Leicester Riders improved to 4-1 with a 92-74 win against the Surrey Scorchers.
Here’s how the team reacted to the win…
The Riders blew the game open in the third quarter, holding the Scorchers to five points over an eight-minute stretch. Head Coach Rob Paternostro credited the defensive success to the team’s work on the glass.
“Defensively, we were solid when we started rebounding. We had trouble on the boards early, and they had 15 offensive rebounds in the first half. Once that picked up, it was a solid night for us.
“I don’t think we played particularly well offensively at times, there was some sloppy play, but all in all it was a really good game with contributions from a lot of players on the bench tonight.”
The Riders got 47 of their points off the bench, led by Player of the Game Kimbal Mackenzie who put up 22.
“Kimbal of course played well with those numbers, and I think the rest of the unit did a really good job on defence. TJ Lall and Conner gave us some really good minutes, and it’s nice to have a bench you have confidence in.
“That becomes especially relevant when you play back-to-back games. Nobody played more than 26 minutes tonight, so it was a total team effort.”
The team returns to action tonight on the road against the Manchester Giants. Paternostro spoke on how he plans to prepare the team for the clash.
“Ice baths for the guys! But overall, we’ve got to be focused. When you play a back-to-back, you don’t have an opportunity to talk about that team until the day of the game, so tomorrow we’ll have a meeting to go over them.
“They’re a talented team that played London close last week, so it’s going to be really important to utilise the bench.”
Mackenize led the game with 22 points, six rebounds and six assists, his best statistical performance of the season to date.
He saw the positives of the victory, while recognising the team did not execute a perfect game.
“It was a good win. Any time you can get one in the win column it’s a good thing in this league.”
“We were a little better on the glass than we had been the rest of the game. Today, we were good in stretches and not so good in other stretches, but that’s the nature of the early season. We need to keep getting better.”
The newly formed group have hit the ground running, winning four games on the bounce.
“I’m proud of the guys. Everyone is coming into their own and starting to find themselves as a team. We have a lot of room to grow, and everyone on the team will tell you that, but we’re definitely glad to get four in a row.”
After the Riders’ opening night loss to the Cheshire Phoenix, the Riders have bounced back emphatically, putting themselves in a positive position going into the rest of the year.
Riders forward Sam Idowu said the loss made it clear to the team that they needed to lock in.
“The opening game set the tone for us to turn things around quickly, so I’m glad we reacted positively, and that’s led to a four-game winning streak. It feels good to have done that, and we all want to keep the ball rolling and build momentum.”
Idowu matched up against Scorchers big man Saiquan Jamison, who battled on the boards all evening. He finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, but had more joy in the first half than the second.
“Stopping him was something we prioritised. We recognised we needed to keep him off the glass, so it was about boxing him out and being the first to react to the ball coming off the rim.
“We wanted to make sure they didn’t build any momentum from offensive rebounds. We didn’t do a good job of that early, but in the second half, we controlled the glass.”
Idowu had nine points and nine rebounds in the game, making his presence known on the inside. He also drained a three to extend the Riders’ lead in the third.
“It felt good to step outside and hit a three. Being versatile really helps open up different parts of my game, so that’s something I’ll keep working on.”
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