Season So Far – Riders
A win in this one would secure the Riders the BBL Championship! It would be the second time in their history winning back to back Championships, as they would lift their sixth league title.
Going 12-1 through the opening stages of the year, the Riders burst out the gate to their best-ever start to a season. They haven’t looked back since, and are in the midst of a four-game winning streak.
Their previous game was a dominant display against the Newcastle Eagles, as the Riders won 103-77 led by 18 points from their captain, Darien Nelson-Henry. They improved to a 20-2 record with five games remaining of the season.
Patrick Whelan leads them on the season, the GB sniper is averaging 16 points per game on 48.8% three-point shooting. This percentage ranks highest in the BBL for those who have taken over 100 threes, earning him his first international call up.
With the best-ranked offence and defence in the BBL, the Riders have been the league’s premier outfit from the jump, and will be keen to lift their second piece of silverware of the season in this fixture.
Season So Far – Patriots
After a difficult beginning to their campaign, starting the season 0-8, the Patriots have turned their season around to climb into the playoff places. The addition of American point guard Antonio Williams coincided with a 9-5 run, lifting Plymouth to seventh in the standings.
Williams is leading the Patriots in scoring with 17.9 points, in a Plymouth side ranking seventh in the BBL scoring charts with 79.2 points per game. They lean heavily on their free-throw shooting, attacking the hoop to average the most foul shots in the league.
After an 18 day break from basketball, the Patriots returned to action on the 1st of April against the Sheffield Sharks. Rowell Graham-Bell led the team with 18 points, but his efforts couldn’t take his team to the win, as Plymouth took a 71-61 loss on the road.
With just one win separating ninth from sixth in the standings, every game is pivotal for the Patriots’ playoff chances, as the season ticks down. They have five games remaining to separate themselves from the teams around them, and a win against the league leaders would go a long way in doing so.
One To Watch – Riders
With two perfect performances in a month, captain Darien Nelson-Henry has been at his efficient best in the paint for Leicester. He scored 21 points against Surrey, and 18 in the Riders’ most recent game against the Eagles, all without missing a shot.
The Penn graduate is playing in his third Riders season, after leading his college in points, rebounds and blocks in his senior year. He gained experience playing in Poland and Austria before moving to Leicester and quickly became a fan favourite.
Nelson-Henry has been one of the BBL’s most efficient players throughout his Riders tenure and is leading the BBL in FG% for those who have played over 10 games. His dominance down low is a vital part of the Riders’ success, as they are a game away from back to back championships.
One To Watch – Patriots
Leading his team in scoring since he joined in January, Antonio Williams has led his team into the playoff places. His play earned him player of the month in Febuary, after averaging 18.7 points per game, including a 35 points game, and leading the Patriots to a 5-2 record.
Williams spent his first two pro seasons in Estonia, after a college career at Kent State and Indian Hills Junior College. He helped Indian Hills to a 30-0 record before transferring to Kent State, where he led the team in steals as a senior with 1.8 per game.
Williams is one of the BBL’s premier scorers, ranking second in the league’s scoring charts with 17.9 points per game. Despite standing at 6’0”, he can attack the rim effectively, using his athleticism to rise high and finish strong in close.
The teams last met back in December in a Riders blowout. It was the biggest Leicester win of the season, as they emerged 106-60 victors.
Nelson-Henry led Leicester with 22 points, the big man at his efficient best going 7-8 from the field. Kofi Josephs led Plymouth with 21, the GB shooting guard having since departed from the team.