Key matchups: Leicester Riders vs Cheshire Phoenix

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

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

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

Aaryn Rai vs Teddy Allen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laquincy Rideau vs Kimbal Mackenzie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skyler White vs Sam Idowu 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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