Preview: Riders v Lions

After a resounding, all crucial win over rivals Newcastle Eagles in front of Sky Sports cameras, the Riders finally return home to the Morningside Arena. Waiting for them at 5:00pm Sunday is another tough, and equally important challenge, the London Lions.

Season So Far – Riders

Riders got back to winning ways in emphatic style last Friday. In front of Sky Sports cameras and in rival territory the entire team came to play, beating the Eagles 99-77. This win pushed the Riders lead in the BBL table over 2nd placed Newcastle back to six points, while also seeing an end to a tough three-game away stint. Now with a growing threat in the Lions coming to home court, the Riders have yet another opportunity to assert themselves as the top dogs in British Basketball.

Season So Far – Lions 

The Lions have been impressive over their last five games, with a dominant win in their last performance, beating the Manchester Giants 105-81 at home, they will look forward to challenging the league leaders. The Lions’ 3rd place position in the BBL table is deceptive, having three games in hand over the Riders, while only suffering one more loss. With a win Sunday they will even those losses up, move within one spot of the lead, and take one step closer to toppling the Riders from the head of the table. 

Ones To Watch

The Riders rode to Newcastle and stamped their mark in the debut game for the newly named Vertu Motors Arena. A complete team effort, in which seven different Riders scored in the double digits, secured a much-needed victory for the Leicester side. However, one player stood out. Conner Washington was dazzling in his performance Friday, voted by fans as the player of the game. With a stat-line of 21 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals coming off the bench, Washington served as a scoring catalyst for the Riders. Washington has been a player heating up over the last few games, his experience as a three-time BBL All-Defensive First Team player, in addition to his nasty handle on the offence makes him one to watch on both sides of the floor. 

While the Lions seem to pride themselves on team basketball, statistical averages being spread amongst the players, there is one individual that stands out. DeAndre Liggins, as a former NBA product contributes steadily to the Lions success. Averaging 15.2 points, 6.1 assists, 6.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game, Liggins leads the London side. Liggins has experience playing on the highest level possible, taking the court with Lebron James and Kyrie Irving in the 2016-17 NBA Finals and facing the fiercest of competition in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Now a London Lion, Liggins uses this in his leadership, carrying himself around the court with supreme confidence. Standing at 6’6” at guard, Liggins is a prime candidate to strip the ball at one end of the court, then slash through the paint and threaten the rim the next second. Keeping Liggins contained is paramount to the Riders’ success, as the Lions team undoubtedly feed off his play on the court. 

Previous Meeting

These teams last met on January the 3rd, with the Lions winning a close affair at the Morningside Arena, finishing Riders 73-74 Lions. The match was tight throughout, the teams never being split by more than 5 points at the end of a quarter. The Lions one to watch was a problem all game, Liggins threatening a triple-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. With the last one being so close both teams will be hungry to face each other again Sunday. 

How to Watch

Although the game will be played behind closed doors, Riders fans will be able to tune in via BBL Player by purchasing a one game pass for just £4.99. Riders Season Ticket Holders will be able to watch the game free of charge by logging into their BBL Player account.