Riders v Flyers
7:45 pm - Morningside Arena
Riders v Giants
7:45 pm - Morningside Arena
Riders @ Scorchers
3:00 pm - Surrey Sports Park
Pre-season report: Riders take win against USA Select

The Leicester Riders welcomed a near-sellout crowd to the Morningside Arena tonight as they hosted a USA Select squad in their final game of the pre-season.

The Riders put on an entertaining display of offence to win 105-62 against a battling USA Select defence that competed well until the final minute, with 34 of the home side’s points coming on the fast break. It is clear that speed will be a major strength for the Riders this season.

Jaren Holmes put in another impressive performance, knocking down 17 points on 58% shooting as well as dishing four eye-catching assists. The 6’4 guard played solid team basketball as he looked to develop chemistry with fan favourite Kimbal Mackenzie and the exciting Xavier Pinson. 

Pinson showed some lovely touches, flashing high-level handling skills on multiple occasions on his way to 12 points. 

Second-year forward Blake Bowman also impressed, hitting 15 points at a 100% clip to demonstrate the strides he has made during the off-season.

USA Select benefited from good performances by Vaughn McCall and Braden Young, who scored 17 points each.

Tale of the Game

The Riders’ first possession set the tone of the game as all-action guard Mackenzie sliced his way to the rim for an early layup. Mackenzie was joined in the points column by Miryne Thomas, Holmes and Bowman as Leicester built a 16-point lead. 

USA Select defended with endeavour but new Riders’ guards Holmes and Pinson looked too sharp – especially from 3-point range.

Leicester took a 30-4 lead into the second quarter but found scoring a much tougher task in the second as the visitors improved their play. USA Select’s captain McCall led the way, showing hustle on both ends of the court and was rewarded with 12 first-half points.

Despite the stiffer challenge, the Riders found a way to make their class show. Pinson repeatedly caught the eye and drew a rapturous cheer from the home crowd as he hit a devastating spin to shake his defender before calmly hitting the layup. 

The half came to an end but not before Samuel Idowu stamped some authority on the game. 

Retreating on defence, the 6’8 forward dismissed a layup into the front-row seats before muscling his way into the offensive paint to earn a couple of free throws. 

The Riders ended the half with a 51 – 23 lead.

The Riders carried their positive offensive play into the second half, Holmes and Pinson unrelenting in their ability to impress the home faithful. 

Idowu once more showed why he could be a wall in the paint this season and athletic forward Thomas was quietly building an efficient stat sheet of 19 points and 7 rebounds.

Passing looked slick, especially on the fast break. One surge down the court saw Thomas receive the ball at speed before slamming a huge two-handed dunk. 

The USA Select did still have their moments. Braden Young played a nice second half, hitting 50% of his shots from deep, and Xavier Johnson was active on the boards, pulling down an impressive 9 rebounds.

After a cohesive performance on both ends of the court, the Riders’ Coach Rob Paternostro, will feel happy that his squad are ready for the Cheshire Phoenix in next Friday’s British Basketball League opener.