Retro night preview: Riders vs Eagles

Today sees the Riders return to Morningside Arena after their southern road trip to tip off against the Newcastle Eagles.

Leicester have the chance to go equal on points with Bristol in the BBL championship, after both teams suffered defeat on Friday night.

Sunday’s contest will carry added flavour for fans as it is one of this season’s ‘Retro Nights’. Old school tunes will be playing, BBL legends will be making an appearance and the Riders will be donning their 1987 jersey’s worn during the first ever BBL Championship.

It promises to be a fantastic celebration of the club’s history.

Riders’ Season So Far

Friday proved to be an exhilarating yet ultimately frustrating night for the Riders, who came back from a 20-point deficit to push the London Lions to the final shot in an 83-81 loss.

Leicester’s players proved their resilience and had the chance to send the game to overtime in the final seconds, but Carrington Love’s shot bounced off the rim at the buzzer.

The starting point guard led the team in scoring on the night, racking up 17 points and six assists in an all-action, attacking display.

With Marc Loving sidelined through injury, Blake Bowman answered the call to start at forward. The young Brit performed well, dropping five late points after a solid defensive display in which he pulled down six rebounds, snagged one steal and rose for a block.

Strong bench performances came from Kimbal Mackenzie and Evan Walshe, both notching double-digit point totals.

Despite sustaining their 10th loss of the season, the Riders will feel confident that they can go toe-to-toe with the best the BBL has to offer during the final stretch of the season.

Eagles’ Season So Far

Newcastle’s record sits at 8-23 after Friday’s 82-71 loss in Sheffield to the in-form Sharks. The Eagles allowed Sheffield to build a double-digit lead early and were simply unable to claw their way back into the game.

Kyle Johnson had a great day ball-in-hand, putting up 26 points at a 64% clip, but the Eagles lacked much support from their bench.

Lack of offensive firepower that performs consistently has affected the Eagles for most of the season.

They have the players on court to trouble any team in the BBL – they just need to put it all together more often, especially now the chance is there to catch Plymouth in the last playoff position.

The recent two-game series between the Eagles and the Riders was split one apiece.

Leicester know that a full 40-minute performance is needed to see off Newcastle’s challenge.

Key Players

Currently, no player is catching the eye on the Eagles’ roster as much as the aforementioned Kyle Johnson.

The guard has dropped over 15 points in his last four outings including the 26 he posted against the Sharks.

Standing at 6’5”, the Brit brings power and athleticism to the guard position, as well as a tenacity that has seen him snag over 10 rebounds in a game when playing at small forward.

A player with the size, strength and attitude to match up against Johnson is the Riders’ action man, Zach Jackson.

Jackson has the tools to go basket-for-basket with Johnson, something he has demonstrated over the last three games where he is averaging over 20 PPG.

The 6’7” American combines speed with a soft touch and – at his best – is possibly the most devastating scorer in the BBL.

Fans attending the Morningside arena on Sunday can’t predict the result. What they can predict is that Jackson and Johnson could have an almighty battle of buckets.

Where to watch

The game will be streamed live on the British Basketball League youtube channel, starting at 3:45 pm.