Key Matchups: Riders at Scorchers

Leicester Riders are set to take on Surrey Scorchers on the road in their final game of the 2023-24 British Basketball League Championship.

Here’s some of the key head-to-heads in tomorrow’s action…

Saiquan Jamison vs Duke Shelton 

Making a forceful impact in the paint this season for the Scorchers is Saiquan Jamison, who has established himself as one of British basketball’s elite big men.

He ranks second among all players in rebounds per game with 9.9, and has logged 13 double-doubles over the course of the season. 

Jamison is a weapon in the pick and roll, and is near unstoppable when he receive the ball in motion to the rim. He finishes explosively in close, but can also take defenders off the dribble from the centre position to drive inside, and keep defenders honest from distance with his shooting ability. 

Jamison is Surrey’s third leading scorer with 10.5 points per game to his name, and is able to generate his own offence at the rim by consistently pulling down missed shots for offensive rebounds. 

Looking to keep him off the glass is Riders centre Duke Shelton. Shelton has stepped into a starting role seamlessly in recent weeks, proving energy and hustle from the centre position. 

Three double digit performances in his last five outings has seen the 6’10” American become a reliable source of points, and his 14 points, 16 rebounds double double against the Plymouth City Patriots in late March showed his ability to get on the glass for big numbers.

The Riders will need a similar night on the boards from Shelton against the electric Jamison to control the paint in the final game of the Championship season. 

Cameron Gooden vs Jaren Holmes

The Scorchers leading scorer this season, high-flying guard Padiet Wang, is set to miss tomorrow’s game through injury. Therefore, they will once again rely on the services of rookie Cameron Gooden, who went off for Surrey last time out.

The American led his team with 21 points and 5 assists against the League champions, going 5-13 from three as he tried to shoot his team back into the game.

Gooden is averaging 9.4 points in 20 minutes per game, but thrived in an increased role against the Lions.

The shifty guard has elite handles to beat defenders off the dribble, getting to the hole or stepping back and taking midrange jump shots consistently.

Looking to slow down Gooden will be rookie guard Jaren Holmes, who is lighting up the League in his first professional season. 

Holmes is the Riders’ second leading scorer this season with 13.2 points per game, and leads the team in steals with an average of 1.2. 

He led the Riders last time out against the Giants with 20 points, his late three point shooting giving Leicester a chance late.

His work on the defensive end has impressed throughout the year, and he will be faced with the challenge of Gooden in the backcourt in this one. But Holmes’ ability to lock down opponents on defence will put him in good stead to stay in front of his opponent one-on-one.

He has the size to contest Gooden inside when he drives to the hoop, and the offensive skillset to keep him honest on the defensive side of the ball whenever he is in the game. Get ready for a hard-fought head-to-head in this one.

Justin Robinson vs Sesan Russell 

To overcome the Scorchers, the Riders will have to contend with a two-time British Basketball League MVP in Justin Robinson from the backcourt. 

Robinson won the award back-to-back in 2018 and 2019 for the London Lions, averaging 19.2 points per game in his second MVP season to earn the award. 

This year, Robinson has provided valuable experience to the Scorchers roster while putting up 10.8 points per game and shooting 39% from behind the three point arc. He has been a consistent threat from deep over the court of his 12-year professional career, and now is no different. 

Faced with the tall task of slowing the experience veteran down is Sesan Russell, who made his first start from the point last time out against the Giants.

Russell’s playmaking has been a key asset for the Riders in recent weeks, and it was no different after his insertion into the starting line-up. He put up 10 points and 6 assists, leading the team through the opening stages of the game.

Two games ago, Russell once again pulled the strings to dish 9 assists against the Bristol Flyers. His court vision has found open cutters to the rim consistently, as he runs the pick and roll from the point effectively with the Riders big men.

Keeping Robinson active in defending the pick-and-roll will go a long way in making his life difficult in the Riders’ last game of the Championship season.