The Riders face off in a win-or-go-home matchup against the Newcastle Eagles on Friday, the victor progressing to the Final Four in the British Basketball League Trophy.
The sides have shared centre stage in some of the biggest battles in British basketball history over the last decade and once again meet with the stakes at their highest.
Every Riders-Eagles fixture has been a battle so far this year, the Riders winning the season series so far 2-1.
Here’s how the teams have matched up…
Game 1- Newcastle Eagles 85-92 Leicester Riders
The teams first went face-to-face this season in the North East, and the Riders game out winners in the clutch.
It was a one-score game with 1:25 remaining, after Malcolm Delpeche got to the hoop and laid in a finish.
From there, it was a Riders onslaught on the free throw line, kicked off by Jaren Holmes’ and-one in transition. Kimbal Mackenzie finished it off from the stripe, making both attempts to seal a hard-earned win.
Miryne Thomas impressed throughout with his interior presence, going off for 17 points and 7 rebounds in a Player of the Game performance. He was backed by Mackenzie’s 16, as the captain went 8-10 from the free throw line.
Game 2- Newcastle Eagles 95-90 Leicester Riders
The Eagles had a chance to get back later that month and won in a war. Heated exchanges lasted throughout, seeing Newcastle’s star forward Tajh Green ejected from the game, but a 31-point explosion from Rickey McGill saw them win in a game that was contested wire-to-wire once again.
McGill went 6-10 from three, the Riders with no answer to his hot hand.
It was a one-possession game within the final two minutes after Miryne Thomas threw down a slam to cut the game to three. But this time it was Newcastle who finished strong, McGill scoring six down the stretch to win it for the hosts.
Thomas impressed again, putting up 22 point and 10 rebound double-double. But ultimately, Leicester were outgunned from deep, the Eagles shooting 54% from behind the arc and tying the season series at 1-1.
Game 3- Leicester Riders 111-88 Newcastle Eagles
Back in their own building, the Riders made a statement with a commanding win at the Morningside Arena.
Jaren Holmes went off for 28 points and 5 rebounds, going 4-5 from three in the win. The Riders were down 10 in the first quarter, but a dominant third saw them turn a close game at the half to a 20 point lead.
Holmes scored 13 on the run, and the Riders won the period 36-19 to burst out to a dominant lead.
Mackenzie put up another 16 in the game, matching up well against the Newcastle backcourt to go 5-8 from the field. It was Leicester’s turn to shoot the light out, led by Holmes, going 57% from three-point range.
Game 4- Win or go home
We’re back in Newcastle for our fourth meeting, in the most significant meeting between the sides so far this season.
Should the Riders secure their second win in Newcastle, they’ll have booked their place against the winner of Group A in the Utilita Arena, Birmingham.
The Riders’ roster has been revamped since the last meeting, with new signings Teddy Allen and Duke Shelton looking to face the Eagles for the first time.
Watch the clash live on Friday, on the British Basketball League’s YouTube channel!
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