Season So Far – Riders
The Riders are two wins away from retaining their BBL Championship title, sitting top of the table with a 19-2 record. A blowout win against the Scorchers in their previous game brought them one step closer to the silverware.
Patrick Whelan led them in the game with 23 points, the GB sharpshooter scored an emphatic 47 points in a back to back over the weekend. These performances have been consistent of Whelan all season long, as he leads the Riders in scoring with 16.1 points per game on 48.7% three-point shooting.
Whelan’s efforts has helped Leicester to the best offensive record in the BBL, with the team scoring 90.2 points per game. They have dominated on both ends, also possessing the best defensive record in the league, giving up just 70.5 points a contest.
A win against their long-standing rivals in this one could be enough to secure the league title, should the London Lions lose one of their upcoming fixtures against Newcastle or Bristol. It will certainly bring the league to within touching distance however the results fall.
Season So Far – Eagles
This season will not go down as one of the more successful years for the esteemed Eagles franchise. They sit third bottom of the league table with an 8-11 record, and have gone trophyless through the season so far.
Defence has been the area of concern for Newcastle. They give up 90.6 per game, leaving them near the bottom of the BBL’s defensive rankings. Should they resolve their issues on that end, they will feel confident of making a playoff run, as they rank third in the offence charts, scoring 87 per game.
Justin Gordan has led the Eagles after rejoining the team midseason. Gordon enjoyed a successful stint in Newcastle last year, and took a half-season away in Hungary before returning to Tyneside. The 6’6” two-guard is the BBL’s third leading scorer, putting up 18.5 points per game.
A win in this game will snap a three game losing streak for the Eagles, as they look to secure a playoff place.
One To Watch – Riders
Sealing the deal with eight points in the final quarter against the Scorchers, Conner Washington showcased the value he has brought to the Riders over his 11 years in Leicester.
The GB guard has won 12 trophies with the Riders, and was named to the BBL All Defensive team and All British First Team in the 2016/17 season. The Bedford born point guard is known as a two way threat, still able to lock up the best guards the BBL has to offer, while draining shots from deep on the other end.
Washington had 11 points, three rebounds and three assists in his previous game, and will look to put on another solid showing in this one.
One To Watch – Eagles
An ever present feature of the Eagles over the last decade, two-time BBL MVP Rahmon Fletcher is continuing to put up big numbers in his seventh season in Newcastle. The 33 year old point guard is leading the BBL in assists with 10.4 per game.
Fletcher is a graduate of the Green Bay Phoenix, where he graduated averaging 15.6 points in his senior year. After two season’s in the Netherlands with B.A. Limburg, he signed with the Eagles in 2014. Despite taking a year out in 2017 to play in Slovakia, Fletcher has played every other season since 2014 in Newcastle, helping the BBL’s most decorated franchise to yet more success.
A gritty player on both ends, Fletcher is a team-first guard, able to play elite defence and set his teammates up to great effect on offence. Fletcher hold the record for the most BBL team of the year appearances, with five, and his two MVPs are tied for the most in BBL history.
The teams last met in December, with the Riders taking a convincing 100-72 home win. Geno Crandall led Leicester with 22 points, as the Riders had six players scoring in double digits.
For Newcatsle, former Rider Corey Johnson put up a team high 15 points, his efforts failing to inspire a comeback for his team.