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Championship preview: Riders vs Giants

Saturday’s British Basketball League Championship game is an important one for the Riders as they look to get back to winning ways and a .500 record.

The Morningside arena will play host to the 3-10 Manchester Giants, who are also searching for form after losing four of their last five games.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs Manchester Giants

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Saturday, November 25, 8:00pm

Get tickets here!

Riders look to bounce back

The weekend’s clash with the Giants will be a good test of how coach Rob Paternostro’s talented squad face adversity after falling to three close defeats in the past couple of weeks. 

In the first championship fixture between the two clubs, the Riders came away from Manchester with a 94-80 loss.

It was the second game of an attritional back-to-back weekend for Leicester, who had downed the Surrey Scorchers the previous night.

This time, the roles are reversed as Manchester will arrive in the East Midlands following a Friday night game against the Plymouth City Patriots.

Expect Paternostro to employ a fast-paced game, wearing down the visitors and reaping rewards in the second half.

Riders’ captain Kimbal Mackenzie will be crucial to this strategy, his speed of foot and thought is a large part of an offence that is putting up over 90 points a night. 

Another player who could have a sizeable impact is second-unit big man Samuel Idowu.

Aside from his brick wall defence, the 6’8” power forward is a great floor stretcher and often finds space beyond the arc for a three-pointer.

Idowu is no slouch from long range, hitting on over 35% of his three-point attempts.

The veteran may prove to be a nightmare for a tiring Giants defence that should be slowed in the fourth quarter.

Scoring Depth Needed for Giants

Coach Brian Semonian’s Giants squad have faced a tough start to the season and sit ninth in the British Basketball League Championship standings with six points.

Playoff quarter finalists last year, Manchester have seen a significant drop in offensive production in 2023, falling from over 89 points per game to just over 80. 

Star forward Jamell Anderson – who dropped 19 on the Riders in October – and ‘shoot first’ guard Nick Lewis are balling, but points from the rest of the roster have been scarce.

The Giants are seventh in points per game and eighth in true shooting percentage.

Saturday’s visitors struggle to fashion offence from sources other than Anderson and Lewis, so shutting that dynamic duo down will be a top priority.

The Riders may also expect to break three figures on offense, exploiting Manchester’s league-worst defence that is giving up 92 points per contest.

These factors, coupled with the fact of a back-to-back weekend of fixtures, means it could be a difficult night for the Giants.

Key Players

A current Rider takes on a former Rider in what is possibly the juiciest matchup of British Basketball League Championship round 11.

High-flying power forward Miryne Thomas will put his skills to the test against the reliable William Lee.

Lee, playing a second season in Manchester, has only suited up for three games this season, but showed his value with a 19-point performance in a recent win over the Bristol Flyers.

The 6’9” forward has had trouble with injuries during his spell with the Giants, but has been impressive when on the court, winning Molten Player of the Month honours twice last season.

The veteran was kept quiet in a round 10 loss to the London Lions, but Riders’ supporters will be aware of his dangerous combination of solid defence and efficient scoring. 

The athletic Thomas has had an excellent start to his career as a Rider.

A team standout this season, #3 has posted three double-doubles including a 21 and 11 showing against the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks last week.

The Cleveland native spends most of his time in the paint, using his shiftiness to find space inside before slamming home a powerful dunk.

Thomas is knocking down over 66% of his close-range shots, but supplements that with solid accuracy from the top of the arc, draining 44% of his three-pointers from that area.

A plethora of talent will take to the floor this weekend and the Riders’ faithful should see a thoroughly entertaining game.

If round 11 follows the trends of the season, expect the home offence to catch fire.