Preview: Riders vs Scorchers

Friday night sees the Riders host the Surrey Scorchers in the British Basketball League Championship – the first of back-to-back games this weekend.

Rob Paternostro’s team will be in a buoyant mood after a huge 92-85 win on the road against the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles, part of a three-game winning streak for the Riders.

Leicester Riders vs Surrey Scorchers

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Friday, October 13, 7:30 pm

Get tickets here! 

Victory on the Road

Last week’s defeat of the Eagles completed an excellent road trip for the Riders, who also took an impressive 92-74 win in Bristol.

‘BBL Team of the Week’ member Miryne Thomas played a crucial role in both games, averaging 17.5 points and 4.5 rebounds on the trip.

Thomas’ quickness and eye for space inside is proving to be a real handful for opposing defences and has resulted in several highlight-reel plays.

The backcourt trio of captain Kimbal Mackenzie, Xavier Pinson and Jaren Holmes is also running hot – the all-action three added 40.5 points per game across the two victories whilst also dishing nearly 70% of the Riders’ assists.

The Riders are currently second in the league in FG% at 50%, fourth in efficiency from deep at 37% and third in FT%, hitting on 75% of their trips to the line.

Maintaining this level of shooting will be crucial against a Surrey team that are aggressive on offense and sit second in shots taken per game.

Leicester’s rebounding has also improved in recent games, largely thanks to the introduction of Caleb Asberry into the lineup (he bagged nine against the Flyers).

With the Scorchers firing off 70-plus shots per game, denying second-chance points through solid defensive rebounding will be key to keeping the opposition score in check.

Scorchers Close to First Win

The Scorchers travel to the Morningside Arena winless with a 0-4 record but have come close to victory on a couple of occasions this season.

Their closest finish came against the Cheshire Phoenix in a thriller, 101-103. Following a spirited fourth-quarter comeback, the Scorchers had a couple of chances to push the game to overtime but couldn’t quite drop the clutch bucket.

The returning duo of Padiet Wang and Josh Steel led the way, dropping 14 and 20 points respectively, with Steel knocking down an impressive four of six from deep.

Surrey hit on 46% of their shots against the Phoenix, an improvement in an area of the game they have struggled with.

The Scorchers sit bottom of the BBL in FG%, and despite having guard Andrew Lawrence providing some of the best service in the league, are scoring on just 37.1% of their attempts.

The Southerners are one of the better squads in the league on the offensive glass – averaging 10.8 per game – but unless their efficiency improves, they will find it tough to match an accurate Riders team through four quarters.

Key Matchup

The Scorchers’ solid rebounding can largely be attributed to one man – Saiquan Jamison.

Standing at 6’8”, the power forward isn’t the tallest big man in the league, but he certainly knows how to use his size to crash the glass.

Jamison, returning for a second stint in Surrey after a move to Europe, is dominating the BBL with 12.8 rebounds per game, including 4.5 on the offensive boards. 

Jamison is a second-chance getter for the Scorchers. Tasked with limiting his effectiveness will be Riders’ young centre, Braelen Bridges.

The 6’10” Bridges, who can play anywhere in the front court, is more of a scoring big man than a pure rebounder but may have to adapt his game slightly to win the battle inside.

The former Georgia Bulldog is averaging more points per game than Jamison despite less minutes, and if he can combine those solid offensive skills with sturdiness under the rim, the Scorchers should see their scoring chances suffer.

The free-running guards may make the flashier plays on Friday, but the most important contest may be the one inside the paint.

Played for both- Evan Walshe

Evan Walshe, a Rider last season, suited up for Surrey during the 2020/21 season, scoring 7.9 points on 49% shooting from the field. Walshe helped the Scorchers to a 10-18 record, before departing to Spain. 

Walshe returned to British Basketball in 2021, signing with the Riders and winning the treble that season. He remained the following year, leading the team to victory with 15 points against the Caledonia Gladiators with 15 points and three rebounds. 

Walshe signed with the Manchester Giants this season, starting the year with 10.5 points per game. He hit the ground running with a 17-point game, and will look to make a further impression on the league this season.