glasgow towards the end of October.

As predicted, Leicester had to put in a strong performance for the entire 40 minutes to bag a 12th win of the season, coming through in the clutch after the home side took a narrow lead with less than a minute left on the clock.

Kimbal Mackenzie put in a captain’s performance, going 8-12 from the field for a total of 21 points – including six down the stretch – and dishing out five assists on the night.

The powerful Jaren Holmes also had a nice night, making his presence felt all over the court to the tune of 15 points and nine rebounds for a near double-double.

The most eye-catching plays, however, came from the palms of Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen, who delved deeply into his box of tricks to drain 28 points on the Gladiators, including four deep balls, two of which were taken from a different postcode.

The standout performances from the Riders’ backcourt trio allowed the rest of the squad to play solid team basketball, and Sunday’s victory over a good opponent demonstrates how far this team has come.

More strong opposition presents itself this Friday in the form of Sheffield. Riders’ fans won’t know which trio will take the game by the scruff this time but should be confident that every player on the roster has the skills to shape victory.

Struggles in the New Year

The Sheffield Sharks currently sit in strong playoff contention in the League Championship with an 11-13 record and well clear of the bottom two.

An impressive November saw Friday’s visitors go five of six, including a 91-84 home win over the Riders where they utilised the fast break to great effect.

The Sharks boast a league-leading defence, conceding just 79.1 points per game while holding opposing teams to under 32% from three-point range.

A large contingent of Sheffield’s roster possesses fast hands on defence, especially American guard Terrell Allen and dunk artist Jalon Pipkins. The aggressive defenders 1.4 and 1.3 steals per game respectively, forcing teams to think twice about taking them on the dribble.

However, tenacious defence does have its drawbacks, and for the Sharks, it comes in the form of opposition free throws.

Earlier in the season, Atiba Lyons’ charges were getting away with giving up the ninth-most free shots in the League Championship, but a 2024 littered with tight losses has magnified the consequences of not matching the opponent at the line.

The Riders are the second most accurate charity stripe shooting team in the league – hitting at a cool 77.3% – and get to the line nearly 21 times a game.

The Sharks’ recent losses average a losing margin of ten points. This could be flipped on its head if Sheffield can figure out a way to avoid fouls while defending determinedly.

Key Matchup

A large number of matchups catch the eye this Friday as one of the league’s most prolific offenses battles against the league’s stringiest defence, but the key matchup will be between guards, Jaren Holmes and Jalon Pipkins.


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#5 Pipkins is a true entertainer of the league. The American’s most desirable trick is his ability to almost levitate in the air before jamming home a satisfying dunk. The guard has serious hops.

Pipkins experienced a short stint of play in Finland after graduating from the Fort Wayne Mastodons and found his eventual home in Sheffield last season.

The high-flyer is having a decent season, averaging 11.8 points per game and going nearly 60% from inside the arc.

The true test for Holmes will be to penetrate Pipkins’ defence which is some of the best the British Basketball League has to offer.

The Leicester man has mostly been excellent this season and uses his size and strength excellent to get the better of both smaller and bigger opponents.

A star of the Big-12 NCAA conference, Holmes’ rookie campaign with the Riders sings to the tune of 13.3 points per game – second on the roster – 4.3 boards each night and a couple of assists to boot.

Riders’ fans will know that despite being a primary offensive weapon, Holmes is also good on the defensive side of the ball, snagging 1.2 steals per game.

The back-and-forth contest between these two athletic guards should be fun to watch. One thing is for certain – win or lose, Holmes and Pipkins will create more than a few highlights along the way.

Riders recap: What we can take from a winning weekend

The Riders recorded two wins in a crucial doubleheader weekend, beating the Plymouth City Patriots at home, and the Caledonia Gladiators in the clutch on the road.

Here’s what we can take from the weekend of action…

Multiple scoring threats 

In both games over the weekend, the Riders had three players score over 15 points and two score 20. 

Different games are for different guys, and only two players, Jaren Holmes and leading scorer Teddy Allen, put up double digits in both games, but the Riders showed they can rely on multiple players to step up and put the ball in the basket when their name is called. 

Leicester shot 37% from three in both games and 51% from three across the two fixtures to flex their offensive firepower and efficiency. 

Their 102 points against the Gladiators on Sundays means they now average over 90 points per game on the season, third-most in the League. 

Captain Kimbal in the clutch

For the second straight game on the road in Caledonia, the Riders’ captain stepped up in the clutch for crucial scores. 

Last time, he pulled up from midrange with 10 seconds to go to put the Riders up one, but the Gladiators found a response to win it at the hands of Clifton Moore Jr. 

Two weeks ago, Mackenzie had a clutch outing in the Trophy Final Four, where he drove to the bucket for an and-one score to put the Riders up one with 20 seconds left. 

But this time, he led Leicester to a win with his performance late. The Canadian took over with a minute and a half left and scored six straight points, including two go-ahead buckets to put the scoring load on his back. 

Mackenzie’s play earned him the Player of the Game, and secured an important win for the team in a doubleheader weekend. 

Turning a corner 

Leicester entered the weekend with a .500 record, with an important pair of games awaiting them as they hoped to climb the Championship standings. On Sunday night, they improved to 13-11, and now sit fourth, just a game behind the Gladiators in third. 

The Riders have won four on the bounce in the Championship, a run which started at home against the Sheffield Sharks with a 103-75 win on December 30. They have a chance to make it five with the same fixture on Friday. 

Their game against the Sharks marks the first of another doubleheader, with a trip to the Plymouth City Patriots awaiting them on Sunday. It’s another vital run of games for Rob Paternostro’s side, and they need you behind them. 

Get your tickets here!

Riders see off Gladiators in the clutch

The Riders won a thriller on the road, beating the Caledonia Gladiators 97-93 in the final seconds of the game.  

Captain Kimbal Mackenzie led them down the stretch with six clutch points to win it, He put up 21 points and 5 rebounds, going 8-12 from the field.

Teddy Allen led the game’s scoring, however, exploding for 28 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals. 

The Gladiators, led by Lukas Palyza’s 17, were down big in the fourth but fought back to take the lead with less than a minute left. They didn’t have enough to secure the win however, and the Riders improved to 13-11 on the season. 

Leicester endured a slow offensive start, which found them in an early hole. They started 1-7 from the field, and the Gladiators ran out to a 9-3 start led by 4 points from Fahro Alihodzic. 

Allen took the lid off the basket with a three from the top of the arc to cut the difference to a score. The Riders found some rhythm from there, and the sides exchanged baskets going up and down the court. 

Caledonia had the better of the final stages of the first quarter. They crashed the offensive glass for second-chance points, and led 24-15 after one led by 6 points from Whelan. 

Allen got the second quarter underway with a triple to claw some points back. But the Gladiators kept pouring on the points, getting to the foul line consistently to keep their scoreboard ticking over. 

The Riders came storming back midway through the period. TJ Lall and Allen hit threes back to back, Allen pulling up in transition to make it 34-31. He exploded in the quarter, scoring 13 to bring his game tally to 17 by halftime. 

The hosts threatened to pull away, rebuilding their lead to eight, but a 7-0 Riders run to end the half, finished off by a buzzer-beating three from Holmes, to make the score 48-47. 

Mackenzie ran in transition to start the second half to take the Riders’ first lead of the game. The Riders kept the Gladiators at arm’s length for the start of the third, finding consistent offence to contrast their start to the game. 

Miryne Thomas connected from deep with a big three to put the Riders up nine going into the media timeout. Out of the break, Mackenzie ran the floor for a tough finish inside to make it a double-digit difference. 

Allen stayed hot, putting in 7 points in the third, and the Riders entered the fourth up 75-67.

But the Gladiators came out into the fourth with two straight scores to make it a four point affair. 

Mackenzie hit back, draining a three to stop the run of momentum, and Holmes built off the triple, making two buckets at the rim to keep the Gladiators at bay. Allen followed him up with two finishes of his own, responding to Caledonia’s trips to the foul line. 

But the hosts did find a way back, and Palyza hit a big three with 2:49 left to make the score 87-90. Clifton Moore Jr hit back-to-back baskets to take the lead with 1:35 left. 

Mackenzie hit back with a three from the top of the arc, putting the Riders up two. With the ball going the other way, Holmes rejected Whelan, but Bothwell found the bottom of the basket after the subsequent rebound to tie the game at 93. 

Mackenzie struck again with a midrange pull-up with 52 seconds left, and Palyza missed a three on the next possession. With 30 seconds left, Mackenzie made one of two free throws to make it a three-point lead. 

Bothwell had a chance to tie it for Caledonia but missed from three, and Idowu put the game beyond doubt from the foul line with eight seconds left, securing an important win for the Riders. 

Leicester returns to action on Friday, hosting the Sheffield Sharks.

Get tickets here!

Preview: Riders at Gladiators

Sunday evening sees the 12-11 Riders take the tough trip north to face the 14-9 Caledonia Gladiators and wrap up Round 18 of the British Basketball League Championship.

The game is sure to be a battle of attrition after both teams played in competitive matches on Friday night as part of a weekend doubleheader.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders at Caledonia Gladiators

Playsport East Kilbride, Glasgow

Sunday, February 11, 6:00pm

Watch live!

Late Game Magic

Rob Paternostro’s squad will travel to Glasgow high in confidence after Friday’s 102-81 defeat of the Plymouth City Patriots gives them a chance to extend their League Championship winning run to four games.

The Riders didn’t have it all their own way against the Pats, but a devastating 33-point fourth quarter saw them through to the impressive double-digit win.

Friday’s 102 points was the fifth time Leicester reached triple-digits in the past nine games, and history dictates that when they breach that total, they win.

Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen took Player of the Game honours in the victory, yet again making 20 points look easy with a cool 25 on 58% shooting from the field.

The prolific scorer had an off night from three-point range – dropping just one of his six attempts – but displayed elite adaptability, pulling from an extensive bag of tricks on multiple occasions to finish at the rim.

Big Samuel Idowu also turned heads with a 20 point – 12 rebound double-double from the bench in what is becoming a familiar sight of dominance.

Idowu is proving to be a nightmare for defences, often imposing his will inside before sliding quietly out to the arc to splash from deep, currently hitting around 30% of his three-pointers.

The introduction of Allen and the emergence of Idowu is also allowing captain Kimbal Mackenzie to play a more well-rounded point guard role without the burden of being the roster’s primary scoring option.

The Riders’ leader can still shoot the ball – often in clutch situations – but 11 assists against the Patriots demonstrate his increased role as a distributor as the trust between the squad improves with each game.

Solid shooting, good distribution and trust are three things the Riders will need if they are to best the Gladiators on home court. On recent form, they have all three in abundance.

A Tough Return to Championship Action

The Gladiators have been enjoying a fantastic season so far, sitting third in the League Championship standings and making it to the semi-finals of the League Trophy competition.

Gareth Murray’s men play safe, solid basketball predicated on stingy defence and hustle on the boards.

It is a tactic that has worked well throughout the season, however the return to championship play has been a tough one.

A low-scoring home victory over the Bristol Flyers started February off in winning fashion, however this was followed by a double-digit defeat in Newcastle on Friday night.

The biggest concern for the Gladiators was allowing the Eagles to dominate the fourth quarter after beginning the final stanza just three points adrift.

Former Rider Patrick Whelan scored 21 points to continue the season as Caledonia’s primary scorer. Leicester supporters will be familiar with Whelan’s pinpoint accuracy from three-point range, currently hitting at an impressive 43% clip.

The Scottish side also boast a trio of impressive forwards – Lukas Palyza, Princeton Onwas and Fahro Alihodzic posing a formidable front court arsenal, boosted by true centre Clifton Moore Jnr coming off the bench.

Caledonia are a team without any glaring weaknesses for the Riders to exploit, however their aggressive defence does give up more fouls than most teams.

The Riders are one of the best free throw shooting teams in the League, so if the likes of Allen and Mackenzie can repeatedly get to the line, they could keep the scoreboard ticking over, making like difficult for the Glaswegians.

Key Matchup

There will be entertaining battles all over the court on Sunday, however the most crucial may come between a pair of bench big men: Samuel Idowu and Clifton Moore Jnr.

Standing at 6’10”, Moore Jnr is an imposing figure inside the paint. The young centre – in his rookie season after five years playing college ball – uses his length well to finish at a high clip while also blocking shots at the other end.

The former La Salle Explorer is averaging 9.8 points per game from the bench on over 57% from the field and leads the Gladiators in blocks per game with 1.5.

Moore presents a tough problem to solve for any big man in the League, however in current form, the Riders’ own second unit big man will be up to the task.

Standing at 6’8”, Idowu gives up a bit of size to his younger opponent but makes up for it with bulk, experience and shooting range.

The four-year veteran is a bruiser on the inside, using his strength to force missed shots near the rim before motoring down the other end of the court to forge a scoring opportunity.

The Brooklyn-native averages 8.2 points per game currently, but with four double-doubles since the turn of the year, those numbers are consistently on the rise.

Idowu also brings range to the Riders’ offense, averaging nearly three deep balls a night, so expect to see him dragging Moore out to the perimeter to open up inside space for a cutting guard.

Sunday’s game could be the perfect end to Round 18 between two well-matched teams.

The starting lineups could well cancel each other out, so bench points will be crucial. How effectively Idowu and Moore Jnr use their minutes could decide which set of supporters go home happy.

Report: Riders take the win against Plymouth

A superb fourth quarter by the Riders fired them to a 102-81 British Basketball League Championship victory over the Plymouth City Patriots.

The contest was much closer than the final score suggests as Rob Paternostro’s squad were made to work hard by a determined Patriots side, who remain at the foot of the championship standings.

The home side dropped 33 points in the final ten minutes, heating up from three-point range to finish the game with a decent 37% from deep.

Led by captain Kimbal Mackenzie (who had a quiet scoring game with six points but distributed 11 assists), the Riders played excellent team basketball, ending the night boasting 24 dishes.

There were several solid performances, but Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen and Samuel Idowu stole the show, making 45 points between them with Idowu putting up yet another double-double.

Athletic big man Miryne Thomas also had a good game, especially from beyond the arc, draining a hot four from five on his way to 19 points, scoring 14 in the final quarter.

Paul James’ Patriots side showed plenty of positive flashes throughout the game and won on the offensive glass, pulling down 18 to the Riders’ seven.

Star man Jacob Wiley hit 22 and the speedy TJ Atwood scored 17, but the visitors were crippled by poor accuracy from the free throw line, hitting just 58% from the line.

An aggressive start to the game by the Riders saw a swell of scoring early on, started by Allen with a silky-smooth reverse layup. Mo Walker then hit an ‘and one’ play after a lovely dish from Mackenzie and – following a transition three from ‘Buckets’ – Leicester had seven points in two minutes.

The Riders were working hard to utilize their size inside, but the Patriots did a good job of keeping pace, showing fast hands-on defence and tenacity on the offensive boards, totalling ten offensive rebounds in the first half. 

It wasn’t long before the familiar sight of a scoring run from Idowu had the home supporters cheering, the bench big man dropping an impressive 11 points in seven first-half minutes.

The power forward was dominant on both sides of the arc, hitting turnaround jumpers in close and stretching the floor with pick-and-slide splashes from deep.

The game then entered a somewhat messy period as both sides engaged in numerous scrambles below the rim.

Leicester kept a small lead going into the second quarter, narrowed down to three points following a Wiley fast break dunk.

The opening minutes of the second were dictated by the visitors, who demonstrated excellent team basketball to ride a 13-0 scoring run.

Danger-man Wiley was starting to heat up, showing his skills in close with powerful finishes and accurate jump shots.

The Riders had to stop the bleeding, and a typically impassioned timeout from Paternostro did the trick, prompting Allen to start the mini comeback with an acrobatic, falling layup while under heavy pressure.

TJ Lall followed suit with a tricky finish of his own, and when Jaren Holmes slammed home a breakaway dunk following a nice steal, the Riders were back level.

The teams went bucket-for-bucket as the half drew to a close, but increased defensive pressure exerted by the home side caused Plymouth to cool down, allowing the Riders to edge ahead.

Duke Shelton threw his weight around in the paint to earn multiple trips to the line, and after a clutch corner three by Lall, Leicester found themselves five points in front, a leading margin they maintained to go into the locker rooms 48-43 to the good.

The second 20 couldn’t have started any differently than the first as both teams struggled to get into an offensive rhythm, perpetuated by a rare Mackenzie turnover.

Holmes didn’t get the memo though, hitting a pair of backdoor layups to keep the Riders ahead by five, answered by a buzzer-beating fadeaway by shooting guard Cameron Copeland.

A quiet phase of missed shots and fouling followed, ended by a stop and splash three from Thomas which sparked Idowu into action again.

The big American matched Thomas’ deep ball before finishing a nasty Holmes alley-oop with a one-handed jam.

Back came the Patriots again, Wiley hitting four quick points including a monstrous alley-oop slam. 

Four points from Mackenzie – his first of the night – ended the third quarter, giving his side a 69-64 lead going into the final stanza and with everything to play for.

The Riders began the fourth perfectly, relaxing the Mattioli Arena with four quick points to make it a nine-point ball game.

Atwood’s first trey of the game was matched by Thomas, and Leicester looked in good shape for another home win.

Lall soon put a punctuation mark on the ever-growing lead, dropping a corner three despite being fouled for a spectacular four-point play.

The Riders were now taking over the game, Thomas dropping a heat-check triple which preceded ‘Buckets’ Allen’s 23rd point of the night.

Paternostro’s squad were flowing, and despite some splash plays from the visitors, they rode the double-digit lead for the final two minutes to send the Riders’ faithful home happy.

Leicester Arena becomes Mattioli Arena in recognition of charitable trust

Leicester Riders’ home venue, Leicester Arena, will now be known as the Mattioli Arena.

The Ian & Clare Mattioli Charitable Trust has accepted naming rights to Leicester Arena, the largest indoor arena in Leicester.

The venue – previously the Morningside Arena – is now being rebranded.

The Trust has donated funds to the Leicester Riders Foundation, the charity which develops basketball and other sport participation for people of all ages across Leicester and Leicestershire.

The generosity of the Mattioli family has resulted in the Trust being offered naming rights to the Arena in recognition of their continued support.

Recent donations from the Trust are in addition to the £500,000 donation made to help fund the Arena’s extension in 2022.

The Arena will work with the family to create a lasting legacy gifted to communities in Leicester and Leicestershire.

The Trust – established by the Mattioli family in 2016 – works to help enhance the lives and opportunities of local people.

In particular it works with communities and socio-economic groups which are often sidelined and struggle to access opportunities for advancement, personal growth, and to fully participate in society. 

Ian Mattioli MBE, Founder of the Trust and CEO of Mattioli Woods, said: “We are delighted to continue our support of the Arena, and are proud to accept the naming rights.

“The Mattioli Arena delivers high-quality and high-class events, while at the same time focussing on its community commitments and increasing the profile of the city.

“Leicester has always looked after our family in the very safest of environments and that is why we are delighted to be part of creating a legacy for the diverse communities we support in the City of Leicester and beyond.

“To also be able to do this through sport and a venue that has the potential to impact so many people is something we will continue to take great pride in, and we hope it will be used by many, many people over coming years.”

Kevin Routledge, Chairman of Leicester Riders, Trustee of Riders Foundation, and a Director of the Arena, said: “Once again, Ian and Clare Mattioli Charitable Trust has shown its commitment to the city and the work of our Foundation, and the Mattioli Arena, and we are hugely appreciative of that.

“The work of the Riders Foundation, and the demands on the Arena, continue to grow and we are committed to further enhancements to our facilities.

“We are hugely appreciative to the Mattioli family’s generous support, which will enable us to deliver an arena, community services, and events that will continue to make the city proud.”

The 3,000-capacity Mattioli Arena stages an increasingly wide range of national and international sports and entertainment events.

It also provides a wide range of community sports opportunities through the Riders’ extensive underage basketball programmes through the Leicester Riders Foundation.

The venue also provides opportunities for Leicester College students, wheelchair basketball users, and other community sport users – making it the largest of its type in the UK.

Last year’s extension to the Arena is already bringing significant additional revenue to the city. It consists of a standalone, 1,200-metre squared, two-court sports hall, with a new entrance to the arena also completed at the top of Memory Lane.

It also has the largest solar array on any individual building in the city, generating 246 kW(p) of solar power as helping the Arena focus on becoming a net zero business.

The Riders are in action at the Mattioli Arena tonight, taking on the Plymouth City Patriots.

Get your tickets here!

Preview: Riders vs Patriots

British Basketball League Championship action returns to the Morningside Arena this Friday as the Riders host the 4-18 Plymouth City Patriots.

The home side will certainly be favourites to take victory following impressive winter form, but coach Rob Paternostro will warn his team against complacency after Plymouth ran Leicester close at the start of the season.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs Plymouth City Patriots

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Friday, February 8, 7:30pm

Get tickets here!

Ready to Rise

After a turbulent first quarter of the season, which resulted in the Riders revamping the roster and sat on a record below .500, the recent upturn in form sees captain Kimbal Mackenzie and his team poised to take a leap into the upper echelons of the league.

After a promising League Trophy campaign and last week’s 20-point victory in Surrey, the Riders hold a record of 11-11, fifth in the League Championship and only three wins shy of the Caledonia Gladiators in second place.

Mackenzie himself has seen his form improve simultaneously with his squad, taking advantage of the defensive attention dedicated to Teddy Allen to drop double-digit points in five of his last six outings.

The do-it-all point guard has also seen his assist totals spike over the winter, proof that even with Allen and Duke Shelton being relatively new additions, the team is gelling more and more with each passing week.

Allen could certainly be considered the Riders’ catalyst – the league’s top scorer has failed to breach 20 points only twice as a Rider – but speaking to BBC Radio Leicester earlier this week, he stated that the team was prepared for success when he arrived.

“The team were on a skid when I got here, but we had to pieces to compete. There is a lot of talent in every position, all the way down the bench. I was able to inject some energy into the group, and after that, we rediscovered our form and everyone has been playing well.”

Read the full interview here!

Expect the Riders to maintain that energy heading into tomorrow’s clash with Plymouth. The Patriots have the least potent offense in the league (averaging less than 80 points per game) and if Mackenzie and Allen continue on their current trajectory, 80 points could be surpassed before the start of the fourth.

New Year. New Start.

The end of 2023 was tough for the Patriots. Three losses on the bounce leading up to the break in League Championship play consigned Paul James’ men to bottom of the standings with a 3-17 record.

To compound things, top scorer Taylor Johnson had recently departed the club and it was tough to see who Plymouth could look to for an offensive spark.

However, much-improved performances in the League Trophy and the emergence of Jacob Wiley as a true scoring threat has given them cause to believe that a playoff berth is not out of reach.

The solid Trophy campaign carried forward into the Patriots’ return to the Championship as they travelled to Manchester and bested the Giants 93-79.

The trifecta of Wiley, Spencer Levi and Mason Faulkner overcame a superb 26-point showing from the Giants’ William Lee to take the win, Levi particularly impressing with a Miryne Thomas-esque 14-point, 10-rebound double-double.

Wiley once again displayed his offensive prowess with 20 points and Faulkner was instrumental, running the floor during his 26 minutes from the bench.

The Riders will provide a different challenge than the struggling Giants however, and Friday’s clash could prove how ready the Patriots are to make a run at the playoffs.

Key Matchup

Friday’s game is a battle between two teams with in-form, free-scoring, 6’6” wing forwards: Teddy Allen and Jacob Wiley.

Wiley, a veteran who has married his play on the court with his name, has a career that spans at least four continents.

Following college, the 25-year-old suited up for the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA before taking his skills to Europe, Australia and Japan.

His impact in the British Basketball League has been felt in the last couple of months after regular outings of 20 points or more.

Wiley isn’t a threat from beyond the arc, but his ability to use strength and finishing ability inside makes him a problem for defences, and combined with his tenacity on the boards, he will be a standout on the Morningside Arena court.

Allen will now be familiar to every Riders fan and many supporters across British Basketball.

The CEBL MVP has shown innate ability to score from anywhere, whether that’s slicing into the lane for a quick two or executing a nasty step back before splashing on a three-point dagger.

Possibly the least talked about facet of Allen’s game has been his defensive effort, rarely giving up on the cause and seldom getting beaten on the dribble.

Wiley and Allen are currently the primary outlets on offense for their teams, but both provide so much more around the court.

The winner of that battle could decide the winner of this game.

Leicester Riders speak to BBC Radio Leicester

Leicester Riders featured on last night’s episode of “Game Night” on BBC Radio Leicester. 

You can listen to the full episode here! 

Radio Leicester spoke to the team about their season so far and their mindset going into the rest of the year. 

Here’s what they had to say…

Teddy Allen- “The team welcomed me with open arms”

Teddy hit the ground running in Leicester following his arrival in mid-December, winning British Basketball League Player of the Month right off the bat.

He credited his early success to the unselfishness of his new team. 

“It’s hard to come in somewhere and be successful with my teammates being unselfish,” Allen told BBC Radio Leicester.

“This group is exactly that. I had messages from players even before I arrived, and it was good to feel welcomed to the team. Everybody had open arms for me when I got here. I can’t thank them enough for that.”

The Riders have seen a turn in form since Allen’s arrival, but the American guard said everything was already in place for the group to be successful. 

“The team were on a skid when I got here, but we had to pieces to compete. There is a lot of talent in every position, all the way down the bench. I was able to inject some energy into the group, and after that, we rediscovered our form and everyone has been playing well.”

Basketball is in Allen’s blood, as his younger brother, Timmy Allen, currently suits up for Memphis Hustle in the NBA G-League. Teddy said that growing up in a competitive environment with his brother helped them both become the players they are today. 

“We’re only a year and a half apart, so we were always competing growing up, playing with and against each other. When you have a brother is a blessing. You have a competitor and someone to help you get where you want to go, and he’s definitely been that for me.”

Kimbal Mackenzie- “This group will do anything they can to win.”

Kimbal started off by reflecting on a hard-fought Trophy Final Four battle with Cheshire Phoenix, where the Riders fell just short against the eventual champions. 

“It was a difficult loss in Birmingham- that was a tough pill to swallow. I’ve been on both sides of those types of games, and I hate being on that end of it. 

“That said, our team is playing well and with a lot of confidence at the moment, and I think we’re in a good place. We have to keep looking forward, and it’s time for us to move on to League play.”

It was a difficult start to the season for the Riders, but their recent form has seen them rise in the Championship standings, and they look to kick on for the remainder of the season. 

Mackenzie said the professionalism of the team has helped them turn their play around. 

“My teammates have been great. They’ve been excited to show up and put their best foot forward. This is a group that will do anything they can to win. That’s what I expect of myself, and that’s what Coach Rob expects of all of us.

“Everyone here is professional. At every level you play, you have ups and downs, no matter how good you are, so it’s good to be back on track. We have great coaches and vets around me and it’s a professional group to be around. 

“We approach every game to win and put ourselves in a position to lift the title come playoff time. Seeding really matters with the new format, so we have to work hard to be as high as possible in the league going into the postseason.”

Rob Paternostro-  “We’re putting ourselves in a good position for a nice run.”

Head Coach Rob Paternostro has always taken pride in seeing improvements in his teams throughout the season. 

Therefore, he has wanted to see the uptick in recent form all season long. 

“We always want to have a team that gets better throughout the season. We have had a lot of great teams here, but they’ve always been better in February than they were in January. Everyone is improving. It’s a long season, so you need to have that in your group. 

“I like the way we’re playing right now. Over the last 10 games, we’re ranked first in offence and second in defence. We’re putting ourselves in a good position for a nice run.”

Home form has been consistent all season long for Leicester. They have a 9-4 record at the Morningside Arena in all competitions, with two of the losses coming at the hands of the table-topping London Lions. 

And Paternostro has been pleased with the recent improvement in play on the road. 

“Away games always are a challenge in any sport. We went up to Newcastle in a hostile environment a couple of weeks ago and came away with a big win, so it’s clear that we’re getting better on the road. We’re showing more focus away from home than we did earlier in the season.”

While the start of the season was below the standards Paternsotro has set for this team over the previous decade, the recent improvements to the Riders’ play has given him confidence in their ability to challenge for playoff silverware. 

“Let’s let it all play out. We’ve had a run that is unprecedented in any sport in this country, and of course, it’s tough to maintain that. We know there will be highs and lows, but I like how we’re playing.”

Duke Shelton- “There’s still a lot of basketball to be played.”

Another new signing to the team, Duke Shelton, has also settled quickly into Leicester life. His high-energy play style has been a welcome addition to the roster. 

“This team really likes to get up and down the floor, so I thought it would be a good fit for how I play. It’s been great playing for Coach Rob, who knows how to get the best out of his players. He’s a player-coach, and that’s something different to what I’ve been used to.”

Basketball-obsessed Shelton’s seamless fit into the team is partly thanks to his dedication to the game off the court. 

“I started playing basketball when I was 15, so I came to it late, but since then, it’s been my daily regimen. Every day I’ve had something to do with basketball, and it has given me the opportunity to see the world and meet a lot of different people from all walks of life. 

“The game offers a lot more than what you see inside the lines.”

After their Trophy campaign, where the Riders showed signs of high-level play, Shelton sees that there is more to come from his new team. 

“We showed a bit of what we can do in terms of our identity, but there’s more potential in this roster, and there’s still a lot of basketball to be played.”

TJ Lall- “We’ve been focused on the end goal”

With the Trophy in the books, the Riders now apply their full attention to the remainder of their Championship campaign and the playoffs after that. 

TJ Lall, like the rest of the team, is locked in.

“All year, we’ve been focused on the end goal, but now, with the Trophy done, there’s an extra level of focus on the league and the playoffs.

“It would mean the world to win the playoffs at the end of the year. That’s what we’ve been striving for. We’re here to win, so it would be incredible.”

With big roster changes taking place earlier in the year, players such as Lall, who have been with the team at the start of the season, have had to adapt. But to him, it’s part of playing in professional basketball. 

“Teams change all the time. You have to adapt and move on; the new guys have improved the team. 

“We feel like it’s achievable to win it all. We showed what we can do in the Trophy, despite the loss. We were right there and lost by a point to the team that went on to win it.

“The emphasis is on getting better every practice, and hopefully, by the end of the season, we’re at our best, and we’ll see what we can achieve.”

The Riders are in action on Friday, hosting the Plymouth City Patriots.

Get your tickets here!

Teddy Allen named to British Basketball League Team of the Week

Teddy Allen has been named to the British Basketball Team of the Week for his performance in the Leicester Riders’ victory against Surrey Scorchers.

In the Riders’ 104-84 win, Allen scored a game-high 20 points, led all players with a +/- of 20, and finished the game with 6 rebounds and 3 assists.

Allen is the League’s leading scorer, putting up 23 points per game in Championship action.

This is the American guard’s fourth appearance on the Team of the Week, and a month of dominance in December earned him the Player of the Month award.

Teddy is back in action for the Riders on Friday, as the team hosts the Plymouth City Patriots.

Get tickets here!

3 things we learned from beating the Scorchers

The Riders returned to British Basketball League Championship action with a bang, beating the Scorchers 104-84 on the road.

Here’s what we can take from the win…

Strength in depth 

The Riders had contributions all the way down the roster, with every player in the game day squad scoring multiple field goals. 

From the leading scorer, Teddy Allen, who topped the game’s scoring charts with 20, to Blake Bowman, who attacked the hoop effectively in his 14 minutes of action, Leicester relentlessly scored throughout with multiple lineups. 

The Riders bench, led by TJ Lall’s 13 points, outscored Surrey’s 39-27, despite Surrey’s Quin Cooper providing a hot hand off the bench to score 16 and go 4-9 from three. 

“We knew they were coming off a back-to-back, so we wanted to play all 10 guys and get up and down the floor,” said Head Coach Rob Paternostro postgame. 

“We did a really good job of that, especially in the first half.”

Jaren Holmes, who went off for 14 points in the game, praised the group’s effort to get the job done in Surrey:

“We went out and played together and let the ball move. We had a lot of guys in double figures, so it was a good experience. It was fun to be out there- I love playing these types of games, where everyone is moving the ball and scoring.”

Practice makes perfect 

Both Holmes and Paternostro reflected on the week of practice, and how intense 5-on-5 action helped prepare them for the Scorchers and lift the mood in camp after last weekend’s Trophy Final Four defeat. 

“We were obviously a little down after the loss in Birmingham, but we had a great scrimmage on Thursday with 10 players playing really well, and that translated on the court today,” noted Paternostro. 

“The scrimmage we had this week was intense,” added Holmes. “Coach let us play for the longest we’ve played all season, and everybody was going at it.

“We were competing, getting into it with each other and trying to win, no matter what. That carried over into this game.”

Triple threat 

Coming into the game against Surrey, who take the most three-point shots in the League, it was important for the Riders to be able to win the battle from distance. 

They did exactly that, and as the most efficient deep shooters in the British Basketball League, shooting 39.5% on the season, they went 14-27 from behind the arc led by three triples from Kimbal Mackenzie. 

“We know they’re a really good three-point shooting team, and Cooper was exceptional out there. We really wanted to limit those opportunities for them where we could.”

Surrey shot 37% from three on the game, but couldn’t match the Riders’ pinpoint accuracy from range. 

“We’re not always looking for the three, but we have a lot of guys that can make it, and they made them today.”

Leicester had six players hit two or more threes in the game, providing deep threat from up and down and roster, everywhere on the court. 

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Report: Riders dominate in Surrey

Leicester Riders recorded a dominant win on the road, beating the Surrey Scorchers 104-84.

The British Basketball League’s leading scorer Teddy Allen came up with another 20-point game, logging 6 rebounds and 3 assists while leading the game’s scoring. 

He was backed by his captain Kimbal Mackenzie, who put up 15 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds in the wake of his nomination for January’s Player of the Month. 

Surrey shoots the most three-point shots in the League, but the Riders hit at a 51% rate from deep in the game to win the battle from behind the arc. In a team display, every Rider scored at least two baskets, and five scored in double digits.  

The win sees the Riders get back to a .500 record at 11-11 as they look to climb the Championship standings in the back half of the year. 

The Scorchers made three triples to start the game to take an early lead. Two-time League MVP Justin Robinson took the lid off the basket with back-to-back triples, followed by Padiet Wang who made it 11-9. 

Wang made the highlight of the first quarter, cutting back the door before taking off to throw down Robinson’s lob pass emphatically. 

The Riders came back to take the lead by the media timeout, Allen faded away for a tough bucket to make it 16-13. 

With a minute to go in the first, both sides flexed their shot-blocking ability. Wang kickstarted a block party by spiking Blake Bowman’s layup before Sam Idowu returned the favour next time up the floor by pinning Elliot Bailey’s shot. 

Bailey hit back and finished a succession of blocks with a denial on TJ Lall. But it was the Riders who carried a narrow advantage after a quarter, as Washington hit a corner three to put them up 30-25. 

Leicester blew the game open to start the third with back-to-back threes from Idowu. 

Surrey’s GB guard Andrew Lawrence then picked up two quick technical fouls as tensions ran high midway through the second. Leicester took advantage, and Idowu’s finish inside put Leicester up 18. 

Scorchers Head Coach Lloyd Gardner was the next to pick up a technical, putting Mackenzie to the line for his 9th point of the matchup. 

Miryne Thomas exploded to close the half, draining a contested three with a minute left, and ending the quarter with a monster putback off Allen’s missed layup. They entered the locker rooms up 62-40. 

It was the Riders’ first 60-point half of the season, as their offence clicked into gear upon its return to Championship action. 

Leicester extended their lead in the second half, playing physical ball on both ends and running the break consistently. Jaren Holmes attacked relentlessly, bringing his game tally to 10 with 6:06 left in the period and making the score 72-45. 

The Riders threatened to make the lead 30 throughout the third quarter, but Surrey kept plugging away to keep their side of the scoreboard ticking over. Wang led the game with 15 points with three minutes left, running the pick-and-roll with Saiquan Jamison effectively. 

Allen and Conner Washington combined for triples to quash any Scorchers momentum, finding open looks against Surrey’s aggressive defensive approach. Their threes made it 87-61 with one to play. 

Lall got the fourth underway for Leicester with his second three of the game. But the Scorchers came flying out in the fourth to cut the Riders’ lead back to 20, finding joy in attacking the hoop. 

The Riders hit back with a 6-0 run, capped off by a second chance make from Holmes, to take any life left from Surrey’s comeback hopes. 

Leicester returns to action next Friday, hosting the Plymouth City Patriots at the Morningside Arena, Leicester. 

Get tickets here!

Championship Preview: Riders at Scorchers

Leicester Riders are set to resume their British Basketball League Championship campaign on the road against the Surrey Scorchers. 

Here’s how the sides shape up…

Fixture information 

Leicester Riders vs Surrey Scorchers 

Surrey Sports Park

Saturday, February 3, 5:00 pm 

Watch Live!

Leicester Riders

Falling short in the Final Four

Last time out, the Riders bowed out of the British Basketball League Trophy in dramatic fashion to the Cheshire Phoenix. 

Leicester were down 12 with 2:55 remaining in the game, before mounting a spirited comeback and take the lead with 20 seconds remaining. 

But Cheshire’s Laquincy Rideau’s finish at the rim saw the Phoenix take back the lead with four seconds left, and Miryne Thomas’ Hail Mary three came off the rim to send the Riders home. 

“That was a heartbreaker,” said Head Coach Rob Paternostro postgame. 

“I’m proud of how we hung in there and put ourselves in a position to win. It was a heck of a comeback but a disappointing way to go out.”

Trending up

Despite Saturday’s loss, Leicester have gone 7-3 in their last 10 games in all competitions, seeing them capture some midseason form. 

A 3-1 record in the Trophy group phase saw their play rewarded with a trip to the Utilita Arena Birmingham, where they were seconds from toppling the eventual champions. 

The Riders currently possess a 10-11 record in the Championship following a 4-1 end to 2023. Their defence and rebounding, which were areas in need of improvement to start the season, became a strength during January. 

“We’re taking defence personally,” said Riders forward Samuel Idowu before the Final Four. 

“That’s from practice to in the games. We’re prideful in our efforts to get stops, so we’re happy to see it translate to the games. If we stay competitive, we’ll get results.

“Our rebounding especially has improved throughout the year, and we know how much that can control the game.”

Surrey Scorchers

Positive steps

Surrey looked set to progress to the Final Four after winning their opening two group games, but after suffering key injuries and running into two of the League’s inform teams in the Caledonia Gladiators and the Phoenix, they finished third in the group with a 2-2 record and failed to progress. 

They now turn their attention to the League, where their 7-14 record leaves them in the final playoff place, with two games in hand from the ninth-placed Giants on the same amount of wins. 

Surrey started the season 0-5, but responded with a 3-1 run and have picked up important wins throughout the year, including back-to-back victories against the Bristol Flyers in November. 

They’ll look to continue to add to their wins collum on the back stretch and make their first postseason appearance since 2018. 

Living by the three 

Surrey live and die by the three-point line this season, jacking up the most attempts in the League this season with 30.9 per game. 

While they don’t connect on the attempts at the most efficient rate, shooting 33.5%, when their shots are falling, the Scorchers become a difficult team to slow down. 

The Riders can compete from three, and connect on their deep shots at the highest percentage in the League at 37.8%, so expect the trading of three-point bombs in this one. 

Key matchup

Surrey’s three-point philosophy is led by two-time British Basketball MVP Justin Robinson, who takes a team-high 6.3 threes per game. 

The 17-year pro enjoyed his best years in British basketball with the London Lions, winning League MVP in 2018 and 2019. He signed with the Scorchers this summer, and leads the teams scoring with 12.2 points per game. 

The British point guard has been a lights-out three-point shooter throughout his career, averaging over 40% shooting in the last two seasons. 

Meeting him in the backcourt will be Riders captain Kimbal Mackenzie, who comes into this game off the back of two lights-out performances. 

In a win-or-go-home game against the Newcastle Eagles in the final round of the group, he led the team with 22 points in an important win. 

He followed up with a monster fourth quarter against Cheshire, where he took a charge, hit a three and made a go-ahead and-one play with seconds on the clock to lead the comeback. 

The back-and-forth between two of the League’s best point guards will be a can’t-miss action! 

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Mid-season Recap: Reviewing the Leicester Riders’ British Basketball League Championship season so far

After taking a break from Championship action for the British Basketball League Trophy in January, Leicester Riders return to League action on Saturday to take on the Surrey Scorchers on the road.

Here, we bring you back up to speed with the Championship season so far…

The State of Play

The Riders sit seventh in the standings with a 10-11 record, battling to get over .500 to set up the rest of their season. 

Having played the same number of games as the second-placed Caledonia Gladiators, they find themselves just three wins behind and are ready to make a run up the table. 

It’s a tightly packed midfield in this season’s British Basketball League Championship. Only three wins separate second and seventh, and six wins separate second from ninth, allowing for movement up and down the table as the teams fight for playoff seeding. 

PositionTeamWinsLossesGames Back
1London Lions223
2Caledonia Gladiators1387
3Cheshire Phoenix1287.5
4Newcastle Eagles1198.5
5Sheffield Sharks11109
6Bristol Flyers11119.5
7Leicester Riders101110
8Surrey Scorchers71413
9Manchester Giants71614
10Plymouth City Patriots31716.5

The Riders, in good form in the League of late, will look to benefit from that movement. 

Last time out 

The Riders went 4-1 to close out the year, heating up going into their Trophy run. They scored over 80 points in each of those games and finished 2023 with a dominant win against the Sheffield Sharks. 

It was a 103-75 victory, led by Teddy Allen and Miryne Thomas, who scored 25 and 22 points, respectively. The Riders had four double-digit scorers, Jaren Holmes having the biggest positive effect on the team, leading the game with a +/- of 32. 

Leicester exploded from three, shooting 51.9% from behind the arc, and held the Sharks to 28% deep shooting on the other end. 

The three-point accuracy has been a trend for the Riders all season long. 

The numbers 

In all phases of the game, the Riders are among the elite in the British Basketball League with their shooting efficiency. 

They lead all teams in three-point percentage (38.9%), and are second in field goal percentage (46.9%) and free-throw percentage (77.1%). This has led to 88.9 points per game, which is third in the League. 

After a solid Trophy campaign defensively, where the Riders ranked second in defensive rating, they will look to lock into that side of the ball as the Championship resumes. 

They’ve struggled in that department so far, giving up the second most points per game with 87 a night, but the additions of Duke Shelton and Teddy Allen have helped in that regard, allowing the Riders to defend the rim and pull down defensive boards more effectively. 

Should they maintain their offensive efficiency while showing more resistance on the other end as they did throughout January, Leicester will put themselves in good stead in the later months of the season. 

Want to see the Riders in action?

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Final Four Report: Riders bow out of Trophy to Phoenix

The Riders fell short of a dramatic comeback in the British Basketball League Trophy Final Four, losing 92-91 to the Cheshire Phoenix. 

Leicester were down 12 with 2:55 left, but led the game with 20 seconds on the clock after a spirited comeback. But the Phoenix had the final say, as Rideau finished a layup through contact to win it.

Miryne Thomas had a shot to win the game, but missed a tough running triple on the buzzer. 

Star guard Teddy Allen led the team with 20 points scoring five quick points to trigger the comeback. He was backed by 13 from Mackenzie and Thomas.

Cheshire’s physical wing Aaryn Rai led the game with a monster 27-point, 11-rebound double-double. Stretch big Skyler White went off for 23, hitting six threes in key moments throughout for Cheshire. 

Leicester’s veterans settled the nerves to start the game, as Mackenzie and Mo Walker put up the first seven points of the game. Jaren Holmes followed up with an and-one finish in transition, making it a 10-5 Riders start. 

Walker had a dominant start on the boards. He grabbed 3 offensive rebounds in the opening five minutes, the third making it 16-9 as he finished for two. 

The Phoenix hit back by driving to the hoop for back-to-back and-one plays. Rai had to second of the plays cut it to 16-13. 

The first closed at a slower scoring pace, but the Riders had the stronger of it and finished the quarter up 22-18. 

The Phoenix tied it up at 24 to start the second, with Maceo Jack running the break and finishing in close. Rideau drove to the hoop next time up the court, and took contact from Leicester’s Conner Washington for another score, plus the foul, to force a Riders timeout. 

Leicester locked in on defence to stem the tide and keep in touch with their opponents. They held the Phoenix to three points in two minutes, keeping them from the hoop with effective perimeter defence. 

All of the Riders’ second-quarter points came at the hoop. With their deep shots not falling, they stayed aggressive on both ends. 

But Cheshire ended the half with a 10-0 run, led by five from Rai, and the teams finished the half with the score 46-34 to the Phoenix. Rai led all scorers at the break with 13 points. 

Back-to-back White threes started the second half for the Phoenix, putting them up 18. The Riders started off 0-2 from deep, bringing them to 1-10 from three on the game. 

Thomas came up with a monster highlight, throwing down a putback jam off a Mackenzie missed layup. 

Walker connected to take the lid off the rim as the Riders attempted to claw back into the game. Holmes followed up with two scores to bring it to a 12 point difference. But the Riders efforts had a dent put in them with a Maceo Jack triple for Cheshire. 

Allen hit back with his first three of the game, and heated up with an and-one play, fading away from Cam Holden through contact. But Rai hit shots to keep the Riders at arm’s length, keeping his team up double digits. 

Allen scored seven in the third, but Rai came up with 9 points for the Phoenix. He blocked TJ Lall’s attempted three to end the third, Cheshire up 69-57. 

The Riders battled to start the fourth, Duke Shelton cutting it to 10 with a layup over Rai. Thomas quickly made it a single-digit affair on the next play with a score in the post. 

Allen drained a tough stepback three, then ran the break with Shelton with 5:41 remaining to bring the score to 79-73. Duke sent back Rai’s attempt in close to keep it to six with 4:52 left. 

White responded with a miracle three, pulling up from the corner with Shelton draped over him to snatch momentum back. White kept connecting from behind the arc, and the Phoenix stretched the lead back to 12 with 2:55 left. 

Thomas responded with back-to-back buckets to make it 82-89, before Mackenzie took a charge and drained a three to peg the Phoenix back. Holmes followed with a three, making it a one point affair. 

White got to the foul line with less than a minute left to put the Phoenix up two. The Riders fell back on their captain in the clutch, as Mackenzie came up with a monster and-one play with 20 seconds remaining to put Leicester up one. 

But Rideau had the final say, driving to the rim for an and-one of his own to snatch the lead back. Thomas missed a running three on the buzzer, ending the game. 

Trophy preview: Riders vs Phoenix

Saturday evening sees the Riders attempting to claim their most important win of the season as they take on the Cheshire Phoenix in the British Basketball League Trophy semi-final.

Rob Paternostro’s young squad will take the trip to Birmingham to face the Group A winners under the lights of the Utilita Arena.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs Cheshire Phoenix

Utilita Arena, Birmingham

Saturday, January 27, 6:00pm

Get tickets!

Riders’ Road to the Semis

The Riders’ journey to the final weekend of the Trophy initially looked tough, placed in Group B with the London Lions, Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles, Bristol Flyers, and Manchester Giants – all of whom have scored wins over Leicester this season.

However, with a renewed focus on defence and the seamless introduction of mid-season signings, the Riders finished the group stage with a 3-1 record to finish second behind the Lions.

The Trophy season began on January 5 with the visit of the Flyers to the Morningside Arena, confident after defeating Leicester on their home court in the Championship just a week prior.

The Riders learned from the previous contest that limiting big man Brad Greene’s effectiveness on the offensive glass was key to victory, and so they did, outboarding the visitors 45-36, led by a physical showing from Samuel Idowu, who bagged 14 rebounds.

The second-unit power forward backed up his glass-eating with 15 points for a maiden double-double, only bested by a spectacular 30-point night from Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen.

The CEBL MVP showed against the Flyers that he isn’t just a dominant scorer – he can dish an assist, use his 6’6” frame to grab rebounds and make life tough in perimeter defence.

The Riders hit the ground running with a 21-point win, and despite losing 89-74 to the London juggernaut, carried moment into a Wednesday-night tilt against the exciting Manchester Giants.

Paternostro knew that a win would put pressure on both the Flyers and the Eagles playing later that week, and with the Giants’ leaky defence and lack of Jamell Anderson, the Riders’ coach sent his team onto the floor to score early and often.

The players responded, buoying the home crowd with 59 first-half points and a double-digit lead going into halftime. The Giants threatened a comeback in the third quarter behind Nick Lewis’ 17, but it proved to be a false dawn after a 29-point fourth quarter from the Riders saw them to a 104-88 win.

The team win treated fans to several excellent performances, but the pairing of Miryne Thomas and TJ Lall stood out from the crowd.

Athletic big Thomas hit a near triple-double, rattling the rim for 16 points, collecting nine boards and even laying on eight assists for his team.

Lall also stuffed the stat sheets in 19 minutes from the bench, blocking shots on defence as well as bagging 19 points at the other end in an efficient display.

Sitting at 2-1 and in prime position to make the ‘Finals Weekend’, the Riders faced a must-win battle in Newcastle’s Vertu Motors Arena. 

Facing the prospect of crashing out of the Trophy with a loss, Paternostro galvanised his squad throughout the night which inspired them to put on a fantastic showing.

After a back-and-forth game of scoring runs, the Riders rose over the typically raucous Newcastle atmosphere to earn a 101-85 win, led by ‘Team of the Week’ point guard, Kimbal Mackenzie (22 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists).

Phoenix’s Road to the Semis

After a surprisingly bright first half of the season, Cheshire entered Group A of the League Trophy as favourites to progress through.

The unexpected pressure didn’t appear to tell on Ben Thomas’ squad though, as they remained unbeaten through group play and came top with a perfect record.

The trickiest game of Cheshire’s Trophy campaign came in Round One with a long trip north to face the in-form Caledonia Gladiators.

The two teams often play each other tight, and January 5 was no different, with the scores level on points after four quarters and overtime needed to decide the winner.

 With a 100-97 lead in the final minute, Cheshire missed a couple of free throws to give the home side a chance to tie the game at the overtime buzzer.

Luckily for the Phoenix, Clifton Moore Jr’s three-pointer missed the mark and Cheshire could ride the wave of a late win into the upcoming rounds.

As he has been throughout January, free-scoring forward Cam Christon made the difference for the Phoenix, bringing 18-points off the bench on an 80% shooting day.

The next two games were a pair of one-sided affairs which showcased the scoring potential of Cheshire’s offense.

First, Christon, Ethan Chargois and Maceo Jack all scored 20-plus points in a 102-74 victory over the Plymouth City Patriots, soon to be followed up with a 105-63 demolition of the Surrey Scorchers, where floor general Laquincy Rideau fed his team with ten dishes.

With qualification all but guaranteed, the Phoenix rotated the squad heavily in their final group game against the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks, but despite being down heading into the fourth, role-player EJ Stephens led a comeback to give Cheshire a healthy 78-70 win.

Key Matchups

The Utilita Arena court will be awash with talent this weekend, as two of the league’s best offences face off.

The team that advances to the Trophy Final will be the one that can orchestrate their potent attack most effectively, making the point guard battle between Kimbal Mackenzie and Laquincy Rideau the key matchup.

6’1” Florida-native Rideau has been a huge part of Cheshire’s rise in the Championship this season and has continued that form into the Trophy competition.

Known as a dynamic defender, Rideau is displaying his fast hands and timing by averaging over three steals per game, good for second in the league.

The 27-year-old – who has seen his professional career take him to Luxembourg and Ecuador – also has an eye for a pass, feeding out six assists per game including a ten-assist performance against the Scorchers.

 Attempting to unlock Rideau’s defence will be in-form Riders’ captain Kimbal Mackenzie.

Leicester’s leader has displayed excellent form during January, saving his best for the crucial victory over the Eagles.

The experienced Canadian is a big game player and Riders fans are accustomed to seeing him come through in the clutch with a dagger bucket.

If the Phoenix threaten to go on a run or the game is tight in the final few minutes, expect to see Mackenzie’s famous stop-and-pop jumper swishing the net.

The all-action point guard is averaging nearly 13 points per game and is +41 in plus/minus in the Trophy.

For the Riders to advance to the tournament final, Mackenzie may need to go over and above the already significant impact he is having on each game.

Trophy by Numbers: Breaking down the stats for the Riders Final Four clash

Leicester Riders are set to take on the Cheshire Phoenix in the British Basketball League Trophy Final Four on Saturday.

Here, we take a look at the numbers behind the matchup…

Locking off the paint

The Riders have invested in the defensive side of the ball, making the paint their own over the Trophy campaign. 

They lead the competition in blocks, sending away 6.3 shots per game, with four Riders averaging at least a block per outing. They’re led by Canadian forward TJ Lall, who has denied opponents on six different occasions through the four group games. 

Riders captain, Kimbal Mackenzie, said his CEBL teammate over the summer has been an integral factor in the defensive effort:

“TJ is a high-level, all-around threat. He can score the ball to a great standard, he is an underrated passer, and his defence, length and athleticism are special. I’ve gone against him many times in practice, and he can be tough to shake.”

READ MORE: Kimbal Mackenzie previews the Final Four

This rim protection will be vital against the Phoenix, who lead the Trophy in points in the paint with 47 per game. 

Battle on the boards

No defensive possession is complete until the rebound is pulled down, and the Riders have been closing the possessions to a high standard in recent weeks. They pull down the second-most defensive boards in the Trophy with 30 per game, just 0.5 per game away from the highest-ranked London Lions. 

The battle on the boards will be key in this matchup. Cheshire crashes the offensive glass to grab the second most offensive rebounds in the competition with 13.5 per game. 

However, their leading offensive rebounder, Ethan Chargois, will be sidelined for the game after suffering a dislocated finger last time out against the Sheffield Sharks. 

For the Riders, Lall, again, has been a beast on the boards, grabbing 4.8 defensive rebounds per outing. But it’s big man Samuel Idowu who has rebounded at the highest rate in total, with 7.5 per game, including 2.8 on the offensive glass. 

Idowu, who has been recovering from a season-ending knee injury for the previous two seasons, is back to his bruising best. He feels back to 100% fitness and can play with full confidence and athleticism. 

“My body has been feeling good,” said Idowu. “It’s finally feeling normal after recovering from an injury for two seasons. I’m not overthinking any decisions on the court and playing how I used to play. 

“I feel 100% because I have confidence in my knee again. It doesn’t hold me back from doing what I want to be doing out there when jumping or running, as it did at the start of the season. I’m where I wanted to be when I started my rehab.”

READ MORE: Samuel Idowu previews the Final Four

Idowu has ranked second on the team in scoring during the Trophy group, scoring 13.8 points per game after his 17-point explosion against the Newcastle Eagles to help send the Riders to the Final Four. 

Track meet in transition 

A key to the Phoenix’s success this season has been their ability to get out and run. They lead all teams in points off turnovers (24.75 per game) and fastbreak points (23.5 per game) and take the ball from the other team at the highest rate (21.11 turnover %), leading to the breakaway buckets. 

American guard Laquincy Rideau has been a key factor in this, leading the team in steals, and ranking third among all players in that statistical category.

The Riders will have to play clean basketball, which they have done throughout January, turning the ball over the second-least with 11.75 turnovers per game. 

Head Coach Rob Paternostro emphasised the importance of winning in transition:

“We can’t allow easy baskets. We have to take away easy runouts and layups, offensive rebounds and second-chance opportunities. We have to make it tough for them to get good looks. 

“In these types of games, it’s important to limit offensive opportunities, and if you do that, you put yourself in a good position to win.

“They’re really good in the open floor- they’ve scored the most in transition of any team season. They’ve done a good job of getting second-chance opportunities. That’s going to be vital to stop. 

“When we’ve been able to limit those against anyone, we’ve been successful this year.”

READ MORE: Rob Paternostro previews the Final Four

Want to see the Riders go for gold this weekend? You can join the Sea of Red and get behind the team! 

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Sam Idowu looks ahead to the British Basketball League Trophy Final Four

Few have stepped up like Samuel Idowu for the Riders on their British Basketball League Trophy run. 

The big man has averaged 13.8 points per game to help the team to the Final Four, the second most on the team, and exploded for 12 points in the first quarter against the Newcastle Eagles to steady the nerves after an 0-7 start for Leicester. 

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Idowu has battled back from injury for the last two seasons to get to where he is today, and he’s relishing the challenge. 

“The Trophy is something to really compete for,” he said. “It ups the stakes, mentally and physically, and it’s something I’ve been taking seriously. We have a chance to win with the team that we’ve been building, so we’ve all been locked in.

“My body has been feeling good. It’s finally feeling normal after recovering from an injury for two seasons. I’m not overthinking any decisions on the court and playing how I used to play. 

“I feel 100% because I have confidence in my knee again. It doesn’t hold me back from doing what I want to be doing out there when jumping or running, as it did at the start of the season. I’m where I wanted to be when I started my rehab.”

READ MORE: Sam Idowu reflects on battling back from injury

Leicester locked in

The Riders have upped their level for the Trophy and went 3-1 through the group phase. Their loss was to the League-leading London Lions, and their three wins came in dominant fashion. 

“Our mindset was to win every group game. We didn’t play well in London- we didn’t shoot it well and turned the ball over too much- but for the other games, we handled business. 

“I’m proud of the statement we made. We tried to jump out the gate early, and we did a good job of grabbing those wins to get through to the Final Four.”

In front of a raucous home crowd in a win-or-go-home environment, it was important to start quickly in Newcastle and keep the crowd out of the game. Former Eagle Duke Shelton said as much beforehand in his preview of the fixture:

“Everybody is going to be up for the game, and we know it’s going to be rowdy in there. The key is to set the tone early, throwing the first punch and take it from there.”- Duke Shelton before the Riders faced the Newcastle Eagles.

But the Riders failed to do so, and the Eagles game flew out the blocks and forced them to dig themselves out of a hole. 

Leicester showed poise and composure, fought back and won in commanding fashion. Idowu thought it said a lot about the team’s strong mentality.

“Being down early against Newcastle showed growth for us. Coach called a timeout, and we knew it would be a game of runs- it always is against them. We just had to stay poised and play our game for the full 40 minutes. 

“Just because we went down in the first two minutes didn’t mean we needed to panic. We weren’t down on ourselves. At that point, the confidence throughout the team was there to come back and compete.”

Defence wins championships

After a difficult start to the season, the Riders have hit their stride at the right time as they go for silverware. Idowu discussed the secret to Leicester’s recent success. 

“We’ve cleaned up smaller mistakes that plagued us at the start of the season and paid attention to detail. We’re also able to adjust at halftime when we need to fix something. We take pride in our ability to do that going into the second half.

“We’re taking defence personally. That’s from practice to in the games. We’re prideful in our efforts to get stops, so we’re happy to see it translate to the games. If we stay competitive, we’ll get results.

“Our rebounding especially has improved throughout the year, and we know how much that can control the game.”

Chemistry with new teammates

The Riders have seen an improvement in their performances since the addition of star guard Teddy Allen and Idowu’s frontcourt teammate Shelton, who have complimented Idowu’s game and seen him thrive. 

“Teddy and I have a great connection on the court, especially in the pick and roll, which has led to a lot of dunks for me. 

“He reads the floor really well and sees openings to get me the ball. He’s been great for us, and we’ve found a way to integrate him into our offence. The energy has definitely changed since he arrived.”

Shelton, in particular, is a player that Head Coach Rob Paternostro expects to benefit Idowu’s game. 

“Sam’s athleticism on the defensive end has been important,” said Paternostro. “He’s a great teammate, and he’s a guy that plays with a passion out there. 

“That can really lift the players around him. Now, playing with Duke, his versatility will be on display even more, because he’ll be able to step outside and hurt teams from inside and out.”

Idowu seconded his coach, adding how much they complement each other’s game and personalities.

“Duke is an immediate energy guy, and he has contributed in a big way. I don’t see anything negative about him being out there. He’s a great rebounder and really athletic. 

“I enjoy playing with him. We communicate really well together and match each other’s energy, and it comes naturally between us. I think that’s helped him adjust at the perfect time going into the Final Four.”

Ready for the big stage

Should the Riders progress on Saturday against the Cheshire Phoenix, it will be Idowu’s first major final as a professional. 

As a rookie, playing in the Netherlands for LWD Basket, he made the final of a domestic competition, but it was called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This makes the potential of a final all the more exciting. 

“I’m looking forward to going to Birmingham. I’ve heard it’s a great city and a great atmosphere. I can’t wait.

“I’ve played in a couple of big arenas and in knockout games in the conference tournament at the end of college seasons. I’m looking forward to embracing an atmosphere like that again.”

Getting one back against Cheshire

But before then, the Riders have to beat a hot Cheshire team, who are one game behind second in the Championship standings and have beaten the Riders three times already this season.

Idowu laid out the keys to success. 

“The key for us is to keep doing what we’ve been doing. When we’ve played them we’ve had a different roster and played a different style of basketball, so we’re looking forward to facing them again. 

“I’m excited to see the intensity- ours is going to be through the roof knowing we’ve lost to them three times already. We definitely have a chip on our shoulders. We’ve been waiting for this, and we’re hungry for it. We’re not trying to lose them a fourth time when it matters most.”

The moment means everything to Idowu, who has fought to be out of the court in the first place. That’s not lost on him.

“I’ve been through so much in the past two years, so win or lose, I’m grateful for how far I’ve come. I thank god that I’m still able to play the game that I love professionally.

“For everything I’ve gone from recovering from injuries and watching from the sideline to potentially winning a trophy, which would be an incredible feeling.”

Want to see the Riders go for gold this weekend? You can join the Sea of Red and get behind the team! 

Get tickets here!

Rob Paternostro previews the British Basketball League Trophy Final Four

The Riders are set to take on the Final Four in the British Basketball League Trophy this weekend. 

For Head Coach Rob Paternostro, it will be his sixth trip to Birmingham at the Riders’ reins as he goes for his 18th piece of League silverware with the club. 

He reflected on his team’s journey through the competition so far, and previewed Leicester’s clash with the Phoenix on Saturday. 

Building momentum

To punch their ticket to Birmingham, the Riders faced off against their historic rivals, the Newcastle Eagles, in a win-or-go-home scenario. The Riders controlled the game on the road against the Eagles, coming out 101-85 victors.

The result saw the Riders through with a 3-1 record, winning both of their home games against the Manchester Giants and Bristol Flyers before getting it done in the North East. 

“We played some good basketball on both ends of the floor,” said Paternsotro, looking back at the team’s performances throughout the group phase. 

“We took care of our home games, which was very important, and we showed a real toughness to go on the road in a win-or-go-home game and win by such a big margin in Newcastle.

“We felt really good about our team going into the game. With the additions of Teddy and Duke, we feel like we’re in a great position. 

“We have confidence, we’ve been having great weeks in practice, and we can see the work we’ve been putting in on the court in games. It was an impressive win to be in control like that.”

The Riders made waves midseason with the acquisition of CEBL MVP Teddy Allen and experienced forward Duke Shelton to their roster. 

The midseason moves have had a significant impact on the team.

“Our rebounding has certainly picked up, and both of those guys have really helped in that regard. Teddy’s size and energy from the wing have helped us close possessions, and adding Duke means we feel like we have more options to play bigger if needed. 

“Looking at this roster, we have a lot of guys now that are locked in and alert.

“That has improved from the beginning of the season until now, and it’s vital when you come into any important game. We have to have a group that’s aware of what the team is doing defensively.”

Impact players

It’s no secret to anyone following the team that the impact of Allen on this Riders roster has been immeasurable. He led the Trophy in scoring throughout the group phase and has given the team confidence going onto the court with an elite scoring threat. 

Riders captain Kimbal Mackenzie attested to this: 

“Of course, the thing that stands out with Teddy is his ability to score, but above that has provided us with an extra layer of confidence and swagger. 

“He’s given our team the confidence to go on the road in a game like Newcastle, knowing we have him on our side. He’s a winner. It’s simple to say, but he cares about winning. You can tell throughout the week at practice- he always wants to play more, and he works hard on both ends.”

Paternostro seconded his skipper, speaking on what having another All-Star talent on the roster has added to the team:

“Before Teddy arrived, we were already beginning to put together some smart, intelligent play, but he’s given us an X-Factor that can do so much. 

“His scoring has been tremendous. It’s given the group confidence knowing they have a guy who can make plays like that. But he’s also helped us in a lot of ways that people haven’t talked about. 

“His physicality from the wing, his rebounding and his ability to find the ball are all things that we’ve been looking for before he arrived, and he’s been someone that can explode and take your team to another level.”

TJ’s Trophy Performances

Beyond Teddy, the Riders have difference-makers up and down the roster. A player that has particularly impressed since he landed in Leicester is Canadian forward TJ Lall. 

“TJ has been fantastic in this competition, and he’s been a really good player for us all year. He’s one of the most underrated players in the league. 

“He can impact the game in many ways on both ends of the floor, cover multiple positions defensively, and his athleticism is valuable, but offensively, he has shown an ability to score and shoot efficiently and to create as well. 

“We’ve been very happy to have him playing for us. He’s been vital. He’s a hard worker- he’s there early and late in practice- and he wants to be in big games. 

“Going forward, the sky is the limit for him. When you combine his skills with his willingness to guard anyone, you’re looking at a player who is going to have a bright career.”

Back to Birmingham

Paternostro returns to Birmingham for the sixth time as head coach. He played for the Birmingham Bullets in the British Basketball League for two stints between 2000 and 2004. It’s a city of great sentiment for him. 

“I love it there. It’s always been a great place to play. I’ve been in this country a long time and played so many memorable games there, coaching and playing.”

The all-new Trophy format sees the Final Four fight it out over the weekend, bringing the Riders to Birmingham with the reigning champions Caledonia Gladiators, as well as the Cheshire Phoenix and London Lions. 

“The exciting part about this weekend is that it’s four teams and four sets of fans coming to the Arena on Saturday. Having a lot of British Basketball League fans around the city is going to make a great environment for British basketball.”

Facing the Phoenix

The Riders will take on the Cheshire Phoenix on Saturday, who have already bested them three times this season. 

Paternostro said that keeping them in the halfcourt is a big key to success in this one. 

“We can’t allow easy baskets. We have to take away easy runouts and layups, offensive rebounds and second-chance opportunities. We have to make it tough for them to get good looks. 

“In these types of games, it’s important to limit offensive opportunities, and if you do that, you put yourself in a good position to win.”

Cheshire are one of the stories of the season, sitting a win behind second in the British Basketball League Championship standings. They reached the final of the Trophy last season but fell on the buzzer to David Sloan’s corner three. 

The Riders will look to prevent them from making it back-to-back Finals appearances for the Phoenix.  

“They’re really good in the open floor- they’ve scored the most in transition of any team season. They’ve done a good job of getting second-chance opportunities. That’s going to be vital to stop. 

“When we’ve been able to limit those against anyone, we’ve been successful this year.”

These games, in these environments, are the types of matchups that the best players thrive in. Paternostro called out to his team to enjoy the occasion. 

“There’s a lot of good players in this game, so it should be a really good event for everyone involved. We’ve got to enjoy it. These are the games we play for, and you have to have a group that enjoys the challenge and is fired up to play well on the day.”

Want to be a part of the atmosphere, and join the Sea of Red in Birmingham? 

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Kimbal Mackenzie named to British Basketball League Team of the Week

Riders captain Kimbal Mackenzie has been named to the British Basketball League Team of the Week for the final round of Trophy group games.

In a win-or-go-home clash on the road against the Newcastle Eagles, Mackenzie went off for 22 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds to lead the team to a 101-85 win.

The victory saw the Riders through to the final four in Birmingham, where they will take on the Cheshire Phoenix.

Get tickets here!

“I let the game come to me, didn’t force anything and played within myself,” said Mackenzie.

“Shots were falling, my teammates got me good looks, and Newcastle sat back into a zone a lot which got some clean looks from three. It seemed like guys were making shots every time I passed the ball, so all credit to them.”

Kimbal Mackenzie previews the British Basketball League Trophy Final Four

Ahead of the Leicester Riders British Basketball League Trophy Final Four clash against Cheshire Phoenix on Saturday, captain Kimbal Mackenzie reflects on the campaign so far, and looks ahead to the matchup…

Thank you to everybody for your incredible support during our Trophy run so far. We’re all excited that we’ve been able to pay our fans back with another trip to Birmingham this season. 

I’m proud of the team for how we’ve played during the group phase, and that we’ve booked our ticket to the Final Four. 

Personally, I’m really looking forward to going back to Birmingham. I love that city, and I love that arena. It’s always a great atmosphere, and it’s cool to have a new format with the Final Four being played out over the weekend.

Hopefully, we can take care of business on Saturday and have the opportunity to play there again on Sunday in the Final.

We’re really looking forward to the opportunity to play Chesire again in the semi-finals. They have gotten the better of us so far this season, so we will really be looking to play well and get the win.

We’ve put together a good month of basketball so far, and most importantly, handled business at home during the group phase. Of course, we didn’t get the result we wanted in London, but they’re a tough team to play, and we knew that winning 3 games should be enough. 

Going on the road and beating Newcastle was a great response. It was a fun game, and those are the games you remember, win or lose. It’s always a good atmosphere there, so adding a win-or-go-home scenario to it created a playoff-esque environment.

It was great to get the win, and it was important to get a big game under our belts before heading to the Final Four.

The arrival of Teddy Allen has been a great boost for us over the last month. Of course, the thing that stands out with Teddy is his ability to score the ball, but he has also provided us with added depth and an overall confidence and swagger. 

There is no doubt that he is a winner. It’s simple to say, but he cares about winning. You can tell throughout the week at practice- he always wants to play more, and he works hard on both ends. He’s been great to have around. 

And beyond Teddy, we’ve had guys stepping up all the way down the roster. We’re definitely more locked into the game plan, and locked in on defence, and a special shout goes to  TJ Lall, who has been playing excellently over the last stretch.  

TJ is a high-level, all-around threat. He can score the ball to a great standard, he is an underrated passer, and his defence, length and athleticism are special. I’ve gone against him many times in practice, and he can be tough to shake. 

Another shout-out goes to Sam Idowu, who has also been playing excellently recently. He’s given us a spark off the bench which is so important, he’s been shooting it well and finishing around the net effectively. His activity level, blocking shots, rebounding, and overall energy have been amazing for us.

It’s also been great to add Duke to the roster! 

Duke has fit in seamlessly, and he’s a true professional. He came in and learned the sets quickly, and understands our concepts really well. 

His length and athleticism and his ability to finish above the rim have really benefited us on the court, and just having a great guy around who wants to win is always beneficial. It’s been great to have him and has been a brilliant addition to our team.

Having guys up and down the roster who are locked in and playing with confidence and energy has been great and it’s something we’re going to have to fall back on going into Birmingham. 

We’re hoping to be playing games in back-to-back days, and part of what has allowed us to have a good group stage is getting contributions from all over the place. 

And as usual, we’ll have to lock in on defence, rebound and take care of the ball. When we’ve done those things well, we’ve been on the right side of the scoreline this season. 

We’re hoping to do that twice this weekend and bring some silverware back to Leicester. We can’t wait to see that Sea of Red in Birmingham!

See you there! 

Your captain,

Kimbal Mackenzie

Want to join the Sea of Red and get behind the Riders in Birmingham?

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3 things we learned from the Trophy Group Phase

The Riders punched their ticket to the British Basketball League Trophy Final Four, after beating the Newcastle Eagles in a win-or-go-home matchup.

The team has built momentum in recent weeks, putting in good performances in high-pressure matchups to progress out of Group B.

Here’s what we learned from the group phase…

The Riders are rolling

The Riders have hit a rich vein of form in the Trophy, winning by an average margin of 17.6 points on their way to a 3-1 record. 

Their loss came to the league-leading Lions on the road, but they bounced back emphatically with consecutive wins to progress to the final four. 

The Riders did so by making the most of every possession. They rank second in assists, second in scoring and third in field goal percentage through the Trophy phase, led by scoring savant Teddy Allen.

Allen leads all scorers in the Trophy through four games with a 21.5 average. His gravitational pull on offence has opened up the court for all of the Riders scorers, allowing them to click into gear as they go for silverware. 

The team are peaking at the right time, and will take confidence in their performances heading into Birmingham. 

Strength in depth

Leicester’s bench is what saw them to their momentous win against the Newcastle Eagles last night, mustering 37 points from the sideline. 

They have six scorers averaging double-digit points in the Trophy, but no one has impressed more of late than big man Samuel Idowu. 

Idowu led the charge out of the gate in Newcastle, going off for 12 first-quarter points and 17 on the game. He is the team’s second-leading scorer in the competition behind Allen, with an average of 13.8. 

“It was a real team effort. We have guys giving contributions all over the court,” said Head Coach Rob Paternostro after the win against the Eagles. 

“We’re pretty deep now, we have guys in every position, and we’re locked in. We’re especially locked in on the defensive end, which has been a real positive for us recently.”

Defence wins championships

As has been the trend for Paternosto teams over the last decade, the Riders have hung their hat on their defence. 

They lead the Trophy in blocks, with 6.3 per game, led by TJ Lall’s 1.5 per outing, laying down a gauntlet at the rim and forcing teams to shoot over them from deep. 

Another strength of the team is closing defensive possessions. The Riders rank second in the Trophy in defensive rebounding with 30 a game, allowing their opposition little opportunity for second chance points. 

The Riders’ defence will need to remain locked in should they want to lift the silverware in Birmingham.

Want to join the Sea of Red, and get behind the Riders in Birmingham?

Find out how you can book your ticket here!

Ticket information: Trophy Final and Semi-Final

Leicester Riders have progressed to the Final Four of the British Basketball League Trophy at the Utilita Arena, Birmingham.

You can get tickets in the Riders allocation to join the Sea of Red and get behind the team!

Here’s all you need to know about our ticket offers…

Weekend and Saturday Tickets 

With this year’s British Basketball League Trophy Semi-Final and Final taking place on the same weekend at the Utilita Arena, Birmingham, you can choose to purchase tickets for the entire weekend or just for the semi-finals. 

Tickets for the full weekend are £48 for adults and £38 for children in Band A, and £39 for adults and £34 for children in Band B. 

Alternatively, you can purchase tickets for the semi-final only, at £41 for adults and £32 for children. 

Band A tickets are for seats in the lower tiers, and Band B is for seats in the upper tiers. 

Should the Riders fail to progress to the Final on Saturday, your ticket will still be valid to watch Sunday’s action with a weekend ticket.


We can arrange your travel from our Arena to the Utilita Arena, Birmingham, on both Saturday and Sunday. 

Travel is £30 per day, or £45 for both days. 

Timings will be confirmed upon booking.

How to collect your tickets

Tickets will be available for collection at the Arena on Tuesday and Wednesday between 6 and 9 pm. 

Please collect from the main reception, at the following address:

Morningside Arena
12 Memory Lane

You can also choose to have your tickets posted to your home address for the price of £4. 

Sea of Red

We need your support in the Trophy Final Four! Help us to create a Sea of Red at the Utilita Arena Birmingham, by wearing red to the game! 

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

Riders beat Eagles to punch their ticket to the Trophy Final Four

The Riders deservedly reached the British Basketball League Trophy semi-finals tonight after a clinical 101-85 road victory over the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles.

Rob Paternostro utilised his squad’s depth perfectly, taking advantage of the depleted Eagles roster that is plagued with the injury bug.

Leicester’s bench contributed an impressive 40 points, led by big man Samuel Idowu who dropped 17 points in a display that perfectly demonstrates what he brings from the sideline.

Captain Kimbal Mackenzie also proved he can still be the main man under pressure, top-scoring with 22 points, pulling down six rebounds and dishing out eight assists.

TJ Lall and new man Duke Shelton also showed nice flashes, Lall hitting his customary near double-double going 14 and eight, with Shelton – a former Eagle – protecting the rim with some authoritative blocks.

Newcastle’s shortened rotation showed plenty of endeavour, the enigmatic Tajh Green mixing up trey-balls with rim-rattling dunks, and Larry Austin Jr displayed his rabid competitiveness on both ends of the court.

In the end, the Riders’ strength in depth was too much for the home side, and the win sees Leicester travelling to the Utilita Arena in Birmingham for the Trophy Finals Weekend.

As is often the case in the Vertu Motors cauldron, Newcastle hit the ground running, crashing out of the locker room to hit seven unanswered points in the first minute.

A Green triple kicked things off, followed by an Austin Jr layup and capped with a thunderous dunk from Newcastle’s power forward (11 first-half points).

A quick timeout was taken by Paternostro and his decision bore immediate fruit as Mackenzie pulled up for a three after causing Jordan Johnson to slip.

Both teams suddenly got hot, with every Eagles bucket being matched by the Riders.

Leicester’s captain got his second bucket with a nice layup, then Mo Walker found rare space beyond the arc to hit a triple of his own.

The net kept swishing as Teddy Allen, Miryne Thomas and Jaren Holmes all found the hot hand. Then Idowu stepped onto the court.

The second-unit star instantly made his presence felt, driving the Riders forward with aggression on both ends of the court.

The big man opened his account with a quick hit at the rim, bettering that finish with an ‘and one’ play before pulling up from three and showing his range. Idowu’s 12 first half points were a just reward for his impact from the bench.

The hot streak saw the Riders come back from the early deficit, and after taking their first lead of the game with a Thomas trey, pulled ahead of the home side.

Great defence and a lethal touch in transition saw the Riders hit 37 first quarter points and boasting a comfortable lead.

The second ten minutes told a slightly different story, as both teams locked down on defence, forcing multiple runs of missed shots.

The turnover bug also plagued the Riders, who ended the first half with ten giveaways to the Eagles’ four.

The quarter began with a much-needed Rickey McGill bucket, answered by ‘Buckets’ Allen after a nicely timed block from Lall.

Allen soon added to his total and – with Idowu and Shelton protecting the rim diligently – the lead remained a significant one.

However, galvanised by Green and Johnson, the Eagles started slowly crawling back into the game.

The lead eventually cut to single-figures and, despite Allen hitting picturesque floaters and making a one-handed offensive rebound to transition into a layup, the Eagles were back within six.

The crowd got to their feet after the 39-year-old Darius Defoe stole the ball and embarked upon a fast break that belied his years, but Lall immediately settled things down with an athletic ‘and one’ play.

The entertaining half wound down with the Riders in front, 55-49.

Leicester started the crucial second half in great fashion, showing quick hands on defence which was rewarded with a pull up and pop triple from Thomas.

The Eagles were displaying a fighting spirit, but after Green had to sit down for his third personal foul, a Mackenzie running triple saw Leicester breach 60 points.

The three was soon answered by Johnson though, and the tension in the building began to hang heavy.

One thing that remained consistent was the Riders’ protection at the rim, and during a prolonged period of missed shots and mistakes, solid defensive play in the paint kept the road team ahead.

Leicester’s front court defence was forcing Newcastle to take several ill-advised deep threes, and the lead stretched back out to 11 following a Mackenzie fast break layup and physical work on the offensive boards by Idowu.

The lead continued to advance after ice cold back-to-back threes from Idowu and Mackenzie, the latter hitting his 20th point of the night.

The quarter ended with the Riders in control but needing to keep their foot on the gas with the six-man Eagles rotation looking leggy.

Now, it was only ten minutes between the teams and a place in the semi-finals.

Yet again, the Riders shot into the quarter with a three, Lall pulling up from the top of the arc and stringing home a beautiful bucket.

Green ran the floor to dunk home a statement of defiance and to give the bumper home crowd something to shout about, but with the Riders slowing things down and sitting on a 19-point lead, the result appeared decided.

The game then started to reflect the spice seen in previous meetings between the two teams this season, and a period of heavy fouling resulted in Johnson having to take a seat.

The Riders’ rode their composure to the final whistle, capping off an excellent League Trophy group stage with a terrific performance on the road.

It remains unclear who the Riders will face in Birmingham, as the fate of Group A remains undecided.

Want to see the Riders in action?

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Trophy Preview: Riders at Eagles

The Riders will take the long, straight trip up the M1 this Friday as they take on the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles in a win-or-go-home clash in Group B of the British Basketball League Trophy.

With two wins in the bank, Rob Paternostro’s squad know that victory in the Vertu Motors Arena sends them through to the final four of the competition to face the winners of Group A.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders @ Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles

Vertu Motors Arena, Newcastle

Friday, January 19, 7:45pm

Welcome to ‘Knockout’ Basketball

Leicester’s young squad face possibly the most pressurised night of the season on Friday, with the unenviable prospect of bowing out of the League Trophy lurking behind a loss.

However, much of this squad have faced games of this magnitude before. Kimbal Mackenzie, Conner Washington, Mo Walker and Blake Bowman have all suited up for the Riders multiple times in playoff basketball and in the latter stages of cup competitions, and first-year Riders’ Teddy Allen and TJ Lall have both experienced the pressure of the CEBL playoffs.

A much-improved defence has propelled Leicester into their second-place spot in Group B, a point against per game average of less than 84 proof that the squad is gelling nicely in 2024.

The tighter defence has come both on the front court – led by Miryne Thomas and Walker – and on the perimeter, with Allen proving his worth without the ball alongside his skills with it.

Those three have shown quick hands all through January, leading the Riders with over two steals per 40 minutes.

Double-digit home victories over the Bristol Flyers and Manchester Giants – where Leicester put up 104 – demonstrate that things are also clicking on the offensive side of the ball.

Teddy ‘Buckets’ has continued his devastating form, leading the league with 24 points per game, but it is the contributions of Lall and Samuel Idowu from the bench that have kept the Riders ahead in those games.

The second-unit pair are knocking down nearly 24 points a night between them, punctuated by Lall’s 19 points against Manchester and Idowu’s pair of double-doubles versus Bristol and the London Lions.

With Newcastle’s well-publicised injury troubles potentially acting as a hamper, expect coach Paternostro to utilise the full reach of his squad on Friday night to go into a crucial fourth quarter with the fresher team.

Coming Through in the Clutch

Like the Riders, the Eagles have won two games in a tough League Trophy Group B, although one of the victories was far from comfortable.

Leicester’s 104-88 defeat of the Manchester Giants last Wednesday laid down the gauntlet to the Flyers and the Eagles. Losing in Bristol could have meant the end of Newcastle’s campaign.

The contest was as tight as predictions expected, both teams trading blow-for-blow over the 40 minutes with both winning two quarters each.

Decorated veteran Darius Defoe had the final say, finding himself free after a scramble to drop in a two-pointer with 19 seconds remaining in the game. Defoe’s clutch bucket was reward for the depleted Eagles, who could only send six senior players onto the court.

Both teams have had at least a week to rest ahead of Friday’s clash, but it appears that Marc Steutel’s squad will still be without Josh Ward-Hibbert, Will Neighbour, Devin Whitfield and Scott Spencer.

As a result, many of the remaining Eagles have clocked heavy minutes in January, reflected by the four players who average over 15 points per game. Jordan Johnson, Larry Austin Jr., Tajh Green and Rickey McGill have done well to keep the team in winning form, and prove why Newcastle are a tough opponent, despite the injuries.

The battles between the Riders and Eagles have carried an added spice this season, with Leicester leading the series 2-1. Due to the high stakes – and the fact that new Rider Duke Shelton is returning to his former club – the Vertu Motors Arena will be bouncing come Friday night.

Newcastle will be hoping to shine under the bright lights.

Key Matchup

As intriguing as it is to see Shelton returning to his former club, the juiciest matchup in this game has got to be the battle of the scorers – Jordan Johnson and Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen.

Floor general Johnson has shown true leadership qualities in recent weeks for the Eagles. The former Caledonia Gladiators point guard is in top form, averaging 20 points per game in Group B.

Often required to be Newcastle’s primary scoring option, the 27-year-old can do it all, whether it’s draining shots from beyond the arc (42% from three) or driving into the lane before finessing home a tricky layup.

Johnson has played in the NBA G-League and across Europe (Netherlands, Kosovo and Germany), and his experience will tell during Friday’s biggest moments. 

Aiming to go bucket-for-bucket with Johnson will be the Riders’ mid-season magician, Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen.

The CEBL MVP has only suited up for Leicester seven times but has already made a sizeable impression with his scoring ability and fearlessness when taking big shots.

Allen began his time with the Riders with a 32-point exhibition of three-point shooting. His numbers from downtown have calmed somewhat during the League Trophy, but the 6’6” winger has shown versatility by sauntering into the post to drop a layup or earn a trip to the free throw line.

It is the charity stripe where the former Winnipeg Bear has really shone, hitting 22 free throws (the most in the league) at a clip of over 90%.

The battle between these two premium scorers is sure to be an exhilarating one. One thing is for sure – even if the game is low-scoring, Johnson and Allen are sure to get theirs.

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Plymouth City Patriots on Febuary 9!

Riders vs Eagles: The season series so far

The Riders face off in a win-or-go-home matchup against the Newcastle Eagles on Friday, the victor progressing to the Final Four in the British Basketball League Trophy. 

The sides have shared centre stage in some of the biggest battles in British basketball history over the last decade and once again meet with the stakes at their highest.

READ MORE: Riders vs Eagles: The History

Every Riders-Eagles fixture has been a battle so far this year, the Riders winning the season series so far 2-1. 

Here’s how the teams have matched up…

Game 1- Newcastle Eagles 85-92 Leicester Riders 

The teams first went face-to-face this season in the North East, and the Riders game out winners in the clutch. 

It was a one-score game with 1:25 remaining, after Malcolm Delpeche got to the hoop and laid in a finish. 

From there, it was a Riders onslaught on the free throw line, kicked off by Jaren Holmes’ and-one in transition. Kimbal Mackenzie finished it off from the stripe, making both attempts to seal a hard-earned win. 

Miryne Thomas impressed throughout with his interior presence, going off for 17 points and 7 rebounds in a Player of the Game performance. He was backed by Mackenzie’s 16, as the captain went 8-10 from the free throw line. 

Game 2- Newcastle Eagles 95-90 Leicester Riders

The Eagles had a chance to get back later that month and won in a war. Heated exchanges lasted throughout, seeing Newcastle’s star forward Tajh Green ejected from the game, but a 31-point explosion from Rickey McGill saw them win in a game that was contested wire-to-wire once again. 

McGill went 6-10 from three, the Riders with no answer to his hot hand. 

It was a one-possession game within the final two minutes after Miryne Thomas threw down a slam to cut the game to three. But this time it was Newcastle who finished strong, McGill scoring six down the stretch to win it for the hosts. 

Thomas impressed again, putting up 22 point and 10 rebound double-double. But ultimately, Leicester were outgunned from deep, the Eagles shooting 54% from behind the arc and tying the season series at 1-1. 

Game 3- Leicester Riders 111-88 Newcastle Eagles

Back in their own building, the Riders made a statement with a commanding win at the Morningside Arena. 

Jaren Holmes went off for 28 points and 5 rebounds, going 4-5 from three in the win. The Riders were down 10 in the first quarter, but a dominant third saw them turn a close game at the half to a 20 point lead.

Vote for Jaren for the 2024 British Basketball League All-Star game!

Holmes scored 13 on the run, and the Riders won the period 36-19 to burst out to a dominant lead. 

Mackenzie put up another 16 in the game, matching up well against the Newcastle backcourt to go 5-8 from the field. It was Leicester’s turn to shoot the light out, led by Holmes, going 57% from three-point range. 

Game 4- Win or go home

We’re back in Newcastle for our fourth meeting, in the most significant meeting between the sides so far this season. 

Should the Riders secure their second win in Newcastle, they’ll have booked their place against the winner of Group A in the Utilita Arena, Birmingham. 

The Riders’ roster has been revamped since the last meeting, with new signings Teddy Allen and Duke Shelton looking to face the Eagles for the first time. 

Watch the clash live on Friday, on the British Basketball League’s YouTube channel! 

Want to see the Riders in action?

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“It’s definitely a rivalry”- Duke Shelton on facing his former team, the Newcastle Eagles

Duke Shelton, in his second outing in Riders red, is set to walk into his old building in a win-or-go-home game against his former club.

The American forward suited up for the Newcastle Eagles between 2021 and 2022, and is well accustomed to the historic rivalry these teams hold. Shelton knows all too well the environment that is waiting for the Riders in the North East. 

“It’s a highly anticipated game, and there’s been a bit of heat between the teams in the last couple of games,” said Shelton. “Everybody is going to be up for it, and we know it’s going to be rowdy in there.

“We’re two of the most winning teams in the country. It’s definitely a rivalry, and you feel that when you play in these games. There’s definitely more energy, focus, and will to win when these teams play.”

The American, born in Florida, signed last week, and impressed in limited minutes on his debut in the Riders’ 104-88 win. He appreciated the chance to take to the court and impact the game where he could. 

“I felt comfortable, and really at home. I didn’t play a whole lot because I had just arrived the day before, but overall, I think I gave good effort and energy, and it was a good team win.

“I’m trying to bring energy, rebounding, communication and running to the team, and I think I did that during my time out there.”

Having been with the team for just over a week, Shelton can already see the makings of a team ready to make a run in the Trophy. 

“We have all the potential in the world. We are a pretty balanced team in all positions, and we have good team chemistry, so we just need to keep rolling. The Giants game was a good win, so we need to pick up where we left off.”

The Eagles, too, are coming into this one after a confidence-building win. They went into Bristol to play the Flyers, and got it done in the clutch to set up this knockout-style matchup against the Riders.

It was Shelton’s former teammate Darius Defoe who hit the go-ahead bucket from the elbow with seconds on the clock, and he thinks the veteran forward will have a say in the proceedings on Friday. 

“Darius is huge for them. You saw that last time out in the clutch- that was his signature shot. 

“He’s got a lot of experience, so everything he does is second nature. It’s huge to have a guy on the floor with you like that, especially on the defensive end. He can get guys in their spots and communicate- he’s the quarterback. He’ll play a huge role in the game.”

But despite the presence of the most decorated player in league history lining up against the Riders, they enter the game with confidence, having already gone into Newcastle and coming away with a win earlier in the year. 

“We match up pretty well against them, so we’ve got to come out and play team basketball. The atmosphere is going to be great, we know that, so we have to stick together and not get sidetracked by anything that’s not basketball. We can’t focus on anything that’s outside of sidelines.”

To fight for silverware so soon after signing is an exciting prospect for Shelton. With his new team, he’s ready to go to battle and help bring the Trophy to the East Midlands. 

“It would mean everything to win the Trophy. It’s what basketball is all about, and what every player is dreaming of. To have the opportunity, and be a part of a team that has to potential to win it is a great feeling, and we’d love to bring that to reality for the fans.”

Want to see Shelton in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Plymouth City Patriots on Febuary 9!

5 things we learned from Giants win

The Riders improved to 2-1 in the British Basketball League Trophy Group B last night with a 104-88 win against the Manchester Giants.

The victory puts them in the driving seat as Leicester looks to advance to the semi-finals in the Utilita Arena, Birmingham.

Here’s what we can take from the game…

TJ explodes with efficiency

The ever-reliable TJ Lall showed his ability to explode for big points last night and proved pivotal down the stretch. 

The Canadian wing put 19 points and 5 rebounds on the Giants in 19 minutes of action, shooting 7-8 from the field and 5-6 from deep.

Lall drained two clutch threes when the game was tight in the fourth, building a platform for the Riders to see the game out from. 

His size and strength down low provided much-needed resistance at the rim and on the glass, and his game-leading index rating of 27 demonstrates his impact on the game. 

“I was getting open shots at the beginning, saw a couple of shots go down and kept shooting,” said Lall post-game. 

“TJ is an excellent player,” added Head Coach Paternostro.

“He can play multiple positions and fill multiple roles. He doesn’t have to score. It doesn’t have to be about that for him. He can play defence, pass and rebound, so he’s a really valuable player for this team.”

Riders show their strength in depth

The Riders, having made two additions to their roster in a month with the arrival of Teddy Allen and Duke Shelton, flexed their strength in depth last night as they achieved a century of points. 

Ten Riders saw court time, five of which scored in double-digits led by Allen’s 21, Lall’s 19 and Miryne Thomas’ 16 points. 

Every Riders player finished with a positive +/- in the win, the most effective being Thomas, who finished with a +/- of 19 in a near-triple double performance. 

This proved a significant advantage over a short-handed Giants team, who in the absence of leading scorer and GB international Jamell Anderson, fielded seven players for significant minutes. 

Being able to transition seamlessly between the first and second unit is a strength of this Riders roster as the games progress.  

Want to see your Riders at the British Basketball League All-Star game?

Vote for your All-Stars here!

Duke impresses on debut 

New Riders signing Duke Shelton impressed on his first Riders outing after joining the team only the day before. 

In six minutes, the American forward put up 6 points and 6 rebounds, 3 on the offensive end. His energy saw him all over the offensive glass, making an impact where he could during his limited court time. 

“I thought he was great today,” said Paternostro following Shelton’s performance. “He only practised with us for the first time yesterday, so he came into the game not knowing a lot of our stuff, but with his effort, he deserved more minutes than I gave him tonight. 

“He’s something we haven’t had with his athleticism and ability to run from the centre spot. He did a good job tonight.”

Allen’s infectious impact 

The Riders are 5-2 in all competitions since the arrival of CEBL Teddy Allen, who has led the team in scoring in every appearance so far this season. 

This time, it was 21 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals, which led all scorers in the game. 

He has sparked life into the team, who are playing with confidence as they look to attack the month of January and lift the Trophy in Birmingham. 

Lall, who played against Allen in the CEBL this summer as he suited up for the Niagara River Lions, complimented an overlooked aspect of Allen’s game: his defence. 

“He’s helped us a lot defensively and takes the pressure off our defence on the other end with his scoring,” said Lall.  “He makes our team way better.”

Win, and we’re in

The Riders’ 2-1 record in Group B means a win next week in Newcastle will most likely be enough to see Leicester through to the semi-finals in Birmingham. 

The Newcastle Eagles take on the Bristol Flyers on Friday evening, and a win would also give them a 2-1 record entering the faceoff against the Riders. 

This would mean a win would see both teams through, creating a knockout environment in the clash between the two long-standing rivals. 

For Leicester, regardless of permutations elsewhere, the focus is on the win on the road. With nine days between the Giants and Eagles games, they can rest up and prepare for the showdown. 

Want to see the Riders in action?

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Report: Riders beat Giants to improve to 2-1 in the Trophy

The Riders took another step towards the final four of the British Basketball League Trophy with a midweek 104-86 victory over the 0-2 Manchester Giants.

The win takes Leicester’s record to 2-1, putting pressure on the Bristol Flyers and Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles, neither of whom can afford to lose if they want to claim a top two spot in Group B.

The Riders struggled at times to score efficiently, but coach Rob Paternostro will be happy with his team’s dominance on the boards – outrebounding the visitors 50-37 – and the unselfish basketball on display, the Riders dishing 30 assists on the night.

The home side also did an excellent job of forcing missed shots down low, Leicester’s big men battling hard against the sizeable Manchester front court.

Athletic power forward Miryne Thomas took ‘Player of the Game’ honours, putting up a stat line of 16 points, seven rebounds and eight assists to flirt with a triple-double.

The Riders’ second unit also played well, spearheaded by 19 from TJ Lall who consistently hit big shots in important moments to keep the home side ahead.

Not to be outdone, Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen drained 21 in what appeared to be a ‘quiet’ display by his standards, popping up each quarter with a play to get the Morningside Arena bouncing.

Manchester’s defensive issues continued, but they flashed on offense, William Lee and Nick Lewis the top scorers with 16 and 17 points respectively.

As predicted, the game started quickly, both teams wasting no time putting points on the board. Lee, one of a glut of former Riders suiting up for the Giants, opened the scoring with the first of his ten first half points before an instant answer from captain Kimbal Mackenzie, who had eight of his own.

Thomas soon drained the first three of the night after nice play from Jaren Holmes – five first half assists – before Allen got in on the act, casually pulling up and stringing a classy deep trey to give the Riders an early ten-point lead.

Thomas then splashed again from deep in transition and, with Mackenzie constantly pushing the pace of the offense, Leicester looked in control.

A couple of threes from big-man Lee (the main scoring option with Jamell Anderson injured) kept Manchester within striking distance as the first quarter clock wound down, but an authoritative jam by Samuel Idowu and Lall joining the three-point party maintained Leicester’s control.

The second quarter started with super-sub Lall hitting a tough, fadeaway three and rising for a huge block to get the Morningside on its feet.

Not to be outdone, Holmes drove to the basket for a nice ‘+1’ play which led to a string of Riders free throws, facilitated by the aggressive attacking play of high-flyer Blake Bowman.

The Giants showed fight through Evan Walshe’s 13 first half points and Legend Robertin was his usual abrasive self-down low but continued quality play from Lall and the introduction of debutant Duke Shelton – six points – built the home side’s lead.

A beautiful block on Robertin from Shelton set the tone for the last five minutes of the half, matched by another ‘+1’ play from ‘Buckets’ Allen who reminded the fans why he won December’s ‘Player of the Month’.

Thomas drained his third deep ball of the game to stretch the Riders’ lead to 15 and good team basketball carried Paternostro’s squad towards half time. 

A great first half for Leicester saw them take a 59-44 lead into the locker room, punctuated by a breakaway dunk from Holmes with a few seconds remaining.

The second 20 began and the Riders were now showing dominance on the offensive glass, Mo Walker using his size well before Thomas put back a missed Allen layup with feeling.

However, the following few minutes were scrappy for the home side, missed shots and turnovers allowing Manchester to come back into the game through Lewis, who was slowly heating up.

A nervous energy rippled through the Riders’ fans, but that was soon put to bed after a silky move by Allen.

The CEBL MVP had his man in knots with isolation moves before blowing past him and laying home a tough shot. When Thomas thundered in a two-handed dunk, home supporters were back on their feet.

The final minutes of the quarter saw both teams slow down on the offensive side of the court, the Riders uncharacteristically missing several three-point attempts, allowing the Giants to creep back within ten going into the final stanza.

As he had done to start the second quarter, Lall drained from deep to get the Riders back on track.

Bowman hit another nice move into a layup to bring the lead back to 11, but the Giants were showing something, sticking around with buckets from Jalen Harris and Robertin.

The teams hit a period of trading baskets, going toe-to-toe, the Riders lead at just four points. Leicester soon wrestled back the momentum though, Thomas setting up Idowu for a one-handed flush before ‘Buckets’ Allen hit a layup that only he can for back-to-back scores.

Paternostro’s squad rode that momentum to another double-digit lead with three minutes left, a pair of corner triples in succession from Lall virtually clinching the Riders’ victory.

A clutch trey from the Riders’ captain took them into triple-digits and iced the game, with the Giants unable to make a late-game comeback.

The Riders return to action on Friday, January 19, taking on the Newcastle Eagles on the road.

The game will decide the team’s seeding in Group B, and whether they will advance to the Trophy semi-finals at Utilita Arena Birmingham.

British Basketball League Launches All-Star Game Voting for North vs South Clash

The British Basketball League have unveiled the much-anticipated launch of the All-Star voting platform, providing fans with a unique opportunity to shape the Men’s and Women’s lineups for the star-studded event taking place at the Copper Box Arena in London on March 17, 2024.

The All-Star Games will see the best of the best from the British Basketball League come together for one day only in a North v South showdown. It’s an event where rivals become teammates and fans can witness their favourite players battling together (and against each other) on the court.

Power to the fans

From today, fans can visit the All-Star voting webpage and pick their favourites for the North v South teams starting fives. They can select one centre, two forwards and two guards per team, and there is no limit on how many players from one club can be picked in the starting five. 

Voting closes on February 15 at 7:00pm (GMT), and the players with the most votes will be selected to start in their respective teams.

The battle of North v South

With 10 Men’s teams and 11 Women’s teams across the UK, the North v South rivalry will be greater than ever on March 17. The split of teams is as follows:


North: Caledonia Gladiators, Cheshire Phoenix, Manchester Giants, Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles, B. Braun Sheffield Sharks.

South: Bristol Flyers, Leicester Riders, London Lions, Plymouth City Patriots, Surrey Scorchers.


North: Caledonia Gladiators, Durham Palatinates, Manchester Giants, Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles, B. Braun Sheffield Hatters.

South: Cardiff Met Archers, Essex Rebels, Leicester Riders, London Lions, Nottingham Wildcats, Oaklands Wolves.

How to vote:

Taking the lead

The two top-performing North and South coaches in the League will be chosen as the head coaches for each team. These coaches will have the responsibility of selecting the reserves next month, with one selected from every team.

The All-Star voting allows fans to seize the opportunity to make their voices heard and gives them the power to have their favourite players grace the court on March 17, in what will be a momentous day in British basketball. 

For more information about the All-Star Game, visit

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to tonight’s fixture against the Manchester Giants here!

Riders sign Duke Shelton!

Leicester Riders are thrilled to welcome the arrival of Duke Shelton to their 2023/24 roster. 

The American big brings a wealth of experience to Leicester, having played eight seasons of professional basketball across Europe. 

Shelton played two seasons for the Newcastle Eagles in the British Basketball League. The 6’10” forward averaged a double-double in ten games for the Eagles in the 2021/22 season, logging 14.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. 

The 28-year-old’s European experience has seen him compete in Israel, Finland and Slovakia, and now he brings his talents to the East Midlands. 

Shelton’s eligibility means he does not require a certificate of sponsorship since he already possesses a right to work in the UK. 

“It feels good to sign with the team,” commented Shelton. 

“It’s a blessing really to be a part of such an established club. I’m excited and anxious all in one to get started! I know it’s the right decision, and I couldn’t be happier about it.”

“We’re excited to have Duke sign with the team,” added Head Coach Rob Paternostro. 

“We were looking for more depth up front and someone that plays energy, quickness and athleticism. He brings all of those things.  

“We were already familiar with him following his time in Newcastle, and we think his skill set can be a good addition to our roster.”

Want to see the Riders in action?

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Trophy Preview: Riders vs Giants

The group stages of the 2024 British Basketball League Trophy continue Wednesday night as the Riders welcome the Manchester Giants to the Morningside Arena.

Rob Paternostro’s squad split their two games in the competition so far, dominating the Bristol Flyers before a difficult trip to London a couple of days later resulted in a loss.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs Manchester Giants

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Get tickets here!

A Packed Schedule

The start of the new year continues in frenetic fashion for the Riders as the Giants’ visit marks a third game in six days.

Leicester’s bid for the League Trophy started perfectly on January 5 with a confident 95-74 win over the Flyers, Teddy Allen the ‘X Factor’ once again with a cool 30-point, seven rebound and seven assist showing.

Second-unit superstar Samuel Idowu also caught the eye, combining 15 points with 14 boards to post his first double-double for the Riders.

48 hours later, the squad found themselves facing a deep London Lions team in the Copper Box. The Riders fought hard, outplaying the home team in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t match London’s strength in the paint and roster depth which propelled them to an 89-74 win.

Despite the loss, Idowu continued his excellent start to 2024, bagging a second double-double in as many games. A certain quote about London buses comes to mind.

One major positive for the Riders is that they have maintained a positive points difference, which could prove crucial in a tough Group B, sending just the top two teams into the semi-finals.

Only the Lions remain undefeated, so victory over the Giants will put the Riders in great position to take the all-important second spot and put pressure on Friday’s clash between the Flyers and the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles.

Expect the Riders to fire on all offensive cylinders this Wednesday as they face a Manchester squad with the leakiest defence in the League championship. Newcastle’s Jordan Johnson posted 30 points in their round one win over the Giants, so home supporters should be treated to another special night from ‘Player of the Month’ Allen, Kimbal Mackenzie and Idowu.

It wouldn’t be a surprise for Paternostro to challenge his team to a triple-digit offensive output against Manchester.

Wins are vital, but points differential could decide who advances to the semis.

Out for Revenge

Trophy games often carry an extra bite to them, but Wednesday’s visit of the Giants may bring even more spice as they try to avenge a first-round loss to the Riders in last year’s competition.

2023’s knockout format saw the Giants hosting Leicester in the first weekend of action, falling to a dominant Marc Loving display in an entertaining 114-107 game where both teams ended with a 30-point scorer.

Former Rider Loving dropped a 32/13 double-double and Tajh Green – who now suits up for the Eagles – posted an incredible 38 points and 14 rebounds, mainly fed by flashy point guard Rahmon Fletcher, who dished 14 assists on the night.

The road team clinched the win through efficiency from beyond the arc which outstretched the Giants’ defence and forced them to try and keep pace on just 28% three-point shooting.

Now, Fletcher has retired, and Green is shooting hoops in Newcastle, but the same defensive struggles remain.

The Giants do possess solid offensive weapons – Jamell Anderson, Nik Lewis and Evan Walshe – but if the Riders limit them to less than 80 points as they did on December 23, Manchester supporters may need to wait a little longer for revenge.

Key Matchup

The 86-73 championship victory the Riders took away from Manchester towards the end of 2023 was largely due to accuracy from beyond the three-point line.

The big men cancelled each other out and may do again, so the key battle could come between sharpshooters Teddy Allen and Nick Lewis.

6’3” British-Canadian guard Lewis is a confidence shooter that maintains hot streaks longer than most in the League. 

His usually high three-ball numbers are down this season – standing at just over 23% from deep – but if he drops a couple of treys in a row, he can take over a 10-minute quarter.

Lewis has made some huge contributions for the Giants this season, hitting the 20-point mark on five occasions including a red-hot 33 points against the championship-leading Lions.

Put simply: the Riders cannot afford to let Lewis get his eye in.

A player who knows all about heat checks is the Riders’ mid-season star, Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen.

Allen, who deservedly clinched December’s ‘Player of the Month’ after starting his Riders career off in style, brings sureness in spades.

A scorer more than a shooter, the former Winnipeg Bear has looked impossible to guard during his small sample of games, averaging over 26 points per game including totals of 30 and 21 in the Trophy.

The 6’6” combo-guard has also been deadly accurate from downtown, splashing threes at a 55% clip in the championship, his only blemish a 3-11 effort against London.

Allen versus Lewis is a tussle between two players that thrive on confidence. Whoever can maintain that for most of the 40 minutes will be key to victory.

Teddy Allen named in British Basketball League Team of the Week

Riders guard Teddy Allen has been named to the British Basketball League Team of the Week following his opening two Trophy performances.

On Friday against the Bristol Flyers, Allen led the Riders to a 95-74 win with 30 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists- his second 30-point outing since signing with the team in mid-December.

He followed this up on Sunday with a game-high 21 points on the road to the London Lions, as the team fell short in the capital.

This comes fresh off the Phoenix native being named British Basketball League Player of the Month for December after he averaged 23.8 points and 5.5 rebounds over his first four Riders games.

He returns to action on Wednesday when the Riders take on the Manchester Giants at home, hoping to improve to 2-1 in Group B.

Get tickets here!

Report: Riders lose in London

The Leicester Riders 89-74 lost on the road to the London Lions, falling to 1-1 in the British Basketball League Trophy Group B. 

Teddy Allen, recently named British Basketball League Player of the Month for December, led the game with 21 points. Sam Idowu backed up Allen with 13 points and 10 rebounds, logging his second straight double-double off the bench.

The game got away from them in the third quarter, as Leicester went scoreless through five minutes. London stretched the lead to 20, and despite a positive Riders fourth quarter, saw the game out from there. 

Leicester struggled to connect from three all afternoon, finishing the game 8-29 from range. 

London’s Matthew Morgan led the hosts with 15 points, and their big man Donte Grantham put on a good showing with 14 points in 19 minutes. The Lions dominated in close, going 30-51 from inside the arc. 

The Riders hung with the Lions through the opening stages, despite struggling for offence. Allen got to the line twice to lead the team through five minutes with 4 points, but the Lions led 10-7. 

Miryne Thomas picked up two quick fouls, allowing Blake Bowman to impress off the bench. 

He scored on back-to-back possessions, draining a contested turnaround from the post before taking Josh Sharma off the dribble and laying in a bucket, then dishing an assist to Sam Idowu next time up the court. 

The Riders trailed 25-19 after a quarter, but that quickly became 31-19 a minute into the second. They started 1-9 from three, and the Lions started the second quarter on a 6-0 run by getting to the bucket on three straight trips. 

Jaren Holmes connected from deep for the Riders’ first points of the quarter, cutting the deficit to nine. 

This took the lid off the basket, and Leicester were able to stem the tide. Allen found his shooting form after an 0-5 start from the field, and put 8 points together quickly to make the score 39-34. He had 15 with 4:18 remaining in the half. 

The Lions rebuilt their lead to double digits come halftime, as GB guard Luke Nelson put the ball in the basket to generate some offence for the hosts. The score was 50-40 by the buzzer to end the second. 

London scored 11 quick points to start the second half to extend their lead. Grantham drained three straight triples, two more than the team scored in the first half, making it 61-40. 

The Riders went scoreless until 4:04 left in the third. Thomas put it through, but the Riders were down 21. It was 70-49 going into the fourth, after Leicester lost the period 20-9. 

Leicester’s efforts to chip into the deficit saw them contest in a hard-fought final quarter. Kimbal Mackenzie got on the board to score five straight points and cut the game to 15 with 5:58 left. 

The Riders kept chipping away, and Allen attacked the hoop and made it 76-62.  But after making it a 14-point deficit, the Lions held the Riders from there and saw the game out led by Grantham’s shot-making. 

The Riders return to action on Wednesday, taking on the Manchester Giants at home, tipping off at 7:45 pm. 

Get tickets here!

Riders revisited: Reliving 2001 NTL National Cup Final

“Cinderella no more, champions today,” exclaimed Head Coach Billy Mims, after securing the Leicester Riders their first silverware in major competitions in 30 years.

23 years and 19 trophies later, the Riders’ 2001 NTL National Cup Final victory remains sweet in the memory of the fans who witnessed it.

To those who didn’t, it marks the first addition to a now stacked trophy cabinet, representing the renowned success of Britain’s oldest professional basketball club.

We take you back to the game, to reflect on the historic win.

Image credit: Mansoor Ahmed

20 years of “nearly”.

In the decades preceding the National Cup win, the Riders’ story was one of agonising near-misses.

They reached their first major final in 1980, falling short to a dominant Solent Stars. That was the theme for the Riders: They repeatedly came close, but never quite got the silverware.

They reached the Cup final in 1990, hoping to break their duck, but once again couldn’t get over the hump with an 88-81 loss to Sunderland.

The Riders followed up with a loss in the Trophy final in ’91, this time a heartbreaking three-point loss to Kingston – at the time, the closest Final in the competition’s history.

They had to wait until ‘half a decade for another shot at glory, this time reaching the British Basketball League Cup final.

But a cruel twist of fate saw star man Gene Waldron break his leg, and so too went Riders’ chances of winning. Thames Valley edged the Final by four points.

So entering Wembley Arena in 2001, Riders fans would have been forgiven for guarding their optimism cautiously, following 20 years of heartbreak in the biggest games.

Riders run to the final

The Riders entered the turn of the millennia with a fresh start. They returned to the place of their founding, Loughborough, to play their home fixtures at the Sir David Wallace Centre, and immediately found success.

Their run through the National Cup saw them push aside the Teesside Mohawks 100-102, fight through an overtime win against the Birmingham Bullets, and beat the Thames Valley Tigers 95-85 at the Sky Dome in Coventry.

Head Coach Billy Mims, who was appointed after his departure from the London Leopards, hoped a change of finals fortune could get them over the hump.

He was set to face his former club in the final, making the match-up all the more personal.

Billy Mims leads an impassioned Riders’ huddle.

This was emphasised by the Leopards, who led by former Leicester coach Bob Donewald, refused to take part in the pre-game handshake.

The game became “about the bigger picture” from there, said Mims.

Down early

Despite Leicester starting the brightest, racking up 14 unanswered points in the first quarter to lead 24-11, London’s answer showed shades of the narrow shortcomings that had tortured the club for the past 20 years.

London, haunted by their own ghosts of finals past following defeat in the Cup Final a year prior, exploded going into halftime. A 10-1 run made it 45-38, the Riders surrendering a lead after a bright start.

In desperate need of some momentum going into the break, Ralph Blalock drained a three for the Riders, stemming the tide and cutting the deficit to a reasonable four points at halftime.

But the Leapords still held the advantage.

Fighting to the wire

The Riders’ Larry Johnson, also competing against his old club, ran the show in the third quarter.

He pulled the strings throughout, leading them to a 9-0 run to end the period and snatch back the lead.

The score swung back and forth until the finale. Blalock, heating up, inspired a 7-0 Leicester burst. The Leopard fought back with nine unanswered points, putting them ahead 78-81. 

Johnson responded with a three-pointer in the corner to level again, the score 81-81 with seconds remaining.

Coming in clutch

The Riders turned to the hot hand to take a late advantage. Blalock drove to the rim, laying in a crucial bucket for his game-high 26th points of the affair.

The Leopards missed a crucial foul shot on the following play, and Karl Brown went to the line to take the most important free throw of his career.

He knocked down a crucial point, and London failed to get a shot off to tie or win, as the Riders secured the first major trophy in their history, winning 84-82.

The players, staff and fans erupted in the Sheffield Arena, and decades of anguish were released. The Riders had brought their first major silverware home.

Blalock was named Final MVP after his game leading, and game-winning, performance.

Riders scorers

Ralph Blalock26
Larry Johnson21
Billy Singleton (c)12
Malcolm Leak10
Purnell Perry9
Karl Brown6

Want to see the Riders in action?

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December Dominance: How Teddy Allen won Player of the Month

Teddy Allen has been named the British Basketball League Player of the Month for December following an explosion on the British basketball scene. 

The American guard and reigning CEBL MVP did so after signing to the club three games into the month, dominating his first four games in Riders red to win the award. 

Dazzling Debut

Allen hit the ground running with the Riders, leading the team to a win against the Caledonia Gladiators with the highest-scoring debut since 2016. 

He scored 32 points, and a late dagger three to win it in the clutch. Allen finished the game with 6 rebounds and 3 assists in 28 minutes off the bench. 

“I had to keep my mind and my body right through the last few months, and for that I thank God, but there’s definitely more to come from me,” said Allen after the game. 

“My legs felt better than I thought they would. I’m a hooper, so it feels good to be playing in front of people again.”

Buckets by name, buckets by nature

Teddy “Buckets” scoring went unmatched through December. He averaged 23.8 points over the four games, including two 20-point game and a 30-point performance on his debut.

Allen is the League’s best-ranked bucket-getter early in his Riders tenure. He’s carried his hot form from the CEBL where he set the single-game regular season and postseason scoring records this summer. 

His scoring ability generated much-needed offensive firepower to the Riders’ roster, and his gravitational pull on the court opened up space for his teammates to succeed. 

Turning fortunes 

Arriving to the team with a 7-10 record, Allen helped the Riders back to winning ways since his first appearance. 

Leicester went 3-1 with Allen on court, taking victories against the Manchester Giants, Sheffield Sharks and Gladiators to bring their record to 10-11. 

With the newly revamped British Basketball League Trophy in full swing, the Riders will look to translate their recent performance to make a run at the silverware. 

Want to see the Riders in Trophy action?

Get tickets to our final January home game against Manchester Giants on Wednesday, January 10!

Teddy Allen named British Basketball League Player of the Month for December

Riders guard Teddy Allen has been named Molten British Basketball League Player of the Month for December! 

Allen, a new arrival who made his League debut on December 15, has exploded onto the British basketball scene in his four games so far in Riders red, averaging a League-leading 23.8 points and 5.5 rebounds. 

His 32 point debut against Caledonia Gladiators was the highest-scoring debut in the British Basketball League since 2016. 

Teddy “Buckets” followed up the 30-piece with 22 points against the Manchester Giants, 17 against the Bristol Flyers and 25 to close out 2023 against the Sheffield Sharks. 

This summer’s CEBL MVP has lived up to his stellar reputation in the early stages of his Riders tenure and looks to lead the team to a successful British Basketball League Trophy campaign in January. 

“It’s an honour to win this award,” commented Allen.  “It feels great to bring positive attention to the team.

“Thank you to my teammates and coaches for putting me in a position to succeed, and thank you to everybody who voted for me!

“Now it’s time to continue to work hard and try and bring the Trophy home.”

Want to see Allen in Trophy action?

Get tickets to our final January home game against Manchester Giants on Wednesday, January 10!

Report: Riders beat Flyers to start Trophy campaign

Leicester Riders began their British Basketball League Trophy campaign with a bang, beating the Bristol Flyers 95-74. 

Teddy Allen dropped his second 30-point performance as a Rider, putting up 30 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists to earn Player of the Game honours. 

He was backed by Sam Idowu off the bench, whose impact inside prevented second-chance points for the Flyers, and prevented star big man Brad Greene from dominating the matchup as he did two weeks prior. 

Greene was held to 7 points, and the Flyers to 9 offensive rebounds, below their season average of 13.4, which leads the British Basketball League. 

The Riders’ offence was clicking throughout, shooting 50% from the field, and found success at the rim to shoot 64% from the field. Idowu and Allen combined for 14-19 from within the arc. 

Miryne Thomas’ 7 points to start the game led the Riders to an early lead. He hit the team’s first three of the game before getting to work down low for his next two buckets, making it 11-9 to the hosts. 

Following the first commercial timeout, the Riders blew the game open. A barrage of Riders offence, which included a four-point play from Allen who drained a three through contact, saw them grow the lead to double digits after a quarter. 

The Riders made it 20 quickly in the second quarter. Veteran guard Conner Washington pulled up from deep three-point range to get the period underway before Allen dropped Rowell Graham-Bell with a crossover and hit a triple. 

Allen, catching fire and running in transition, then connected with Thomas, who threw down a lob pass emphatically for the play of the game. Leicester won the second 30-17, and led 57-32 at the half, led by Allen’s 15 and Thomas’ 11 points. 

Idowu made his impact felt off the bench. Getting to the rim with ease, he went 6-7 from the field in the first half, logging 13 points and six rebounds. 

Towards the end of the third, Bristol clawed back into contention with hot three-point shooting. They cut it to 18 after Kedrian Johnson and Trejon Jacob hit on back-to-back possessions, but Kimbal Mackenzie drove to the hoop for an and-one to stem the tide. 

The captain drained a three next time down with 1:30 to go to make it 73-49. Jacob ended the third with a slam in transition, the Riders up 21 with a quarter to play. 

Washington got the final quarter going, hitting a turnaround catch-and-shoot three with a hand in his face. 

The Flyers continued to battle, chipping into the lead once again in the fourth. Forced a Riders timeout, the score 81-64 with 7:06 left. 

The Riders fell back on their defence, holding Bristol to four points in as many minutes to keep them at arm’s length. Allen and Jaren Holmes combined for five quick points with three minutes left to put the game beyond doubt, with Leicester up 22. 

The Riders return to action on Sunday, facing the London Lions on the road, before returning home to play the Manchester Giants on Wednesday, tipping off at 7:45 pm.

Get tickets here!

Statement: Bristol Flyers Fixture Unavailable for Live Stream Viewing

Due to adjustments in this week’s fixtures, our Trophy fixture against the Bristol Flyers on Friday, January 5, will not be available to be viewed via live stream. 

The game, tipping off at 7 pm at Morningside Arena Leicester, will therefore only be able to be watched in person at the Arena. 

You can purchase tickets for the game here.

If you cannot attend the fixture, we will be providing updates throughout the game on our social media channels. 

We apologise for any inconvenience caused. 

Trophy Preview: Riders vs Flyers

The Riders begin 2024 by welcoming the Bristol Flyers to the Morningside Arena in Round One of the British Basketball League Trophy.

The competition’s format has been revamped this season, placing Rob Paternostro’s squad in Group B with the championship-leading London Lions, the in-form Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles, the dangerous Manchester Giants and the always-tough Flyers.

READ MORE: 2024 Trophy format explained!

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs Bristol Flyers

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Friday, January 5, 7:00pm

Get tickets here!

One Shot Away

Riders’ fans will be keen to see the return of the British Basketball League Trophy competition after last season’s second-round exit to the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks. The pure knockout format saw the Riders play just two games – both on the road.

The opening round was an entertaining 114-107 victory in Manchester, the Riders benefitting from a deadly night of three-pointers from Marc Loving and Zach Jackson, who finished with 32 and 25 points each.

Fellow former Rider Patrick Whelan also splashed for 20 points, and current Riders’ captain Kimbal Mackenzie dropped 18 in a typically energetic display.

Both Loving and Whelan pulled down enough rebounds for a double-double as the Riders matched an excellent rebounding team in the Giants.

Posting double-doubles will be tough for the current Leicester squad against a Flyers team containing Brad Greene (17 boards against the Riders on December 28) but look for 2024’s power forward-shooting guard duo of Miryne Thomas and Teddy Allen to replicate Loving and Whelan.

The second-round loss told the opposite story for last season’s squad, who fired more shots than the Sharks but only converted at a 17% clip from deep.

Loving, Jackson and Mackenzie once more led the way for the Riders in the box score, but only four of their 23 three-ball attempts hit the mark, allowing the Sharks to take advantage of a rare night of inaccuracy.

The current crop of Riders ended 2023 with a clash against the Sharks and the ball hit nothing but net from downtown. Leicester’s shooting percentage has been a major strength this season, demonstrated by the team hitting 50% from inside the arc, 51% from beyond it and 87% from the free throw line in the victory on December 30.

If the Riders want to get their Trophy campaign off to a flyer, they need to learn from the mistakes of last season’s second-round performance.

An Early Exit

If Riders’ supporters were starved of Trophy action, the Flyers’ faithful must be ravenous after last year’s first-round exit to the Surrey Scorchers.

Bristol hosted the Southeasterners and – given the form of each team – will have been confident of victory. However, in a minor shock the Scorchers rode the hot hands of Padiet Wang and Boban Jacdonmi to claim a deserved 78-72 win.

The Flyers, who have struggled hitting from the floor efficiently this season, suffered the same woes last January, dropping only 37% of their field goals despite having 12 more attempts than the visitors.

They also failed to outrebound Surrey, a problem 2024’s squad do not have. 

Assisted by their hulking centre Greene and a brilliant showing from Rowell Graham-Bell, the Flyers bested the Riders on the boards 48-40 on December 28, and after a poor first half, shot accurately enough in the second half to take the win.

Leicester allowed Friday’s first-round opponents too many second-chance points the last time they visited the Morningside. Victory may hinge on how well the Riders’ frontcourt manages to box out the ball-hunting Greene.

Key Matchup

As previously mentioned, the battle to grab missed shots between Brad Greene and the Riders’ ‘bigs’ is going to be huge, but the supplementary scoring from Rowell Graham-Bell and Miryne Thomas could become the deciding factor in the game.

Versatile British forward Graham-Bell showed the Riders how effective he can be in a supporting role in their last game. 

The 29-year-old’s experience led him to 14 points and eight boards – all on the defensive end of the court – despite dealing with two personal fouls early in the game.

A journeyman who has played primarily in Spain, Graham-Bell is a big-bodied defender who has the range to pull up for long two balls or the occasional three. 

He is averaging just north of ten points per game as the Flyers’ fourth scoring option and has nearly broken the 20-point barrier on several occasions.

Aiming to use his speed and athleticism to outplay Graham-Bell will be Riders’ rookie Miryne Thomas.

On form Thomas has proven to be one of the most devastating power forwards in the league, able to blend his offence between high-flying jams and picturesque threes.

The young American is also improving dramatically on defence, using his length and timing to block multiple shots a game.

The Ohioan is currently in sparkling form, earning a spot on the British Basketball League Team of the Week for superb performances against the Sharks and the Flyers.

Thomas is averaging a cool 12 points per game this season and has posted multiple double-doubles.

He will need to continue that form into the Trophy. The first obstacle is Graham-Bell and the Flyers.

How to watch

This game will not be available to view via live-stream. Therefore, the only way to watch the action is at the Arena.

You can purchase tickets for the game here.

If you cannot attend the fixture, we will be providing updates throughout the game on our social media channels. 

Miryne Thomas named to British Basketball League Team of the Week

Miryne Thomas has been named to the British Basketball League Team of the Week for his performances against the Bristol Flyers and Sheffield Sharks. 

Thomas earned Wok 68 Player of the Game honours against the Sharks with 22 points and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes, leading the Riders to a 103-75 win. 

This followed 10 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks two days prior against the Bristol Flyers. 

The American rookie is putting up 12 points and 6.2 rebounds per game midway through the season as the Riders approach their Trophy campaign.

Want to see Thomas in action?

Get tickets to our first Trophy game against the Bristol Flyers! 

Report: Riders fall to Flyers

The Riders were unable to make it a three-game winning streak after a tight 87-81 loss to the 11-11 Bristol Flyers in round 16 of the British Basketball League Championship.

Rob Paternostro’s team remains seventh in the standings with a 9-11 record and hopes to finish the year with a win against the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks in two days.

The home team outscored their opponents from three-point range, and strong first-half defence held the Flyers to just 33 points, but a record-breaking game on the offensive glass by Brad Greene willed the visitors to victory.

The powerful centre put up a 19-point, 17-rebound double-double, which included a franchise record of 14 offensive boards.

The Riders spread scoring nicely, with five players dropping double-digit point totals, led by 17 from Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen who started the game on the court for the first time.

Forwards Miryne Thomas and Samuel Idowu both gave good accounts facing up to physical inside play from the Flyers, scoring 10 and 11 points respectively, and Kimbal Mackenzie hit some clutch shots down the stretch to keep the Riders in touching distance.

The Flyers’ Greene was supported by second-half scoring runs spearheaded through Trejon Jacob and Kedrian Johnson, who dropped 18 points apiece, largely helped by the second chances provided by their double-double machine.

The opening minutes of the game began with rare inaccurate shooting by the Riders, who missed their first four attempts allowing the Flyers to build an early six-point lead.

Visiting power forward Rowell Graham-Bell made space for a couple of buckets early, but the Morningside Arena didn’t have to wait too long before Teddy ‘Buckets’ gave fans a reason to cheer.

The wing forward hit high off the glass to open the Riders’ account before casually pulling up from three and draining the game’s opening triple.

The home side’s defence soon started to cause the Flyers problems too, big centre Mo Walker standing up well in the paint against the hulking Greene, forcing missed shots that regularly allowed the Riders to spring a fast break attack.

Excellent defence led to the most eye-catching moment of the quarter, Walker jamming home in transition after a spectacular block by lengthy forward Thomas.

Thomas then splashed from deep to give Leicester the lead and complete the mini-comeback, but tenacious offensive rebounding from the Flyers’ front court (they finished the half with seven) saw them take advantage of the second chances to head into the second quarter with a two-point lead.

The second ten minutes tipped off with a clash of styles, as the Riders’ speed faced off against the Flyers’ size.

Both teams found increased success on the offensive side of the court, but it was Paternostro who appeared the happier as his small second unit built a multiple-shot lead.

High-flyer Blake Bowman led the way, finessing a tough step back jumper before displaying his famed euro step to hit a transition layup. Bowman’s buckets came either side of a picturesque Sechan Russell three, and the Riders were gaining momentum.

A Leslie Smith ‘and one’ slowed the home side’s roll for a minute, but a classic Conner Washington three and a beautifully destructive TJ Lall dunk kept the scoreboard ticking in Leicester’s favour.

The Riders’ defence caused nine first half turnovers for the Flyers and, coupled with good ball movement on the other end of the court, the lead grew.

A late dry spell allowed Bristol to close the gap, but another three from Teddy ‘Buckets’ and a tough layup by captain Mackenzie pushed the Riders to a 38-33 half-time lead.

The defence limited Bristol to a scoreless half from three-point range, and the home fans knew that a better shooting percentage from Leicester would give them a great chance at victory.

The third quarter began with Allen in heat check mode, stringing his 12th point to open the half before another transitional three found its mark.

The Flyers would develop effective offense of their own though, Jacob heating up after a cold first half assisted by Greene’s insatiable appetite on the glass.

The 6’11” big man’s quality play was only trumped by the 16 third quarter points for the red-hot Jacob.

The Riders needed to halt their opponents’ momentum, and a strong rebound from Idowu who put back the easy layup did the trick.

Still, 31 third quarter points from the Flyers catapulted them into a four-point lead, with a lot to do for Paternostro’s squad heading into the closing stanza.

Lall got the Riders off to the perfect possible start, facing up to the much larger Smith to finish at the rim. Idowu soon followed suit and when Jaren Holmes hit his first big three of the night, Leicester retook the lead.

A momentum-stealing takeaway and jam from Holmes saw the home side on a 9-2 run, forcing the Flyers to take a timeout and rethink.

Kapoulas’ squad did manage to swing the pendulum back in their favour, going on a nine-point run of their own, although a crucial five points by captain Mackenzie kept Leicester in contention.

More glass-eating from Greene saw him break the Flyers’ franchise record for offensive rebounds in a game, and the Riders were facing a five-point deficit with 90 seconds left.

A timely block by Idowu gave the home crowd hope, but a couple of calls that went the Flyers’ way allowed the visitors to ice the game.

The Riders return to action on Saturday, hosting the Sheffield Sharks in their final game of 2023. Get tickets here!

Leicester Riders games confirmed for Sky Sports coverage

The British Basketball League have confirmed the Leicester Riders fixtures that have been selected for broadcast live on Sky Sports for the remainder of the Championship campaign. 

With this British Basketball League season at the midway stage, fixtures up until the end of the 2023/24 Championship campaign have now been confirmed.

Fans can tune into each game from 7:30 pm via Sky Sports and their YouTube channels.

See the fixtures confirmed for Sky Sports coverage below:

Friday, 19th January7:30 pm7:45 pmAwayNewcastle Eagles
Friday, 22nd March7:30 pm7:45 pmHomeCaledonia Gladiators
Friday, 29th March7:30 pm7:45 pmAwaySheffield Sharks
Thursday, 4th April7:30 pm7:45 pmHomeBristol Flyers

Want to see the Riders in action? Get tickets here!

Teddy Allen makes second straight British Basketball League Team of the Week

Riders guard Teddy Allen has been named to the British Basketball League Team of the Week for the second week running. 

His 21 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals in the Riders’ 86-73 win against Manchester Giants earned him the honours. 

Allen has enjoyed a dream start to Leicester life, his two games so far both earning him a place on the team after putting up 32 points and six rebounds on his debut. 

He returns to action on December 28 to take on the Bristol Flyers. 

Get tickets here!

Championship Preview: Riders vs Flyers

The Riders’ penultimate game of 2023 sees them host the 10-11 Bristol Flyers, the first contest of a three-game stretch in the Morningside Arena.

Thursday night’s tilt gives Rob Paternostro’s squad the chance of a three-game winning streak, and victory could see the Riders leapfrog their visitors in the British Basketball League championship.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs Bristol Flyers

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Thursday, December 28, 7:45pm

Get tickets here!

A Strong End to the Year

After a tricky start to December – three tough losses to the top two teams in the league – the Riders have picked up their play, downing the Caledonia Gladiators 96-90 before a double-digit win in Manchester.

The introduction of Teddy Allen has energised the entire roster, and performances on both ends of the court have risen as a result.

Leicester’s offence remains one of the most potent in Britain, highlighted by a field goal efficiency of 46.9% and 38.2% accuracy from beyond the arc.

Since Allen’s debut, the Riders have married their efficiency with production from three-point range, outshooting both the Gladiators and the Giants from deep.

The American has taken the plaudits – averaging 26.5 points per game – but the play of Kimbal Mackenzie was also key to the Riders’ improved fortunes.

Leicester’s captain steered his team to victory in both games by taking responsibility in clutch moments, knowing when to drive to the basket for a quick two or stopping and popping in all areas of the court.

The point guard’s leadership has been evident in the last few weeks, and it will be needed again on Thursday night in a tough game with the Flyers.

A Tough Flyers Stretch

Bristol’s 76-66 loss in Sheffield on December 22 was the Flyers’ seventh in their last ten games, dropping them down the British Basketball League standings with a below .500 record.

Andreas Kapoulas’ team struggled for consistent offence against the stingy Sharks, being held to just 11 points in the first and third quarters.

The Flyers – as has been the case for much of the season – dominated the offensive glass, snagging 15 offensive rebounds, but a 32% field goal percentage hampered them.

Field goal percentage is something Thursday’s visitors have wrestled with throughout the season, currently sitting near the bottom of the league on 41.5%.

The majority of the Flyers’ ten wins have come from out-hustling their opponents on the boards. Skilled big man Brad Greene and lengthy forward Raphell Thomas-Edwards are two players home fans need to look out for, the hardworking duo combining for an average of 17 rebounds per game.

Their physical play in the frontcourt gives dangermen like Trejon Jacob extra chances to hit buckets.

The quick wing player dropped 23 points on the Sharks, carrying his team’s offence by combining athletic inside moves with touch from three-point range.

The Flyers may not have the most feared offence in the league, but letting a player like Jacob get hot could be a losing strategy for the Riders.

Key Players

Jacob may have taken charge against the Sharks in round 15, but the juiciest matchup on Thursday night may come between big men, Brad Greene and Samuel Idowu.

Greene, who joined the Flyers from Austrian outfit OCS Capital Bulls this season, is a hulking 6’11” centre who possesses moves in the post that bely his size.

The Californian is averaging a near double-double, sinking 12.5 points per game and pulling down 9.6 rebounds per game, illustrating his dominance in the paint.

Greene’s finest outing came a couple of weeks ago against the in-form Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles as he put up a 27 and 14 double-double to lead the Flyers to a dominant victory.

Facing the former Irvine Anteater from the bench will be the rangy Idowu.

Idowu is an experienced front-court baller who has grown into the season, providing a defensive wall in the paint and an ability to score in the post, off the dribble or from deep range.

The fourth-year veteran gives up some size to Greene but makes up for it with tenacity, shown in a ten-rebound performance against the Giants, and a season-best 18-point showing against Cheshire in November.

Greene and Idowu may not share the court at the opening tip-off, but Riders’ fans can expect a titanic battle when they do.

3 takeaways from win against Giants

The Riders battled out a road win against the Manchester Giants in last night’s British Basketball League Championship action. 

Here’s what we can take from the win…

Defence Wins Championships

A hallmark of Rob Paternostro’s sides is suffocating and stifling defence, and that was on full display last night. 

The Riders entered the game with the second-highest points allowed per game in the British Basketball League (89) but went on the road and held their opponents to under 80 points for just the third time this season. 

Their intense ball pressure forced 22 turnovers out of the Giants, allowing them to show their speed in the full court and get buckets on the break. 

Manchester were held to 42% from the field and 22% from three against the Riders’ defence.

“Defence was the name of the game, and we are really happy with what we held them to,” said Paternostro postgame.

“We really ground them out, and we thought it was important to stop them running the fastbreak. They’re a team that likes to run, and we got bodies back and defended.”

Captain Kimbal finds form

Kimbal Mackenzie has made an impact on the scoring column on back-to-back performances, finding scoring form as we approach the midpoint of the season. 

The GB international scored 16 points on 5-9 shooting, going 2-3 from deep and pulling down 4 rebounds. 

This came off the back of a 19-point outing against the Gladiators last time out, making it two straight games where he has ranked second in the team in points behind the red-hot Teddy Allen.

“I’m just being aggressive and being myself,” said Mackenzie when asked about his recent scoring form.

“When I’m looking to score everything else opens up, and my teammates trust me to make plays.”

Winning on the road

Having lost the last seven games on the road, the Riders were in need of an away win to build momentum going into the new year. 

They did so in confident fashion, leading for the entirety of the second half in a game that was in little doubt in the fourth quarter against a team that had won their last three at home.

“It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but to come on the road and beat Manchester who have been playing really well at home was a good win,” added Mackenzie.

“We were pretty gritty. Our effort and attention to detail was good tonight, and we hung in there and did what we had to do.”

The Riders now return home to the Morningside Arena Leicester for back-to-back games, looking to bring their record to above .500 to start 2024. 

“We needed a road win,” said Paternostro. “We’ve been in a lot of close games where we haven’t got the job done, so that was really important.

“Now we’re looking forward to getting back to the Morningside. We want that place rocking on the 28th!”

The Riders face the Bristol Flyers next on December 28. Get your tickets here!

Report: Riders take road win against Giants

The Riders gave their fans an early reason to celebrate the holiday period with a confident 86-73 win over the Manchester Giants in round 15 of the British Basketball League Championship.

Teddy Allen continued his dream start to Leicester life with his second game-leading scoring performance, following up his 32-point debut with 21 points and six rebounds on the road. 

Leicester forced tough shots and double-teamed the Giants’ key weapons down low, resulting in a low 22% three-point percentage and 22 turnovers.

The Riders, led by Allen and Kimbal Mackenzie, shot more accurately from deep and from the foul line – 48 of the away team’s points coming in those areas.

Coach Rob Paternostro will also be pleased with how his team spread the scoring; Allen’s 21 points backed up by three other Riders hitting double-digits.

Mackenzie and quick forward Miryne Thomas dropped 16 points each, while TJ Lall scored 11 hard-earned points on his way to a plus/minus of 17.

Quick hands from Allen saw him add to his scoring totals with five steals, Thomas and bench big man Samuel Idowu getting in on the act with four and three takeaways, respectively.

Speedy shooting guard Evan Walshe top scored for the home squad with 18 points from the bench, as star duo Jamell Anderson and Nick Lewis had quiet nights by their standards, contributing 15 points each.

Tonight’s victory for Leicester sees them take back-to-back wins heading into Christmas, improving their record on the season to 9-10 and pushing them within touching distance of the top four.

The game started in disjointed fashion, with both teams committing early turnovers but also failing to capitalise on opposition mistakes. 

A Thomas two-handed dunk – something that is becoming a familiar sight to Leicester supporters – opened the Riders’ account, but offensive play remained muted in the opening five minutes.

Paternostro soon introduced new star Allen to the Manchester crowd and his impact was felt immediately, the 32-point debutant bringing impetus and focus when on the ball.

The shooting guard’s presence also opened space on the floor for his teammates, allowing captain Mackenzie to stroke home the Riders’ first three-pointer and workhorse Lall to score two with a nice finger roll.

A couple of buckets from downtown kept Manchester in touch, but seven first-quarter fouls gave the Riders plenty of opportunities at the free-throw line. 

The opening ten minutes predictably finished with a score from ‘Buckets’ Allen, who hit high off the glass to give the Riders a narrow, one-score lead.

After a short break, the teams entered the court for the second quarter and – after a surprisingly subdued opening stanza – the scoring began to accelerate.

Buckets from former Riders Anderson and Walshe were answered by a smooth Allen three-ball, and with the Riders’ continuing to force fouls, the contest became a back-and-forth affair.

It continued in that fashion until the final minute of the half, which saw Leicester ride the momentum of a clutch Jaren Holmes trey to build an eight-point halftime lead.

Solid play on the defensive side of the ball – including a huge block by the athletic Thomas – gave Lall a chance to finish at the rim and saw Allen (12 first-half points) stroke home another triple.

More good defence from Thomas stunted the Giants’ attempt at a final first-half bucket, and the teams entered the locker rooms with the score at 41-33 in favour of the Riders.

The second 20 minutes began with a quickfire six points from the home team, Legend Robertin and Anderson entertaining the crowd with some spectacular plays.

The Riders soon stopped the bleeding, though, Holmes hitting a pair of important free throws followed by a run of five points from Mackenzie that stretched the lead to double-digits.

Leicester’s defence also started to clamp down, forcing the Giants into the low post to meet a defensive wall of Mo Walker and Idowu.

Dangerman Anderson couldn’t beat the consistent double-team, and Manchester were struggling on 43 points deep into the half.

An eye-catching alley-oop from Austin Lawton gave the home crowd something to celebrate, but once more, a deep three from Lall staunched any thoughts of a Giants run.

The Riders continued to pour on the points to end the quarter with pretty three-balls from Allen and Mackenzie, and Blake Bowman showed some shifty footwork down low to hit a nice layup.

Key Manchester man Anderson finally began to make his mark on the game during the opening minutes of the first quarter, but a tricky finish by Holmes and yet another silky triple from Allen saw the Riders boasting a 16-point lead. 

As the clock wore down, the Riders were helped by clutch scoring from Mackenzie and their 79% free throw shooting, negating Manchester’s attempt to set pulses racing with a Walshe-led comeback.

A final layup from Thomas ended the game, giving the Riders a deserved win.

Leicester is back in action on December 28, hosting the Bristol Flyers as they look to get back to a .500 record.

Get tickets here!

Championship Preview: Riders at Giants

Saturday night gives the Riders a chance to give fans an early present for the holidays with a win in Round 15 of the British Basketball League Championship.

Coach Rob Paternostro’s squad travel northwest to face the Manchester Giants, who sit eighth in the standings with a record of six wins and thirteen losses.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders at Manchester Giants

National Basketball Performance Centre, Belle Vue Sports Village, Manchester

Saturday, December 23, 5:00pm

Watch live!

A New Star

Since the Riders’ impressive 96-90 victory over the Caledonia Gladiators last weekend, all the talk and excitement has been focused on the performance of new signing, Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen.

Making his British basketball debut, the 6’6” combo guard set fire to the Morningside pine, dropping 32 points – including five buckets from three-point range – pulling down six rebounds, laying on three assists and finishing the game with a plus/minus of ten. 

Allen showed confidence from deep, aggression when finishing at the rim and an uncanny ability to slice to the basket with finesse and style.

Despite a three-month gap between his British Basketball League debut and MVP season in the CEBL, ‘Buckets’ came ready to put on a show and to live up to the extensive hype surrounding him.

The Arizonan’s influence also impacted the play of his teammates, most notably Kimbal Mackenzie and experienced big man Samuel Idowu.

The Riders’ captain had one of his best shooting displays of the season – hitting 19 points at a FG% of 63 – and Idowu controlled the low post, scoring 14 points and building a game-high plus/minus of 11.

Now, for Allen and the Riders’ squad, it’s about riding the wave of momentum into 2024 and finishing Championship play on top before the Trophy competition commences.

That starts with Manchester.

Struggling for Consistency

November 17 saw Brian Semonian’s Giants’ squad score an impressive road victory in Bristol – just Manchester’s third of the season – and it looked like they would turn a corner.

In the ensuing weeks, the Giants’ play has improved, however they have been unable to put consecutive wins together, alternating wins and losses in the last eight games.

Most of Manchester’s problems have come on the defensive side of the court as they currently sit last in points conceded per game and defensive rating at 91.1 points allowed and 114 defensive rating.

The Riders have been one of the better offensive teams in the League, and – with the introduction of Allen – away supporters should expect plenty of points to fall.

Manchester can put up big numbers of their own though, with weapons like the free-scoring Jamell Anderson and long-range sniper Nick Lewis leading the scoring charts.

The deadly duo collectively contributes over 30 points per night for the home team and the Riders need to be constantly aware of their positions on the court.

Rangy guard Lewis particularly catches the eye, putting up six deep balls a game as one of the most prolific three-point shooters In the BBL.

Preventing the Canadian from getting hot must be a priority for Paternostro.

Key Players

There are a number of exciting matchups to look forward to across the court, but perhaps the most fun contest will be between rookie Rider Jaren Holmes and former Rider Evan Walshe.

Walshe is a speedy guard that can finish athletically around the rim and is dangerous on the fast break.

Riders’ fans will know how effective the Brit can be at bringing energy off the bench and changing the game with attacking intent and positivity.

After impressing with the Surrey Scorchers, the guard spent two seasons with Leicester before joining the Giants this season, currently dropping nearly ten points per game in his new home. 

Much like his opponent, Holmes predicates his game on speed and athleticism, often with a show of strength thrown in for good measure.

The wing player – who is as effective beyond the arc as he is near the rim – has been ever-present for the Riders this season, scoring 13.6 points per game including a high of 28 against the Eagles.

Holmes has been knocking on the door of a 20-point performance during December, and with the Giants’ defensive record, look for the former Iowa State star to hit that mark on Saturday.

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Bristol Flyers!

British Basketball League to introduce first-ever Hall of Fame to honour outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to the League

First inductees to be named at British Basketball League’s prestigious All-Star Game in March.

The British Basketball League are excited to announce the launch of the League’s first-ever Hall of Fame, which will honour and recognise individuals from all eras of the Men’s and Women’s Leagues who have made a significant contribution to the sport in the UK. 

The first inductees into the Hall of Fame are set to be announced alongside the return of the highly anticipated All-Star Game which takes place at London’s Copper Box Arena on Sunday March 17 2024. 

Five individuals will be inducted into the Hall of Fame from the following five categories, in line with similar organisations across world basketball:

  • Men’s Players
  • Women’s Players
  • Coaches
  • Officials (Referees, Table Officials, Statisticians)
  • Services to the League (i.e. volunteers, photographers, videographers, team managers, general managers, members of the community etc.)

Inductees will be selected and nominated by a selection committee consisting of Club-elected Directors, alongside a representative from the League Office and two invited members of the media.

Each member of the selection committee would be entitled to three nominations per category. The selection committee will then meet to discuss the nominations as a group and finalise the inductees for the upcoming class.

For the first class of inductees, which will be announced in March 2024, one nomination in each category will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, meaning five total inductees.

Future classes would see five new inductees into the Hall, but these would simply be the five nominations most worthy of induction in the eyes of the selection committee.

The League’s Hall of Fame will initially take pride of place on the League website, and as the League continues to grow over the coming years, plans are in place to have a physical Hall of Fame space at the League office in addition to online. 

Speaking on the launch of British Basketball League’s Hall of Fame, Chief Executive Officer Aaron Radin said:

“We’re proud to launch the British Basketball League Hall of Fame, which will enable us to honour and give recognition to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the League and the growth of the sport. 

“So many people have played a significant role in growing British basketball throughout the years, so it’s great to have a permanent feature for us to continually celebrate new members each year. 

“We’re excited to see the first generation of inductees announced at this season’s All-Star Game on 17 March in London. This addition to the weekend will add to what is already set to be a special occasion to showcase and celebrate the talent in the Men’s and Women’s Leagues.”

To buy tickets to the British Basketball League’s All-Star Game and for more information visit 

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Bristol Flyers!

“Once game day rolled around, it was just hoop”- Teddy Allen on his first week with the Riders

Speaking on the Drew and Jay Podcast following his 32 point debut, Teddy Allen reflected on his first week in Leicester. 

The Riders made waves around the British Basketball League with the signing of the highly touted CEBL MVP.

With that came external attention and the expectation of a big performance. Allen delivered in the face of pressure. 

“Pressure is a privilege,” Allen told the Drew and Jay Podcast. “I expect that of myself every night, and I put pressure on myself to play to that standard. 

“I always want to live up to my reputation, so I come into every game with a chip on my shoulder.”

Just Hooping

While the American guard is comfortable with expectations, his coach tempered them ahead of his debut. Allowing Allen to provide what he could on the court built him the platform to succeed under the bright lights.

“Coach Rob took the pressure off of me and told me to go out there and give the team what I can give. 

“That alleviated the pressure for me and allowed me to take a deep breath. Once game day rolled around, it was just hoop.”

His coach and teammates put him in a position to succeed, and he rewarded them with one of the all-time British Basketball League performances. 

“I knew the team was unselfish and was going to look for me, so I knew there would be opportunities. 

“Mo [Walker] was telling me not to be passive and just to be me. That opened me up, and when it came down to the clutch, the plays were there to be made.”

Getting ready for the Trophy

It was Allen’s first competitive outing since August, but he still hit the ground running without being in optimal condition. 

Joining a team midseason is difficult, and Allen looked ahead at the task of getting in 100% game shape. 

“It isn’t easy coming in late to a pro team, but the best way of getting in game shape is by playing. I have spent the 30 minutes after every practice running to get back in shape, so I’m going to try and rev it up over these next few weeks.

“By the time the Trophy comes around, I hope to be on top form.”

Want to see Allen in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Bristol Flyers!

“The whole experience has been surreal!”- Seth Wylie on playing with the pros

This summer, Seth Wylie joined the Loughborough Riders, stepping into the NBL D1.

Three months later, he competed against the British Basketball League-leading London Lions and scored his first points in professional basketball. 

“Coach Rob [Paternostro] looked down the bench and pointed in my direction, and I didn’t want to wait for him to change his mind!” said Wylie, reflecting on the build-up to his first minutes in Riders red. 

“I wasn’t even sure if he was pointing at me. I just took my tracksuit off and ran down to the scorers’ table. It was all a blur.

“All I was thinking coming into the game was: ‘I have to play good defence!’ I was looking around and saw Luke Nelson, who played for GB, and I was hoping Conner [Washington] would pick him up! But he told me to guard him, and I wasn’t going to argue!”

Practice makes perfect

Wylie was called up to the Riders’ game-day roster for the first time as the team prepared for the clash against the Lions. In a sliding doors moment, it took him catching fire in his first Riders practice to get the nod. 

“I took part in practice a week before with the first team to make up numbers, and I had a great day. We were running as the scout team ahead of a game against Manchester, and I hit a bunch of threes from the corner. 

“Everything that released from my fingers was going in! I remember Kimbal [Mackenzie] saying: ‘he’s on fire. We’ve got to stop him!’. That boosted my confidence even more, and my shots kept going in. The next week, a day before the London game, I was called up to the team.”

Life at Loughborough

The University’s association with the Riders is an attractive concept for anybody joining Loughborough basketball. 

Players such as Washington and Jamell Anderson have paved the way for British basketball player development pathways, leading to long and successful professional careers. 

“Loughborough has been a blessing to me. The facilities blew me away as soon as I got here. The facilities and education at the University are better than what I would get in a lot of places in America, which is great to see. 

“I was happy just playing for Loughborough when I arrived. In the back of my mind, I thought it would be nice to play for Leicester if I had the opportunity, but in my head that was years down the line. But here I am!”

First pro points

Here he is. Wylie checked into the game against London with 1:48 to go, and found the ball in his hands open in the corner. 

“By the time the ball was in my hands, I was in the zone. I think it had to be that way for the shot to go in. I wasn’t thinking, which was the main thing.

“Before the game, the guys were really supportive. Kimbal said to me, ‘if you get it, shoot it,’ so I shot it!”

The opportunity to practice with the first team and be in a professional environment isn’t lost on Wylie, who is trying to learn every possible lesson from the experience. 

At only 20 years old, he remembers watching the players in the stands in his home city of London as he was growing up. 

“I used to watch Conner play against the Lions at the Copper Box, and now I’m playing with him! Now, it’s a blessing to be able to learn from them. If I could play like anybody on this team in the future, it would be Conner Washington.

“My goal is to soak up the experience and knowledge. Everything happens so quickly at that level, so it’s about slowing the game down in my head, putting it into terms I can understand and learning from them.”

In addition to the players, Wylie has benefitted from coaching at the highest level from Loughborough Head Coach Will Maynard and Riders Head Coach Paternostro. 

“I’ve gained so much confidence from my coaches. Having them believe in me and put me in games that even I wouldn’t have put me in is the first step for me. 

“Hearing their reasoning behind everything they do has opened up a whole new level of understanding. The whole experience has been surreal!”

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home fixture against Bristol Flyers!

Five things we learned from win against Gladiators

Friday’s 96-90 win against the Caledonia Gladiators gave the Riders lots to build on going into the rest of the season.

Here is what we can take from the win…

Buckets has arrived

The debut that has everyone talking! Teddy Allen’s 32 point outing, the highest-scoring British Basketball League debut since 2016, meant the Phoenix-born guard lived up to the hype in his first appearance in Riders red. 

Allen was pivotal in the clutch, hitting a three to put the Riders up five before dishing to Jaren Holmes for a dagger triple next time up the floor. He reached his points tally with the game-sealing free throws to conclude a historic outing. 

He made his mark on every facet of the game with his scoring, playmaking, rebounding and defence. His message after the game to further excite the Riders faithful: “there’s definitely more to come!”

Allen provides an explosive scoring threat on any given game, just three games before the start of the all-new Trophy. 

A Threat from Three 

Aside from his scoring ability, which was on full display throughout his debut, the gravitational pull of Allen, who attracted a wall of defenders whenever he touched the ball, meant for open shots for his teammates. 

The new man’s playmaking saw the ball find the open man, and the Riders knocked down 50% of their attempts from deep on the night.

Kimbal Mackenzie, in particular, benefitted from the good looks, going 3-4 from three on the evening. 

Leicester have been a threat from three all season, ranking third in deep shooting percentage at 38.2%. The improved spacing will allow their sharpshooters the chance to punish defenders for leaving them open on the arc. 

Decisive Defence late

After giving up 51 in the first half, the Riders stepped up the defence late for a comeback win. 

The message from Head Coach Rob Paternostro at the break was clear: “we’re going to have to play defence at some point.” The Riders responded to his message after falling into a 13-point hole in the third. 

The team held the Gladiators to under 20 points in the fourth quarter, which they won 27-17 to secure the win. 

Sam Idowu was a key factor defensively late, his efforts in the post preventing Clifton Moore Jr from putting in a bucket in the clutch, and Jaren Holmes’ 2 blocks from the perimeter earned the Riders emphatic stops. 

Paternostro will look to put together 40 minutes of defence to that level next time out against the Giants. 

Idowu’s impact 

Idowu logged a season-high 28 minutes in the game, and his impact was felt all game long. 

The big man led the game in +/- with 11, demonstrating the positive influence of his efforts down low.  

He ran the pick and roll effectively throughout, battled hard on defence and was effective on the glass, putting back Allen’s miss late to give the Riders a late lead for his second offensive board of the night. 

All of Idowu’s buckets came in the paint, as he went 7-12 from the field on his way to 14 points – his second-highest tally of the year. 

His consistent performances all season have made Idowu a reliable source of points and rebounding and was vital to Friday’s win. 

Taking advantage of turnovers 

While the teams were tied in total turnovers, each giving the ball away 14 times, the Riders made their opponents pay for their mistakes. 

They scored 20 points off turnovers compared to Caledonia’s 13, a key factor in a game decided by six points. 

They proved a threat on the fastbreak throughout, with Miryne Thomas and Holmes’ speed in transition making for easy buckets at the rim and electric high-flying plays. 

Should the Riders’ defence continue its form from late in Friday’s affair, expect more opportunities in transition for Paternostro’s side. 

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Bristol Flyers on December 28!

Riders react to win against the Gladiators

The Riders won a hard-fought battle against the Caledonia Gladiators 96-90 last night, moving their record to 8-10 in the British Basketball League Championship.

Here’s how the Riders reacted to the victory…

Teddy Allen- “There’s definitely more to come.”

Teddy Allen exploded onto the British basketball scene with the highest-scoring debut in the League since 2016.

He scored 32 points, including a clutch three late to put the Riders up five with a minute left. 

“I’m happy to get the win with my new team,” said Allen post-game. “My teammates were looking for me, telling me to look for the basket and that helped me to succeed. I’m grateful for them.”

It was Allen’s first competitive action since August, but you’d have been forgiven for not noticing. He hit the ground running with a 14-point second quarter, coming off the bench and making an immediate impact. 

Any concerns of rust were washed away quickly for Riders fans. 

“I had to keep my mind and my body right through the last few months, and for that I thank God, but there’s definitely more to come from me. 

“My legs felt better than I thought they would. I’m a hooper, so it feels good to be playing in front of people again.”

Rob Paternostro- “We were deserved winners”

It had been a difficult run of games for the Riders going into last night’s fixture. Having played the League’s top two teams in their last three games (the table-topping Lions’ twice), they were in need of a win to get back on track. 

Emerging victors of a nail-biter was important for this group. 

“That was fun!” said Head Coach Rob Paternostro after the win. “Playing a tight ball game in the fourth quarter and coming up with the big plays was fun to watch. The crowd was into it, and we were deserved winners tonight.”

The Riders gave up 51 to the Gladiators in the first half, and found themselves down 13 in the third quarter. But they flipped a switch on offence and came back for the win.

“We went into halftime knowing we were going to have to play some defence at some point. We did pick it up in the third quarter, and that turned the game around. 

“We then did a great job in making plays late, and we had Teddy Buckets on our team today! He put on a show today.”

As he did everybody else in the building, Allen impressed his head coach with his ability to immediately find form in Riders red. 

“One thing I know, having been around the game this long, is that there are certain guys that when the lights turn on, they’re ready to go. 

“When he took the floor in warm-ups, he said he was feeling good. He was special. He did a great job in finding other guys too, and the rest of the guys dug in on the defensive end.”

Allen was supported by his captain, Kimbal Mackenzie, who scored 11 in the first quarter and 19 in the game, and big man Sam Idowu who made his presence felt in the paint all evening. 

Paternostro sang the praises of his duo:

“I really thought Sam played well today. He played with lots of energy on both ends of the floor, and his competitiveness was a big factor tonight. 

“Kimbal was solid too. He came out tonight with 19 after a few quiet games recently, and that was great to see.

“I feel really good about these guys. They work hard and they work together, and Teddy provided something extra for us tonight to get us the win.”

Sam Idowu- “We fought through adversity.”

Idowu put up 14 points and six rebounds, going 7-12 from the field in a  solid showing. He battled all night on the glass and on the defensive end in the post. 

“It was a lot of hard work. My body’s sore!” said Idowu. “I’m proud of the team, we fought together and came through a lot of adversity and played hard from wire to wire.”

The New York-born big man came up with a huge stop in the clutch again Clifton Moore Jr to give the Riders a chance to seal the game late.  He reflected on his individual performance: 

“I think I played way better than I have been playing! I was just trying to find a rhythm. I had a good week of practice, so I’ve been trying to follow that up with some good games. I’m keeping my energy up, keeping in shape and staying healthy. That’s my biggest priority right now.”

With a road trip to Manchester coming on the 23rd, Iwodu spoke on how the team can build on the performance. 

“Today was a big win. We had a tough schedule and taken a couple of tough losses, but it showed our resilience here in how determined we were to turn it around.

“It’s good for us to show we can come from behind to win. We can go into future games knowing we can stay confident when we’re down, so I’m glad we were able to pull through.”

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Bristol Flyers on December 28!

Report: Riders win a battle against Gladiators

The Riders won a hard-fought battle against the Caledonia Gladiators 96-90, led by Teddy Allen’s emphatic debut. 

Allen scored 32 points in his first appearance in Riders red, putting on a show in the clutch. Teddy “Buckets” went 5-7 from three and 10-19 from the field to explode on the British Basketball scene. 

It was a tightly contested game throughout, the Riders coming back from a double-digit deficit in the third to win it late. They won the fourth 27-17 to secure the win. 

Allen was backed by his captain, as Kimbal Mackenzie went off for 19 points, including 11 in the opening period to get the game underway. Sam Idowu also found success, working with his teammate’s elite guard play to score 14. 

The Riders cooked from three, shooting 50% from deep in the game and going 33-66 from the field in an efficient shooting display. They overcame the League’s third-placed team to bounce back from recent losses, improving to 8-10. 

For Caledonia, Ian Dubose went off for 22 and seven assists to lead the team. They came close to a second win against the Riders this season, but it was Leicester who got it done in the clutch this time around. 

The Riders hit the ground running with a hot start, as TJ Lall and Mackenzie combined for the game’s first five points. Mackenzie scored 11 to start the game, the captain exploding early. 

Caledonia quickly clicked into gear. Led by Prince Onwas who scored seven points, they climbed back into the game and made it a back-and-forth encounter. Former Rider Patrick Whelan ended the first with four points to make it 25-18 to the visitors. 

Allen opened his Riders account with a layup to start the second quarter. But it was New York native Idowu who got to work down low to chip into the deficit, throwing down the highlight of the night with an explosive two-handed slam over Lukas Palyza. 

Allen caught fire midway through the second, connecting with his first three as a Rider before hitting at the foul line to cut the game to one.

The debutant scored 14 in the second quarter to burst onto the scene at the Morningside Arena, the Gladiators finding no answer for Allen as he attacked the rim relentlessly. 

But Caledonia, led by 12 from Onwas, led 51-47 after the first half of action. They went on a 6-3 run in the final minute to build their narrow lead. 

The Gladiators were the better team to start the second half, building their lead to double digits with a 9-2 start after Palyza’s three. 

The Riders cut into the deficit with Allen checking back into the affair. He lit up the Arena with a four-point play with three minutes left in the quarter, before Jaren Holmes put away a tough finish inside to make it a seven-point difference. 

Idowu scored back-to-back baskets, including a breakaway jam to lift the roof off the building as the Riders continued to roll. Holmes cut it to a possession with an and-one to cap off an 11-2 run. 

Idowu tied it up at 73 to start the final period of play, setting up an intense finale. The sides exchanged baskets through the opening stages, but it was 81-81 by the media timeout with 4:21 left. 

The Riders continued to pour in buckets. Allen dropped Moore Jr with a stepback, draining his fourth three of the night following the ankle breaker, before Idowu hit a putback layup to take a late lead. 

Allen continued his emphatic display, draining a three for his 29th points with 1:11 on the clock to make it a five-point Leicester lead. Holmes followed up his new teammate with a triple of his own to seal it. 

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Bristol Flyers on December 28!

From West End to Covent Garden: A Night of Opera for the Leicester Riders Foundation

Morningside Arena Leicester is excited to host “West End to Covent Garden”, an Opera evening hosted by Octave Opera Group on Febuary 14, 2024. 

Octave, founded by Jill Worth, will perform music to raise money for the Leicester Riders Foundation’s incredible work throughout the Leicestershire community. The Leicestershire-based opera group consists of only local signers, and performs for charitable causes around the county. 

Jill is the wife of Bill Worth, a founding member of the Loughborough All-Stars in 1967, which would later become the Leicester Riders. 

Octave will host an evening of live opera entertainment, as they take you on a musical journey featuring iconic songs from Les Miserable, Phantom of the Opera and many more classics! 

Enjoy a 2-course sit-down meal and a cash bar throughout the evening. We will also be hosting a charity auction, featuring numerous items of sporting memorabilia, events and experiences.

Jill Worth commented: “It feels absolutely brilliant to give something back to the Riders, who I have had a lifelong connection with through my husband, Bill. It should be an amazing night. 

“We have something for everybody on the night, so please come down to the Arena and support the fantastic work of the Leicester Riders Foundation.” 

Tables of 8 and 10 are available at £40 + VAT per head, offering a perfect opportunity to enjoy the night with friends, family, or colleagues. 

You can associate your company brand with this charitable event, as we offer sponsorship opportunities for £100 + VAT per advert.

Don’t miss this opportunity to be part of this incredible evening. For reservations click here.

For sponsorship inquiries, contact [email protected].

Join us for a night of live opera in the heart of Leicester. You can make a meaningful impact on the Leicester Riders Foundation’s charity initiatives.

Riders Trophy fixture vs Flyers rearranged

Our British Basketball League Trophy fixture against the Bristol Flyers has been rearranged.

The game, previously expected to be played on January 6 at 7 pm, will now take place on January 5 at 7 pm.

Tickets purchased for the original fixture will still be valid for the rearranged date.

For those who have purchased tickets and can no longer make the game, please get in touch with [email protected] to exchange them for a new fixture.

Want to see us tip off our British Basketball League Trophy campaign against the Flyers?

Get tickets here!

Interview: Teddy Allen on signing with the Riders

We sat down with new signing Teddy Allen to talk about his arrival in the British Basketball League.

It was a whirlwind week that saw Allen sign in Leicester. Following talks with Managing Director Russell Levenston, he headed straight to the UK to join the team. 

“On Thursday, Russell called me to ask if I wanted to come and play for the Riders. I hadn’t played since the CEBL in the summer, so I was itching to get out on the court. I was on a flight the next day.”

Allen played alongside former Bristol Flyers Jelani Watson-Gayle for the Winnipeg Sea Bears in the summer.

In Canada, he competed in the League featuring both Kimbal Mackenzie and TJ Lall, the British Basketball League connection helping to inform his decision to sign with the Riders. 

“I knew that Jelani played here. I talked to him about the League, and he had great things to say.”

“It’s cool being able to compete with and against guys in different countries. It should be fun being able to go against them.”

The American joins the team after a historic CEBL season, where his ability was on full display throughout the summer. Allen described his game:

“I’m always attacking the hoop, and I’m versatile on both ends of the floor. I can score the ball, make plays, rebound and compete on both ends. Right now, I’m trying to get my legs under me the best I can and get ready to help the team in any way.”

Don’t miss the debut

You can see Teddy make his Riders debut!

Get tickets to our game against Caledonia Gladiators as Allen makes his first appearance in Riders’ red!

Championship Preview: Riders vs Gladiators

Round 14 of the British Basketball League Championship sees the Riders tip-off against the 11-5 Caledonia Gladiators.

Friday night is the first time the Morningside Arena will see the Gladiators this season, as Rob Paternostro’s squad look to notch their eighth championship win.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs Caledonia Gladiators

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Friday, December 15, 7:45pm

Get tickets here!

Allen to Make Debut

The most enticing feature of this week’s contest is the much-anticipated debut of Canadian Elite Basketball MVP, Teddy Allen.

Riders’ supporters will – for the first time – be witness to the skills of the Canadian league’s best player as he comes off a season averaging 27.6 points per game, eight rebounds per game and 1.7 steals per game.

The former Winnipeg Sea Bears guard had a record-breaking year for his team and should provide a significant offensive figurehead to Paternostro’s roster.

Allen – tall for a guard at 6’6” – brings an insatiable appetite for points, especially from beyond the arc, leading the CEBL in three-pointers made.

Leicester currently sit middle of the pack in three-pointers attempted per game with an average of nearly 25. Expect that number to take a leap on Friday night and potentially for the remainder of the season.

The Phoenix-native is also efficient from deep, hitting 72 triples at a clip of 36.5%, which will only add to the Riders’ already high accuracy from downtown.

Leicester’s defence has improved markedly in the last few weeks. With the introduction of an offensive anomaly like Allen, fans can expect scoring numbers to improve too – starting with the tilt against the Gladiators.

On a High

This week’s visitors are currently experiencing a terrific run of form. 

Coach Gareth Murray’s team are riding the momentum of a four-game winning streak, and it will take a good performance from Leicester to slow them down.

Three of those four victories were against the other teams in the BBL’s top four, illustrating the high level the Gladiators are reaching.

Murray likes his team to be a defensive wall inside the paint and to aggressively attack the basket to draw fouls on the other end.

Teams that struggle to shoot from distance find it particularly difficult to put up points on the Gladiators, who are the best in the British Basketball League at blocking shots (4.1 per game) and hustle hard on the defensive glass. They pull down 29.5 defensive rebounds each night, greatly limiting second chances.

Offensively, the regularity at which Caledonia make it to the free-throw line masks a 44.3 field goal percentage that sits in the bottom half of the league.

The Glads do possess some good shooters – primarily former Rider Patrick Whelan – but if the home side can avoid committing fouls and force contested shots, they have a chance to severely limit Caledonia’s scoring total.

Coupled with the efficient outside shooting of the Riders, it appears Paternostro’s squad match up favourably with Friday’s opponents.

Key Matchup

The back-and-forth between Teddy ‘Buckets’ and Whelan will be an entertaining watch, but the key matchup could well come down to a couple of experienced big men: Mo Walker and Fahro Alihodzic.

Alihodzic is an imposing centre who has plied his services all over the world, spending time in the United States, Argentina, Kosovo, Greece and here in Britain.

The 6’10” Bosnian-Brit will bring a good inside touch and rebounding strength, particularly on the defensive board.

Alihodzic currently averages 11 points per game, just over six rebounds per game and has notched a double-double on a couple of occasions this season.

A 19-point performance against Plymouth in November showed his offensive threat, but Riders’ defensive lynchpin Walker will be a tricky puzzle to solve.

The Riders’ stalwart has seen increased minutes over the past month, and his quality of play has taken a leap.

#9 may is an excellent inside link player on offense and focal point on defence.

By clogging up the paint, Walker provides space and opportunities for Leicester’s primary weapons, and his deftness of touch has seen him record assists in eight of his last 10 games.

If the Canadian-born Brit can lock up his opposite man while providing an outlet for the offense, the Riders should enjoy a lot of success on Friday night.

Teddy Allen: Record Breaker

Leicester Riders’ new man, Teddy Allen, joins the team after a history-making season in the CEBL. 

Here, we reflect on how Allen made waves in Canadian hoops…

Getting Buckets 

Teddy “Buckets” put on a never-seen-before scoring clinic this summer. Over the season, Allen failed to score over 20 on just three occasions, putting up 40 points twice and 30 points five times in 20 games played. 

His 27.6 points average was the second most in CEBL history, as the three-point marksman drained a league-high 72 triples on 36.5% shooting from behind the arc. 

His 40 and 30-point explosions broke regular and post-season records, hitting highs never seen before. 

Single-game scoring record

Allen broke the CEBL single-game scoring record in only his third appearance as a Sea Bear. 

He caught fire for 42 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists against his former team, the Scarborough Shooting Stars, going 14-20 from the field and 11-13 from the foul line. 

Winnipeg needed every one of his points as they edged past the Shooting Stars 98-93. Allen led them down the stretch, sealing the victory with a runner in transition with 19 seconds remaining. 

It was the second game of a back-to-back for Allen, who put the team on his back for 40 minutes to stuff the stat sheet. 

Early in the season, Allen planted his flag as the best player in the league with his record-breaking performance. 

Single-game playoff scoring record

Allen made his name as a post-season performer later that season, breaking the CEBL single-game playoff scoring record with 35 points against the Edmonton Stingers.

It was another double-double for Allen who grabbed 10 rebounds in the game, as the Sea Bears fell just short 87-81 in the opening round of the Playoffs. 

Allen made big shots down the stretch to keep Winnipeg in the game. His craftiness driving inside and finding space around the rim had no response from his opponents on the night. 

The game ended his season in the CEBL, in which his performances earned him the MVP award. 

Most Valuable Player

With his league-leading, history-making performances all season long, Allen was named the first CEBL Most Valuable Player in Winnipeg Sea Bears history. 

Leading the team to the playoffs, Allen put up 27.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. He ranked top 10 in the CEBL in points (27.6), total assists (77), rebounds (8.0), and steals (1.7), and he led the league in three-pointers made (72). 

Nine of the Sea Bears’ 12 wins were within single digits, and three came down to the final possession, as Winnipeg needed every point from the record-breaking Allen to guide them to the postseason. 

In his second CEBL campaign, Allen established himself as the league’s elite scorer. 

Don’t miss the debut

You can see Teddy make his Riders debut!

Get tickets to our game against Caledonia Gladiators as Allen makes his first appearance in Riders’ red!

Report: Riders fall to Lions

Leicester Riders fell 100-62 on the road to the London Lions, making their record 7-10 in the British Basketball League Championship standings. 

A 33-17 third quarter in London’s favour sealed the game, in which the Riders trailed from midway through the opening quarter. 

Miryne Thomas led the Riders with 13 points and 6 rebounds. Leicester shot 33% from the field and went 4-23 from three in a tough offensive showing. 

For the Lions, Irish forward Conor Morgan once again showed his deep shooting threat against Leicester. He went 5-7 from deep on his way to 21 points to lead the game. 

Following a 6-0 Lions start, Kimbal Mackenzie got the Riders on the board with an and-one pull-up from the elbow. 

Leicester matched their opponent’s scoring early, taking a 10-9 lead following TJ Lall’s fadeaway, but couldn’t stop the Lions’ drive to the baskets. London’s first four makes came from attacking the hoop. 

Conor Morgan, whose three-point shooting proved the difference between the teams last time out, hit two straight from distance to build a London lead. It was 28-17 to the hosts after one, and Morgan led the game with eight points. 

The Riders’ defence stepped up in the second quarter. They held the Lions to six points in five minutes to match their opponents once again. 

Thomas led a low-scoring second period for the Riders, putting up 9 points and 4 rebounds by the half. The Cleveland-born forward’s highlight of the game saw him pin Matthew Morgan’s layup attempt to the backboard after scoring four straight points.

Mackenzie’s midrange ability kept Leicester in the game, as the Canadian/British guard drained another deep two with 2:06 left in the second. The Riders entered the locker rooms down 44-32, but remained within striking distance despite shooting 2-12 from three. 

Thomas got the second half underway with a breakaway slam to bring the deficit to 10. The Lions hit back through Conor Morgan, who scored 11 quick points to make the Lions’ lead 21. 

London put the game beyond reach with their three-point shooting in the third. Tarik Phillip’s corner triple with 4:26 left made it 68-42. 

Samuel Idowu and Conner Washington put points on the board for Leicester, Idowu throwing down a putback slam as the Riders’ highlight of the period, but they couldn’t chip into the deficit and ended the third with the score 77-49. 

The fourth was a formality, as London saw it home. Mo Walker went to work for six points inside, but London continued to drop in threes to stretch their lead to 38.

The Riders are back in action on Friday, taking on the Caledonia Gladiators at home.

Get your tickets here

Championship Preview: Riders at Lions

Sunday afternoon sees the Riders continue their tough run of fixtures as they travel to London to face the Lions in Round 13 of the British Basketball League Championship.

The trip to the Copper Box arena is only nine days removed from a 89-79 victory for the Lions over Rob Paternostro’s squad.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders @ London Lions

Copper Box Arena, London

Sunday, December 10, 4:30pm

Watch live!

A Four Quarter Game

The Riders came agonisingly close to claiming a statement win in Cheshire last Sunday after three-quarters of excellent basketball.

The away side, playing the second of a two-game doubleheader, went into the final ten minutes boasting a 13-point lead, but a cold fourth quarter on offence gave the hometown Phoenix the opportunity to stage a comeback for the win.

Fatigue will certainly have been a large factor in the Riders’ late-game troubles, but with a full week of rest behind them, Paternostro will be expecting a 40-minute performance from his squad.

The squad saw an exciting new addition in the week, as reigning CEBL MVP Teddy Allen joined the Riders’ ranks. He will bolster the Riders backcourt with his elite scoring ability which saw him break several CEBL single-game scoring records in the summer.

READ MORE: Riders sign CEBL Most Valuable Player Teddy Allen.

But as Riders’ fans have experienced first-hand, the Lions have unmatched squad depth, demonstrated by the seven players who have put up double-digit games against Leicester in just two meetings.

The production of the second unit will be crucial. Riders’ bench only dropped 16 points on the Phoenix last weekend – a rarity this season – so that number must improve if they are to have a chance at besting the league leaders.

Playmaking two-guard Sesan Russell and strong big man Samuel Idowu will be the players to watch, as they must step up against a London squad playing it’s fourth game in a week.

The Lions could well use the squad’s full depth, giving fringe members more playing time than usual. The Riders’ must take advantage.

Defeats at Home

The British Basketball League Championship leaders go into the weekend having won just two of their last eight games across all competitions.

Victory at the Morningside Arena and a home win in Europe are the only triumphs for a Lions squad that has struggled during the second half of November.

With the expected fixture congestion that comes with European competition, London’s squad has been stretched, culminating in two home losses on the bounce in the League.

However, the ballers of the capital still sit comfortably clear at the top of the standings with a 15-3 record and have had the better of the Riders in their two clashes so far.

Key to the Lions’ success against Leicester is the double-digit scoring from across the roster. If one star has a bad game, another has stepped up to take his place.

In the tilt on December 1, experienced point guard Jordan Taylor failed to get on the scoring sheet, going 0-4 from the field and league top scorer Matt Morgan was held to just five points – his lowest total of the season.

The scoring was taken up by forwards Sam Dekker, Conor Morgan and Dante Grantham, all of whom scored in double-digits, with Morgan netting 19.

The Lions have also dropped 83 points from the bench on the Riders so far this season.

If the road team can stifle that production, they could replicate the feats of both Newcastle and Caledonia with a win in the Copper Box.

Key Players

The contest to watch on Sunday afternoon is one between permitter men with swathes of experience: Jordan Taylor and Kimbal Mackenzie.

34-year-old Taylor has seen it all outside of the NBA. The veteran has competed in Italy, Israel, Turkey, France and (more recently) Japan.

While he hasn’t posted knockout scoring numbers this season – about six points per game – Taylor is a quintessential floor general.

He is the perfect player to have orchestrating the offence and attempting to dish the ball to the right shooter.

The former Wisconsin Badger has performed well against the Riders, laying on 13 assists so far in two games.

Attempting to throw Taylor off rhythm will be Riders’ captain Mackenzie.

Leicester’s talisman has, once again, been a standout player in Paternostro’s squad this season.

Coming off the bench for the first quarter of the season before stepping up to a starting role, the Canadian has been a storm of energy and effort anytime he takes to the court.

Mackenzie can do it all. Drive to the rim, stop on a dime and fire up a pop shot, lay on a nasty pass to an open teammate. 

He has the full package, shown with his 12.6 points per game total as well as an assist number that sits at 4.1.

Both players are vitally important to their team’s chances. Whoever has the better performance on the night could decide the fate of this game.

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Caledonia Gladiators!

Leicester Riders sign 2023 CEBL Most Valuable Player Teddy Allen

Leicester Riders are delighted to announce the signing of 2023 CEBL Most Valuable Player Teddy Allen for the remainder of the 2023/24 season. 

The 6’6” guard from Phoenix, Arizona, broke multiple CEBL scoring records for the Winnipeg Sea Bears this summer, earning him the MVP award and the nickname “Teddy Buckets”. 

He dropped 42 points against the Scarborough Shooting Stars to match the CEBL single-game scoring record, before going off for 35 points to break the league’s playoff scoring record in the same season. 

Allen ranked top ten in the CEBL in points (27.6), total assists (77), rebounds (8.0) and steals (1.7), and led the league in three-pointers made (72). 

The 25-year-old became the first Sea Bear to win MVP in the franchise’s history. 

Allen spent his final college season at New Mexico State University, where he led the Aggies to a first-round NCAA Tournament upset of the fifth-seeded UConn Huskies with a game-high 37 points. 

He led the Western Athletic Conference in scoring, averaging 19.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals as a senior.

Leicester Riders Head Coach Rob Paternostro commented: “We’re excited to have Teddy on the team. I watched a lot of him in the CEBL this summer, and he was a standout player. He can score in a lot of different ways, and he’s a good size for someone who can handle the ball, so that makes him a difficult player to guard.

“We knew it was important to get a player or two in, but we wanted to make sure it was the right player for a team, which takes time. It’s exciting to get a player of this calibre, and the ability he’s shown will make him a great addition to the group. To add a player with that ability gives us optimism going forward.

“I’d like to extend my thanks to Mike Taylor, who is a long-time friend of mine in the profession and a well-respected head coach for Winnipeg. I trust his opinion, and he had great things to say about Teddy. We both believe this will be a great spot for him.”

Allen commented: “I’m incredibly happy to be a Leicester Rider. This is a great franchise with a long history of winning, and I hope to contribute to the club’s historic success. 

“I spoke to Coach Taylor before I signed, and he had nothing but respect for Coach Rob and the organisation. I can’t wait to meet the team and the fans in Leicester, and get to work!”

Leicester Riders Managing Director Russell Levenston added: “We’re thrilled to welcome a player of Teddy’s calibre to the Riders. He established himself as one of the CEBL’s elite players, so we’re excited to see the impact he’ll have on the team. 

“We were incredibly impressed by what we saw from him in the summer, and we are looking forward to him bringing his immense talent to Leicester. We can’t wait to see him suited up in Riders red!”

Get tickets to Allen’s home debut against the Caledonia Gladiators!

3 keys for Leicester Riders at London Lions

The Riders take on the London Lions for the third time this season on Sunday, after falling to the league leaders twice at home earlier in the year.

Leicester have been in both games late, but haven’t found enough to get over the line. They now head to the capital, looking to take a game back. Here are three areas of emphasis ahead of the clash…

Stopping the three

The only side that has been able to match London’s elite deep shooting early in the season is the Riders, with both sides locked at the top of the shooting charts with a three-point percentage of 38.8%. 

The Riders have gunned from deep against London, shooing 40% over the two games and 44% in their most recent matchup, but on the other end have failed to slow down their opponents on the perimeter. 

It was Irish stretch forward Conor Morgan who heated up last time out, making four threes and scoring 17 points in a decisive first half of action. Morgan hit five attempts in the first game, totalling 36 points across the two games between the sides. 

Not only will the Riders have to maintain their hot hand in the capital, but their defence on the outside will prove a pivotal element of this clash. 

Bench contributions

Playing against a deep Lions squad, who have had seven different players put up double-digit games in the two meetings so far, the Riders will need contributions from all the way down the roster. 

It was 11-year Riders veteran Conner Washington and newly signed Sesan Russell who put the scoring load on their shoulders last weekend, Washington earning Wok 68 Player of the Game honours with 15 points after shooting 5-8 from beyond the arc.

Kimbal Mackenzie led the second unit in the first matchup with 17, as the Riders remained late in the game on both occasions thanks to their ability to field high-level scoring throughout.

The Riders will look for contributions from every player who takes the court to match London on the road.

Play clean basketball

Over the previous two fixtures, foul trouble has prevented the Riders from throwing their full force at the Lions. 

In the most recent game especially, the Lions commenced their game-deciding second-quarter outburst with star guard Jaren Holmes on the bench. He picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter and another in the second which saw him sidelined for much of the first half. 

Holmes played foul-free basketball in the second half and made an immediate impact on the game, but the damage was already done, and Leicester were never able to recover fully.

Miryne Thomas also played with fouls in mind late on, finishing up with four.

In order to have success at the Copper Box, the Riders will have to play foul-free defence and keep their stars on the hardwood. 

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Caledonia Gladiators!

Leicester Riders Foundation brings Highscross Hoops to Leicester’s Highcross Shopping Centre

The Leicester Riders Foundation and Leicester Riders are excited to announce that on Saturday, 16th December, we will be hosting a Leicester Riders takeover in Highcross Shopping Centre.

Highcross Hoops will be located in a prime location on the lower mall of Highcross Shopping Centre near Luke 1977 and Damaged Society, and will include a court for activations with our Leicester Riders Foundation team, a merchandise area and visits from our professional players throughout the day.

The event is the perfect chance for us to interact with the local community and provides us with the opportunity to promote the wide range of community sessions that we offer across the county. 

Jo Tallack, General Manager of Highcross Shopping Centre said: “We’re excited to welcome The Leicester Riders to Highcross this festive season. It’s a great opportunity to be able to support the Foundation at our busiest time of year, while also bringing our visitors a unique experience to take part in.

“Whether you’re visiting the centre to do your Christmas shopping or stopping by for a festive sweet treat, Highcross Hoops is sure to bring a smile to your face.”

The Foundation’s county-wide sessions include our New Years Community Camp at the Morningside Arena, to which we are offering places through the Leicester City Council HAF programme, which provides children in Leicester who receive benefits-related free school meals with free activities and a healthy meal during the Christmas break.

There will also be exclusive Leicester Riders merchandise offers ahead of Christmas and purchase tickets for Riders fixtures at the Morningside Arena over the festive period.

Laura Shephard, General Manager of the Leicester Riders Foundation, added: “We are thrilled to have the chance to display the incredible efforts of the Foundation at Highcross. This is an invaluable opportunity to show Leicester the work that we do in our local area through our community sessions.

“During the height of Leicester’s Christmas shopping season, we’ll bring exclusive Leicester Riders merchandise and tickets to the heart of Leicester, which will make for excellent gifts during the festive period. We are also excited to be able to provide the chance for Riders fans to meet their favorite players!

“I’d like to extend my gratitude to Highcross for providing us this priceless platform to highlight the Foundation’s initiatives across the county. We can’t wait to see you there!”

If you are in Leicester on Saturday, 16th December, make sure you come down and get involved in Highcross Hoops with the Leicester Riders and Leicester Riders Foundation!

Captain’s Log: Kimbal Mackenzie on the season so far

Leicester Riders captain Kimbal Mackenzie shares his thoughts on the team’s British Basketball League season so far…

As always, thank you all for your support this season.

I can’t express enough how important it has been to have you in our corner. You have been right behind us when we needed you most, and it’s been amazing to see the entire club come together the way it has. 

As you all know, there’s been some big changes to the roster.  We all understand that there’s a lot that goes into these decisions, and it’s the organisation’s job to do what’s right for the team. Our job is to trust the people making the decisions and show up and perform on the court with the team. 

It’s a difficult part of professional basketball, but I hope the guys can learn and grow from the experience and keep moving in the right direction. They’re good people, and I wish them all the best in their careers.

And on the other side of that, we have a fresh face in the building! It’s been great to have Sesan here. He has an infectious love for the game and loves to compete. You can tell he’s disappointed when practice ends because he just loves to play. 

On the court, he’s curious about the game and how we want to play. To lead NCAA Division II in assists is an incredible feat, so we know we have another ball handler out there. He knows how to play the game the right way and play both sides of the ball.

There’s a different energy about us now. Everyone is on the same page, and we’re all locked into getting better every day and winning as many games as possible. It’s been a good couple of weeks of practice, and we all know that this is a long season with a lot of games to play.

Our defence has been improving, and we’re buying in on that end of the floor. It is a challenge at times to do that- it’s hard work to commit to defence- but we’re seeing the guys apply themselves to that side of the ball. 

Connor and Mo have been especially important in building the mentality of this group. They’re the pinnacle of professionalism, and I can say that having played with them for three years now.  

Our current group of guys come into the practice with a good focus, and that’s all you can ask for. They show up and are professionals whether they’re playing well or not. This group has shown up and put their best foot forward.

It’s exciting to see guys getting more opportunities. Victor, for example, has been getting more minutes, and it’s a great chance for some guys to step into a bigger role. I’ve been in that position in my career where the team needs you to step into a bigger role, and as a pro, you have to stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready.

Now, the aim is to keep improving every day. We’ve shown all year we can put points on the board and that we have plenty of talent. For us, it’s about tightening things up so that when these games get close and physical, we can fall back on our habits and win plenty of games. 

We’re ready for the challenge, and we can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings. 

Your captain,

Kimbal Mackenzie 

Report: Riders fall on the road to the Phoenix

The Riders fell 87-83 on the road to the Cheshire Phoenix to drop their record to 7-9. 

They looked in control of the tie going into the fourth, but the Phoenix won the final period 25-8 as the Riders took their second straight loss. 

Leicester’s TJ Lall led the game with 24 points, going 5-7 from deep and cooking in the third quarter to build a lead. But the Riders’ offence stalled in the final quarter, while Cheshire took 16 foul shots to get points on the board. 

Laquincy Rideau led the Phoenix with 22, as four of their starters put up double-digit points. Rideau accompanied his scoring with 10 rebounds and eight assists in a near-triple double performance.

After a 6-0 Phoenix start, the Riders relied on their captain Kimbal Mackenzie to steady the ship and get the team’s first six points on the board.

The Riders found joy at the basket to generate their offence as they edged a narrow lead. They had seven scorers in the first quarter, which was concluded by Lall who made it 26-19 with a reverse at the rim. 

The hosts came back into it in the second, draining their shots from distance at the hot hands of American guard Maceo Jack. The sides engaged in a back and forth, trading buckets up to the half. Sam Idowu hustled hard to bring his quarter tally to six points and a monster block on Rideau. 

There was nothing in it going into the locker rooms, the Riders edging a 45-44 lead at the half led by nine from Mackenzie. 

Lall took over to start the second half, scoring 10 points in five minutes including three triples. Miryne Thomas followed up his teammates from range to extend the visitor’s lead to eight. 

Lall made it a double digit advantage with two minutes left in the quarter with another three point bomb, brining his tally on the game to 22. Holding a 13 point lead, the Riders were in control with one to play. 

The Phoenix started the final quarter 8-2 to get themselves back into the tie. Jaren Holmes stepped up to stem the tide for Leicester, driving into the lane to string a floater, but Cheshire brought it to a three point game with four straight trips to the free throw line. 

They tied it up on the following possession with a three from EJ Stephens, and took the lead with an and-one play scored by Aaryn Rai. They went on to extend their lead, Ethan Chargois laying it in from close to make it 85-79 with 1:42 to play.

Mackenzie drained a long two to keep the Riders in with a chance of the win, but a 50/50 out of bounds call went Cheshire’s way with eight seconds left to seal the win for the hosts. 

The Riders are back in action next Sunday, taking on the London Lions in the capital.

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Caledonia Gladiators!

Championship Preview: Riders at Phoenix

Sunday evening sees the Riders travel northwest to Cheshire as they take on the Phoenix in Round 12 of the British Basketball League Championship.

It will be the second game of a weekend double-header for Rob Paternostro’s squad after a spirited 89-79 defeat to the London Lions on Friday night.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders @ Cheshire Phoenix

Ellesmere Port Sports Village, Cheshire Oaks

Sunday, December 3, 6:00pm

Riders Looking to Play Smart

After Friday’s defeat to the league leaders, Paternostro expressed the need for the Riders to play smartly if they are to claim victory in Cheshire. The Phoenix have only lost once at home since October 1 and have won five of their last six in the league.

 Every member of the Riders’ squad should expect significant minutes on the floor and will need to make the most of them.

One player that made the best of his opportunity against the Lions was recent signing Sesan Russell. The British two-guard drove his team forwards in the second half, coming off the bench to score 13 points in just 14 minutes.

The Florida Tech University graduate also flashed his playmaking ability, dishing four assists to add to his scoring.

Young forward Victor Ndoukou may also need to step up against the Phoenix as his minutes have increased since the reshuffling of the Riders’ roster.

The 6’8” man from Wigan has bags of potential, representing Great Britain at under-20’s level last summer. Now could be the time for Ndoukou to start realising that promise.

The Phoenix, who sit second in the BBL standings, are excellent on the offensive side of the ball. The Riders’ defence has improved over the past two games, largely down to high effort plays from the likes of Russell and Ndoukou.

That hustle will be needed once more on Sunday night.

Phoenix in Great Form

Cheshire have been the surprise package of the BBL championship this season. Ben Thomas’ squad play turnover-free basketball which – combined with rampant crashing of the offensive glass – gives his team more chances at buckets than anyone else.

The Phoenix have claimed two victories over the Riders this season. The first a shock road win on the opening weekend of the season, the second a tight 102-96 win at home after a previous Riders’ double-header.

Round 12 is an exact replica of Round 9, with Leicester falling to both London and Cheshire. The Riders will be looking to change history on Sunday with a victory.

Cheshire’s success is largely due to the elite play of dynamic duo Maceo Jack and Aaryn Rai. 

Jack, a tall point guard who play five seasons in college before joining the BBL, has been at the centre of everything good the Phoenix have done this season. The ‘shoot first’ guard stands at 6’5”, making him difficult to guard and tricky to keep off the boards, shown by 18.1 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game this year.

Rai is a big-bodied 6’6” small forward whose speed and ball handling skill belies his size. The former Dartmouth player has added a lethal second scoring option that Cheshire lacked last season, averaging just over 17 points per game.

Keeping the Phoenix’s scoring stars quiet will be priority number one for the Riders’ defence.

Key Matchup

Both teams possess high volume stars such as Jaren Holmes, Kimbal Mackenzie, Jack and Rai, but the most enticing matchup could come between a pair of rangy big men.

Cheshire’s Skylar White has been putting up good numbers this season, dropping over 11 points per contest, pulling down 4.1 rebounds per game and hitting at nearly 85% from the charity stripe.

The 6’8” Brit is an intelligent player, and while he doesn’t possess great speed or athleticism inside the paint, his shooting touch cannot be questioned. White dropped 22 points on the Riders on opening night, so Paternostro will be aware of the danger he poses.

Facing up to the test of White is exciting rookie, Miryne Thomas. 

If White lacks in speed, Thomas has it in abundance. The Cleveland-native has an eye for the spectacular dunk and is adept at freeing space inside for the monster jam. The 6’8” power forward is averaging 12.4 points per night and is hitting over 62% of his shots inside.

Thomas also shows confidence to hit from downtown and shows hustle on the boards, evident in his team-high three double-doubles. #3 is yet to score in double digits against Cheshire this season. If the Riders are to snag the road victory, he may need to set his sights on a fourth double-double.

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Caledonia Gladiators!

Report: Riders fall to Lions

A spirited performance from Rob Paternostro’s Riders wasn’t enough to overcome a clinical London Lions team, who left the Morningside Arena with an 89-79 victory in the British Basketball League Championship.

Tonight’s defeat was Leicester’s second of the season to the league leaders, dropping their record to 7-8. 

Most of the Riders’ success came from beyond the arc where they shot at a 44% clip, largely due to the play of second-unit point guard, Conner Washington. The experienced sharpshooter hit five treys to lead the team with 15 points from the bench.

Washington was ably supported by fellow bench guard Sesan Russell, the new man dropping 13 points after an action-packed second half.

A number of Lions played their part, but big man Conor Morgan was the pick, top-scoring with 19 points after a near-perfect display of shooting, going 87% from the floor.

The opening minutes saw the visitors gain ascendency with clean, incisive play. Early buckets from key men Conor and Matt Morgan gave the Lions an early six-point lead and with the Riders struggling at 1-7 from the field, London looked in charge.

However, industrious play from TJ Lall and a red-hot Washington brought the home side back into the game and got the home fans on their feet.

Lall – who is becoming increasingly important for the Riders with each game – was effective on both ends of the court, making chase down blocks and using his strength to work to the foul line.

Three-ball specialist Washington was the star of the first quarter, knocking down three deep balls, including a catch-and-shoot attempt from a different postcode.

The fast-paced quarter sped to an end, with the scores at 20-20 and Leicester showing plenty of fight.

The second ten minutes began with London turning the heat up on the Riders. Clean jump shots coupled with telescopic offensive rebounding by Josh Sharma pushed the Lions out to their second six-point lead of the night.

The Riders’ effort was present on both ends of the court, but the clean looks they were producing were hitting rim rather than net. Captain Kimbal Mackenzie was all over the court, combining four first-half points with five boards and three assists, but even he couldn’t hold back London’s onslaught.

Getting to the foul line seemingly at will, the Lions opened a commanding double-digit lead, and with the likes of Sam Dekker heating up from the outside, Paternostro’s squad would need to play tough basketball in the second half.

Another picturesque three from Washington and an emphatic fast-break dunk by Miryne Thomas showed that toughness, but the Lions went into the half with a 52-36 lead.

The start of the second 20 was the story of Jaren Holmes versus the Lions. The Riders’ most prolific scorer had the bit between his teeth, draining a pair of threes and slamming home a breakaway dunk to bring the home side back into the game.

Lall continued to hustle hard and Russell’s chemistry with Samuel Idowu was yielding points, but the league leaders managed the contest well, keeping the Riders in a double-digit deficit.

The final stanza started in jubilant fashion for the Riders, Russell and Victor Ndoukou stringing triples before Mackenzie followed suit. When Russell splashed from distance once more, the deficit was down to single figures and the Riders looked to be on a charge.

More deep balls in the final minutes from Washington and Division One prospect Seth Wylie drew cheers from the Riders’ faithful, but more efficient play from London down the stretch gave them the win.

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Caledonia Gladiators!

British Basketball League Nets Deal With Most-Watched U.S. Regional Sports Broadcaster, the YES Network

The British Basketball League has announced its programming partnership with the YES Network, the most-watched regional sports network in the United States and the exclusive regional television home of the 27-time World Champions New York Yankees, the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Liberty. 

As part of this collaboration, the YES Network’s Emmy Award-winning YES App will stream two live British Basketball League games per week each Thursday and Friday starting at 2:30 pm ET, with the Riders clash with the London Lions today at 7:45 GMT.

The games will be available on the YES App to subscribers in YES’ regional footprint, which includes all of New York State and Connecticut, northern and central New Jersey and northeastern Pennsylvania. The network has been the most-watched regional sports network in the country for 18 of the past 20 years. 

In addition to the two games streamed weekly, fans can enjoy replays of select games on the YES Network’s linear channel  Thursday or Friday in primetime. The British Basketball League’s brand-new UNBEATABLE magazine show will also air on the YES Network and the YES App.

YES App subscribers will be able to watch homegrown talent play across the pond, including Samuel Idowu and Rob Paternostro of the Riders.

The YES App is accessible via and through devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Google TV and Samsung-connected TVs, and on mobile.    

British Basketball League Chief Executive Officer, Aaron Radin, said:“We’re very excited about our partnership with the YES Network, the most-watched regional sports network in the US, to bring our League into the homes of the New York tri-state area. This announcement marks a major milestone for our League, signifying our continuing growth and ambitions.

“We are committed to delivering high-quality sports entertainment to the YES Network’s viewers to build an audience with new overseas fans.”

The following Riders games have been selected for coverage on the YES Network (subject to change).

  • Friday, December 01, 2023: Leicester Riders vs. London Lions
  • Friday, December 15, 2023: Leicester Riders vs. Caledonia Gladiators
  • Friday, January 19, 2024: Newcastle Eagles vs. Leicester Riders

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against the London Lions.

Leicester Riders join forces with Trophies Plus Medals as Official Trophy Partner

Leicester Riders are thrilled to announce their partnership with Trophies Plus Medals as the club’s official trophy supplier. 

Trophies Plus Medals are the UK’s leading wholesale supplier of trophies and awards, offering a diverse range of sports trophies manufactured to the highest standards.

This partnership will allow the club to celebrate the many successes of its players, from the first team to its academy, encapsulating their triumphs through Trophies Plus Medals’ first-class products. 

They will supply trophies for the Wok 68 Player of the Game Award for Leicester Riders home games and the Leicester Foundation with awards for their academy programmes. 

Leicester Riders season ticket holders can now enjoy 10% off at TrophiesPlusMedals.  

Trophies Plus Medals Director Ashley Sinclair commented: “As the UK’s fastest & largest supplier of trophies, medals and awards, we are thrilled to be teaming up with the Leicester Riders as their official trophy partner. 

“It is hugely important to us to partner with a local organisation that promotes, engages, and develops the sport not only at a professional level but also in the community. We are proud and excited to support the Leicester Riders and look forward to building a strong relationship together.”

Leicester Riders Head of Commercial Tracey Hallam added: “We are thrilled to welcome Trophies Plus Medals to the Leicester Riders family. This exciting partnership promises tremendous benefits for both our club and the community through the Leicester Riders Foundation and its academy programmes.

“At the Riders, we are in continual pursuit of excellence on and off the court. Our partnership with Trophies Plus Medals enables us to celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of our first team and academy players, allowing them to showcase their achievements proudly in their trophy cabinets.”

The all-new Wok 68 Player of the Game award will be presented to the Riders’ Player of the Game following their clash against London Lions on December 1. 

Want to join the Riders family? Contact [email protected], or read our corporate brochure for more information.

Championship Preview: Riders vs Lions

The Riders begin December basketball on Friday night by welcoming the London Lions to the Morningside Arena in Round 12 of the British Basketball League Championship.

It will be the second meeting between the two sides, the first a high-scoring 102-95 victory for the league leaders.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs London Lions

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Friday, December 1, 7:45pm

Get tickets here!

Back on Track

After a tricky run of results and significant changes in personnel, the 7-7 Riders jumped back to winning ways with a 94-79 defeat of the Manchester Giants.

Coach Rob Paternostro’s team completely outplayed their opponents, most pleasingly restricting Manchester to just less than 80 points.

A commanding first-quarter lead and accuracy from three-point range – led by the experienced Connor Washington – made the difference. Washington went four of seven from deep, leading the bench with 14 points in a show of effective ‘shoot first’ point guard play.

The starters also had impressive nights, most notably the versatile TJ Lall, who ended the game just shy of a 16-point double-double.

The Lions should be a much stiffer test and, as the Riders’ faithful discovered in early November, have game-winners throughout their roster.

However, a packed European schedule has forced London to manage playing time and the 102-80 loss to a surging Newcastle shows potential vulnerability in the BBL Championship.

There’s no doubt that the Lions will bring their best to Leicester come Friday, but on the back of a refreshing victory over the Giants, the Riders may well replicate the feat of the Eagles.

Conquering Europe

The championship leaders may have an eight-point advantage in the British Basketball League with a 14-2 record, but it is their performance in Europe which demonstrates the quality of this roster.

The Lions are 7-2 in EuroCup play and sit second in Group A having beaten top European competition at home and on the road.

Star players like Matt Morgan and Donte Grantham have elevated London to a new level this season, but last Thursday’s loss in the Copper Box to Newcastle shows that teams can rise to meet them.

The Eagles hurt the Lions with their guard play. Jordan Johnson and Larry Austin Jr both having impressive nights, scoring 25 and 14 points respectively. 

Austin Jr backed up his scoring with seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals. The Riders have players who can fill the stat sheet like Austin. It will be needed on Friday.

London also suffered at the hands of bench shooter Josh Ward-Hibbert, who drained five three balls at a high clip. Riders’ fans should look for rangy big man Samuel Idowu, or the deadly accurate Washington to provide points in bunches from the second unit.

Morgan, his namesake Conor Morgan, Grantham and Gabe Olaseni all troubled Leicester in the previous clash between these two teams. 

Continuing the three-ball shooting accuracy from the win over Manchester and restricting these four to limited points could be the recipe to hand London their third domestic loss of the season.

Key Matchup

The crucial battle on Friday may develop between two players who do everything well – the previously mentioned TJ Lall and Conor Morgan.

Morgan, a 6’9” Irish Canadian forward, came to the UK this season with a fine pedigree after seasons spent in the top tiers of Spain, Poland and Turkey.

The big man has shown that he can do it all in the League, mixing his offensive output up with smooth skills inside and an ability to shoot efficiently from beyond the arc.

Among forwards, Morgan has one of the best jump shots in the league and is often the outlet after the Lions drive into the lane, demonstrated by eight contests scoring double-digit points.

The former Joventut player has also shown hustle around the rim and an eye for an assist in his 13 games with the Lions.

Lall may not have the height of his counterpart – standing at 6’7” – but he makes up for it with physicality and sheer determination.

The Canadian, a former first-overall pick in the CEBL draft, predicates his game on hard work on both sides of the court.

Due to minor injury, Lall has only suited up 10 times for the Riders this season, but each time he has taken to the court, opposition players and fans alike can feel his impact.

The forward’s best game came last week versus the Giants with 16 points and eight rebounds. As Lall earns more minutes, expect those numbers to become a regularity.

Riders Head of Commerical Tracey Hallam raises £1625 for Leicester Hospital’s Charity

Leicester Riders Head of Commerical Tracey Hallam raised £1625 for Leicester Hospital’s Charity in their Boss Breakout event! 

The event, hosted in Leicester Highcross, saw Tracey, among other Leicester business leaders, use her business skills to raise money for the purchase of 12 fold-away hospital beds. 

The aim of each of the participants was to raise £1000, leaning on their business connections to encourage donations. Tracey comfortably achieved this total and more, thanks to the generosity of the Riders family. 

The beds will serve an essential purpose, allowing parents to stay overnight with their children during their hospital stays. This invaluable support aims to ease the burden on families when faced with the challenging circumstances of having a child in hospital.

Your contributions will make a meaningful difference in the lives of families who find themselves in the difficult situation of having a child in the hospital. 

Thank you for your help in supporting this cause. 

5 takeaways from our win against the Giants

The Riders got back to winning ways in their latest outing in the British Basketball League, besting the Manchester Giants 94-79.

Here’s what we can take away from the result…

The importance of hitting the ground running 

The Riders have found themselves battling back from early deficits throughout this season, but with three new players brought into the starting lineup, they hit the ground running in this one. 

Miryne Thomas burst out of the gate with eight points, two rebounds, and two steals, setting the tone and leading the team to a 29-11 opening quarter. 

Leicester built a platform to see the game out from, and never allowed the Giants to come within single digits the rest of the way. 

“We’ve been starting slow and playing from behind early, and we couldn’t have that tonight,” said Head Coach Rob Paternostro after the game. 

“We knew they were coming into this one having played the night before, and we stuck it to them early and saw the game out really well.”

Getting ahead at the jump injected life into the Riders faithful, building an incredible atmosphere in the arena and giving energy into the team throughout. The early form was pivotal to the victory, and the team will be hoping for more quick momentum this weekend. 

Experience steadies the ship

Following the departure of three players in the previous weeks, it fell on the Riders’ veterans to take up bigger roles in this one. They stepped up in a big way, with three long-term Riders bagging double-digit points. 

Kimbal Mackenzie made his return to the starting lineup, after leading the bench unit for much of the season so far. He didn’t miss a beat, tallying 16 points and six assists, and finishing the game with a +/- of 14. 

Mo Walker, in his second straight start, saw the team over the line with his impact in the fourth quarter. The Giants brought the game back to 11 going into the final period, so making the next run was pivotal for either team’s success. 

The Riders dumped the ball down low to the big man, and he responded with six quick points to put the game to bed. 

The final piece of the puzzle was 11-year Rider Conner Washington, who put up a season-high of 14 off the bench. Washington was gunning from deep, hitting four of his seven three-point attempts and hitting timely shots throughout the game. 

The calm heads of players who have seen it all in Riders red played an important role in getting back to winning ways. 

Strength in numbers

In addition to Walker, Washington and Mackenzie, the Riders had three further double-digit scorers in a team effort up and down the roster. 

Thomas led the game with 17 points in only 19 minutes, but it was TJ Lall who earned player of the game honours with 16 points and eight rebounds in his return to the starting five. 

Lall combined with Washington to make waves in the second quarter, going for six points and three rebounds to close the half and keep the Riders in control. His impact on both ends through his 33 minutes of play, through his scoring, rebounding and defence, saw him put together a well-rounded performance in the win. 

Making it count at the line 

The Riders showed poise and composure at the foul stripe in the game, not letting a single freebie go to waste. They made all 14 of their attempts, with six different Riders making journeys to the line and making all of their shots. 

Leicester ranks among the League’s best in free throw percentage, knocking them down at  77% rate, the second-best in the British Basketball League. 

Their killer efficiency from the line was an important part of seeing the game out, preventing any life from being breathed into a Giants side that fought wire to wire. 

Battling in back-to-backs 

The Giants played the Riders off the back of a gruelling battle with the Plymouth City Patriots, where they took home a 91-90 win. 

They made the trip to Leicester the next day, and perhaps lacked the legs underneath them to keep up with the Riders’ energy early. 

It has been a theme of this British Basketball League season, with teams having to dig deep through a densely packed schedule. 

The Riders face a similar task this weekend, taking on the Cheshire Phoenix on the road two days after a clash against the London Lions, with Cheshire enjoying a week’s rest in the build-up to the game. 

They’ll have to find ways of overcoming this task when they hit the road next weekend.

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against London Lions!

Report: Riders record big win against Giants

The Riders got back to winning ways in the British Basketball League Championship, beating the Manchester Giants 94-79. 

A 29-11 first quarter set the tone, in a game which Leicester never trailed. The hosts fended off the Giants’ runs throughout the game to remain in control wire to wire. 

Points contributions came from all over the roster, the Riders getting six double-digit scorers in the box score. Miryne Thomas led the way with 17 points and missed just one shot along the way. 

TJ Lall and Kimbal Mackenzie backed him up with 16 each, the latter tallying his points in 23 minutes. 

The Giants, on the second day of a back-to-back which has proved difficult for all in the League this season, struggled with the congested schedule in this one. Nick Lewis led the game with 22 points, but couldn’t overcome the Riders’ infectious energy throughout. 

Three straight triples settled the Riders into the game, as they bolted out to a seven-point lead. The hosts suffocated the Giants with relentless energy on both ends, holding them to a 4-12 start and bagging a quick 18 points through five minutes of action. 

Thomas led the energetic explosion with eight points, two rebounds and two steals. He proved the catalyst for the early run. The Riders led 29-11 after one, starting 5-10 from three. 

Washington started the second with the same deep shooting form, nailing a three in his first contribution to the game. He and TJ Lall took charge of the game in the quarter as the Riders maintained their lead. 

The Giants matched the Riders in the second but were unable to make significant inroads. Canadian guard Nick Lewis led the game with 12 points at the half, draining a buzzer-beating three from halfcourt, making it 52-36. 

Manchester threatened to commence a run coming out of the half, getting the first two buckets to make it a 12 point affair. Lall and Thomas hit back with a pair of threes to stifle any comeback and settle into the second half. 

Manchester found form late in the quarter, going on a 7-0 run concluded by Evan Walshe’s three to make it a closer contest with one to play. The difference was 11 points going into the fourth. 

Kimbal Mackenzie got the fourth underway with a pair of threes to snatch back momentum in the tie. Jaren Holmes and Mo Walker contributed to a 13-4 start to the final period, which was capped off by a deep three from Washington. 

The Riders saw the game out comfortably from there, capped off by Washington taking charge on Lewis for his fifth and final foul. 

The Riders are back in action on December 1, taking on London Lions at home.

Get your tickets here!

Riders sign Russell

Leicester Riders are thrilled to announce the signing of Sesan Russell for the remainder of the 2023/24 season. 

The 6’1” British guard comes off the back of a four-year collegiate career for Florida Tech University in the NCAA Division II. He averaged 18.8 points, 6.9 assists and 5.3 rebounds as a senior, leading the nation in his assists total. 

Russell has been a member of the Riders family since 2015, joining Charnwood College at the age of 16. He went on to play for the Loughborough Riders until 2018 and represented Great Britain for the under-18s and under-20s. 

He helped Charnwood to an EABL North Division title, earning EABL North Player of the Year and EABL First Team selection in 2018, and lifted the NBL Division 1 title with Loughborough Riders. 

Head Coach Rob Paternostro commented: “Sesan is a guy that we know well. He came through our academy and saw some time on our bench during that time, so he understands the club and what it takes to be a Rider.

“He brings a combination of scoring and passing, and he was excellent at Florida Tech. I know the coaches there were really impressed by him. He’s someone that can step in and make a real impact out there.”

Russell added: “It’s a pleasure to be back with the Riders. Thank you to Coach Rob and Russell for the opportunity, and I’m looking forward to getting out there with the team.”

The Riders are back in action tomorrow, taking on the Manchester Giants at home.

Get your tickets here!

Leicester Riders Black Friday deals

It’s Black Friday, and the club have some incredible deals on offer for all of our fans!

Find out more below…

Secret boxes

Our secret boxes, available for £30, £50 and £100, are your chance to get a mystery selection of Riders gear.

Stock up on all your Riders merchandise, including Riders sliders, scarfs, replica kits and much more!

Get yours here!

Two for one tickets

Buy a ticket to our game against the London Lions on December 1 or the Caledonia Gladiators on December 16, and get a free ticket to our Trophy clash against Manchester Giants on January 10!

This offer expires on November 26.

Get your tickets here!

Rob Paternostro speaks on Riders’ departures

Following the departure of three Riders plays as part of a Riders roster restructure, Head Coach Rob Paternostro spoke to BBC Radio Leicester to explain the organisation’s decision-making process.

“We had to try and find a way to be pulling in the same direction,” said Paternostro.

“We want a group that is committed to winning together. It was an organisational decision to turn a page and head in a different direction.

“This was something that we have spoken about for a number of weeks. In my 16 seasons at the club, we’ve always had a team that is committed to winning and playing the right way. When we don’t see that, we want to correct that as quickly as possible. 

“The players had been here since August, and we did everything we could to create the best environment possible for those guys. We have a track record of players around the world that will tell you this is a great place to play basketball.

“There’s a lot of factors that go into that, and we want to continue to ensure we have a great basketball club on and off the court. But sometimes you have to make tough decisions, and those decisions weren’t made hastily. 

“We were having discussions for a while, and each one of the players knew that. There are certain criteria we have to play for the Riders, and that isn’t just about winning. I love to win, but there’s more to it than that. We want to play the right way, and we want our whole team to pull in the same direction.”

Looking ahead

“We’re excited about this group going forward, and they are a group that’s come together through this. We have a team that’s excited to play, and we have had great practices this week. These guys were the reason we were in these games. They’re model professionals, and they’re ready to go.

“We know we’re down bodies, but we’re excited about going out and fighting in front of our fans. These are the times that their support is really needed. I love our fans, and we expect great support on Saturday night. This is a group of guys that really deserve that.”

The Riders are back in action tomorrow, taking on the Manchester Giants at home.

Get your tickets here!

Championship preview: Riders vs Giants

Saturday’s British Basketball League Championship game is an important one for the Riders as they look to get back to winning ways and a .500 record.

The Morningside arena will play host to the 3-10 Manchester Giants, who are also searching for form after losing four of their last five games.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs Manchester Giants

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Saturday, November 25, 8:00pm

Get tickets here!

Riders look to bounce back

The weekend’s clash with the Giants will be a good test of how coach Rob Paternostro’s talented squad face adversity after falling to three close defeats in the past couple of weeks. 

In the first championship fixture between the two clubs, the Riders came away from Manchester with a 94-80 loss.

It was the second game of an attritional back-to-back weekend for Leicester, who had downed the Surrey Scorchers the previous night.

This time, the roles are reversed as Manchester will arrive in the East Midlands following a Friday night game against the Plymouth City Patriots.

Expect Paternostro to employ a fast-paced game, wearing down the visitors and reaping rewards in the second half.

Riders’ captain Kimbal Mackenzie will be crucial to this strategy, his speed of foot and thought is a large part of an offence that is putting up over 90 points a night. 

Another player who could have a sizeable impact is second-unit big man Samuel Idowu.

Aside from his brick wall defence, the 6’8” power forward is a great floor stretcher and often finds space beyond the arc for a three-pointer.

Idowu is no slouch from long range, hitting on over 35% of his three-point attempts.

The veteran may prove to be a nightmare for a tiring Giants defence that should be slowed in the fourth quarter.

Scoring Depth Needed for Giants

Coach Brian Semonian’s Giants squad have faced a tough start to the season and sit ninth in the British Basketball League Championship standings with six points.

Playoff quarter finalists last year, Manchester have seen a significant drop in offensive production in 2023, falling from over 89 points per game to just over 80. 

Star forward Jamell Anderson – who dropped 19 on the Riders in October – and ‘shoot first’ guard Nick Lewis are balling, but points from the rest of the roster have been scarce.

The Giants are seventh in points per game and eighth in true shooting percentage.

Saturday’s visitors struggle to fashion offence from sources other than Anderson and Lewis, so shutting that dynamic duo down will be a top priority.

The Riders may also expect to break three figures on offense, exploiting Manchester’s league-worst defence that is giving up 92 points per contest.

These factors, coupled with the fact of a back-to-back weekend of fixtures, means it could be a difficult night for the Giants.

Key Players

A current Rider takes on a former Rider in what is possibly the juiciest matchup of British Basketball League Championship round 11.

High-flying power forward Miryne Thomas will put his skills to the test against the reliable William Lee.

Lee, playing a second season in Manchester, has only suited up for three games this season, but showed his value with a 19-point performance in a recent win over the Bristol Flyers.

The 6’9” forward has had trouble with injuries during his spell with the Giants, but has been impressive when on the court, winning Molten Player of the Month honours twice last season.

The veteran was kept quiet in a round 10 loss to the London Lions, but Riders’ supporters will be aware of his dangerous combination of solid defence and efficient scoring. 

The athletic Thomas has had an excellent start to his career as a Rider.

A team standout this season, #3 has posted three double-doubles including a 21 and 11 showing against the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks last week.

The Cleveland native spends most of his time in the paint, using his shiftiness to find space inside before slamming home a powerful dunk.

Thomas is knocking down over 66% of his close-range shots, but supplements that with solid accuracy from the top of the arc, draining 44% of his three-pointers from that area.

A plethora of talent will take to the floor this weekend and the Riders’ faithful should see a thoroughly entertaining game.

If round 11 follows the trends of the season, expect the home offence to catch fire.

Caleb Asberry and Xavier Pinson depart from Riders

Leicester Riders officially announce the departure of Xavier Pinson and Caleb Asberry from their 2023/24 roster.

Following conversations with both players, the club have decided to move in a different direction from the American duo.

Riders would like to wish all the best to Xavier and Caleb in the future careers.

Stay tuned for more announcements and updates about the roster, which will be coming this week.

Report: Riders fall to Sharks

The Riders fell to the Sheffield Sharks 91-84 on the road. 

It was an intensely fought battle from wire to wire, but the Riders could never grab the lead despite bringing their deficit back to a possession several times. Miryne Thomas led the team’s efforts with 21 points, backed by Jaren Holmes’ 16. 

Devearl Ramsey went off for his season-high of 22 points for Sheffield, taking charge to hit key shots throughout to keep the Sharks narrowly ahead. They shot 52% from the field and 40% from three in a hot shooting night. 

Turnovers ultimately cost the Riders, who gave the ball away 15 times to the Sharks’ 10. They couldn’t get it going from deep either, hitting 23% from three against Sheffield’s sharpshooting clinic. 

Starting for the first time this season, Mo Walker got to work from the tip, playing physically inside to establish the Riders’ offence in the paint. He and Thomas found success down low early, combining for 11 points by the first commercial timeout. 

The Sharks led 21-20 after one, led by seven points from star scorer Jalon Pipkins who had his team up by as much as six in the quarter. But Samuel Idowu hit the Riders’ first three of the night to close the score by the buzzer. 

The Sharks continued to lead from the front in the second, as big man Bennet Koch drew two and-one plays to rebuild the host’s lead. 

Sheffield found success running the floor, as point guard Devearl Ramsey leaked out on the fast break to log 11 halftime points. Kimbal Mackenzie ran the Riders’ show off the bench to keep them in it, scoring eight in the second quarter, and made free throws to cut it to seven to end the half, the Riders still with work to do. 

Thomas put the team on his shoulders out of the half to keep the team in it. He scored eight in five minutes, including two threes, responding to big Sharks plays to start the third. 

The Riders clawed their way back into it, Jaren Holmes finding his range to spearhead the comeback, but the Sharks kept their noses in front by making timely threes throughout the period. Ramsey hit two of them, keeping up with Thomas’ scoring as the game approached its final stanza. 

Representing the theme of the game so far, Leicester looked like they’d be entering the fourth within a possession after Mackenzie’s score inside. But Pipkins’ miraculous full-court heave went through to make it 68-62. 

Sheffield exploded in the fourth, relentlessly hitting their deep ball to build their first double-digit lead of the tie. 

Trailing in the turnover battle 15-7 midway through the period, the Riders found a way to force steals of their own to get back into the game. Holmes and Lall intercepted passes on back-to-back possessions to trigger fastbreaks, resulting in four important points.

But as was the case throughout, Leicester couldn’t get over the hump, Ramsey hitting shots in response to earn Sheffield the win. 

The Riders are back in action next week, taking on the Manchester Giants at home on November 25. 

Get tickets here.

Braelen Bridges departs from Riders

Leicester Riders announce the departure of Braelen Bridges from their 2023/24 roster.

The club have decided to part ways with the American center, who joined the Riders this past summer.

Riders would like to put on record their thanks and gratitude to Braelen for his efforts whilst in red, and wish him the best for his future endeavours.

Ted Lasso star Tom Hendryk to attend second Riders business club

Leicester Riders are set to build on the success of their relaunched Business Club with the second of three events this season on November 20, hosted by EverythingBranded. 

The event, sponsored by 1284, will feature a Q&A with Ted Lasso star Tom Hendryk!

Hendryk, a Leicester native, plays goalkeeper Tom O’Brien in the hit Apple TV show. Guests will be invited to ask questions during a 30-minute talk with our special guest. 

The club would like to thank its partners at 5or6 for their key role in arranging the Q&A with Tom.

Sponsors are invited to bring a senior figure from other businesses as guests, to showcase what sponsorship with the Riders can do for local organisations. 

There has been increased interest this summer in Riders’ corporate packages. Player sponsorship has increased 50% year-on-year, the vast majority of last season’s corporate sponsors have renewed, and new businesses joining for first time include Better IT, Abel Alarm, 2XL Commercial Finance, and Griffin Fit.

Leicester Riders Chairman, Kevin Routledge, said: “We’ve been building our business offer over the summer following the arrival of Tracey Hallam as our commercial manager and our partnership with 1284.

“The support of our sponsors is crucial, not just for the Riders but also for our community foundation and the Arena itself.”

Loughborough-based 1284 provides award-winning B2B corporate communications to innovative public and private organisations in the East Midlands.

George Oliver, Managing Director of 1284, said: “We’ve been involved for a couple of years now and are really excited about getting more involved with the new-look Riders Business Club.”

For more information on partnering with the Riders, please contact [email protected], or read more about our sponsorship opportunities here!

Championship Preview: Riders at Sharks

The Riders will take the short journey up the M1 this Friday as they visit the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks for the first time since defeating them in the first round of playoffs last season.

Victory in this Round 10 matchup will see Rob Paternostro’s squad return to a record above .500 and leapfrog their opponents in the British Basketball League championship standings.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders @ B. Braun Sheffield Sharks

Canon Medical Arena, Sheffield

Friday, November 17, 7:30pm

Returning to Winning Ways

The Riders will be hoping to get back in the winner’s column this Friday after a tough Round Nine of championship action brought with it two narrow defeats.

Losses to the London Lions and Cheshire Phoenix by near-identical margins (102-95 and 102-96) dropped Leicester to 6-6 and sixth spot in the table, but winning back-to-back games against two of the best offenses in the UK was always going to be a tall order.

The Riders played some of their best basketball this season in defeat, especially when in possession of the ball, so many positives can be taken from them.

Determined shooting guard Caleb Asberry shone in both games, dialling up 16 points and nine boards versus the Lions before hitting five shots from deep in a 23-point performance in Cheshire. 

The former Oklahoma State Cowboy also showed quick hands on defence, snatching five steals across the weekend and constantly affecting the play of the opponents’ big men.

Sheffield will present a different challenge for the Riders this week.

The Sharks are averaging 13 PPG less than Paternostro’s squad so far this season and, despite holding a better record than the Riders, have only scored more than 90 points on two occasions.

Leicester currently averages 91.5 PPG and appears to have the advantage when scoring the basketball.

However, the Sharks also play some of the best defensive basketball in the BBL, conceding the lowest number of points per game in the league at 74.4.

Look for Sheffield to try and frustrate the Riders through on-ball tenacity and the forcing of tough shots.

The Riders will need to call on all their offensive weapons to crack open Sheffield’s defence. Expect big games from starters Miryne Thomas, Jaren Holmes and Xavier Pinson.

Defence is the Key

Atiba Lyons’ Sheffield squad have started the season strongly, earning fifth place in the championship standings with a 7-6 record.

On the back of a stingy defence, the Sharks have claimed impressive wins over the Cheshire Phoenix, Caledonia Gladiators and Surrey Scorchers and have only lost once at home – to the league-leading London Lions.

Sheffield combines their excellent perimeter defence with good ball retention and efficient scoring from three-point range.

The Sharks take less deep shots than many teams in the British Basketball League, but hit at a 38.3% clip, third best in the league.

Contributing heavily to the high percentage shooting is wing player Jordan Ratinho and second-unit guard, RJ Eytle-Rock.

The sharpshooters may not be Sheffield’s most prolific scorers but look for them to capitalise on any space the Riders leave at the perimeter.

The Sharks’ most athletic weapon is undoubtedly high-flying guard, Jalon Pipkins.

The third-year professional has speed in the lane, hops near the rim and an ability to perform the spectacular. #5 has upped his offensive output this season, so expect plenty of highlight-reel plays on Friday night.

Key Matchup

Round 10’s key matchup will see youthful exuberance against solid experience as Xavier Pinson faces up to the test of Devearl Ramsey.

Ramsey, a 6’0” guard who spent a season playing NBA G-League ball with the Stockton Kings, is the floor general for the Sharks and their premier playmaker.

Dishing five assists per game, the 26-year-old is adept at finding the right shooter while also avoiding risk of turnovers.

Reliable, mistake-free basketball is Ramsey’s game, and with a points per game average of 11.5, he also contributes to the scoreboard. 

Aiming to best Ramsey will be Riders’ young point guard Pinson.

All season, fans have witnessed Pinson showcase his ball-handling skills and penchant for the flashy play.

A former University of Missouri and LSU player, Pinson has excellent basketball pedigree and his numbers back up his attacking flair. 

11.5 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game and a three-point percentage of 45% display Pinson’s versatile game – all while sharing minutes with Riders’ captain, Kimbal Mackenzie.

The Chicagoan plays a riskier brand of basketball than his seasoned opponent, but the result is a stronger offensive profile.

This game is a tale of the unstoppable force versus the immovable object.

The battle between Pinson and Ramsey could well play out in the same way.

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Manchester Giants!

Report: Riders fall to Phoenix

The Riders fell on the road 102-96 against the Cheshire Phoenix. 

It was a tie game entering the final quarter, little separating the sides throughout the contest. Cheshire went up 11 with 2:30 to go, but the Riders found a spirited comeback to cut it to a possession with 30 seconds on the clock. 

They went on an 8-0 run led by Samuel Idowu’s three and putback slam to give themselves a chance, and Cheshire’s Laquincy Rideau missed both at the line with the difference only three points. 

But the officials pointed Cheshire’s way on a 50/50 out of bounds call, allowing the hosts to see it out. 

Caleb Asberry continued his hot form after his 16 point performance against the London Lions on Friday night, leading the Riders with a season-high 23 points going 8-12 from the field. 

Iwodu also impressed off the bench throughout with 18 points and seven rebounds, finishing the game with a +/- of 15. 

For Cheshire, American forward Ethan Chargois led the game with 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists. They took a late advantage with hot shooting to start the fourth, benefitting from a week’s extra rest late. 

Asberry picked up where he left off after his Player of the Game performance against London, scoring the Riders first eight points. But the Phoenix exploded to a hot start, gunning from behind the arc to make their first five three point attempts, going up 10 early. 

The Riders’ second unit checked into the game midway through the first to breath some life into the Riders’ offence. Mo Walker immediately got to work with two quick baskets, before Sam Idowu drove to the rim for an and-one play- Leicester’s frontcourt doing the business inside. 

The bench got the Riders back into the game despite a red hot Chesire offensive start led by 10 points from American forward Ethan Chargois. Walker came up with a block on Rideau with seconds left in the period, setting up an Asberry buzzer beating layup to cut the deficit to four.

Leicester took the game by the reins in the second, starting with two triples from TJ Lall and Kimbal Mackenzie which took their first lead of the game. It was the Riders’ turn to punish their opponents from deep, making four in five minutes. 

The Phoenix hung around in the game, the Riders keeping ahead in the ball game by finding success attacking inside. Mackenzie’s drive to the hoop concluded the half’s action with Leicester leading 55-49. 

Cheshire started the second half the nighter of the sides, running in transition to generate their offesnce in the open floor and snatch back the lead. The Riders fired back in response to reclaim their advantage at the hands of Lall, who scored four quick points inside. 

Lall kickstarted a 7-0 Riders run to give the Riders a five point lead, but a stong end to the quarter from Cheshire’s Aaryn Rai tied it up at 72 with one to play. 

The Phoenix started the fourth hot, attacking the rim to start the quarter 9-1. The Riders battled back, finding their way to the free throw line by driving to the hole to keep it to a six point defecit as the clock ticked down to five remaining in the game. 

But Cheshire closed out strong, hitting big shots down the stretch led by Chargois’ seven point final quarter to secure a win. Asberry and Idowu came up with late threes to bring it back to six, before Idowu threw down a huge putback jam to give Leicester a late chance. 

Mackenzie followed up a missed free throw with a bucket to cut it to a possession, and Rideau missed both after the subsequent foul, but the referee’s gave the out of bounds call Cheshire’s way, allowing them to seal it at the line. 

The loss sent the Riders home empty handed in a closely fought game for the second time in the weekend. They return to action next week on the road against the Sheffield Sharks. 

Championship Preview: Riders at Phoenix

Sunday evening sees the Riders travelling northwest to take on the 7-4 Cheshire Phoenix in the British Basketball League Championship.

It will be the second game of the weekend for Rob Paternostro’s squad after they fell 102-95 to the league-leading London Lions in an epic clash on Friday night.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders @ Cheshire Phoenix

Ellesmere Port Sports Village, Cheshire Oaks

Sunday, November 12, 6:00pm

Close to Victory

The Riders may have been defeated by the Lions on Friday night, but there was plenty of evidence that this squad can beat anyone on their day.

The home side bettered their opponents in several categories, including three-point percentage, points in the paint and rebounds. Victory looked possible, especially during a sustained period in the third quarter which saw the Riders holding onto a narrow lead.

However, what makes the Lions special is the ability to keep the scoreboard ticking over. They very rarely waste a possession, and even as the Riders’ defence forced several missed shots, London’s knack of getting to the foul line told in the final score.

The visitors – who claimed their thirteenth win in fourteen British Basketball League Championship games on Friday – hit 26 points from the free throw line at a clip of 86%, nine more than the Riders who knocked down 16 at an uncharacteristically low 72%.

A major positive for the Riders was the play of shooting guard Caleb Asberry.

The 6’3” Texan balled out on both ends of the court, tormenting the opposition big men with fast hands-on defence, knocking down 16 points on offence and leading the Riders with nine rebounds for good measure.

As Friday’s game went on, the energy of the Morningside Arena grew, and Asberry’s tenacity grew with it.

The in-form Jaren Holmes also had a nice showing, flashing his skills as a playmaker to dish eight assists to go with 18 points for a near double-double.

Leicester scored 95 points on a defence that gives up only 79.5 points per game, but it wasn’t quite enough.

Cheshire is another team that can score the ball, averaging an impressive 88.5 points per game, so the Riders may find themselves needing another total within touching distance of three figures to take victory on the road.

The Surprise Package of the Season

Judging on whispers throughout the pre-season, few around the BBL were predicting the Phoenix to have a hot 7-4 start.

Ben Thomas’ team sit third in the standings on 14 points, playing consistent basketball predicated on a solid defence and dominance on the boards.

The Phoenix are currently pulling down 40.9 rebounds per game and sit second in total rebounds percentage with 54.3% – just behind the 8-4 Bristol Flyers.

That hustle to get to missed shots allows Cheshire to be the most prolific team in the league when on the fast break, hitting 17.9 fast break points each night. The Riders have been susceptible to giving up fast break points this season, so this is sure to be an area of focus for Coach Paternostro.

Top scorer for the Phoenix is guard Maceo Jack, the second-year American having an excellent sophomore season, dropping 18.7 points per night to become one of the most prolific scorers in the league.

Jack is ably supported by big men Aaryn Rai and Skylar White who put up double-digits in points on most outings.

Rai, who has only played in six of the Nix’s 11 games this season, is a 6’6” forward with an eye for a pass. Should he play on Sunday, expect him to be a large part of Cheshire’s offense. 

Key Matchup

Sunday’s key matchup is between two players who bring high-quality minutes from the bench – Cam Christon and Riders’ captain, Kimbal Mackenzie.

Christon, a rookie who joined the BBL this season from the Grambling State Tigers, stands at 6’6” and uses his combination of speed and length to slice inside and finish effectively in the paint.

The Texan has scored close to 20 points on several occasions this season despite second-unit minutes, even dropping 21 points in 23 minutes on the Patriots in an October win.

Riders’ fans may be somewhat familiar with Christon’s ability to score in bunches as he knocked down 16 in just ten minutes on opening day.

A player Riders’ supporters will certainly be familiar with is energetic point guard, Mackenzie. The Leicester veteran is often brought off the bench to galvanise the team when the opposition is on a run or to hit clutch shots in the waning moments of a game.

#1’s presence was felt yet again on Friday night, as he bolted around the court and involved himself in everything positive the Riders produced.

Mackenzie finished the night with 17 points, five assists and managed to draw four trips to the charity stripe.

It is going to be interesting to see when and how both coaches decide to use their second-unit weapons. The player who brings the best from the bench could prove to be the one that wins this game for their team.

Want to see the Riders in action?

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Five things we learned from facing the Lions

Last night, the Riders went toe to toe with the table-topping London Lions, falling just short in a 102-94 loss.

Here’s what we can learn from the fixture.

Hanging with the best

From wire to wire, this Riders roster showed it could compete with the best the British Basketball League has to offer. It was a one-score game at the end of the second and third quarters before the Lions found late form in the fourth. 

It was just a four-point game late after Miryne Thomas’ layup in close, the Riders hanging around until the final buzzer. 

After their blowout of the Eagles last time out, and pushing London all the way, Leicester are growing into the season and establishing themselves as a co