Friday’s 96-90 win against the Caledonia Gladiators gave the Riders lots to build on going into the rest of the season.
Here is what we can take from the win…
Buckets has arrived
The debut that has everyone talking! Teddy Allen’s 32 point outing, the highest-scoring British Basketball League debut since 2016, meant the Phoenix-born guard lived up to the hype in his first appearance in Riders red.
Allen was pivotal in the clutch, hitting a three to put the Riders up five before dishing to Jaren Holmes for a dagger triple next time up the floor. He reached his points tally with the game-sealing free throws to conclude a historic outing.
He made his mark on every facet of the game with his scoring, playmaking, rebounding and defence. His message after the game to further excite the Riders faithful: “there’s definitely more to come!”
Allen provides an explosive scoring threat on any given game, just three games before the start of the all-new Trophy.
A Threat from Three
Aside from his scoring ability, which was on full display throughout his debut, the gravitational pull of Allen, who attracted a wall of defenders whenever he touched the ball, meant for open shots for his teammates.
The new man’s playmaking saw the ball find the open man, and the Riders knocked down 50% of their attempts from deep on the night.
Kimbal Mackenzie, in particular, benefitted from the good looks, going 3-4 from three on the evening.
Leicester have been a threat from three all season, ranking third in deep shooting percentage at 38.2%. The improved spacing will allow their sharpshooters the chance to punish defenders for leaving them open on the arc.
Decisive Defence late
After giving up 51 in the first half, the Riders stepped up the defence late for a comeback win.
The message from Head Coach Rob Paternostro at the break was clear: “we’re going to have to play defence at some point.” The Riders responded to his message after falling into a 13-point hole in the third.
The team held the Gladiators to under 20 points in the fourth quarter, which they won 27-17 to secure the win.
Sam Idowu was a key factor defensively late, his efforts in the post preventing Clifton Moore Jr from putting in a bucket in the clutch, and Jaren Holmes’ 2 blocks from the perimeter earned the Riders emphatic stops.
Paternostro will look to put together 40 minutes of defence to that level next time out against the Giants.
Idowu logged a season-high 28 minutes in the game, and his impact was felt all game long.
The big man led the game in +/- with 11, demonstrating the positive influence of his efforts down low.
He ran the pick and roll effectively throughout, battled hard on defence and was effective on the glass, putting back Allen’s miss late to give the Riders a late lead for his second offensive board of the night.
All of Idowu’s buckets came in the paint, as he went 7-12 from the field on his way to 14 points – his second-highest tally of the year.
His consistent performances all season have made Idowu a reliable source of points and rebounding and was vital to Friday’s win.
Taking advantage of turnovers
While the teams were tied in total turnovers, each giving the ball away 14 times, the Riders made their opponents pay for their mistakes.
They scored 20 points off turnovers compared to Caledonia’s 13, a key factor in a game decided by six points.
They proved a threat on the fastbreak throughout, with Miryne Thomas and Holmes’ speed in transition making for easy buckets at the rim and electric high-flying plays.
Should the Riders’ defence continue its form from late in Friday’s affair, expect more opportunities in transition for Paternostro’s side.
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