Pre-season preview: Riders vs USA Select

The Riders host USA Select final pre-season fixture. Here is all you need to know…

Fixture information

Leicester Riders vs USA Select

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Friday, September 8, 7:45 pm

Get your tickets here!

Promising signs

The Riders return from their Netherlands trip, which they can take lots of positives from. They beat seven-time Dutch champions Donar Groningen 104-75 last Friday to move to 2-0 on their pre-season campaign so far. 

It was a confident display throughout. Donar’s only led the game for 15 seconds early in the first quarter, as the Riders took control of the tie. They won all four quarters, and after a Groningen surge to make it 52-51 to get the second half underway, the Riders blew the game wide open. 

Kimbal Mackenzie led the team with 17 points, backed up by Jaren Holmes’ 16, the pair dominating proceedings from the backcourt. 

“Our depth has been impressive,” said Head Coach Rob Paternostro following the game.

“We played 10 guys, and all of them made a great impact. We know we have a long way to go, but I like where we’re going.

“These are the types of trips where you learn a lot about your team, and because we have so many new players this season, it’s a great opportunity for them to bond on and off the court.”

Now their attention turns to the Morningside Arena, as the Riders are set to make their first home appearance of the season. They are preparing to face a young team of determined talent, looking to make a name in Europe. 

USA Select- Making professionals 

The Riders’ opponents face them in the midst of a busy European tour, where they play 19 games in 22 days hoping to secure their first professional contracts.  

The tour spans four countries and 18 cities, with a newly formed roster made up of players straight out of college. 

The programme has produced two British Basketball League head coaches in Sheffield’s Atiba Lyons and Machester’s Brian Semonian, and players such as Derby Trailblazers’ Malcolm Smith. 

The Riders are an annual fixture on USA Select’s packed schedule, and the club have built a thriving relationship with the programme over the last four decades. 

“Leicester Riders, like so many other clubs in the UK, has been phenomenal for us over the decades, which is why I never miss the UK out on these tours,” said Head Coach and General Manager Sean Kilmartin ahead of the game. 

“The club, and its vision in a sport that was always under the radar and never truly appreciated in the UK, has changed the way people look at basketball in the country. Their venue is the first of its kind, and it set the bar for the other clubs in the league.

“When my players can see all that, they see what professionalism looks like. They see how professionals put pride in their job, and their humility when they put their jerseys on for the fans.

“The Riders fanbase is amazing. The love and respect we get from those fans is humbling. They really get it.”

Played for both- Russell Jordan

The Riders are one of many organisations that benefitted from USA Select’s tour. 6’6” forward Russell Jordan was a product of the program that played for the club. 

Having played for USA Select in the mid-2000s hoping to secure his first contract, Jordan secured a deal with the Reading Rockets in the EBL with the help of Kilmartin. 

Having impressed at Reading, Jordan made the step up and signed with the Riders in 2007, playing 31 games in the 2007/08 season. He put up 5.6 points in 14 minutes per game, shooting 56% from the field and suiting up against the likes of Paternostro in his final playing season for Birmingham Panthers. 

Jordan went on to play for Worthing Thunder, Surrey Scorchers and London Capitals, averaging 13 points per game in the 2009/10 season. He is one of the true success stories of the USA Select programme in British Basketball. 

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