Preview: Riders at Phoenix

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

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

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

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

Season So Far – Phoenix

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

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

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

One To Watch – Riders

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

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

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

One To Watch – Phoenix

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

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

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

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

Previous Meeting 

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

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

Riders bounce back with victory over Flyers

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders at Flyers

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

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

Season So Far – Flyers

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

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

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

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

One To Watch – Riders

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

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

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

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

One To Watch – Flyers

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

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

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

Riders knocked out of the BBL Trophy by Flyers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders at Flyers

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

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

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

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


Season So Far – Flyers

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

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

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

One To Watch – Riders

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

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

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

One To Watch – Flyers

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

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

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

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


Previous Meeting

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

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

Coach Rob picks up monthly award

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

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

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

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

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

Loving named Player of the Month!

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

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

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

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

Riders open new year with victory over Sharks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders at Sharks

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

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

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

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

Season So Far – Sharks

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

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

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

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

One To Watch- Riders

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

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

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

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

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

One To Watch – Sharks

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

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

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

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

Previous Meeting 

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

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

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

Riders beat Lions to advance to BBL Cup Final

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders v Lions

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

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

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

 Season So Far – Lions

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

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

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

One To Watch – Riders

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

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

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

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

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

One To Watch – Lions

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

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

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

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

Riders partner with Hard Yards UK

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

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

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

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

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

Riders beat Patriots to continue winning run

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders v Patriots

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

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

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

Season So Far – Patriots

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

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

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

One To Watch – Riders

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


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

One To Watch – Patriots

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

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

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

Previous Meetings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders defeat Eagles to remain unbeaten in the BBL Championship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders v Eagles

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

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

Season So Far – Eagles

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

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

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

One To Watch – Riders

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

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

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

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

One To Watch – Eagles

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

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

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

Riders edge Lions in Cup Semi Final first leg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders at Lions

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

Season So Far – Lions

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

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

Ones To Watch  

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

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

Previous Fixture

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

Sharpshooting Riders earn victory over Rocks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Geno wins BBL November award

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders v Rocks

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

Season So Far – Rocks

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

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Fixture

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

Riders edge Sharks in tight encounter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders at Sharks

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

Season So Far – Sharks

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

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

Ones to watch

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

Riders beat Scorchers to open the weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders v Scorchers

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

Season So far- Scorchers

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

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

Ones “`To Watch

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

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

Previous Fixture

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

Hot fourth quarter sees Riders defeat Phoenix

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders v Phoenix

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

Season So Far – Phoenix

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

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

Tickets

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

Riders fight back to keep cup run alive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders v Phoenix

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

Season So Far – Phoenix

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

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

Ones To Watch 

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

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

Previous meeting

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

Tickets

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

Spirited Riders fall to Lions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders v Lions

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

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

Season So Far – Lions

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

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

Ones To watch

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

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

Previous meetings

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

Tickets

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

Morningside Arena hosts Riders against Lions for BBL Cup South decider

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

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

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

Game tickets are available online.

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

Riders start the BBL Championship with a win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders v Eagles

Season So Far- Riders

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

Season so far- Eagles

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Fixture

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

Tickets

Tickets are still available to support the Riders in the BBL Championship opener, CLICK HERE to book yours.

Riders beat Patriots to make it 6 Wins on the bounce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders v Patriots

Season So Far – Riders 

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

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

Season So Far – Patriots

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

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

Ones to watch

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

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

Previous meeting

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

Tickets

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

Maynard & Vazquez step up in the New Era for Loughborough

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of an era for Coach Jarram

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

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

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

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

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

Riders Managing Director Russell Levenston commented:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strong fourth quarter sees Riders defeat Lions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders v Lions

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

Season So Far – Lions

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

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Meeting

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

Tickets

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

Riders seal victory in Surrey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders at Scorchers

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

Season So Far – Scorchers

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

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Meetings 

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

Season so far- Riders

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

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

Season so far- Scorchers

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

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

Ones to watch

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

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

Previous meetings 

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

How To Watch

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

Riders on Sky Sports

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

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

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

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

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

Jackson & Crandall named in weekly awards

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

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

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

Riders beat Patriots

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders at Patriots

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

Season So Far – Patriots

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

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Meetings

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

Riders defeat Flyers on the road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders at Flyers

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

Season So Far – Flyers

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

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Meeting 

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

How To Watch

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

Riders team up with On Court

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders bounce back with win over Scorchers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders v Scorchers

Season So Far – Riders

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

Season So Far – Scorchers 

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

Ones to watch

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

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

Previous meetings

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

Tickets 

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

Riders fall to Flyers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leicester Riders partner with University of Leicester

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Riders v Flyers

Season So Far – Riders

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

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

Season So Far – Flyers

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

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Meetings

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

Buy Tickets

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

Report: Riders at Sharks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pre Season Preview: Riders at Sharks

Preseason So far – Riders

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

Preseason So Far – Sharks 

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

Ones To Watch

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

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

Previous Meeting 

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

Next Up

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

Leicester Riders & Bentley Project Management Renew Partnership

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leicester Riders Game Day Update

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

Refurbished Box Office

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

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

Event Entry

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

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

Keeping you safe

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

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

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

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

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

Food & Beverage

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

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

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


Toilet Facilities

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

Additional Barriers

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

Parking

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

Please reference parking details on Riders or Arena websites.

New Stand Sponsor

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

Security & Stewards

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

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

Riders face tough test in Groningen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders are Loving it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders open pre-season with win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-season home games announced

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ndoukou named in Riders roster

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

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

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

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

Head Coach Rob Paternostro commented:

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

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

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

Riders confirm dutch trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders add Mackenzie to roster

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

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

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

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

Head Coach Rob Paternostro commented:

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

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

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

Hedley back with Riders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2021-22 fixtures released

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

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

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

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

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

Riders head South for BBL Cup

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders add Jubril Adekoya to roster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Season tickets now on open sale!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jackson returns to Riders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders confirm departing players

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

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

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

Riders sign Patrick Whelan

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

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

The Warrington-born star is keen to get started…

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

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

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

Head Coach Rob Paternostro commented:

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

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

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

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

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

2022 Cup Finals Tickets on Sale

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

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

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

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

Conner signs new deal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Riders HYPE Event 2021

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

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

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

A full schedule is below!

Morningside Arena announces plans for 1,200 metres squared extension

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you Jamell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paying tribute Head Coach Rob Paternostro commented:

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

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

Managing Director Russell Levenston commented:

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

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

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

*According to stats on record.

Torr Waterfield & Riders extend partnership

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

As well as winning the BBL Championship for the fifth time in May, Riders have highly successful women’s, underage and student programmes, and deliver a range of community projects via their charity, the Leicester Riders Foundation, at the Morningside Arena, the home of the Riders.

As an element of the partnership, the Victory Stand at the Morningside Arena will be renamed the Torr Waterfield Stand, and the Leicester accountants’ corporate hospitality and branding arrangements will be extended to include access to a wide range of sporting and entertainment events at the Arena.

Torr Waterfield have been providing the Riders and their associated companies with general financial advice as well as their accounting and payroll services, over recent years and those services will be extended further still.

Mark Torr, Director and senior Partner at Torr Waterfield, is delighted to continue working with the Riders and the Arena, “We are very pleased to extend our partnership with the Riders, who are national champions and committed to excellence, player development and community engagement.”

“We are very impressed with all the work they do in the community and the way there are developing the Morningside Arena into a leading facility with top class events, as well as community sport.”

“The number of major sports and entertainment events coming to Leicester in the next year, thanks to the work of staff at the Arena, is very exciting for the city, and Torr Waterfield are delighted to help with the growth of the club.”

Riders Chairman Kevin Routledge was also excited to extend the partnership,

“The Riders, Foundation and Arena have just come through the most challenging time in our history, and with the support of Torr Waterfield, and thanks to the hard work of staff, we have continued to perform and deliver our services and games, whilst transforming the Arena into one of the most flexible and safe venues in the country.”

“We see great opportunities ahead and having a partner like Torr Waterfield on board will make it possible for Riders and the Arena to recover, develop further and continue to be successful at a national level. We have further exciting plans which we will announce soon and having this level of expertise and support from Torr Waterfield is vital to our future development.”

BBL launches Community Wellness hub

The British Basketball League (BBL) has become the first national professional sports organisation in the UK to launch a wellbeing hub for its community.

The pioneering platform, developed for the BBL by tech company Frog Systems, uses videos of people sharing their life experiences of issues such as depression and racism to signpost organisations and resources that offer help.

The free-to-use online BBL Community Wellness Hub was launched with the help of players Tayo Ogedengbe, Drew Lasker, and Darien Nelson-Henry who have contributed their own videos to the platform.

The BBL Community Wellness Hub, which can be accessed at www.bblinspires.co.uk, was developed during the Covid-19 pandemic in response to the impact on the mental and physical wellbeing on communities.

It contains video clips from players and officials from clubs in the BBL sharing their experiences and highlights information and organisations where the basketball community can go to get help. Users can search for information about mental and physical wellness, diversity, equality and inclusion, and personal development and financial management. They can also look for community programmes and volunteering opportunities with the sport in their area.

The platform is the first step in a series of initiatives planned by the BBL to improve welfare provision ahead of the 2021/2022 season which are being spearheaded by former Great Britain captain Kieron Achara.

Keiron Achara said: “The BBL family have always believed that our communities are the backbone of our league and I’m proud that we are working together to amplify the amazing local support services and resources available to ensure our communities are getting the help they need.”

It is estimated that a million people play basketball in Britain every week making it the second most popular team sport in England, Scotland and Wales. All 11 BBL franchises are behind the platform and will add new supportive video content in the coming weeks and months.

Andy Webb, Chief Operating Officer of the BBL, added: “This is a proud moment for us to be the first national sports body to launch a platform like this to support our community. The past year has been tough for everyone – players, fans and administrators alike – and this puts us in a great position to move forward and make a positive difference.”

Sir Rodney Walker, Chairman of the BBL, said: “Our players and coaches do a huge amount of work in their local communities. We hope the BBL Community Wellness Hub will add another layer of support by linking our thousands of fans with advice and support around the challenges they face.”

While those who use the platform cannot be identified, the anonymised data it produces will be used by the BBL to identify where it can improve the community support it offers.

Phil Worms, CEO of Frog Systems, said: “Like all sports, basketball has a duty of care to those who play, work in and support the game. We have worked closely with the BBL to produce a platform that will help them make important decisions about where they direct their support and resources in the future.”

William Lee back as a Rider

After a successful first season in the BBL, high-flying William Lee will get to play in front of the Morningside Arena crowd next season having signed a new one year deal. Lee, who made the BBL defensive team of the season, impressed for his aerial ability and defensive qualities which saw him average 1.3 blocks a game.

“I’m excited to return to Leicester to give the fans what they deserve – which is more trophies and to be able to watch us live!” Commented Lee.

“We can’t wait to have the fans behind us and pack out the Morningside Arena. I’ve heard about the game-night atmosphere in Leicester and I’m looking forward to experiencing it next season.”

Lee becomes Riders fifth announcement of the summer having already announced the return of MVP Geno Crandall, club captain Darien Nelson-Henry, Mo Walker and academy graduate Greg Wild.

“William had an excellent season and we are excited to bring him back for year two,” reflected Coach Rob Paternostro.

“His rebounding and shot blocking were a vital part of our defence, and offensively he was a versatile player who made many big plays in big games.”

“William is a player that can play in many different spots on the floor which was very beneficial to our offence.”

“His athleticism is high level , he makes high flying plays on both ends of the floor that surely will get the fans out of their seats with excitement .. what was impressive to me was his feel for the game. He is a player that does so many winning things for a team that doesn’t always show up in the box score.”

Greg Wild signs first professional contract

Charnwood Academy graduate Greg Wild has signed his first professional contract with Leicester Riders.

Wild, who featured in both the BBL roster for Leicester and NBL roster for Loughborough last term, has committed his future to the programme signing a four-year contract.

“It’s a surreal feeling signing my first professional contract with such a decorated club with a lot of history and great success,” commented Greg.

“I am grateful for the opportunities that have led me to this point in my playing career and I’m ready to get to work with the guys ahead of next year.” 

“I can’t wait to get back out there and show everyone what I’m capable of, I want to keep getting better everyday.”

“I am blessed for the opportunity to study at Loughborough University through Loughborough College and thankful for the partnership between Riders and Loughborough to allow me to get my degree alongside playing basketball at a high level.”

Whilst on the Riders roster, Greg will study for a degree and be eligible to represent Loughborough in both the NBL and BUCS competitions.

“It’s fantastic for us to secure the services of such a talent like Greg,” commented Riders MD Russell Levenston.

“It’s pretty special for us to be able to offer a player from our academy programme a first professional contract. It’s a trend we are seeing more and more, and it shows any young basketball players that they don’t necessarily need to head to a US college to succeed.”

“We are in a position to be able to offer a long-term deal to Greg and we are delighted to have him on board. Not only are we impressed with his talents but his attitude and application throughout our programme has been outstanding.”

Walker signs new two-year deal

Leicester Riders have secured the signature of Canadian-born centre Mo Walker who has signed a new two-year deal, taking him to the end of the 2022-23 season.

“Obviously the last two seasons were very tough on Mo, two difficult injuries, but we were very happy to see him recover and make it back for the end of the season,” reflected Coach Rob Paternostro.

“He worked hard with his rehab and has shown a real commitment to getting back on the floor and producing again.”

Walker suffered two season ending injuries the last two seasons but, with the support of the Riders Sports Science staff, made a return to court earlier than scheduled in the May Madness Play-offs.

“Everyone knows that if he is healthy he is a real handful for any defense.”

“His size and strength can be very tough to deal with in the low post, but he also possesses a nice feel for the game and is a very skilled big.”

“He is a great teammate who has shown real leadership with a lot of our young players over the past two seasons, we believe his leadership will be beneficial to any team we put out on the floor.”

Walker attended University of Minnesota where he played for the Golden Gophers for five seasons. He scored a career-high 26 points against Penn State in one of his last games as a Golden Gopher. Following his collegiate career, Walker joined the Orlando Magic in the NBA Summer League before heading overseas to continue his professional career.

Mo has experience playing in Italy, Latvia, and France, as well as his time in the UK. Riders fans were first familiar with his talents when playing for the Worcester Wolves, where he averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds, and two assists per game.

Walker will be in action this summer as he prepares for the new BBL season with Canadian CEBL side Guelph Nighthawks, starting on 28 June, alongside Corey Johnson.

Captain Darien looking forward to new season

Riders Captain Darien Nelson-Henry is looking forward to another year in Leicester next term.

Having signed a two-year deal last July, the American big who will be back for his third season, is also studying for his Masters degree at the Business School at Loughborough University.

“I am extremely excited to be coming back to the Riders for the 2021-22 season,” commented Darien.

“With hopefully a solid core unit returning, the experience of last season on missing out on some of the titles will drive our hunger and make us more determined to work hard this off-season.”

“I consider myself and the team to be very privileged to play under Coach Rob’s leadership again next season. He’s a great coach and next season is shaping up to be another successful year for the club.”

Captain Nelson-Henry led Riders to the League Title last year, a season where he was named in the BBL team of the year.

Geno signs back!

League MVP and star American guard Geno Crandall will return to the Riders next season!

Crandall lit up the BBL this season winning the league, journalist’s association and club’s MVP awards.

“I’m excited to be coming back to the Riders next season,” commented Crandall.

“I have loved my time here and I can’t wait to play for the Riders again, this time with fan support at the arenas. I found a home in Leicester, the club, teammates and staff made me feel so welcome.”

“I’ll be working hard this summer to improve my game and be ready again for the new season.”

“We feel like we have unfinished business as a team and we’ll be doing all we can to put some more silverware in the cabinet for this club.”

“I’ve loved playing for Coach Rob and he’s a big factor in me returning to play. He’s a players’ coach and has given me the tools to be successful this past season. I can’t wait to get going again.”

After leading Leicester Riders to a fifth BBL Championship title, Geno became the second player in Riders history to win the MVP. He did it by 10 clear votes of second placed DeAndre Liggins.

The 6’4″, 24-year-old , Minneapolis-native joined Leicester in the summer after a season in the Czech Republic, and was previously a two-time All-Big Sky second team selection at the University of North Dakota before graduating from the powerhouse Gonzaga University.

Crandall had nine double-doubles in BBL Championship play, which was third among all players, and was close to a triple-double on numerous occasions. He had a season high of 29 points and 15 assists in a 116-109 overtime victory over Manchester Giants at the Morningside Arena.

Alongside the MVP trophy, he was named in the Molten BBL Team of the Year, picked up a Molten BBL Player of the Month award in January, and made the weekly All-Star Five six times.

Paternostro signs new multi-year deal

Leicester Riders are excited to announce a new multi-year contract with Head Coach Rob Paternostro has been agreed.

“I’m thrilled to extend my deal with the Riders. I have enjoyed everything about being the Head Coach here and am looking forward to the future,” commented Rob Paternostro.

“It’s home for my family and I. I love it here and we are all excited about the future.

“Leicester is a great city for sport, I love that about being here, the fans are knowledgeable and passionate which makes it an incredible place to work.”

Paternostro led the Riders to the League Title, his fifth while at Leicester, and 14th trophy overall for the club. He also picked up the Coach of the Year award, his fourth in the last five years.

“Rob has been a fantastic Head Coach for this club for many years. He is our most successful Head Coach and understands where we want to take this club,” commented Riders Managing Director Russell Levenston.

“It’s a big statement for the club to be able to secure his services for the next five years. We are extremely excited about working together and happy to offer him the security at our club that his record truly deserves.”

Rob took the helm at the Riders in 2008 and won his first league title in 2012-13. He won his first Coach of the Year award after transforming Riders in that initial 2008-09 season, immediately taking them from tenth to third, and they have only finished below that on three occasions in more than a decade since.

The 48-year-old native of Connecticut – who enjoyed a good playing career in the BBL as a charismatic point guard from 2000 to 2008 – has built his success on a defensive philosophy, and will have been pleased to see his team once more end the season as the BBL’s meanest defence, for the fifth completed season in a row, conceding just 76.8 points per game.

Riders Awards 2021

Last night Leicester Riders announced it’s award winners for the 2020-21 campaign. A huge thank you to our sponsors and partners Our Neighbourhood, Everards and Spice Bazaar along-with our individual award sponsors.

Coach of the Year – sponsored by the Trophy Parlour
Rob Paternostro

Most Improved Player of the Year – sponsored by the Loughborough University School of Business & Economics
Darien Nelson-Henry

Players’ Player of the Year – sponsored by Jelson Homes
William Lee

Coaches Player of the Year – sponsored by the Spire Hospital & Torr Waterfield
Conner Washington & Jamell Anderson

MVP – sponsored by Lumbers
Geno Crandall

Captains Log: An amazing season with an amazing team

Well, it was not the final outcome we desired, that much is obvious. However, it is hard to be bitter after such an amazing season with an amazing team. Of course, the sour taste will remain in our mouths for some time. That much is inevitable. Yet, it is somewhat comforting to see Newcastle carry on to win the Finals as well. They are a team of veterans that had all of their guys healthy at the right time. That’s sports. Experience and health ultimately wins championships. 

This experience part is what we hope to carry on into next season. We showed consistency throughout the regular season and walked away with a BBL Championship… something I will never forget, and something I commend the guys for wholeheartedly, as I truly believe that was the hardest title to win in this crazy season of ours. That said, winning a second piece of hardware this year would have made it just that much sweeter… and that is what we will focus on for the season to come. I know we can be consistent, I know we can be disciplined, and now we need to be able to turn it up a notch in the big moments. 

Alas, the season is wrapped up, and there is nothing to do now besides relax for a few weeks, then get back on the grind! Off-season training is some of my favourite, as I get to channel my inner Geno (doing ball handling drills and playing point guard in pick-up). Despite the great season, my focus will not waver — more titles to come next year — that is the goal. That is what I will be training for this off-season. 

To all of the fans that have supported us all season long, Thank you!!! You all helped immensely with your continuous support. I look forward to seeing you all this Wednesday at Morningside!

All the best,

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: Proud of what we achieved this season

It was a tough night for us against the Eagles in that second leg – no question. But you have to give credit to Newcastle, they played really well in the second leg, and did it also in the first game. To get back like they did in the first leg after our hot start was impressive.

Rahmon Fletcher was outstanding in both games – scoring the ball, passing the ball – he is a real dynamic player. And his backcourt partner Cortez Edwards played really well after a bit of an off-night in the first leg. Add with their big guy Justin Gordon, who can change a game quickly, you have three guys who are amongst the top ten in the BBL, or close. So, the talent is there, and they showed up on Thursday night. They made plays.

You look at our game and our defence was not good enough early on, and gave up too many scores. But then if you look at how we came back, we went into halftime in a real good position. But then in the third quarter we could not get anything to drop. And when you look back at the losses this season, we have had it is generally that it was the long-range shooting that let us down.

We only made 3 of 24 from the three-point line on Thursday. I said before the game we had to make shots. We did not and they did. When you are in big games that is what it comes down to – making shots when it matters. It is part of basketball.

It was a tough night for us against the Eagles in that second leg – no question. But you have to give credit to Newcastle, they played really well in the second leg, and did it also in the first game. To get back like they did in the first leg after our hot start was impressive.

Rahmon Fletcher was outstanding in both games – scoring the ball, passing the ball – he is a real dynamic player. And his backcourt partner Cortez Edwards played really well after a bit of an off-night in the first leg. Add with their big guy Justin Gordon, who can change a game quickly, you have three guys who are amongst the top ten in the BBL, or close. So, the talent is there, and they showed up on Thursday night. They made plays.

You look at our game and our defence was not good enough early on, and gave up too many scores. But then if you look at how we came back, we went into halftime in a real good position. But then in the third quarter we could not get anything to drop. And when you look back at the losses this season, we have had it is generally that it was the long-range shooting that let us down.

We only made 3 of 24 from the three-point line on Thursday. I said before the game we had to make shots. We did not and they did. When you are in big games that is what it comes down to – making shots when it matters. It is part of basketball.

I said to guys after the game I loved working with them, and I really enjoyed every minute, because it was a real family atmosphere. I also told them how proud of them I was, and proud of what they achieved this season, for our club and for our fans. The fans may not have been in the building, but we felt their support all the way.

Geno crowned BBL MVP!

American guard Geno Crandall has been named the Molten BBL Most Valuable Player for the 2020-21 season.

Crandall who has had a massive impact on the league in his debut season with the Riders led the side to its fifth League Title.

“I’m honoured to have been chosen as the MVP of the league. I want to thank Coach Rob (Paternostro) and the Riders staff for the opportunity they’ve given me this year,” commented Geno.

“Thank you to my teammates for believing in me, supporting me, picking me up every step of the way. Thank you to everyone behind the scenes with the league for doing everything they could to ensure we were able to play this season safely. Also thank you to all of the coaches who voted me into this position.”

“I don’t play the game for personal recognition, I play because I love it and the fact that that passion leads to individual success I hope inspires others to chase their own passions with the same fervour.”

“Our season didn’t end on a high note and I would have much preferred to win the final, however you never know what the future holds.”

Rob wins BBL Coach of the Year

Coach Rob Paternostro has been named the Ed Percival Molten BBL Coach of the Year for the 2020-21 season.

The Riders head coach successfully steered the team to a fifth League Title with a 24-6 record in the league. It’s also a league record sixth time that Coach Rob has picked up the trophy.

“It’s a team award and I really enjoyed working with our team, it was a great group to be around, they played unselfish basketball and competed on both ends of the floor night in and night out, but best of all were great teammates,” commented Rob.
 
“We have a great staff, so many contributed to our success this season.” 

“The league title is always special, you need to work together and support one another consistently throughout the season.”

Paternostro previously won the award in 2008–09, 2012–13, 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Riders knocked out of Playoffs by Eagles

The Riders’ league-winning season draws to a close, after a 164-146 aggregate loss to the Newcastle Eagles in the BBL playoff semi-finals. Led by 13 points and 11 rebounds from Darien Nelson-Henry, the Riders fell short of a fourth-quarter comeback after entering the final period down 14. MVP candidate Rahmon Fletcher dominated the tie for the Eagles, averaging 30.5 points and eight assists across the two legs. 

The Riders fought until late, bringing the game to within six points after finding themselves down 15 in the final quarter. Their Molton Sports BBL Team of the Year players, Nelson-Henry and Geno Crandall, put the team on their back to score eight straight points and bring themselves into contention. Turnovers proved costly for the Riders, as they gave the ball up 16 times in both games. Uncharacteristically, the BBL’s most efficient offence struggled to make shots consistently in the second leg, shooting 41% from the field and going 3-24 from three. 

With the experience of a close tie against the Sheffield Sharks in the previous round, the Eagles seized momentum late. With the game in the balance, a 19-7 run closed out the fourth quarter for Newcastle, kick-started by huge threes from Fletcher and Louis Sayers. 

Fletcher picked up where he left off after a 34 point performance in the first leg, as the Eagles flew out to a 14 point lead. The two-time BBL MVP filled up the box score with seven points, two assists and three steals in the first quarter. With Fletcher running the show, the Eagles’ offence caught fire with red hot shooting in the first, which ended 29-20 in their favour. 

The responsibility fell to the Riders’ captain, Nelson-Henry, to commence a comeback. His sequence against Darius Defoe midway through the second quarter switched Leicester’s offensive focus to the interior, where they had success in the first leg. After blocking Defoe at the rim, Nelson-Henry ran back up the floor and backed up the 16-year Eagles veteran, before spinning left and hitting a hook shot for two.

The Riders pulled down four offensive rebounds on the next two possessions, dominating the battle inside. Leicester’s big-men scored all of their team’s seven points to end the half as they took the lead in the game with 1:37 left in the second. Fletcher’s steal and layup tied the game on aggregate as the teams entered the locker room with the Eagles up 40-39. 

Mustapha Heron kicked off the second half explosively, beating Defoe to the baseline before rising quickly and throwing it down left-handed. Despite the monster jam, the Riders fell into a hole, with the Eagles starting the third quarter on a 9-2 run. Again, it was Nelson-Henry reclaiming momentum for his side. After laying in a putback off a missed three, Nelson-Henry came up with a chase-down block on a driving Fletcher before deflecting the ball twice on the next possession to force an Eagles turnover. 

The Eagles responded to Nelson-Henry’s effort and energy with a 13-2 run to retake their double-digit lead. Fletcher scored 10 on the run to give Newcastle a commanding 14 points lead entering the final quarter. 

The Eagles built on their advantage to start the fourth with a huge and-one play from Justin Gordon. Down 15 on aggregate with their season on the line, Crandall and Nelson-Henry flipped a switch to claw the Riders back into the game. They scored eight points straight to cut the lead to seven, as the tie balanced on a knife-edge. With the score 69-61, the game’s momentum was ready to be seized, and it was Newcastle who took it. Back to back threes from Fletcher and Sayers gave the Eagles a 13 point lead with five minutes to go, kick-starting a 17-3 run which put the game to bed. 

The loss marks the end of a memorable Riders’ season. The Eagles progress to the final, where they will meet the London Lions or Plymouth Raiders at the Morningside Arena on Sunday. 

Riders

Nelson-Henry 13, Johnson 12, Lee 12, Crandall 11, Walker 8, Washington 5, Heron 5, Anderson 3

Eagles

27, Edwards 22, Gordon 16, Maxwell 11, Sayers 8, Defoe 2, Matthew 2

Playoff Semi Final Preview: Riders v Eagles Second Leg

The Riders take on the Eagles in the second leg of the BBL playoff semi-final. Tipping off at 5:00pm Thursday, a transformed ‘May Madness’ Morningside Arena will host a clash deciding which side progresses to the BBL final.   

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders have thrived this year with a hounding athletic defence. Ranked number one in the BBL, the Riders limit opposing teams to a league low 2,303 points allowed over the course of the league season. Sporting players of elite athleticism and length, Leicester are a match-up killer, able to switch and rotate without giving anything away. They enter the second leg riding a five-game win streak but after a tight one-point game in the first leg, the Riders know they have to be on their game to reach the all important final. 

Season So Far – Eagles

The BBL’s 4th seed and most historic franchise look to add another finals appearance to their impressive resume. They got off to a good start against the League champions on Tuesday, falling short but only by a point forcing an intense second leg. Despite losing, the Eagles played the Riders closer than any team in Leicester’s hot streak, a huge 24-9 fourth quarter clawing them back into the contest. Captain Rahmon Fletcher put the team on his back and showed out in the Leicester Arena, setting an example for Newcastle in the next, win-or-go-home match. 

Ones To Watch

William Lee was a monster walking the court Tuesday afternoon. Posting an intimidating double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds, five of which were on the offensive glass, Lee could not be stopped. The Leicester forward put his 6’9” frame to use on both sides of the court, also hounding on the defensive end, swatting two shots, and stripping the ball twice. Lee is not just an athletic freak who plays above the rim though, he is an athletic freak with touch and technique making him hard to pin down. He possesses a consistent mid-range game, often seen pulling up for two along the baseline. The Eagles were hurt by Lee in the first leg, so will know they must limit him in the second if they want to taste BBL finals basketball. 

Eagles centre Evan Maxwell was key to Newcastle’s quarter finals success, and much the reason they face the champions in the semis today. In the second leg of the quarter-final against the Sharks Maxwell put on a masterful display of efficient basketball. He scored 19 points on 8-13 shooting, and lead both teams with a +10 +/-. The Eagles missed his play in the first game against the Riders though, as Maxwell had a quiet outing. After shooting 0-6 from the field and finishing with a measly two points, Maxwell will be looking to step things up in the second contest. The Eagles will be hoping for a repeat of his quarter-final heroics, and the Riders must be wary of a scoring coming off the bench. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders and Eagles had a close match in their first face-off, split by only a point in Leicester’s favour. Geno Crandall and Rahmon Fletcher had their usual masterful battle, and William Lee put on a forward’s clinic. The second game is almost a win-or-go-home knockout, and judging by the intense affair on Tuesday, fans are in store for another entertaining play-off knock-out. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in live on the Sky Sports Youtube Channel. Riders fans will also be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

And finally… Meet the Champions

The Morningside Arena are excited to welcome you back to meet the 2021 BBL League Champions the Leicester Riders. The Arena has completed a refurbishment and added additional facilities to reassure guests that they can confidently return to the venue they have missed.

BOOK YOUR SLOT

Join us on Wednesday 19th May for…

A soft drink/freshly brewed hot drink (included in your ticket)

Photos with the Trophy

Meet and greet the players

Autograph and photo opportunities

Exclusive merchandise offers

Grab and go snacks available

A chance to tell us your thoughts and ask any questions

One way system in operation

To maximise this offering to all, each ticket will allow for a 30 minute slot to enjoy the above. Arrival time as per ticket.

We look forward to welcome you all back to the Morningside Arena.

BOOK YOUR SLOT

Riders take narrow lead into second leg

The BBL playoff semi-final remains firmly in the balance, after the Riders beat the Eagles 77-76 in the first leg. The Riders led their long-standing rivals by as much as 20, yet a comeback from the Eagles set up a dramatic second leg. 20 points, seven assists and four steals from Geno Crandall led the Riders, and a monumental season-high 34 point performance from fellow MVP candidate Rahmon Fletcher brought the Eagles back into contention.

The Riders began with a bang, with 36 points in the first period marking their highest-scoring quarter since 2012. Leicester were then held to 41 points for the rest of the game, resulting in a near ‘win or go home’ scenario in the second leg. William Lee scored five late points in the fourth quarter to give the Riders their slight advantage, including a monster fastbreak jam through contact. Lee dominated all aspects of the game, with 14 rebounds, two steals and two blocks accompanying his 18 points.

With their highest-scoring quarter in nine years, the Riders ended the first period up 36-18. Their offensive interior focus was met with little resistance, as they scored 30 of their 36 points at the rim or the free-throw line. They shot 69% from the field, with the Eagles unable to match their physicality inside. 

The Eagles began to drag themselves back into the tie after a disastrous start. Fletcher and Justin Gordon took over, scoring all of the Eagles’ 20 points in the period, yet Newcastle’s defensive play allowed them back into the match up. After conceding 36 in the first quarter, the Eagles held the Riders to 13 in the second as they shot 36% from the field. The Riders’ lead was pegged back to 11 as they headed into the locker room up 49-38. 

The third quarter was closely contested, with the teams going back and forth. The Eagles cut the Riders lead to single digits for the first time since midway through the opening period, but the Riders found a quick response through ‘general’ Geno. Crandall stole the ball for an easy layup, before draining a deep three on the next possession to bring the Leicester lead to 12. The play gave Riders momentum to end the quarter, as they went on an 8-2 run. Jamell Anderson finished off a four-second coast-to-coast basket, ending the quarter with the Riders up 68-52.

The Eagles flew out the gates in the final period with a 15-3 run. Back to back threes from Fletcher cut the Riders lead to five, before 16-year Eagles veteran Darius Defoe’s free-throw gave the Eagles their first lead with two minutes remaining. Fletcher scored 12 points in the fourth allowed the Eagles to win the quarter 24-9, yet five late points from Lee allowed the Riders to maintain a narrow advantage. 

The second leg will be played on Thursday, and a tie will be enough to send the Riders into the BBL playoff final. After a competitive first leg between old rivals, the second encounter promises a closely fought battle. 

Riders

Crandall 20, Lee 18, Heron 11, Walker 9, Nelson-Henry 6, Washington 6, Anderson 4, Johnson 3

Eagles

Fletcher 34, Gordon 15, Edwards 12, Defoe 9, Sayers 2, Pflueger 2, Maxwell 2

Play Semi Final Preview: Riders v Eagles First Leg

The Riders take on the Eagles in the first leg of the BBL playoff semi-final. Tipping off at 5:00pm Tuesday, a transformed ‘May Madness’ Morningside Arena will host the clash of BBL titans. 

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders display of dominant basketball saw them progress to the semi-finals, comprehensively beating the Flyers 177- 135 over two legs. Riding a four-game streak in which they have trampled opponents, the Riders will be brimming with confidence. While their home court may have undergone a transformation, newly crowned BJA Coach of the Year Rob Paternostro will be looking to have his team performing at their familiar intense level. With suffocating defence ranked first in the league allowing only 76 points per game in the league season, and an opponent pushed hard in their previous round, the Riders will be confident in continuing their hot streak.

Season So Far – Eagles

The BBL’s 4th seed Newcastle Eagles were tested thoroughly by the Sharks in their quarter-final legs. The first leg finished with the two sides split by only a pair of points, and the second had them completely even, tied in points, assists, rebounds, and steals. The Eagles are a team that can hurt you quickly, leading the league in both assists per game with 23.7, and steals per game with 8.6. With the Riders and Eagles split by a measly 0.1 point per game, the semi-finals will likely be decided by who is more dominant defensively. 

Ones To Watch

The wait is finally over. Having performed at a spectacular level all season, Geno Crandall finally took his crown as the BJA player of the year. Despite battling through a wrist injury in the tail end of the league season, Crandall averages 15.9 points per game, 7.8 assists per game and 1.9 steals per game, all while being the most fouled player in British basketball with 5.0 fouls on him per game. In his last game he played the role of a facilitating point guard to a tee, finishing up with 11 assists and 6 rebounds. Geno Crandall is as dazzling a player with the ball in his hands as it gets and is one to watch for as the Riders face a team he loves to show out against. 

Eagles power forward Justin Gordon has been nothing short of incredible in his play during the play-offs. Dropping 45 points on 17-25 shooting over the two quarter-final legs is scary. Add on his 16 rebounds and 8 assists and you have one that has to be watched by fans and stopped by the Riders. Paternostro’s side will know this is no easy task though, as in their previous meeting Gordon hammered home a stat-line of 24 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. The 6’6” Wofford graduate has the size and athleticism to threaten the rim, and the touch and range to drop shots from behind the arc. He is a puzzle the Riders must find an answer to if they plan to continue their dominant play into the semi-finals. 

Previous Meeting 

The Riders and Eagles last met on the 16th of April in Newcastle a the Vertu Motors Arena. The match was a tale of two halves, the Riders up by 11 after two quarters, but a turnover ridden second half costing them the game, finishing 90-80. The Eagles took a massive 22 more shots than the Leicester side. Both ones to watch put on a show, Crandall dropping a double-double with 16 points and 10 assists, and Gordon almost doing the same with 24 and 8 respectively. 

How To Watch

The game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Main Event, Arena and Mix from 4:30. Alternatively Riders fans can watch the game live and free on the Sky Sports Youtube Channel.

Captains Log: On to the Semi Finals

On to the Semi Finals!

After a great start up in Newcastle, it was a comfortable game for us on Wednesday in Worcester. Much like the regular season, we took care of business early on. This made the second leg a little more relaxed, however, we finished with another desirable result. 

We are matched up against Newcastle now in the semi-finals. This will be a great series, one the fans want to see! A rivalry has existed between these two teams for some time, and it will be exciting to participate in a heated matchup. 

The guys are ready and willing to do whatever it takes to secure a second title this season. We are focused and ready to go! 

Not much left to say, other than thank you for the continued support, and keep it coming for the remainder of the playoffs!

You Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: A very professional job over two legs

The first leg Against Bristol was an excellent result for us, and even at halftime, with just a three-point margin, I was feeling good about us. We had got open looks and just not knocked the shots down, so I felt that would come. But we did need to do a better job of keeping them off the boards and looking after the ball, and we did that in the second half.

They had scored 23 points off second chance efforts and our turnovers in the first half, so they were obvious areas to tighten up. And we did that very well. Geno Crandall was tremendous. He finds the guys in very good positions to score and makes it look easy.

William Lee was also exceptional. His five blocks really intimidated them inside, and he did everything very efficiently. Darien Nelson Henry was also very solid.

It was great to see Mo out there and making such an excellent contribution after all his time off with injury. He gives us something different with his size and he was a real presence for us in the middle. What was especially nice was we never let up and our biggest lead of the game came right at the end.

The second leg was a really professional job by the guys. We went into the game with a 29-point lead, and you worry, as a coach, whether the intensity would be there. I thought after the first 5 minutes or so we did a very good job. When you look at the stat sheet, we had six guys who had double figure points and one on nine points.

It was a real balanced effort, and nobody had to play big minutes, and we got the W. It was actually a very professional job over the two legs.

It was a long week of travel, so it is a real bonus to come home and get rested. We got the 2-legged semi coming up next week followed, hopefully, by the final, so that is going to be a big demand on all the players. I am also proud of the guys achieving the 30-win in the season milestone.

Riders through to Semi Finals after defeating Flyers

The Riders cruised through to the semi-final of the BBL playoffs, beating the Bristol Flyers 92-77 in the second leg and 177-135 on aggregate. William Lee led the Riders with 17 points, nailing three of his six three-point attempts in a comfortable game after a dominant first leg. 

Geno Crandall demonstrated the effect he can have on a game without scoring, making his only field goal in the first quarter while enjoying a solid performance. He recorded 11 assists, three steals and a block in a well-rounded effort. With Crandall’s team-first mentality in full effect, the Riders had six players score double-digit points, with three coming off the bench. They dished 27 assists while shooting 49% from the floor; their fluid offence proving too much for the Flyers. 

Off the back of a statement game in the first leg, Mo Walker was dominant down low. His 11 points and nine rebounds nearly enough for a double-double, as he bullied his opposition in the paint. Mustapha Heron started hot, scoring 12 first-half points and 16 in the game, and Jamell Anderson put up 12 points off the bench off just five shots. 

After a disastrous previous fixture, the Flyers made a good account of themselves in their final game of the season. Ben Mockford scored a game-high 19 points to keep his team in the second leg until late, going 3-6 from three. Bristol shot 38% from behind the arc after going 2-23 in the last encounter, a much-improved showing following a cold shooting night. 

The Flyers began the game with the freedom of a team with little to lose. The deficit appeared to take the weight off Bristol’s shoulders as they jumped out to a quick six-point lead. They displayed fluidity in their offence seen rarely in the first leg, dishing seven assists in the first quarter after registering just 14 in the previous fixture.

In a slight hole early, the Riders relied on Crandall for a response. The 6’3” guard rose amongst the giants at the rim, pulling off a chase-down block on 6’8” Flyers center Daniel Edozie. The block was the beginning of a 6-0 Riders run, with a monumental Mo Walker dunk tying the game while nearly bringing down the rim. 

The majority of the first half was close and competitive, before the Riders established their first significant lead late in the second quarter. Leicester forced the Flyers into speculative outside shots, flexing their BBL best defensive. A 16-2 Riders run to closed out the half. The teams entered the locker rooms with the score 49-41 in the Riders’ favour. 

Lee kicked off the third quarter with a bang, scoring eight straight points in two minutes to propel the Riders to a double-digit lead. Winning by over 30 on aggregate, the Riders cruised through the quarter. With ‘general Geno’ at the centre of it all, their off-ball movement and willing passing challenged the Flyers, who fought valiantly to keep the second-leg close. Anderson’s free throws ended the quarter with the Riders leading by eight in the game, and 36 on aggregate. 

After a scoreless opening two minutes, the Riders kicked off the fourth quarter with a Conner Washington three. The Riders played to the final buzzer, winning the last period 20-11. Walker scored seven points in the quarter, ending the game with a layup assisted by Loughborough prospect Justin Hedley. 

The win sees the Riders through to the second round of the BBL Playoffs. The tie will be played at home, with the remainder of the playoffs hosted at the Morningside Arena. The Riders continue their run, hoping to win the playoffs for the fourth consecutive time. 

Riders

Lee 17, Heron 16, Anderson 12, Walker 11, Johnson 10, Falzon 10, Nelson-Henry 9, Washington 4, Crandall 3

Flyers

Mockford 19, Wilcher 16, Delpeche 13, Edozie 8, Rogers 8, Lockett 6, Thomas-Edwards 5, Baker 4

Playoff Quarter Final Preview: Riders v Flyers Second Leg

The Riders face off against the Bristol Flyers in the second leg of the BBL Playoff quarter-final, after a dominant display in the first leg. The Riders beat the Flyers 85-56, after a monumental second-half performance, winning by 26 in the final two periods. 

Season So Far – Riders

The league champions continued their hot form entering the playoffs, putting themselves in a strong position to progress into the semi-finals. The Riders have won their previous two fixtures by a combined 61 points, flexing their best-ranked BBL defence in both encounters. Leicester’s perimeter defence has been stifling, with their athletic wing defenders locking down their opponent’s outside game. Over the last two games, the Riders opposition has shot a combined 4-36 from three and 39% from the field, unable to make shots consistently against the Riders, who gave up just 76 points per game during the league season. Should the Riders continue to play up to their elite standards defensively, they will feel confident in progressing to the next round. 

Season So Far – Flyers

Despite taking a difficult loss in the opening leg, the Flyers have an opportunity for redemption in the second tie. They can take positives out of the previous game, as they held the Riders to 33 first-half points to keep the game within a possession. The Flyers are one of four BBL teams to hold opponents under 80 points in the BBL Championship season, and demonstrated their defensive prowess in the first half. Ending the season with successive wins to book their place in the playoffs, Bristol will hope to recapture good form in an attempt to climb back into the tie. Upsetting the Newcastle Eagles in their final game should present the Flyers with the confidence they need for a comeback win. 

Ones To Watch

After two long term injuries sidelined him for the best part of two seaons, Mo Walker appeared back to his brilliant best in the first leg. In the absence of Ali Fraser, Walker led the frontcourt off the bench in a dominant outing.  Walker scored 16 points in 17 minutes, going 7-8 from the floor in an efficient display. The big-man out of the University of Minnesota scored nine straight points to stretch the Riders lead to 29 in a game in which every minute counted. Using his 6’10” frame, Walker bullied defenders down low to feast at the rim, making his presence known inside. He will hope to continue his momentum into the second leg to put the tie to bed. 

The Flyers leading score through the BBL Championship season, Eric Lockett kept his team in contention during the first half of the previous game. Lockett scored half of Bristol’s 30 first-half points, including eight straight in the second quarter kicked off by a monster fastbreak jam. With Lockett scoring just one point in the second half and Bristol falling behind in the tie, they relied on Lockett’s scoring ability to compete in the game. Lockett, who averaged 14.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game as a Sophomore at Florida International University, is an athletic wing capable of beating players off the dribble, finishing through contact and pulling up with a smooth jumper. The Flyers will look to Lockett to lead them back into the fixture. 

Previous Metting

The first leg was a second-half Riders blowout, as the league champs won 85-56. Geno Crandall put up an emphatic double-double, with 21 points and 10 assists, and William Lee dominated the paint with a colossal five blocks. The job remains unfinished, however, as Leicester will remain focused on seeing the game home in the second leg. 

How to Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in live on the Sky Sports Youtube Channel. Riders fans will also be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account. 

Riders defeat Flyers in Quarter Final first leg

The Riders kicked off May Madness with a bang, dominating the first leg of the quarter-final to beat the Bristol Flyers 85-56. A commanding second half, which Leicester won 52-26, puts them in a strong position entering the second leg on Wednesday. Geno Crandall enjoyed a tremendous double-double with 21 points and ten assists, leading the team in both categories. 

With the BBL’s best rim protection, blocking 3.1 shots a game, the Riders forced Bristol to take outside looks, of which they made just two of their 23 attempts. William Lee was an imposing presence in the paint, swatting five shots, including two colossal blocks on Eric Lockett and Raphell Thomas-Edwards. Compiling highlights on both ends, Lee threw down a monster alley-oop from Crandall’s lob pass during a 17-2 Riders run in the third, which allowed them to jump out to a substantial lead. 

A team effort saw the Riders to a blowout win. They had five double-digit point contributions in the game, as they dominated in the paint. Leicester’s big-men shot 20-25 from the field, with Mo Walker enjoying a statement game. Coming off two long term injuries, which sidelined him for the better part of two seasons, Walker was back to his brilliant best, making seven of his eight shots for 16 points. 

Through the first two quarters, it was a close encounter between two top-four BBL defences. Led by Lockett, who scored 15 of the Flyers 30 first-half points, Bristol kept the game within a possession until the half. Unable to keep pace with Leicester, the game got away from the Flyers in the second half, as the Riders held Locket to one point. Yet they will take the positives of the early stages into the next leg. 

Bristol could find these positives in the tightly contested first quarter, which the Riders won by just one. The period was fought in the paint, with 27 of the 32 points scored coming at the rim or the free-throw line. Despite the Flyers’ competitive start, the quarter’s highlight came from Lee, who dominated early with four rebounds in five minutes and a monster block. The University of Alabama’s all-time leading shot-blocker rose high to meet Lockett at the rim before swatting his layup out of bounds.  

Lockett took over the early stages of the second quarter. He kept his side in the fixture, scoring eight straight points for Bristol. An immense dunk kick-started his run. He glided through the air on the fastbreak before throwing the ball down one-handed. Lockett concluded a low scoring half, stringing a shot from midrange to cut into the Riders’ slight lead. The teams entered the locker rooms with the score 33-30 in Leicester’s favour. 

The Riders established their first significant lead of the game in a fast-paced beginning to the third quarter. Two threes in quick succession put them up 12, as Leicester scored 18 points in the opening five minutes of the period. Lee stamped the exclamation point on an emphatic Riders run, linking up with Geno Crandall for a lob. Crandall went between his legs before lobbing the ball up high from beyond the arc, as Lee jumped out the arena to catch it and throw it down with authority.

The Riders won the third quarter 32-15, led by 11 points from Lee. Lee claimed his second colossal block of the game to end the period. It was Thomas-Edwards on the receiving end on this occasion. He drove inside and threw up a layup, before Lee helped from the weak side to rise high above everybody and swat it away, ending the quarter with his team up 65-45.

In a two-legged tie, the final quarter remained vitally important to the Riders, despite holding a 20 point lead. Crandall joined the game’s lengthy highlight reel to continue his team’s momentum, breaking Daniel Edozie’s ankles with lightning-fast handles. Taking the big man off the dribble, Crandall stepped back to cause Edozie to stumble, before taking the ball to the rim and drawing a foul. 

To see the game home, Walker scored nine successive points to the delight of the Riders bench. Walker’s run put Leicester up 29, a lead they would maintain until the buzzer. 

The win puts the Riders in good stead for the second leg on Wednesday 5th May. Coach Rob will insist to his team that the job is not finished. The University of Worcester Arena will host the second fixture, with the Riders hoping to progress to the BBL Playoff semi-finals. 

Riders

Crandall 21, Walker 16, Nelson-Henry 14, Lee 13, Heron 11, Johnson 5, Washington 4, Anderson 1

Flyers

Lockett 16, Edozie 10, Baker 7, Wilcher 7, Delpeche 6, Mockford 4, Thomas Edwards 4, Rogers 2

Playoff Quarter Final Preview: Riders v Flyers First Leg

Riders kick off their May Madness and play-off campaign on bank holiday Monday at 5:00pm, facing the Bristol Flyers at the Vertu Motors Arena in Newcastle. The Leicester side look to build on their regular season success as champions in the first leg of the quarter finals.

Season so Far – Riders 

The Riders enter the BBL play-offs as league champions, holding the trophy above their heads for the 5th time in club history. The Riders secured the title in their last game, comprehensively beating the Cheshire Phoenix 65-97. The season was one of great defence and efficient offence for the Riders. The Leicester side hold a defensive rating of 99.64 which ranks second in the league and boast the premier field-goal percentage in the league with 48.2%. These two pillars of their game will be on full display over the course of the two legs, as the Riders look to build on a promising 2020/21 campaign. 

Season so Far – Flyers

Where there was a battle at the top of the table in the final games of the regular season, there was also a battle near the bottom. The Flyers went head-to-head with the Manchester Giants, both vying for the eighth and final play-off spot. It was the Flyers that came out on top, grit and determination squeezing out an 83-81 comeback victory. Following this, the Bristol Side further cemented their spot at 8th beating talented 4th placed Newcastle Eagles 86-73.  While the Flyers struggled to score as efficiently as other teams in the league, posting a modest 43.9 field-goal percentage, good for 9th in the league, they managed to work around it. The Bristol side are the third best rebounding team in the BBL allowing them plenty opportunity to score, and keep games close through suffocating defence. After scrapping their way into the play-offs, it will be a fight to knock them back out again.

Ones To Watch

Leicester Riders captain and starting center Darien Nelson-Henry will be looking to fire his side up for the post-season action. Leicester number 50 recorded a double-double in his last performance, scoring 19 points and pulling down 11 rebounds, and will be relied upon again to assert himself inside the paint. Averaging 12.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, good for second on the Riders in both, Nelson-Henry is a leader on and off the field. Being one of the most experienced players on the court and standing at 6’11”, Nelson-Henry can be seen orchestrating the Riders team from down low, utilising his vision out of the post to find his team opportunities. With a game that is not done justice by the box score, Nelson-Henry influences the match with smart contests and rotations defensively, as well as great coordination offensively, often having a hand in positive plays without a stat being recorded. The Leicester captain will be hungrier than ever, as he tastes BBL play-offs for the first time in his career. 

For the Flyers, small forward Eric Lockett delivered an impressive performance in their last match and is their one to watch Monday afternoon. Against 4th placed Newcastle, Lockett posted a stat-line of 15 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists on only eight field-goal attempts, getting to the free throw line often to sink 5 of 8 shots. Playing 28 of 30 games this season, and averaging 31.1 minutes per game, Locket is a core piece to the Flyers. He leads his side in scoring averaging 15 points per game, as well as securing 7 rebounds per game and 4.2 assists per game, trailing only teammates Marcus Delpeche and Teddy Okereafor. A former NCAA Division 1 player, Lockett can be found on the Bristol wing slashing to the hoop and jumping on second chance opportunities. The Riders will look to contain Lockett with disciplined defence to avoid him damaging them at the charity stripe. 

Previous Meeting

The last meeting between these two sides was not a positive one for the Riders. Taking place on March 30th, 2020, and the second of a double-header, the Leicester Riders suffered a shock home blowout, the score 54-80. This was however, without Riders’ star point guard Geno Crandall, who will be on the court causing headaches against the Bristol Flyers Monday. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in live on the Sky Sports website or app. Riders fans will also be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account. 

BBL & Riders join social-media boycott

The British Basketball League (BBL) and Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL) will be joining our sporting colleagues across football, cricket, rugby and others in the social media boycott this weekend from 3pm Friday 30 April through Monday 3 May.

Sport has the power to bring all communities together and, as we have experienced through the growth and camaraderie of the British basketball community, social media has the power that allows us to reach and connect with our supporters – as it does for all sports – in immediate and vital ways.
But with that power comes responsibility and the current inaction by social media companies in the face of relentless hateful and abusive attacks by cowards protected by this very inaction is inexcusable.

No one should be subject to the kind of harassment and abuse that we have seen people experience. It goes against every tenet of basic human decency and we join the calls for social media companies to do more and for the UK government to ensure the Online Safety Bill gives sufficient powers to Ofcom to ensure social media companies can be held to account should they continue to fail in their responsibilities.

We would like to recognise Bristol Flyers and the role they have played in bringing this campaign to the fore. Leicester Riders will join the BBL, WBBL and it’s clubs in this social-media boycott across all our channels to give our support to the campaign.

Riders face Flyers in QF

Leicester Riders will play Bristol Flyers over a two-legged series in the opening round of the BBL Play-offs.

Riders punched their ticket in the play-offs a while back and having won the league title this past Sunday also found out their May Madness opponent. Following a two-point win over Manchester Giants, Bristol Flyers confirmed their eighth-placed finish in the league.

As a result, they take on the Flyers over two legs, with the aggregate score determining who will advance to the final four.

The first leg will take place on Monday, May 3rd (5pm tip-off) at the Vertu Motors Arena in Newcastle, whilst the second leg will take place at the University of Worcester Arena on Wednesday, May 5th (5pm tip-off).

Both games will be will be available to watch for free, LIVE on the Sky Sports YouTube channel.

Captains Log: We got it done!

I will keep this one short and sweet everyone…

Your Leicester Riders have won the 2020-21 League Championship!!!

As we all know, there were a variety of scenarios which could have led to this final outcome. And, despite it coming down to the last game of the season, we got it done!

I am so very proud of the guys. This was the most irregular season one could have asked for… yet they brought it day in and day out, thus culminating in the award that requires the most consistency. 

We want to thank everyone throughout the Riders organization for their dedication as well. For we could not have accomplished everything we did without their tireless efforts. 

And finally, I would like to thank you guys — the fans. The culture and positive energy that you all bring us is unmatched, and we are grateful for the constant support. 

But, we are not finished! There is still one more to go. We will do everything in our power to claim one final piece of silverware for the club and for ourselves!

Thank you as always, and let’s bring another one home!

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: I’m so proud of all the guys

I was really ecstatic after Riders claiming the league title again in Cheshire on Sunday. We did not really want it to come down to the last game, but so be it. But winning again, and winning like that, was an amazing feeling.

With it came down to the last day, I’m so proud of all the guys and the way they performed. I said to them in the locker room before the game that we’re ready to do what needed to be done. I saw the way they warmed up at Cheshire and there was a determination about them, and I knew we were ready.

The team looked focused and like they weren’t going to be denied, and you saw that on the court, right from the start. I thought we played one of our better games of the season. In a season with so many close games, we were able to put this one to bed pretty early, and it felt great to be able to celebrate with our team.

At the beginning of the season, I said to the guys that this was going to be a year like no other, we were going to be challenged in many ways, and we were. Not just the coronavirus, but the injuries that we had, the tough schedule and the tough league, with more competitive teams than ever.

When you’re at the top of this league, you’ve got to feel proud. Like I have been telling the guys all season long, there is no other group I want to be around. On the court and off the court they are committed and focussed, and everyone should be proud of them.

We are going to celebrate this one and we really look forward to celebrating with our fans when we can. Now we need to rest up for the Playoffs and look to end the season on another high.

Riders crowned League Champions after defeating Phoenix

Champions! The Riders won their fifth BBL Championship title in eight years, dispatching the Cheshire Phoenix in a commanding 97-65 win. Led by a 19 point game from their captain, Darien Nelson-Henry, Leicester took a double-digit lead in the first quarter and never looked back, winning by their biggest margin of the season. 

The Riders thrived under the pressure of a title-deciding tie, playing to the highest standard on both ends. They flexed their second-ranked BBL defence throughout, holding the Phoenix to under 17 points in each quarter. Executing their game plan to perfection, the Riders forced the league’s worst three-point shooting team to try from distance, walling off the paint with their BBL-best rim protection. The Phoenix failed to convert their three-point attempts, going 2-13 from deep and shooting 42% from the floor against the suffocating Leicester defence. 

In typical fashion, the Riders had six players with double-digit points tallies, as they shot an efficient 56% from the floor. Geno Crandall put a cherry on top of his MVP calibre season with a perfect offensive game, going 5-5 from the field for 14 points and dishing eight assists. He dominated the tie, dazzling defenders with flashy handles and intelligent playmaking, leading the Riders confidently through a game with the highest stakes. 

Winning his fifth title as Riders head coach, Rob Paternostro draws level with BBL legend Kevin Cadle for the second most championships in league history. With their defence and team-first basketball, the Riders put on a classic Paternostro display to secure the title, emphasising coach Rob’s importance to the franchise. 

Crandall settled Riders nerves on their first possession, beginning with a bang. He split a double-team at the top of the key before taking flight and throwing it down right-handed. Crandall’s emphatic play sparked a plethora of Riders highlights in a commanding opening period. 

In the first quarter, two William Lee dunks were the beginning and end of a 13-6 Riders run. He gave his team a double-digit lead to end the period with a tremendous slam in traffic. After a hard cut from the perimeter, Lee received a pass in-stride before rising high to throw the ball down over two defenders, putting the Riders up 25-15 at the end of the first. 

The Riders built on their lead in the second quarter, with a nine-point contribution from Jamell Anderson. The Defensive Player of the Year candidate demonstrated his prowess on the offensive end with three buckets from range. After his three-point play on the previous possession, Nelson-Henry’s block on Kyle Carey ended the half with the Riders up big- 49-33. 

Leicester picked up the second half where they left off in the first. ‘General’ Geno Crandall dictated the play with six points and four assists in the third quarter, leading the Riders with his passing and playmaking. His highlight of the period came with a minute left, after he pulled down a rebound with one hand, and in one motion, threw a full-court heave to Nelson-Henry. The fastbreak was finished off by Mustapha Heron, putting Leicester up 71-49. The game was in little doubt going into the final quarter. 

Despite holding a commanding lead, the Riders kept their foot on the pedal on both ends of the floor to emphatically see the game out. They held the Phoenix to 14 points in the fourth quarter, as Conner Washington took charge of the offensive end with nine points. Anderson drained his fourth three of the game to stamp the seal on a league-winning season. 

The win crowns the Riders league champions and secures them the first seed for the upcoming playoffs. Depending on the results, they will play the Flyers, Scorchers or the Giants in the first round. In the meantime, the Riders players, staff and fanbase can celebrate a tremendous season of Riders basketball. 

Phoenix

Ross 17, Hayes 16, Mccall 12, Lull 11, Carey 6, Bryan-Amaning 2, Gordon 1

Riders

Nelson-Henry 19, Heron 17, Crandall 14, Anderson 14, Lee 12, Washington 11, Johnson 8, Fraser 2

Preview: Riders at Phoenix

It all comes down to this! Should the Riders win their final game of the season on the road against the Cheshire Phoenix, they will be crowned winners of the BBL Championship title. 

Season So Far – Riders

The table toppings Riders’ season draws to a close with a high stakes game to win the title. They’ve enjoyed a dominant season, winning 23 of their 29 league games thus far, but need one more win to complete their aspirations. Leicester’s season has fallen on two key components, efficiency on offence and rim protection on defence. 

They shoot a BBL best 47.9% from the field, with six players averaging double-digit points, emphasising their team brand of basketball. They also top the statistical charts with their shot-blocking, swatting away 3.1 a game on the defensive end. The interior protection has contributed to Leicester’s second-ranked BBL defence, which held the Glasgow Rocks to 67 points and 36% from the field in their previous game. Leicester recorded a 26 point blowout, their third biggest win of the season, to carry momentum into this season-defining fixture. 

Season So Far – Phoenix

Having clinched a playoff spot in their previous game, should results swing the right way for the Phoenix, they can secure the fifth seed. To do so, they would need to beat the Riders in their final game of the season, a feat they accomplished earlier in the year. 

A disciplined outfit, the Phoenix average the least turnovers in the BBL, just 11.3 a game. Paired with eight steals a game, second in the league, the Phoenix generate extra possessions without surrendering many of their own. However, the Riders match up well to their offensive style, which operates mainly within the three-point arc—the Phoenix attempt the second most two-pointers and the second least three-pointers in the BBL. Against the league’s leading shot blockers, Cheshire may struggle to produce good looks at the rim. Should the Riders wall off the paint, the Phoenix, who possess the league’s worst three-point percentage (28.5%), may have a colossal task to overcome the table-toppers. 

Ones To Watch

Coming off the back of his career-high points tally in professional basketball, Mustapha Heron has hit the ground running after joining the Riders midseason. He had 26 points in the game versus the Rocks after staring aggressively with a 14 point first quarter. Heron grabbed ten rebounds and drained three of his six three-point attempts in a well-rounded effort to fill up the box score. The first-year pro out of Auburn College, once attended by NBA Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkey, is a high IQ defender, versatile scorer and a vital component of the title-challenging Riders team. 

Top 10 in the BBL in both points and assists, Kahron Ross’ electric season has put him in contention for the MVP award. Scoring 17.1 points per game, Ross is sixth in the scoring charts, and has showcased his ability against the Riders earlier in the year. In a 26 point performance, Ross hit a game-winner to beat the Riders, achieving his season-high in points in the process. Ross carries confidence into this tie, coming off a 24 point game against the Rocks to secure a playoff spot for Cheshire. The crafty guard is sure to cause problems for the Riders’ defence in this one. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders split the season series one apiece in their last encounter, winning at home 82-70. Heron led the way for Leicester, scoring 19 points and grabbing six rebounds. Meanwhile

It all comes down to this! Should the Riders win their final game of the season on the road against the Cheshire Phoenix, they will be crowned winners of the BBL Championship title. 

Season So Far – Riders

The table toppings Riders’ season draws to a close with a high stakes game to win the title. They’ve enjoyed a dominant season, winning 23 of their 29 league games thus far, but need one more win to complete their aspirations. Leicester’s season has fallen on two key components, efficiency on offence and rim protection on defence. 

They shoot a BBL best 47.9% from the field, with six players averaging double-digit points, emphasising their team brand of basketball. They also top the statistical charts with their shot-blocking, swatting away 3.1 a game on the defensive end. The interior protection has contributed to Leicester’s second-ranked BBL defence, which held the Glasgow Rocks to 67 points and 36% from the field in their previous game. Leicester recorded a 26 point blowout, their third biggest win of the season, to carry momentum into this season-defining fixture. 

Season So Far – Phoenix

Having clinched a playoff spot in their previous game, should results swing the right way for the Phoenix, they can secure the fifth seed. To do so, they would need to beat the Riders in their final game of the season, a feat they accomplished earlier in the year. 

A disciplined outfit, the Phoenix average the least turnovers in the BBL, just 11.3 a game. Paired with eight steals a game, second in the league, the Phoenix generate extra possessions without surrendering many of their own. However, the Riders match up well to their offensive style, which operates mainly within the three-point arc—the Phoenix attempt the second most two-pointers and the second least three-pointers in the BBL. Against the league’s leading shot blockers, Cheshire may struggle to produce good looks at the rim. Should the Riders wall off the paint, the Phoenix, who possess the league’s worst three-point percentage (28.5%), may have a colossal task to overcome the table-toppers. 

Ones To Watch

Coming off the back of his career-high points tally in professional basketball, Mustapha Heron has hit the ground running after joining the Riders midseason. He had 26 points in the game versus the Rocks after staring aggressively with a 14 point first quarter. Heron grabbed ten rebounds and drained three of his six three-point attempts in a well-rounded effort to fill up the box score. The first-year pro out of Auburn College, once attended by NBA Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkey, is a high IQ defender, versatile scorer and a vital component of the title-challenging Riders team. 

Top 10 in the BBL in both points and assists, Kahron Ross’ electric season has put him in contention for the MVP award. Scoring 17.1 points per game, Ross is sixth in the scoring charts, and has showcased his ability against the Riders earlier in the year. In a 26 point performance, Ross hit a game-winner to beat the Riders, achieving his season-high in points in the process. Ross carries confidence into this tie, coming off a 24 point game against the Rocks to secure a playoff spot for Cheshire. The crafty guard is sure to cause problems for the Riders’ defence in this one. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders split the season series one apiece in their last encounter, winning at home 82-70. Heron led the way for Leicester, scoring 19 points and grabbing six rebounds. Meanwhile

Ross filled up the box score with 13 points, nine rebounds and six assists. 

How to Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Riders defeat Rocks after strong fourth quarter

The Riders are one win away from the BBLChampionship title, after leading wire to wire to blow out the Glasgow Rocks 93-67. Mustapha Heron scored his career-high in professional basketball, leading Leicester with 26 points, and grabbing 10 rebounds for an impressive double-double. Ali Fraser also enjoyed a season high performance, scoring 21 points off the bench, and going an efficient 10-13 from the field. 

With their offence struggling in stretches, the Riders fell back on their second-ranked BBL defence to win the tie. Holding the Rocks to 67 points, then stole the ball 12 times for easy fast breakpoints. The Riders held the Rocks to 36% from the field and 27% from three in a suffocating defensive performance. 

The Rocks, playing the second of a back to back, appeared to run out of steam in the latter stages. It was a single-digit game until late, before the Riders closed the game out late in emphatic fashion, winning the final quarter 30-13.  After falling in a 21 point hole early, Glasgow came back to make the game competitive against the league leaders, scoring 29 points in the second quarter. Nine-year Glasgow veteran Jonny Bunyan led the way in the game for the visitors, draining five threes for all of his 15 points.

Heron was aggressive from the tip, taking nine shots in the first quarter to start the tie. His 14 points in the first led the Riders in a dominant start, as they bolted out the gates to finish the first period up 34-13. The Riders performed to the highest level on both ends, forcing five Rocks turnovers and shooting 60% from the field. 

The Riders’ MVP candidate Geno Crandall stamped the seal on a colossal opening quarter, turning on the style with 30 seconds remaining. Dancing at the top of the key, he dropped Bunyan with a lightning-quick crossover, before delicately laying in the ball at the rim to get the Riders bench off its feet. 

Responding positively to the disastrous start, the Rocks won the second quarter by 12 to bring the game, which appeared out of reach, to within single digits. French guard David Mpndo scored eight in the quarter, breathing life in the Glasgow side. 

Mistakes crept into the Riders game, fouling a three-point shooter on three occasions to put the Rocks on the line. Glasgow finished the half shooting 62% from the line, missing opportunities to punish the Riders’ errors. Despite the missed foul shots, the Rocks dragged themselves back into the tie, ending the half down 51-42. 

The game remained competitive in the third, with both sides playing stifling defence in a low scoring period. Just 22 points were scored in the quarter, as the teams struggled to put the ball in the hoop. The Riders went 3-16 in the third, as the Rocks relied on their interior defence to keep the hosts at bay. The final quarter ended with the Riders leading 61-54. 

Heron coast to coast early in the final quarter, to reestablish the Rider’s double-digit lead. Pulling down a rebound from a missed Bunyan jump shot, Heron drove through the entire Rocks defence, taking the ball to the rim and throwing it down two handed. Heron’s highlight lit a much-needed spark in the Riders, who proceeded to score seven straight, all courtesy of Fraser, to go up 18. 

With the game coming to a close, the Riders’ talent shone through, as they saw the tie out in style. In the final five minutes, the Riders went on a 27-6 run, led by nine fourth-quarter points by Fraser, to secure a vital win. 

After the Riders win, their season comes down to their final game. Assuming the Lions win in Glasgow, Leicester beating the Phoenix on Sunday will crown them league champions. 

Riders

Heron 26, Fraser 21, Johnson 18, Crandall 10, Washington 10, Nelson-Henry 4, Anderson 2, Hedley 2

Rocks

Bunyan 15, Mpondo 13, Malcolm 11, Van Sauers 10, Brandon 8, Kwedi 6, Jacdonmi 4

Preview: Riders v Rocks

BBL Championship remains in the Riders’ hands. Should they win their remaining two league games, they will be crowned champions. 

Season So Far – Riders

Top of the BBL Championship table, with a 22-6 record, the Riders have the title in their sights. They are the league’s most efficient team, knocking down 47.8% of their field goals, and play stifling interior defence, blocking a league-best 3.1 shots per contest. Despite having MVP candidate Geno Crandall running the point, six Riders players are averaging double-digits in points, emphasising the brand of team basketball coach Rob Paternostro has instilled into the franchise over the last decade.

Season So Far – Rocks

The Rocks have endured a difficult season, propping up the BBL Championship table. Glasgow enter the fixture having lost their last eight, most recently, an 85-69 blowout to the Phoenix. They have a league-worst offence, putting up just 74.3 points per game, with the worst field goal percentage to pair with it (43.1%). Their saving grace, their rim protection. The Rocks swat away 2.9 blocks per game, just 0.2 less than the Riders, who are the BBL’s best in that department. Should they wall off the inside and force the Riders to shoot over them, the Rocks have every chance of taking home the victory.

Ones To Watch

A staple feature of the Riders success in recent years, Jamell Anderson has clamped down defensively this season, earning him consideration for the Defensive Player of the Year award. Averaging a steal per game, Anderson has been challenged with the most difficult defensive assignments in the BBL this season, locking down some of the best the BBL has to offer. Offensively, Anderson hit key buckets down the stretch in the Riders previous fixture, to keep his team in contention. Having scored his 2000th BBL points earlier in the year, Anderson’s wealth of experience will prove a key component of the Riders performance in this fixture. 

Having faced adversity all season long, the Rocks will look to player/manager Gareth Murray to provide leadership and experience against the table-topping Riders. GB international Murray has represented his country in all of their major tournaments since 2013, shooting a career 40% from deep for team GB. Serving a difficult role this season, attempting to find the balance between his player and managerial duties, Murray is averaging 10.3 points on the season, a solid contributor who will look to lead his team to victory in this one. 

Previous meeting

The teams last met in February, in a comfortable Riders victory. On the road, the Riders won 97-78, with a 22 point contribution from Geno Crandall. For the Rocks, recently departed Christian Keeling played all 40 minutes, scoring 16 points for the hosts. 

How To Watch

Tonight game will be shown live on Sky Sports Action, with coverage beginning from 7pm. Riders fans will also be able to watch the game live on Sky Sports’ Youtube Channel.

Riders fall short against Lions

The Riders fell just short of an awe-inspired fourth-quarter comeback, losing to the Lions 86-81. Leicester pulled the game to within one point after entering the fourth quarter down 16, but couldn’t see the game home in the clutch. 

William Lee produced a performance of the highest standard, dropping a season-high 25 points to pair with 11 rebounds. He got his points off just 12 shots, making all six of his free throws in an efficient night. His miracle three late on kept Riders hope alive, after they struggled from deep in the game. 

After entering the fourth quarter having made just one shot from deep, the Riders came alive in the fourth to make it a ball game. They started the final quarter with a tremendous 17-2 run, making two key threes and locking down the Lions to climb back into the game. They dominated the boards, grabbing five offensive rebounds to win the period 31-20. 

For the Lions, the league’s second-highest scorer, Dirk Williams, put on yet another offensive clinic. He put up 25+ points for the sixth time this season, scoring 29 points and shooting 58% from the field. The MVP candidate kept his team’s chances of the title alive, as if the Riders took the victory they would have been crowned champions. 

The BBL’s most dangerous three-point shooting team in the Lions, who shoot 42% on the season, demonstrated their deep range prowess, knocking down four in the first five minutes. Their hot shooting allowed them to jump out to a quick double-digit lead, as the Riders started slow offensively. Despite the tough start, the Riders finished the quarter with a 9-2 run. Their successes came at the line, as the Riders made nine free throws in the opening quarter to make the game close. 

The Riders offensive troubles continued in the second quarter. They ended the half with 10 turnovers, shooting 0-5 from three having scored just 15 points in the second. Despite the difficulties, Leicester found themselves down just six, an encouraging sign in the circumstances. Their defence kept them in the tie, holding the league’s best offence to 17 points in the second quarter, which ended 42-36 in the Lions favour. 

Mustafa Heron kicked the second half off with a bang, throwing a hammer down over Chris Tawhiah. Getting the offensive board off his own missed jump shot, Heron drove hard inside before taking flight, throwing it down two-handed in traffic. Heron made the Riders first three of the game a minute later to cut the lead to one. 

In response, Williams scored seven straight for London to rebuild their lead. The Lion’s leading scorer, who averaged 17 points per game in Hungary last season, scored 15 in the quarter. He nailed a deep three at the buzzer, contested by Geno Crandall and Conner Washington, to put the Lions up 16 going into the fourth. 

Leicester started the final quarter scorching hot, attempting to climb back into the game. They brought the game to within one with five minutes on the clock. Washinton took over the game in the fourth, running the show to lead the Riders 17-2 charge. He scored seven points in the first five minutes of the quarter, his performance highlighted by a jaw-dropping lob pass on the fast break to Lee, who slammed it down to set up a dramatic finale. 

In the clutch, the Lions fell back on their league-best three-point shooting. Three London threes in the final two minutes resulted in the Lions up six with half a minute on the clock. A miracle three by Lee gave the Riders a slither of hope, but Willaims knocked down his free throws to put the game to bed. 

Despite the loss, the BBL championship title remains in the Riders’ hands. Should they win their final two league games, they will be crowned champions. They host the Rocks on Friday hoping to do half of the job. 

May Madness Fan Pack Giveaway!

MAY MADNESS ULTIMATE FAN PACK GIVEAWAY – TERMS & CONDITIONS

1- The promoter is: The Basketball League Ltd (company no. 01998309) whose registered office is at Unit E3, Leicester Business Centre, 111 Ross Walk, Leicester, LE4 5HH on behalf of Leicester Riders
2- The competition is open to residents of the United Kingdom aged 16 years or over except employees of British Basketball League and Leicester Riders and their close relatives and anyone otherwise connected with the organisation or judging of the competition.
3- There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.
4- By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
5- Route to entry for the competition and details of how to enter are via https://www.facebook.com/ridersbball
6- Only 1 entry allowed per person, no bulk entries, entries from agents, third parties, organized group or entries automatically generated by computer will be accepted.
7- Closing date for entry will be 23:59 BST on Saturday 24 April 2021. After this date the no further entries to the competition will be permitted.
8- No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.
9- The rules of the competition and how to enter are as follows:
Comment related to question “What is your favourite memory of Leicester Riders of all time and from this season?”. Entries can be text only, or text and image, or text and video, or video only.
Entries will be accepted as follows:
Facebook: Via comment on pinned post at the following page https://www.facebook.com/ridersbball
By mutual agreement winner will share content throughout 1 May 2021 – 16 May 2021 inclusive, of no less than two posts on all social platforms on which they have active accounts.
10- The promoter reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice in the event of a catastrophe, war, civil or military disturbance, act of God or any actual or anticipated breach of any applicable law or regulation or any other event outside of the promoter’s control. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.
11- The promoter is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied to any entrant by any third party connected with this competition.
12- There will be ONE winner in total for ONE May Madness Fan Pack. The Fan Pack contents are as follows:

– Max. 5x Standard tickets for 2022 BBL & WBBL Trophy Finals
– Max. 5x Standard tickets for 2022 BBL & WBBL Cup Finals
– Max. 5x Courtside tickets for 2022 BBL & WBBL Play Off Finals
– 1x SureShot Hot Shot Unit
– 2x Molten ball
– 4x May Madness branded tote bag
– 4x May Madness branded water bottle
– 4x foam hand
– 4x May Madness branded T-Shirt (Size L)
– 8x May Madness branded stickers
– 4x May Madness branded mouse mat
– 1x Tokyo Time cap

The prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. The prizes are not transferable. Prizes are subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.
13- The winner will be chosen at random by software, from all entries received and verified by Promoter and or its agents on Sunday 25 April 2021
14- The winner will be notified by Direct Message on Facebook within 48 hours of the selection date. If the winner cannot be contacted or does not claim the prize within 7 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.
15- The promoter will notify the winner when and where the prize can be collected / is delivered.
16- The promoter’s decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
17- By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
18- The competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by English law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England.
19- The winner agrees to the use of his/her name and image in any publicity material, as well as their entry. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current UK data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant’s prior consent.
20- The winner’s name will be available 28 days after closing date by emailing the following address: [email protected]
21- Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.
22- This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook or any other Social Network. You are providing your information to The Basketball League and not to any other party. The information provided will be used in conjunction with the following

Privacy Policy found at http://www.bbl.org.uk/general-privacy-policy/
 

Preview: Riders at Lions

The top two teams in the BBL face off in a potentially title deciding clash. Should the table-topping Riders overcome the second placed Lions, they will be crowned league champions.

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders league best 22-5 record has been built from efficiency and rim protection. They top the BBL in field goal percentage (48%) and blocks per game (3.1), forcing their opponents to shoot from outside due to their fearsome presence in the paint. Their rim protection has been a fundamental contributor to their second ranked defence in the BBL. 

Leicester enter tonight’s fixture having won eight out of their last ten, despite falling to the Eagles in their previous game. In typical fashion, the Riders had points contributions from every player who saw playing time. They have six players averaging points in double-digits this season, and will hope team play and efficient shooting will best the Lions in this one. 

Season So Far – Lions

The BBL’s best performing offence, scoring 91 points per game, the Lions are the last remaining challengers for the BBL Championship title. Shooting a league best 40.2% from three, the Lions have been red hot from deep range, torching their opponents from outside. London have bought in on both ends, ranking top three in steals and blocks to deny their opponents.

Having won their last eight, all considered must win games to maintain their shot at the league title, the Lions enter the tie in sizzling form. With a dynamic duo of two MVP candidates, in former NBA star DeAndre Liggins and the BBL’s second ranked scorer Dirk WIlliams, the Lions will prove a formidable test for the Riders. 

Ones to watch

The Riders biggest contributor to their BBL best blocks tally, William Lee has been a human highlight reel this season. The University of Alabama’s all-time leading shot blocker ranks third in the BBL in blocks, swatting away 1.2 a game. After spending last season in the G-league with the Iowa Wolves, ‘ha-ha’ has left Riders fans giddy with his high flying antics, throwing down monster jams each and every night. Playing high above the rim, Lee is bound to make an impact on the game, getting the Riders bench and fans off their feet. 

One of two players on the Lions roster in the MVP runnings this season, DeAndre Liggins’ team first attitude has lifted his team into title contention. Helping London to two trophies already this season, Liggins 6.8 assists per game is good for third in the BBL, and his effect on his teammates has been tangible. His passing and playmaking ability has propelled Dirk Williams to 17.7 points per game, the second best scoring average in the BBL. Liggins NBA experience, which includes playing alongside LeBron James for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, should prove vital in a game the Lions have to win to remain in the title race.

Previous meetings

With the season series at one game a piece, a Riders win would take the head to head record for the season, making it impossible for the Lions to catch them in the league. Last time out, the Riders secured a hard fought win, beating the Lions at home 78-73. Darien Nelson-Henry enjoyed a near double-double performance scoring a team high 17 points and pulling down nine rebounds. Meanwhile for the Lions, Justin Robinson led the way with 21 points, his second highest tally of the season. 

How to Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Captains Log: Ready to put our best foot forward

Our loss this weekend to the Eagles was disappointing to say the least. 

We came out strong, and executed as we had planned all week. In the first half, we were the team that we have displayed throughout the season. In the second half, however, we were anything but that. 

We came out lackadaisical without a sense of urgency. Our performance was the exact opposite of the first half, and it ultimately led us to forfeit the lead we had worked hard for in the opening periods. 

This kind of play is unacceptable, as we discussed amongst ourselves after the game. It is not the kind of performance that wins championships. 

However, this is a learning opportunity — one that will fuel us for the coming matchup against London on Wednesday. 

We are focused and ready to put our best foot forward. We are determined to win at all costs and bring home the championship, which we have worked tirelessly all season for. 

This coming game is why we all love basketball so much. This is why we play the game! For moments like these. 

Thank you for your never ending support. We cannot thank you enough. And, we will do everything we can to win one for Leicester on Wednesday! 

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: We need to react the right way

We knew going to Newcastle Eagles last Friday night up there that they were going to be up for it, after a couple of disappointing performances recently by their standards.

I knew that also from when we were up there last time and the disappointment in their whole club about the last loss to the Riders. So it was important we imposed ourselves from the beginning of the game, and although we had an eleven-point lead at half-time, I was still disappointed.

Our defence was OK in the first half, but we were still giving them open shots, and our passing and control was not where is should be. We should have been going into the break with a lead of 15 to 20 points, but most importantly we emphasised at halftime the need to look after the ball.

We did not want to get their confidence going, but that is exactly what we did, with a very sloppy start to the second half. Once they got some breakaway scores off turnovers you could see their whole demeanour change. Their confidence returned, the shots started to drop, and their defence became more physical. We needed not to give them that momentum.

Once they got going their defence stepped up and we found it much more difficult. With 24 turnovers by us I was surprised that we managed to stay in the game until the last minute. The Eagles are just too good a team to give them that advantage. It was a disappointing loss and now we need to quickly put it behind us.We have one week left in the regular season and we need to win one against London or the last two against Cheshire and Glasgow. We can expect London to win their remaining games after Wednesday night. We have worked very hard to get to that position, so it needs a big last push. The guys are really disappointed with the Friday night showing and now we need to react in the right way.

BBL announce May Madness!

A new structure has been announced for this years’ ‘May Madness’ Play-offs with the BBL and WBBL featuring 20 games across two weeks and three venues. Sky Sports will be showing all games for free on their YouTube channel for fans in the UK with the BBL semi-finals and the BBL and WBBL Finals also aired live on Sky Sports. Fans in the UK and overseas will also be able to watch free on BBL Player.

The three central venues hosting the Play-Offs are Vertu Motors Arena in Newcastle, University of Worcester Arena, and the Morningside Arena in Leicester. The series tips off on Saturday 1 May at the Vertu Motors Arena with the WBBL quarter-finals and Round 1 of the BBL quarter-finals before moving to University of Worcester Arena for Round 2 of the BBL quarter-finals and the WBBL semi-finals. The Morningside Arena will host the BBL semi-finals and the WBBL and BBL finals on Sunday 16 May.

The change in format was in response to the ongoing requirements of the Covid 19 protocols. With fans unable to return to indoor sporting events and the regular season stretched due to rearranged fixtures, condensing not only the timetable but also the venues allowed the best chance of finishing the season with a bang.

Andy Webb, COO of BBL, said “The 2020/21 season has been challenging but ultimately rewarding as all teams have stepped up to meet these challenges and play one of the most exciting and unpredictable seasons we’ve seen. Basketball fans will be treated to a fantastic end to the season and we’re delighted to bring all the games to them with Sky Sports.”

Riders fall to Eagles

The Riders lost a hard-fought contest, falling on the road to the Newcastle Eagles 90-80. A competitive tie between long-standing rivals came down to the final minute of play, but a monumental second-half performance from Newcastle overcame an 11 point Riders halftime lead. 

Leicester had contributions from every player on the court, led by a 16 point double-double off the bench from Geno Crandall. The MVP candidate had 10 rebounds in the game, and nine by the half, fighting until the final buzzer to keep the Riders in contention. Ali Fraser enjoyed a solid game, scoring eight points in 13 minutes for the Riders to contribute towards 38 points off the Leicester bench. 

The BBL’s most efficient team, the Riders had success putting the ball in the hoop, shooting 48% in the game. However, turnovers proved costly, as they gave the ball up 24 times to allow the Eagles 22 more shots than the visitors. 

The Riders dominated the first two quarters, forcing the league’s most frequent assist makers into isolation offence. Newcastle shot 28% in the first half, dishing just eight assists despite entering the game averaging 24.1 a game. In the second half, the Eagles came out with a different intensity, stepping up on the defensive end. Their efforts secured the lead, which they would not surrender. 

The Eagles had two players with over 20 points, as Justin Gordan and Rahmon Fletcher combined for 47. Fletcher, who is making his bid for his third BBL MVP this season, led the Eagles on a run to beat the Riders 32-17 in the third quarter, which was ultimately the difference between the teams. Clutch baskets down the stretch from Gordan sealed the Newcastle victory, including a monster jam to put them up five with a minute left. 

Newcastle, who lead the BBL in steals with 8.7 a game, stole the ball 14 times to generate 25 fast breakpoints. 16-year Newactsle veteran Darius Defoe was one of three Eagle players with three steals, dominating the defensive end to block three shots also. 

Against the league’s best shot-blocking team, Newcastle remained true to form, as they scored 56 points in the paint, compared to their league-best 41.8 a game. Their 90 point performance is the tenth time they have amassed that total this season, as they boast the BBL’s second-ranked offence.  

Early on, Leicester flexed their defensive strength, holding the Eagles to just two points in the opening five minutes. The Riders suffocating start allowed them to bolt out to a double-digit lead. Lee’s six points lead Leicester through the first period, as he put an exclamation point on an emphatic start. Left open in the corner, Lee cut hard to the rim to receive a dish from Geno Crandall, before slamming it down two-handed. 

Having established their lead in the first, the Riders continued their superiority to build a 15 point lead. Darien Nelson-Henry dominated down low, scoring nine points in the quarter and blocking Fletcher’s layup to end the half. The Riders held their opponents to 31 first-half points, entering the locker rooms up 42-31.

The Eagles commenced a colossal comeback coming out of the half, forcing seven Riders turnovers in the opening five minutes of the third. Eight quick points from Flecther gave the Eagles their first lead since the game’s opening basket, after an 18-4 Newcastle run. Louis Sayers caught fire for the Eagles, knocking down four threes in the quarter as the game’s momentum flipped. After 31 first-half points, Newcastle scored 32 in the third quarter to take a narrow lead. The sides entered the final quarter with the Eagles up 63-59, laying the foundations for a climactic finale. 

Riding a wave of momentum generated in the third quarter, the Eagles maintained their lead in the fourth. With four and a half minutes to play, Newcastle found themselves up nine courtesy of Fletcher attacking the rim. With his team in need of a basket, Mustapha Heron drove coast to coast to hit a tough layup over Defoe, before Crandall stripped Fletcher for a breakaway slam to bring the game to within a possession. 

With three points between the teams, Gordon brought the game home for the Eagles. He swung momentum in his team’s favour, coming up with a huge play by rising high to throw the ball down over Heron. On the next possession, he drove to the hoop and hit a running hook shot to put Newcastle up six. While the Riders hung in the tie, coming up with a steal and a quick Crandall jam to make it a two-possession game, the late surge fell just short of accomplishing a Riders comeback. 

Despite the loss, the Riders still top the BBL Championship table with a 22-5 record. By beating the Lions in their next fixture, they can secure the league title for the fifth time in franchise history. They travel to London on Wednesday in the hope of accomplishing that feat. 

Eagles

Gordon 24, Fletcher 23, Sayers 16, Defoe 10, Pflueger 6, Maxwell 5, Edwards 2, Lasker 2, Adenekan 2

Riders

Crandall 16, Nelson-Henry 11, Heron 10, Lee 9, Washington 8, Fraser 8, Falzon 5, Anderson 5, Johnson 4, Walker 4

Preview: Riders at Eagles

The top team in the British basketball League take on the league’s most historic. Travelling to the Vertu Motors Arena in Newcastle on Friday for a 7:30pm tip, the Leicester Riders look to secure BBL silverware in the final regular season clash with their oldest rivals Newcastle Eagles.

Season so Far – Riders

The Riders battled last Saturday to capture a gruelling overtime victory. Defeating the 2nd placed Plymouth Raiders 93-85, they snapped the visiting side’s eight game winning streak and knocked them out of the title race. This win put the Riders one step closer to securing the BBL Championship trophy and the number one seed, leading the table by 12 points with only the London Lions within reach. A win this Friday would seal the deal and crown the Riders, but the Eagles would love to play spoiler after being knocked out of the running in their Friday night game last week. 

Season So Far – Eagles

The Newcastle Eagles find themselves 4th in the BBL table, their wings clipped as they suffered consecutive losses that knocked them out of the title hunt. This will only fuel the Eagles for the upcoming match however, as they can spite their old rival and let off some steam in the process. Both sides play the team basketball that has led to success, the Eagles leading the league in assists per game with 24.1, and the Riders notching 21. And with both sides positioned one and two in field goal percentage (the Riders stealing the top spot by one with 48%) the Vertu Motors Arena is in store for an exciting affair. 

Ones to Watch

This contest may well be a battle between BBL Most Valuable Player candidates. Leicester’s candidate Geno Crandall had a heroic game against the Raiders Saturday. Battling through a hindered wrist, Crandall put on a performance recognised by fans as incredible, who voted him the player of the game. Entering the action from the bench, Crandall played over 30 minutes and dropped a points-assists double-double. He finished with 15 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds and 4 steals, and additionally led both sides along side Darien Nelson-Henry with a +12 plus/minus. Crandall’s dazzling handle, crafty shot making, and court vision are needed weapons for the Riders, and his proficient rebounding from the guard spot is also a luxury his team can ill afford to go without. Crandall punished the Eagles with an efficient double-double in their last meeting, and the Riders will hope he can grit his teeth and do it again to push them over the BBL Championship hump. 

Newcastle can answer with their own candidate, and former two-time BBL MVP Rahmon Fletcher. Despite the heart-breaking loss in the Eagles last outing, Fletcher put up a monster performance. Playing every second, and shooting an absurd 15-22 from the field, Fletcher poured in 38 points, and tallied 10 assists for his seemingly weekly points-assists double-double. Fletcher is a true magician at the point guard position. He leads the league in both points (18.7) and assists (9.5) per game, so is someone the Riders must slow down. In their last meeting the Riders did an admirable job doing just this as, despite throwing down his familiar double-double, he was limited to 11 points. Fletcher will be looking for a different story this time round, the Eagles captain pushing on from his Friday night explosion.

Previous Meeting

The Riders and Eagles last met on the 12th of March 2021 at the Vertu Motors Arena. Both teams had a pair of players post double-doubles, but the Riders proved to be the more efficient side, securing a 73-99 victory. The affair was a battle between both ones to watch, Geno Crandall getting the better of Rahmon Fletcher on the night, so another exciting clash between the two is sure to be on the cards. 

How To Watch

Riders fans will be able to watch the game live on Sky Sports Action and for free on the Sky Sports Youtube Channel from 7pm. The game will also be steamed live on BBL Player.

Captains Log: We are looking forward to this stretch of games

Another thriller at the top of the table! It was an exciting matchup from start to finish. With Plymouth on a winning streak throughout March, we knew it would be a tough game. And, thanks to solid, well distributed play from our guys, and a few fortuitous plays throughout the game ultimately ended in our favour after a hard-fought battle. 

While we are obviously happy with the victory, there we many takeaways from the game. 

First, our rebounding needs to improve. We gave up too many second chances, and to compete for a championship that needs to tighten up. Second, our communication on defence can be better. While we held them to low scoring numbers (considering OT) this is an area that can always enhance our play. As they say, good defense leads to good offense. Last, we need to run some of our sets a little more crisp.

While we generally have a good, open flow to our offense, there are instances where we have a particular goal in mind. In these situations we must execute exactly as planned in order to get the desired result. 
If we can take these things away from a win, our chances of performing better down the line will only grow. 

We are looking forward to this stretch of games to close out the regular season. Right now is where champions are decided! This is what we play for. 

Excited and thankful for all the continued support!

Your captain, Darien Nelson-Henry 

Coach Rob: At this stage of the season every game is huge

I was delighted the way the team played against Plymouth Raiders last Saturday. It was our third game in six days, and we were up against a team in Plymouth with a big squad and playing tremendous, winning basketball. They were a team in form, and we knew we were going to be up against it.

The Raiders really battered us on the boards. But I still thought we were pretty much in control of the game in the first half, and it was really only the offensive rebounds that kept them in it. We were in a decent place at halftime and the third quarter was a bit back and forth, with both defences really on top. The Raiders took command late in the game with a bunch of three pointers and we were up against it. But I called a timeout with 49 seconds left and we were down 4 points, but everyone stayed positive.

We needed a quick basket, and credit to Geno Crandall, he flew down the court and scored in seconds. We played some great defence at the death, Conner Washington forced a couple of turnovers, and Darien Nelson-Henry made a huge score. Our captain has been tremendous for us all season long, and he did it again against the Raiders with crucial scores. He is one of the best in the league in that situation.

The overtime was another great five minutes of basketball and when their Will Neighbour hit a three with 90 seconds left to edge them ahead, it was vital we replied. We got a big three from Conner and then took it from there. It was a huge win for us, but at this stage of the season every game is huge.

We are a little closer to our goal but still with lots to do and with 4 big games left. It is vital we don’t get ahead of ourselves but take it one game at a time.

Riders defeat Raiders in Overtime

The Riders displayed the composure and experience of a league-leading ball club to see out an overtime thriller, beating the Plymouth Raiders 93-85. Darien Nelson-Henry’s 19 point performance led the Riders for the second straight game, accompanied by a team-high seven rebounds. 

Geno Crandall, despite struggling with a wrist injury throughout, demonstrated his toughness, playing through his injury to log 15 points, 10 assists and four steals. His fourth quarter performance kept the Riders in contention, allowing them to pull out a win.

Like Crandall, Leicester battled injury throughout in a hard-fought battle. Aaron Falzon went down late in the third, and Nelson-Henry briefly left the game in the fourth, leaving the Riders short-handed in the front court. Despite this, the Riders broke an eight-game Raiders win streak to get one step closer to the BBL Championship title. 

Plymouth were the league’s most frequent free-throw shooters entering the game, but struggled getting to the line against a disiplined Riders outfit. They shot 11 free-throws compared to their 28 a game average, and shot just 54% in the tie. Despite their shortcomings on the foul line, the Raiders dominated in the paint. 

Averaging 10.4 offensive rebounds a game, Plymouth grabbed 19. Michael Ochereobia alone had five offensive boards, and Ricky McGill notched his season high rebounds tally with 13 from the point-guard position, as well as leading his team in points with 20 and dished eight assists in a monster near triple-double performance. 

The Riders jumped quickly out the gate, and were firing from deep. They made five in the first quarter, three of which from Mustapha Heron, who tied his season-high for three-pointers made in a game after just five minutes. The hot shooting allowed the Riders to edge the first quarter 23-20. 

After going 0-6 from deep in the first quarter, the Raiders managed just one point in the first three minutes of the second against the suffocating Leicester defence. However, they remained in the game, crashing the offensive boards. The Raiders, second in the BBL in offensive rebounding, grabbed 11 in the first half. Despite shooting 1-13 through the first two quarters, Plymouth were down just one late in the second, and a Riders two-minute flurry ended the half with Leicester up 41-36. 

Eight minutes into the third, after a back and forth beginning to the quarter, Geno Crandall produced the play of the game to put Leicester up six. Isolating on the right-wing, Crandall reached deep into his bag of tricks to dazzle the four defenders which surrounded him. After being tied up, he threw the ball up and banked in a prayer to be sent to the line for a three-point play. 

The second half developed into the gritty affair many expected between the BBL’s two best defences. The teams managed just 31 points between them, to set up a thrilling finale. 

With their opponents hitting their deep shots after entering the fourth quarter shooting 4-24 from three, the Riders found themselves in a four-point hole. In response, Crandall took the game by the horns to drag the Riders back into the game. Running the fast break, he lobbed the ball up to a cutting William Lee who threw it down emphatically to tie the game at 70. On the next play, he dished a delicate behind the back pass to Nelson-Henry for an easy lay up. 

Despite the highlight plays, the Riders were down four with half a minute left in the tie after a Raiders steal and fast-break layup finished off by McGill. With the clock ticking down, Crandall exploded to the rim for a layup, and Conner Washington forced a Plymouth turnover on the next possesion to give the Riders a shot to tie the game.

It was Crandall once again who took charge in the clutch, driving to the hoop and finding Nelson-Henry under the rim. The captain steadied himself, berfore hitting a  hook shot to tie the game with ten seconds on the clock. McGill missed a midrange jump shot to win, sending the game to overtime. 

The Riders fell back on their experince gained throughout the season, closing yet another close game out. After a Will Neighbour three put Plymouth up one, the Riders went on a 7-0 run in the final minute and a half of overtime to secure the win. Washington’s three lit the spark in the Riders offense, before a steal sent them on the fast break. Corey Johnson threw a lob pass to Lee, which inadvertently found the bottom of the net to make it a two possession game. Free-throws by Washington and Johnson ensured the conclusion to a  hard-fought overtime win.

The Riders win means two further victories will secure them top spot of the BBL Championship. Their 22-4 record puts them 12 points clear at the top of the table, and head to Newcastle on Friday in the hopes of edging one step closer to the title. 

Preview: Riders v Raiders

The Riders return to the Morningside Arena Saturday for a top two clash. Taking on the surging Plymouth Raiders at 6:00pm, the Riders look to complete a season sweep and spoil the visiting side’s win streak. 

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders remain the premier team in British Basketball. An impressive 18-point mid-week win over the Worcester Wolves extended their lead at the top of the table to 10, with 42 points and a record of 21-4. Approaching the playoffs, Leicester is starting to get healthier, enjoying the luxury of spreading minutes across the squad. In their last match, nine players played more than 16 minutes, with over half of the Riders points coming from their bench. Top MVP candidate Geno Crandall enjoyed a lighter load, with Connor Washington shouldering the most minutes as starting point guard, and big man Mo Walker is being eased onto the court, his long-awaited return being carefully handled. The Riders look to continue to win games and hit the post season as hot and healthy as possible. 

Season So Far – Raiders

The Raiders are currently the hottest team in the BBL. Winning their last eight games, the Plymouth side have soared to 2nd place. This streak has come by the way of physical basketball. The Raiders dominate the paint, being 2nd in the league in rebounds per game, both offensive and defensive. With 3.58 blocks per game the Raiders protect the rim better than any team, the London Lions trailing by a massive 0.64. Additionally, even when not swatting shots there are no easy points against the Raiders, as they rank 2nd in fouls per game with 19.94. Where the Raiders fall short is in their discipline. Per game, they assist on shots at a league low 15.98 rate, and turn the ball over 14.31 times, having them runners up. The Riders will be looking to exploit this as they attempt to complete a sweep this Saturday. 

Ones to Watch

As previously mentioned, the Riders spread the minutes in their last match. This gave role players off the bench an opportunity to make a real impact on the game. Forward Aaron Falzon took this opportunity and ran with it. Playing 16 minutes, Falzon recorded 8 points, dropping two of four shots, one from beyond the arc, and getting to the line to sink three of three free throws. Falzon also tacked on four rebounds to finish the match with a game-leading +28 plus/minus, proving to be a valuable asset to the winning side. The 6’8” power forward averages 12.7 minutes, 4.46 points, and 2.88 rebounds per game, while knocking down shots at a healthy 46.5% clip. Look to see Falzon, with more minutes to play with, being a useful tool on the court, utilising his long-distance marksmanship and his size down low to cause problems for the Raiders.

The Plymouth Raiders have been on an eight-game tear, ripping their way through the table. The man orchestrating this streak, leading his side on the court, is team captain Ashley Hamilton. The 6’7” forward is a skilful talent, able to knock down shots from range as well as slash to the hoop. This reflects in his season averages, leading his team in points with 15.95 per game. Hamilton also possesses the grit that makes the Raiders such a difficult side to compete with. Averaging 6.32 boards per game, good for second on his team, he contributes to the impressive rebound totals the Raiders have put up this season. Hamilton will be looking to repeat his impressive performance from his last game, where he posted 21 points on 7-12 shooting, got to the charity stripe to sink five of six free throws, and pulled down six rebounds. The Riders will need to challenge the Raiders captain Saturday to show the visiting side they can match their physicality and protect their home court. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders and Raiders last met on the 15th of January 2021. The contest was a comfortable one for the visiting Riders, who won three of four quarters to secure a 70-82 win. The game was dominated by the Riders’ guards, Geno Crandall having a monster game of 18 points, 17 rebounds and 8 assists. Connor Washington posted 21 points and 7 rebounds of his own, and Zach Johnson added on 18 points too. The Raiders will hope that new Riders guard, Mustapha Heron, will not do as much damage as they look to extend their winning streak to nine. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Impressive defence leads Riders to victory over Wolves

Darien Nelson-Henry led a dominant Riders display, with 14 points and seven rebounds in a 75-57 away win against the Worcester Wolves. In the final 13 minutes, the Riders beat their opponents 27-11, flexing their defence which ranks second in the BBL to hold the Wolves to just  23 second-half points. 

Geno Crandall marked his second game back from injury with an impactful performance. He finished with a +/- of 24 in the commanding win, an example of his positive influence on the team. His efforts were tangible on both ends, as he clamped the Wolves on the defensive end to snatch four steals, and orchestrated the offence to finish with six assists.

The Wolves struggled late against the energy of the Riders defence. They shot 35% from the field in the game, and finished with 57 points, their lowest tally of the season. Elijah Burns was the bright spark off the bench for Worcester, finishing with 11 points. The first-year pro out of Sienna College ended the game with a +/- of -2, leaving an impressive impression on his team despite the blowout. 

It wasn’t smooth sailing throughout for the Riders. The game was delicately poised at halftime, with six points separating the teams. The Wolves, who averaged a league-worst 1.8 blocks per game this season, swatted five shots in the first half alone, as Leicester struggled to get anything inside early against the solid Worcester interior defence. 

And it was the Wolves who took the initiative from the tip, jumping out to a 12-4 lead to start. They had success attacking the rim, starting 6-8 from the field with four of those makes in close. The Riders managed just 13 points in the first quarter, but not for lack of effective offence. Leicester found open looks which ultimately wouldn’t fall, shooting 29% in the first period as they found themselves down eight points. 

However, led by Crandall off the bench, Leicester changed the complexion of the game in the second quarter. They fed the ball to Crandall, allowing him to run the show. Dictating the play, ‘the general’ led the Riders on a 14-2 run, as they took their first lead of the game. Leicester maintained their lead through defensive intensity which held their opponents to 13 quarter points. Crandall’s assist on a pick and roll with Nelson-Henry, followed by a steal on the subsequent inbound, ended the half with the Riders up 40-34. 

Nelson-Henry set the tone in a gritty third quarter, forcing three misses at the rim in the first Wolves possession. The teams managed 15 points between them in the first five minutes of the third, as they battled with physicality and intensity. The game was in the balance, and it was Leicester who tipped the scale. Conner Washington’s three in the last minute of the period capped off a 7-0 Riders run to end the third, giving the Riders a nine-point lead. 

Leicester emphatically saw the game out, building on their run to end the third quarter. Nine straight points to start the fourth gave the Riders their biggest lead of the night, all scored by Crandall and Mustapha Heron. With the Wolves in the bonus after two minutes, the Riders continued their late surge, jumping out to a 20 point lead and never looking back. The result was concluded through the hands of Leicester’s young prospects, as Greg Wild combined with Justin Hedley to knock down a corner three, completing an assured Riders win.

The Riders consolidated their position at the top of the BBL, possessing a 21-4 record. Their comfortable 12 point lead means three wins from their final five games will be enough to secure the BBL Championship title. After a two-game road trip, Leicester heads home to host the Plymouth Raiders, in the hopes of getting one win closer to their season aim. 

Wolves

Kimble 12, Burns 11, Parks Jr. 10, Bouwknecht 9, Williams 8, Williamson 3, Mcswiggan 2, Elan 2

Riders

Nelson-Henry 14, Crandall 12, Anderson 8, Falzon 8, Fraser 8, Heron 7, Johnson 7, Washington 6, Wild 3, Lee 2

Preview: Riders at Wolves

The Riders look to end an epic three-game series with a win, facing the Worcester Wolves in a battle for the head to head between the two sides. Tipping off at 7:00pm, the University of Worcester Arena is in store for another tightly contested thriller. 

Season So Far – Riders

In a face-off between the best defensive rebounding team in the Riders, and the best offensive rebounding team in the Giants last game, the Riders came out on top. The win righted the winning ship for the Riders, who now sit comfortably top of the table by 10 points with a 20-4 record. The match also marked the return of Leicester’s star point guard Geno Crandall, who was missed in his time away from the court as well as Centre Mo Walker who made his first BBL Championship appearance of the season. The Riders big men are heating up at the right time, William Lee and Darien Nelson-Henry combining for 37 points and 19 rebounds in Manchester. With the regular season approaching its end, the Riders look to hit the playoffs as hot and healthy as possible. 

Season So Far – Wolves

The Wolves currently hold the sixth seed with 24 points and a record of 12-13 but are fighting off competition right at their heels. Having played more games than the trailing teams, and losing in their last match, Worcester will be eager to get back to winning ways. The Wolves were victims of overtime struggles in their last performance, scoring drying up against the Lions to the tune of only 9 points. They will be encouraged by their effort however, playing the 4th placed powerhouse side so close. Being the second-best three-point shooting team in the league, sinking the longball at a 35% rate they will be confident they can keep up with anyone.

Ones To Watch

With a team as dominant on the boards as the Giants, the Riders big men looked to step up and flex on the competition. William Lee did this, earning the Player of the Game in the process. Lee was unstoppable on both sides of the court, finishing with a stat-line of 19 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks, while hitting an efficient 8-10 field goals. Lee possesses the frame and athleticism to terrify opponents and can be seen threatening to tear the rim off a couple times a game. What is often overlooked though is the fundamental side of his game. With a consistent midrange jump shot and the ability to put the ball on the floor, Lee transforms himself from a one-dimensional player to one you cannot give so too much space too. On top of this, his work protecting the rim is something to behold. Positioned at 2nd in the league with 1.3 blocks per game, and with an incredible 93.9 defensive rating Lee is a highlight reel on both sides of the court. This game will be the first the Wolves truly get to experience Lee, who was recovering from a knee injury when the teams met last. They must find a way of slowing him down and avoid finding themselves on a poster in the process. 

The last two games between these two sides were monumental clashes with, back and forth games with tense, dramatic climaxes. One Worcester player experienced almost every second of it. Over the two matches, Wolves forward Jordan Williams played 80 minutes 41 seconds. With 27 points, 29 rebounds and 10 assists over both contests, Williams was something of a hero for the Worcester side. Averaging 9 rebounds per game and feasting by getting to the rim, Williams is player who looks to impose himself on the opposition. It is likely you will see the forward slashing to the rim off a Lamarr Kimble dish and stuffing it in from above the hoop. Given his aggressive playstyle, and the William Lee’s protecting, fans could be in store for a physical match-up between both ones to watch Wednesday. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders last faced the Wolves on the 28th of February 2021 in the second of a double-header. After taking the first game with a clutch, last second three from Corey Johnson, the Riders had their huge 11-game win streak snapped. Finishing 84-82, the hosts Worcester Wolves edged out an overtime thriller. This Wednesday’s game serves as the decider of the series, long awaited by both teams. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Captains Log: Time to make our push

It was an exciting weekend to be a Rider’s fan, and a Rider’s player.

While the game was exciting, and we may have allowed it to get a little closer than we would like… the true excitement came with the return of some well missed faces on the court!

It was great to have Geno back on the floor. His energy and high IQ plays made him an immediate asset to us against the Giant’s. Not to mention, his insane passing skills, which inevitable led to a few points by yours truly. We are all excited to have him back on the floor, even if it is only for limited minutes. 

And then, the re-debut of Big Mo was a celebration for us all — providing immediate offense for us with his patented lefty hook in the paint. It was a sight for sore eyes! We are glad to have him back as well. 

While the game was close, we felt confidence with the full roster back again. And, it couldn’t be at a better time! With limited games left in the regular season, it is time to make our push to solidify the Championship title.

I am excited for what is ahead of us, and I know you all are too!

Hope to see you all soon!

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: One game at a time

We had a good win against the Giants in Manchester but to be fair you need to give credit to Manchester. They shot the ball extremely well and Satchell was amazing with his shooting. He scored 36 points and made a lot of very tough shots. I thought we controlled most of the game without ever really putting them away. But they made a late run at us, and we had to really play some tough defence.

In the last minute Jamell Anderson made a big defensive play on Satchell and Corey Johnson hit crucial free throws under pressure. It seems the majority of our games have come down to the last minute or so. It is one of those things, but we will take it and the guys are executing when it matters.

William Lee was really excellent throughout and brought a lot of energy on both ends of the court. And it was nice to see Geno back, and hopefully we can build up his minutes in future games. It was especially nice to see Mo Walker get out on the court after such a long and frustrating time out. Hopefully, these guys can get more minutes going forward, and can adjust to the playing pace, and improve.

We have a heck of a schedule coming up and so it is important we get contributions from everyone. We want to try and rotate as much as possible at this time of the season. Now onto Wednesday night and the game at the Wolves. We had two very tough and very close games when we last played them.

Both games went down to the wire and could have gone either way. They have a surprising record when you look at the talent they can put on the floor. They have all the tools to be up there in the top four in the BBL.

I believe the Wolves will be a team to be reckoned with come the Playoffs, that is for sure. They pose a number of challenges for us in matching up. But we know what we are facing and have to be very focussed on one game at a time.

Riders earn Easter Sunday win over Giants

The Riders responded to their midweek loss with a clutch win, as they beat the Manchester Giants 90-87 in a nailbiting finish. Corey Johnson displayed nerves of steel, as his late free-throws were ultimately the difference between the two teams. 

Manchester had a chance to send the game to overtime, led by a career-high scoring performance by Justin Satchell. Satchell was in his bag, dropping 36 points as he caught fire, making six of his eight threes, and shooting 13-16 from the floor. He scored nine points in the final period as Manchester came back from a 10 point deficit, but ultimately fell short with a missed three at the buzzer. 

For Leicester, William Lee lit up the court and the stat sheet, leading the team with 19 points while coming up with his monster highlight plays. The pick of the bunch came midway through the final period, linking up with Darien Nelson-Henry to throw down a vicious lob after cutting backdoor. Both Riders big men performed to the highest standard, as Nelson-Henry’s performance was instrumental for the Riders. Coming up with 18 points, he led the team with 10 rebounds in a game that was fought on the glass. 

Manchester, the BBL’s best offensive rebounding team, bombarded the boards to keep the game close. Despite shooting just 40% from the floor, the Giants scored 87 points, in huge part thanks to their rebounding. Led by the league’s best offensive rebounder, David Ulph, who had seven in the game, the Giants pulled down 16 offensive boards against the BBL’s best defensive rebounding outfit. Their paint dominance allowed Manchester to push the Riders to the final possession. 

Jordan Whelan started the game hot, scoring 10 in the first quarter for the Giants. However, he was on the wrong end of the game’s first highlight, as his layup was swatted away by Lee. Lee, the University of Alabama’s all-time leading shot-blocker, displayed his hops on Easter Sunday, rising high to deny Whelan who drove down the baseline. Lee had two blocks in the game, living up to the precedent he has set throughout the season. He ranks second in the BBL in blocks per game. 

The game was a back and forth affair early. The first quarter featured five lead changes, as the teams jockeyed for position. The Riders did begin to stamp their authority on the game towards the end of the first, with a 12-5 run to end the first featuring six different scorers. However, despite stretching their lead to double-digits in the second quarter, they were pegged back by a determined Giants team. 

The Giants may have found themselves in a deep hole, if not for a red hot Satchell. He had 19 first-half points, and was unable to miss, making all of his seven shots from the floor. His three with half a minute left in the second brought the Giants to within one, before Crandall attacked the rim to end the half with the Riders up 44-41. 

Satchell remained hot after the break, nailing a three coming out of the half to tie the game. He and Mustapha Heron engaged in a battle to start the third quarter, both scoring seven points in the first half of the period. Despite a cagey beginning to the third, the Riders, led by Lee, reestablished their lead. A 10-3 run in the final three minutes of the quarter put the Riders up seven entering the final quarter, as they built themselves a cushion to see the game out. 

Satchell continuing his scintillating performance to end the game. His nine fourth-quarter points capped off his career-best performance, keeping Manchester in contention. Satchell’s tough turnaround shot from deep in the midrange tied the game with two minutes on the clock, but an experienced Leicester team well versed in bringing games home came out the better of the two sides. 

A flurry of baskets from both teams, rounded off by a huge three by Alex Ouandie, set the score at 88-87 in the Riders favour with 15 seconds on the clock. Corey Johnson was sent to the line, and with ice in his veins, he made both to force the Giants into a three to tie. 

When needed, Leicester’s second-ranked defence stood up to the challenge. While Manchester found Satchell’s hot hand, he was forced into a highly contested shot to send the game to overtime. He couldn’t convert, and a scramble for the rebound resulted in Whelan chucking up a prayer, which clanked off the iron to cap off a suffocating Riders defensive possession.  

The Riders’ title push is back underway, as they return to winning form. With a 20-4 record, they sit 10 points clear at the top of the table. Four is the magic number for Leicester, as that is how many wins they need to secure the top spot in the BBL Championship. They continue their road trip on Wednesday, as they head to Worcester in the hopes of beating the Wolves.

Giants

Satchell 36, Whelan 18, Ouandie 15, Marshall-Johnson 8, Ulph 6, Cassell Jr 4

Riders

Lee 19, Nelson-Henry 18, Heron 14, Johnson 11, Crandall 8, Washington 6, Anderson 5, Falzon 5, Fraser 2, Walker 2

Preview: Riders at Giants

After a disappointing loss in mid week, Riders looks to bounce back. Tipping off at 5:00pm, the National Basketball Performance Centre plays host to an Easter Sunday clash between the Riders and the Giants.

Season so Far – Riders 

The Riders currently possess the premier spot in the BBL table, sitting 1st with a lead of eight points. The Riders side will not be pleased however, licking their wounds after their five-game win-streak was snapped last Tuesday by the Flyers. Now facing another team fighting for the final playoff seed, the Riders are in store for more intense action. Head coach Rob Paternosto believes his side is up to the challenge saying the last outing was a lesson learned for us, but I am confident we can bounce back. With Geno Crandall still out for Sunday’s clash, the Riders look to secure a win through the team basketball that has been key to their success all season. 

Season so Far – Giants

With a record of 7-16 the Manchester Giants find themselves two places off a playoff spot. After losing their last two, the Giants look to turn things around and make that playoff push. At 10th, they have some catching up to do, back from 8th by four points despite playing more games than both teams ahead of them. They face quite the task Sunday however, trying to get back to winning ways facing a hungry side in the Riders, who are looking for a victim to unleash some frustration. Being the 3rd best scoring side in the league, the Giants hope to pour in the points on their home court and secure a vital victory in the final stretch of the season. 

Ones To Watch

A team missing their leading scorer and playmaker must rely on other sources of points. Fortunately for the Riders, their squad is rife with players who can put the ball in the basket. One such player will be looking to bounce back with a vengeance Sunday, Corey Johnson. After shooting an uncharacteristic 1-9 from three in his last performance, Johnson, one of the league’s premier marksmen, will be looking to see the ball splash through the net as normal. Leicester’s 6’5” shooting guard knocks down the long ball at a 37% clip on 6.4 attempts per game. Johnson has often been relied on as a catalyst for offensive production, starting all 23 matches this season for Leicester and averaging 11.4 points per game. The Giants will have to make sure not to give him space if they want to keep the Riders from counting in threes. 

Despite the Giants’ loss last week, the court still saw an impressive performance from one of the most efficient players in the league. Giants power forward David Ulph dropped in a cool seven of nine shots for 16 points, while also securing a double-double with 11 rebounds. Most impressive, despite Ulph’s effective scoring, was his work on the boards. Eight of his 11 rebounds were ripped down off the offensive glass, giving his side a chance to convert second chance opportunities. This performance was not an outlying occurrence either. Ulph averages 10.8 points and 8.4 rebounds for the Giants this season, with an incredible 3.5 of those rebounds per game being offensive. As mentioned before, Ulph is a player that makes the most of his minutes, shooting 66% from the field, sporting a player efficiency rating of 19.9 and having an offensive rating of 127.6. The Riders will need to keep Ulph out of the paint and away from the offensive glass on Sunday if they want to cripple the Giants scoring. 

Previous Meeting

The Riders and Giants’ last meeting was on the 21st February 2021, taking place on a Manchester court. A dominant second half performance secured a Riders victory, the contest finishing 77-91. The contest saw this Sunday’s Riders one to watch, Corey Johnson, flame the Giants for 24 points. Geno Crandall also threatened a triple-double with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists, so Manchester will not miss his presence on the floor. The Giants will be focused on avoiding fouling this Sunday learning from their earlier demise, in which the Riders had an unbelievable 30 attempts from the charity stripe. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Captains Log: It’s a learning experience

Our high spirits after a decisive win came crashing down after Tuesday’s defeat. There are no excuses we can make. It came down to complacency and a lack of focus on our part. 

After beating Bristol handily on Saturday, we came into Tuesday’s game thinking it would be a similar result. They came out with more energy than us, however, and it gave them confidence early. 

We battled back, and we were even up until midway through the third quarter. But giving some of their players confidence early in the game came back to hurt us in the end.  

It is a learning experience… not to take anything for granted, and to expect teams to give us their best shot every chance they get. That is what happens when you are first in the league. Teams have nothing to lose, so you can expect everyone to give us their best effort. 

After a long day of film and chats with the guys, I am sure that this was just a wrinkle in our otherwise stable focus thus far this season.

We are excited to head up to Manchester this weekend and show to our supporters and ourselves that we are capable of much more than we displayed on Tuesday night. 

Thank you, as always, for your never ending support — I hope to see you all soon!

Your Captain, Darien Nelson-Henry

Coach Rob: The race for the Playoffs is heating up

The race for the Playoffs is heating up and the BBL continues to show how competitive it is. There has been some amazing results this season, with the last week or so no different. We were playing Bristol twice in three days – always a tricky proposition, we saw that earlier in the season with Worcester.

We performed decently on Saturday but just ran out of gas against the Flyers on Tuesday. Our defence was up to scratch on Saturday, we moved the ball pretty well, and hit the open shots.

When you do that, it stops too much pressure being put on your defence in transition and gives you time to get set up. Also, we looked after the ball, which is really important in these types of games. And Conner was just fantastic; he has exceptional conditioning.

But it is always tough playing the same opponents twice in three days, and particularly one fighting for a playoff spot. So, I knew we were in for a battle at the Morningside Arena and I did not like the way we started.

There was a lack of structure and purpose and our intensity was not there. But we still went into half-time on level scores, so I though we were in a decent place. We started the second half well and managed to build a 47-40 lead and I thought we might be able to sneak it.

But a couple of the guys were fatigued, and I had to take them out, and it fell away from there. We committed 19 turnovers which is going to kill you, and it turned into one-way traffic.

We scored only about 5 points over 15 minutes and that is not going to win any game. It is a lesson learned for us, but I am confident we can bounce back.

We now have a nice break before Sunday which we need. After that the schedule gets heavier. We need to stay confident and hope we can get Geno back soon. We will be going up against another team fighting for the final playoff position so it won’t get any easier.

Ball Out 3×3 dates confirmed

The dates of the new-look 2021 Ball Out 3×3 Tour have been confirmed.
Ball Out 3×3 and Basketball England will collaborate on an exciting expansion of the iconic 3×3 tour this summer.

‘Ball Out 3×3 in partnership with Basketball England’ will feature eight qualifying events across the country during summer, culminating in two days of finals in London.

Ball Out will return to the capital, Manchester and Birmingham – with new editions of the tour taking place in Newcastle, Leicester, Leeds and Essex for the first time.

Ball Out 3×3 in partnership with Basketball England – dates, cities and venues

Tour
17 & 18 July – London, Finsbury Park
24 July – Manchester, National Basketball Performance Centre
25 July – Birmingham, University of Birmingham
31 July – Newcastle, Vertu Motors Arena
1 August – Leicester, Morningside Arena
7 August – Leeds, Leeds Beckett University
8 August – Essex, Essex Sports Arena

Finals
14 & 15 August – London, Finsbury Park

Details about Ball Out entries will be released very soon.

Ball Out CEO Julius Josephs said:

“This is an exciting milestone in the lead up to the summer which we are very optimistic about. We have successfully constructed a national tour that will provide a unique opportunity for players to compete against 3×3 players from across the country. It’s going to be special.”

Pro basketball player and Ball Out veteran Orlan Jackman said:

“During the pandemic, a lot of people haven’t been able to get out of their homes properly, let alone play basketball. Ball Out 3×3 will be the first opportunity players will get to do what they love and compete safely! I can’t wait.”

The UK’s premier 3×3 tournament has joined forces with Basketball England as excitement builds towards the three-a-side version of the sport taking centre stage at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Streetballers from across the nation will compete in the qualifying events for a shot at making the finals.

And elite players – including professionals from the BBL, NBL and beyond – will be invited to showcase their skills, with Basketball England using the tournament as part of preparation for selecting the England men’s and women’s 3×3 teams to compete at Birmingham 2022.

Basketball England Technical and Talent manager Steve Bucknall said:

“We are hoping to see lots of talent, whether it is elite pros or streetballers, as we build towards selecting teams for Birmingham.

“We’re looking at and talking to some high-calibre players already and it will be great to see some of them in the mix in the Ball Out 3×3 events.

“Ball Out also dovetails perfectly with our aim of helping people and organisations revitalise outdoor courts and spaces in heart of communities through the next phase of our #ProjectSwish campaign. We can’t wait to get started.”

For the fifth consecutive year, winners from the Elite Men’s Ball Out Finals will earn an all-expenses-paid trip to compete in the FIBA 3×3 World Tour and the chance to win the huge cash prize.

Ball Out competition categories:

Elite Men (UK Residents Only)
Wheelchair Basketball
Recreational Men (UK Residents Only)
Women
U18 Men/Women
U16 Boys
U14 Boys
U14 Girls

Riders fall to Flyers

The Flyers broke a five-game Leicester win streak, as they beat the Riders 80-54. A dominant fourth-quarter performance put the game to bed, which was competitive entering the final period. By clogging the paint, the Flyers held the BBL’s most efficient offence to 37% from the field. This was the second of a back to back fixture between the sides, which has been split a game apiece. 

Conner Washington led the Riders in points in a low scoring team performance. He had 13 points, six assists and six rebounds, as he went 6/9 from the field in an efficient offence game. Washington has stepped up the plate in the last three games, assuming starting role with Geno Crandall injured. Averaging 9.9 points per game at the time of Crandall injury, Washington has averaged 17 points since then, shining in a starting role. 

Eric Lockett, who averaged 14.3 points per game in his sophomore year at Florida International, led the way for his team. He had 18 points and nine rebounds with a 24 plus/minus, emphasising his importance to the Flyers. 

Uncharacteristically, the Riders found it tough in the early going. Two Leicester turnovers in the first two minutes allowed the Flyers to jump out to a six-point lead before the Riders got the lid off the basket. While Leicester’s offence struggled, starting 2/7, Bristol’s was clicking. They played fluidly, with their ball and player movement leaving the BBL’s second-ranked defence scrambling. 

Led by Eric Lockett’s six quarter points, the Flyers took a nine-point lead nearing the end of the first. In response to this, Conner Washington lit a spark in the Riders on both ends in the final two minutes of the first quarter. He took a charge coming out of a timeout to seize momentum from Bristol, before scoring five points in two minutes to bring the Riders within two. Despite jumping out to a nine-point lead, the Flyers would end the quarter up just 18-16. 

In the second, the Flyers re-established their lead. Josh Rogers, who shoots 36% from three on the year, hit three straight midway through the quarter to lead his team to a double-digit lead. Yet again, the Riders required a response, and they found one beyond the arc. Leicester’s offence exploded with three deep shots, before a Washington mid-range jump shot tied the game. 

Washington scored a third of his team’s points in the first half, leading the Riders on a strong run to end the half.  During this run, the Riders’ defence stood firm. They held the Flyers to two points in the final five minutes of the second, suffocating Bristol, as a low-scoring half ended 33-33, tied midway through as it was the first fixture. 

The high-flying William Lee produced the highlight of a tightly contested third quarter. After a Riders steal, Lee got out fast on the fast break, before taking it hard to the hoop and throwing the ball down with his left hand. The momentum surge allowed the Riders to break out to their first lead of the game, with a Corey Johnson floater putting Leicester up seven. 

The Flyers came back with a 12-0 run of their own to end the third. They prevented a Leicester score for the final five minutes of the third, clogging the paint with their big men. Bristol allowed nothing easy at the rim, and consecutive threes Raphell Thomas-Edwards put the Flyers up 52-47 entering the final period. 

Falzon got the fourth quarter going with a bang, coming up with a huge contest to swat away Daniel Edozie’s dunk attempt. Despite the huge defensively play, the Flyers continued to grow their lead early in the final quarter. Their defensive efforts held the Riders to four points in the first six minutes of the period, as costly Leicester turnovers allowed Bristol to take a double-digit lead. 

The Riders struggled to find anything inside against the resilient Bristol interior defence late. The Flyers’ won the fourth quarter 28-7, a commanding performance to see the game out.

Riders

Washington 13, Johnson 11, Heron 10, Nelson-Henry 8, Lee 6, Falzon 6

Flyers

Lockett 18, Baker 11, Thomas-Edwards 11, Rogers 9, Edozie 8, Mockford 7, Mayindombe 5, Okereafor 2

Preview: Riders v Flyers

The Riders return home to face the Bristol Flyers for the second game of the double-header. Tipping off at 6:00pm at the Morningside Arena, the Riders look for repeat success in the rematch.

Season So Far – Riders 

The Riders face the Flyers for the second time in four days, confident after an away win in the first match-up. Still 10 points clear on top of the BBL table and enjoying a five-game winning streak. Sitting in 1st for so long is sure to put a target on their back, but the Riders seem to relish the challenge, leading the league in field goal percentage with 48.7% and only trailing the London Lions in points per game at 87.1. Add to this a ferocious hounding team defence and you have a side with no intentions of slowing down. 

Season So Far – Flyers 

Still holding the 8th seed but with teams closing around them, the Flyers hope to get back to winning ways in foreign territory. After brutal matchmaking, pitting them in a double-header against the league leaders with the first game being the second of a back-to-back, the Flyers will have an extra edge to their game Tuesday. Despite a double-digit loss in their previous outing, snagging 12 steals and pulling down 40 rebounds suggests that if the Flyers can score more efficiently, currently converting only 43.7% of field goal attempts, they could present problems for any team in the league. 

Ones to Watch 

It is unusual to choose the same player two weeks in succession for the one to watch, but when you deliver two performances as impressive as Conner Washington’s it is impossible to ignore. Playing 77½ of the last 80 minutes in his two sole season starts, Washington has been the engine to the Riders’ success. In the two matches, Washington has recorded 37 points, 19 assists and 11 rebounds being the initiator both defensively, in his full court pick-up, and offensively with his playmaking handle. Washington is the man that the Flyers will have to make work on Tuesday, allowing him to rest on the court and pull the strings for Leicester would only spell disaster. 

The Flyers will be looking for bursts of shooting facing the Riders Tuesday, knowing that it will take more efficient scoring to keep pace with the home side. One player to keep an eye on doing just that is Bristol’s most accurate sniper, Teddy Okereafor. The 6’4” guard struggled on Saturday, failing to find his rhythm, and uncharacteristically shot a disappointing 1-6 from the floor. Okereafor will be looking to step up in the rematch and provide the Flyers with the 43% knock down rate from three they rely on him for. Averaging 8.8 points, 5 assists, and 6.1 rebounds per game a bounce back to the norm can be expected.

Previous Meeting

This upcoming contest will be the second time these two sides have faced each other in four days. The Riders rode to Bristol and secured a comprehensive double-digit win in the first match, the final score 62-76. It was a more comfortable affair for the Riders, facing a Flyers side recovering from a game only the day before. Now with some rest, Tuesday presents perhaps a more level playing field, with Bristol looking for revenge, and to ruin the Riders’ fun in Leicester. 

How To Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.

Riders beat Flyers on the road

Conner Washington’s colossal effort led the Riders to a 76-62 win against the Bristol Flyers. In Geno Crandall’s absence, the GB guard played every minute of the game, recording 22 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, leading the team in each category. He had a season-high in both points and rebounds, as he continued to thrive in his starting role. 

Leicester’s defence, which held the Cheshire Phoenix to just three points in the fourth quarter in their previous game, stepped up late once again. The Flyers managed just ten points in the final period against the stifling Leicester defence, as they shot 35% from the field in the game. 

Justin Baker led the way for the Flyers, putting up 14 points and seven rebounds. His side remained in contention entering the fourth quarter, before running into a Leicester team well versed in seeing games out. 

The solid Riders defensive display began from the tip. They held the Flyers to five points in the opening five minutes, as Bristol started the game 1-8 from the field. The Riders couldn’t capitalise on their defensive efforts to start, as they struggled to click their offence into gear. Washington carried the scoring load for the Riders in the first, scoring 10 of Leicester’s 15 first-quarter points. His buzzer-beating three ended the period with Bristol up two. 

The defensive focus of the first quarter continued in the second, as the teams ended the half combining for 38% from the field. Bristol crashed the offensive glass in an attempt to put points on the board, pulling down ten in the first half. The second chance opportunities resulted in just six points as they struggled to convert close looks. 

The Riders lifted the lid from the basket for a time in the second quarter, driving to the hoop and getting to the free-throw line. Six straight points in close via Darien Nelson-Henry built a Leicester lead which they would not surrender in the game. The Riders held the Flyers to just two points in the first five minutes of the quarter, allowing them to jump out to a ten-point lead.

Back to back threes from Josh Wilcher brought the Flyers back into the game, however as the half came to a close, Corey Johnson responded with a pair of threes of his own to re-establish a narrow Leicester lead. The score was 39-34 in the Riders’ favour at the half. 

Coach Rob Paternostro’s halftime team talk appeared to light a fire under the Riders, as they came out of the break hot with a 9-2 run. Leicester stretched their lead to 12, the biggest of the game, as they kicked into gear. William Lee’s turnaround jump shot for his seventh points of the quarter kept the Riders’ lead at double digits, as they entered the final quarter up 62-52. 

The Riders sealed the win comfortably in the fourth quarter, with Washington and Mustapha Heron combining for all 14 of Leicester’s fourth-quarter points. Heron stole the show in the quarter, making the two plays of the game. 

As the period neared its midway point, he drove down the baseline, flying high to throw the ball down hard over Marcus Delpeche. This gave the Riders a 15 point lead, their biggest of the game. Following his monster jam, Heron then took the ball inside from the left-wing, beating his defender with a quick first step before rising up and slamming it home two-handed in the open lane. Heron’s emphatic plays put an exclamation point on a dominant Riders closeout. 

The Leicester win bolsters their position at the top of the BBL. They extend their win streak to five, as they put 12 points between themselves and the second-placed Eagles, boasting a 19-3 record. The Riders play the second of this back-to-back fixture in Leicester on Tuesday, as they continue their title push. 

Preview: Riders at Flyers

After last weekends break, the Riders take the court again on Saturday at 7:30pm for the first of a double-header, travelling to the SGS College Arena in Bristol to face a hungry Flyers side. 

Season So Far – Riders

The Riders were impressive in their last performance, outlasting a gritty Cheshire Phoenix side to end a dangerous winning streak. It took a gritty effort of their own to capture the victory, a 22-3 4th quarter, by the way of a Leicester defensive masterclass, securing an 82-70 final score. The Riders sit 10 points clear at the top of the BBL table with an 18-3 record, flexing wins over 2nd, 3rd, and 4th placed teams in their last four contests. Leaving the Morningside Arena for the first time in three matches, they look to continue their success and play spoiler against a Flyers side fighting for a play-off spot. 

Season So Far – Flyers

Clutching the 8th seed with 16 points, the Bristol Flyers are hungry to convert their games in hand to wins. After traveling to the Worcester Wolves on Friday and displaying a dominant performance in an 82-62 win, the Flyers will be confident in doing just that. The Flyers are the best at crashing the offensive glass in the BBL, pulling down 11 offensive rebounds per game for second-chance points. Saturday Bristol faces the challenge of crashing the boards against a Leicester team that leads the league in average defensive rebounds per game with 28.4. Add to this the contest being the second of back-to-back games for the Flyers, and it will take an incredible effort to topple the fresh, top-table side. 

Ones To Watch

With the absence of star starting point guard Geno Crandall in their last contest, the Riders players to step up. Conner Washington put on a big performance against the Phoenix recording a points-assists double-double with 15 and 12 respectively. Perhaps going unnoticed in his first start of the season, was Washington’s herculean effort. The Riders number 13 was benched for only two and a half minutes, his defensive presence matching his offensive contributions leaving him with an impressive 17-points plus/minus. Given his ferocious pressing defensive approach, and his ankle bruising attacking style, this feat is something that is sure to catch the attention of the Flyers. They will know that Washington is a player that will cause problems all over the court from the opening tip to the dying minutes, and will have to devise a way to limit him if they plan to come out of Saturday with a win. 

Also wearing number 13, Flyers small forward Eric Lockett delivered an impressive performance in their last match. Posting a stat-line of 16 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists with a game leading monstrous 31-points plus/minus, Lockett proved vital to the Flyers victory. Lockett has started all 19 games this season for the Flyers, and while not leading the team in any stat, averaging 14.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists, he is as reliable as they come. A former NCAA Division 1 player, Lockett can now be found on the Bristol wing slashing to the hoop and jumping on second chance opportunities. The Riders will look to disrupt Lockett on Saturday to slow down a Flyers team that seems to feed off the forward’s effort on the court. 

Previous Meeting

The last meeting between these two teams dates to last year, the Riders hosting the Flyers on the 18th of December 2020. Double digit points from four of the Riders five starters led the home side to a 12-point win, the contest finishing 85-73. Each team has markedly changed since the last time they shared the court though, so both Leicester and Bristol will look forward to running things back in the coming double-header. 

How to Watch

Tonight’s game will be streamed via Flyers TV, Riders fans will be able to purchase a game pass for £4.99.

Strong fourth quarter sees Riders defeat Phoenix

After signing for the Riders last month, Mustapha Heron enjoyed a breakout game for the Riders, dropping a season-high 19 points as Leicester beat the Cheshire Phoenix 82-70. In the absence of the BBL’s second-highest assist maker Geno Crandall, Conner Washington dominated the playmaking responsibilities. He played every minute of the first half, and finished the game with a double-double, getting 15 points and 12 assists. 

The Riders, who lead the BBL in field goal percentage, had another efficient night, going 51% from the floor. They were on fire from deep, going 11-21 from three, and locked down defensively too. They forced the Phoenix, who have the least turnovers in the league (10.6 per game) into 14 turnovers, and held them to just 40% from the floor. 

Cheshire competed until late in the game, keeping it within one possession with three and a half minutes remaining. Japanese B-league MVP Matthew Bryan-Amaning led the Phoenix off the bench with 17 points. 

The Riders were locked in defensively from the tip. They forced the Phoenix into three turnovers in the first six minutes, as they missed their first five shots. Cheshire looked to their bench for a response, as Matthew Bryan-Amaning checked into the game midway through the first to take over the game. He put up seven points in five minutes, as his team finished the quarter up 18-15

Washington stepped up in the second quarter. He was the only Rider player with multiple assists at halftime, dishing out eight. He took defenders off the dribble, and off their feet, to generate offence. Early in the quarter, Washington dropped Mike McCall to the floor with quick handles, before stepping back and making a bucket for the highlight of the game, and three of his eight second-quarter points. 

In response to the Riders taking a one-point lead in the second, Jimbo Lull, who averaged 12 points in his senior year at San Fransisco, put his team on his shoulders to keep the game close. He put up 10 straight Phoenix points, and his layup with four minutes left in the half kept Cheshire within three. The teams traded buckets and went into the locker rooms tied at 44. 

The Riders looked down low to start the second half. They jumped out to an eight-point lead, getting eight points at the basket, including a huge putback dunk by William Lee. The ever athletic Lee rose up high to throw the ball down over Lull (and Darien Nelson-Henry), as the Riders stamped their authority down on the game. 

The Phoenix responded to the Riders momentum boost in an emphatic fashion. With Washington on the bench for the first time in the game, they went on a 20-5 run to see out the third. They got to the free-throw line frequently, as they attacked the rim. Kyle Carey’s lay-up at the buzzer put Cheshire up 67-60 entering the fourth. 

The Riders stepped up their defence, which ranks second in the BBL, to start the final quarter. Johnson shone on the defensive end, picking up the ball-handler to force the Pheonix into prayers at the buzzer. The defensive effort allowed the Riders to climb back into the game, tying it at 67 with three minutes gone in the quarter.

With the game within a single possession with three and a half minutes on the clock, the Riders fell back on the experience of two months of closely contested games. Key buckets down the stretch by Nelson-Henry and Heron extended the Leicester lead to eight, and with two minutes on the clock, Jamel Anderson’s three from the corner gave the Riders and 12 point lead. With the Phoenix’s leading scorer Kahron Ross heading to the bench with a leg injury, the Riders saw the game out for another win in their title challenge. 

The win extends Leicester’s digit lead at the top of the BBL to 12 points, as they improve to an 18-3 record. They will look to build on their four-game winning streak as they head down to Bristol to play the Flyers on Saturday. 

Preview: Riders v Phoenix

The Riders look for revenge Wednesday against a hot Phoenix side. Tipping off at 6:00pm, the Morningside Arena hosts a clash between two teams looking to snuff out each other’s winning streaks.

Season So Far – Riders

Leading the BBL table by 10 points, the Riders have started to build another impressive winning streak, coming out victorious in their last three contests, with two of those three wins coming against top four sides. The Riders winning ways have been born out of efficient team basketball, the teams 47% average field goal percentage leading the league, and their 14.9 fouls committed per game landing them as the second most disciplined side. They look to extend their streak against the Cheshire Phoenix, one of the most in form teams in the BBL.

Season So Far – Phoenix 

The Cheshire Phoenix are looking to extend a hot streak of their own, winning their last four. Having delivered the Riders’ most recent loss, they will be confident traveling to the Morningside Arena to face the top table team. The Nix are a team that make opponents work, utilising a hounding defensive style that produces turnovers while limiting fouls. Their 8 steals per game sit them at second in the league, and their 14 turnovers per game leave them joint top as a team that looks after the ball. Despite Cheshire being the worst three point shooting side in the league, knocking down only 29% from three, the Riders will have to make use of every possession they have.

Ones To Watch

Leicester Riders big man Ali Frazer was crucial in the teams previous outing. The 6’7” forward utilised his size and ability working in the midrange to post 13 points in 13 minutes, shooting an impressive 6-7 on the night. Also tacking on a couple rebounds and a block, Frazer proved to be valuable all over the court, providing a spark and making full use of his minutes. In his first season with the Riders, the former Glasgow Rocks star has shown to be a reliable source of points and defensive presence, his defensive rating with the Riders at 98.7 topping all his years in the BBL. On the back of a strong performance last week, Ali Fraser is one to watch Wednesday against the Phoenix. 

In their previous meeting the Nix had two players post points-rebounds double-doubles, and three players score 20 points or more. There was one player however, who did both. With a monstrous stat-line of 22 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists, Jalen Hayes was a nightmare for the visiting Riders side right from the tip. This was not a one-night wonder either, as Hayes contributes 15 points per game, as well as leads the Nix with 8.8 rebounds per game. Standing at 6’7” Hayes has also become a defensive asset in his third year with Cheshire, his defensive rating of 98.9 and his work on the boards being professional career highs. The Riders will have to contain Hayes’ work inside Wednesday to avoid the physical game that the Phoenix look to impose.

Previous Meeting

The two sides last clashed on the 5th of March 2021, a two-point game falling the way of the home Cheshire side 93-91. A limited Nix team, which had only 7 players take the court, displayed an incredible effort toppling the top table Riders. Corey Johnson and Geno Crandall’s pair of 21 points seemed to be a glimpse of the Riders strength but proved not to be enough as Cheshire hammered in three 20-plus points performances of their own. If the last match-up is anything to go off, Wednesday night is sure to be one of fast paced, intense basketball. 

How to Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via