Report: Riders fall to Flyers

Leicester Riders fell 108-71 on the road to the Bristol Flyers, making their record 15-14 in the British Basketball League Championship.

The Flyers led convincingly wire-to-wire, hitting shots consistently all afternoon. Tevin Olison went off for 31 points, and was one of three Flyers with over 20 points. 

Jaren Holmes led the Riders with 20 points and 3 rebounds. Despite their All-Star guard’s play,  Leicester lost the turnover battle 17-9, and shot 39% to the Flyers’ 49% in the defeat. 

The sides exchanged jabs through the first few minutes, the Flyers building a narrow advantage going into the first media timeout. They found joy getting to the rim, generating eight points in four minutes in close, giving the hosts an 11-7 lead with 4:41 left in the opening quarter. 

Bristol went on a run out of the break to stretch the difference to nine. An Olison and-one followed by a Levi Bradley long two sparked the run, allowing the Flyers to lead 32-20 after one. 

The momentum continued in the second quarter, the hosts building their lead to 16 midway through the period. Miryne Thomas and Jaren Holmes, with 10 and 9 points respectively, led the attempted comeback, but the Flyers had three scorers in double digits 15 minutes into the game in an offensive onslaught. 

The Flyers won the second 29-16, led by Tevin Olison who had 25 points at the half. Bristol shot 13-20 from the foul line in the first to the Riders 3-5, turned the ball over four times to the Riders eight, and shot 50% from the field to the Riders 36%.

Leicester trailed 61-36 at the half. 

The Riders chipped into the deficit in the third, but the Flyers hit big shots throughout to maintain their hefty advantage. Back to back Flyers’ threes rebuilt their lead, and an Olison corner triple made it 30. 

It was 92-57 with one to play, Blake Bowman ending the quarter from the foul line. 

The final quarter was a formality, with the game proving out of reach for the Riders. The Flyers won the fourth 16-14 to seal their win. 

Leicester returns to action after the All-Star break, hosting the Caledonia Gladiators on March 22. 

Scouting report: Bristol Flyers

Leicester Riders are set for their final game before the All-Star break, hitting the road to take on the Bristol Flyers.

The game features two teams with contrasting styles, looking to play the game on their own terms to take control of the fixture.

Here’s what the Riders can expect from Sunday’s opponents…

Battling on the boards 

Bristol have made their name on the boards this season, leading the League in total and offensive rebounds. The Flyers pull down an offensive board on 34.48% of their misses, leading to 11.87 second chance points per game. 

Their All-Star Brad Greene leads the League in this department, and is the only player averaging double digit rebounds in the British Basketball League this season. 

It’s a group effort on the boards, despite Greene’s dominance down low. Five players average over four a game, as the who roster crashes the glass every possession, from front court to back court. 

Sam Idowu’s outing last time the Riders faced Bristol neutralised their rebounding threat, however. He grabbed 14 boards to pair with 15 points, making the paint his own as the Riders took a Trophy win. 

Greene still pulled down 11 rebounds, but Leicetser won the rebounding battle 45-36 to take the victory. It will take the same level of effort on the glass to come away with the win in the South West. 

Points in the paint 

On the defensive end of the ball, the Flyers have a stifling defensive interior. They allow the fewest points in the paint of any team this season, allowing only 31.55 points per game around the basket. 

Bristol contest without fouling, ranking seventh in fouls per game, and their sixth ranked blocked shots ranking means they have found ways of preventing opponents from driving their way inside, and forcing difficult attempts when they do. 

The Riders rank third in points in the paint with 40.18 per outing, and will look to counteract Bristol’s interior defence to establish themselves inside. They can open up the rim from distance, however, with their second ranked 37.74% shooting from three. 

Bristol have not prevented the three at the same rate as the layup this season, allowing their opponents to shoot 35.8% from distance.

The Riders, with their sharpshooting quartet of Miryne Thomas, TJ Lall, Teddy Allen and Conner Washington who are each shooting over 40% from deep this season, will hope to continue their hot form from three to get points on the board. 

Setting the tempo

The game may feature a tug of war between two sides who play at opposite ends of the spectrum. 

Bristol plays a slow paced, half court brand of offence for the majority of their possessions. They play at the second slowest pace of any team in the League at 76.85, compared to the Riders who lead all teams at 80.61. 

The Riders continually want to get out and run in transition, using their speed and vision to push the pace and get easy looks at the rim.

In the halfcourt, they take shots early in the shot clock to maximise the amount of possessions they have in the game. 

Meanwhile the Flyers slow the tempo and grind down the shot clock, taking their shots deep into the clock through patient play. 

Both sides will look to establish the game at their tempo to take control of this matchup. 

Key Matchups- Bristol Flyers

Leicester Riders are set to take on the Bristol Flyers on the road, in their last game before the 2024 British Basketball League All-Star game.

Here are the key battles to watch in the game…

Brad Greene vs Sam Idowu

The Riders face the challenge of taking on the League’s leading rebounder in Brad Greene. The American, who was named the All-Star starter for the centre position, has averaged a double double this season with 12.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. 

Greene is a force on the offensive boards. He leads all players in offensive rebounds with 3.9 per game, on a team that grabs the most rebounds of any team this season. 

The 6’11” California native went off for 19 points and 17 rebounds against the Riders in December, grabbing 14 offensive rebounds. 

In the rematch, however, in January, Riders big man Sam Idowu was his equal. Greene was held to 7 points, while Idowu muscled his way to 15 points, 14 rebounds and 2 blocks, pulling down 5 offensive rebounds going against Greene. 

Idowu has been a physical force inside the paint off the bench for the Riders this season, . He has the size, the physicality and the hustle to contest Greene on the boards, and limit the Flyers’ second chance opportunities.  

Trejon Jacob vs TJ Lall

Despite his team’s loss, Trejon Jacob led the Flyers in a spirited performance last time against Leicester, scoring 16 points with 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. 

He scored 10 points in the third to keep Bristol in the game, but the visitors couldn’t capitalise on the offensive momentum, and Leicester kept their opponents at arm’s length. 

Jacob has averaged 17 points in the last two games against Leicester, finding joy putting points on the board. The American is putting up 12.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game committing to the glass from the wing. 

Tasked with helping to slow Jacob down will be Canadian wing TJ Lall, who is coming off the back of a Team of the Week selection for his performance against the Cheshire Phoenix.  

With leading scorer Teddy Allen and captain Kimbal Mackenzie ejected from the game, Lall stepped up in the fourth against the Phoenix to lead the team to a win. He scored seven to start the quarter, bringing his game tally to 22 points and 7 rebounds. 

Lall has made his name as an elite two-way wing, able to impact every facet of a contest. His size and length, combined with his playmaking and shooting ability, makes him a versatile threat on the offensive end.

On defence, Lall can pick up all five positions, and will feel comfortable going up against Jacob’s scoring threat from the wing. Should Jacob get hot again in this one, Coach Rob Paternostro will feel confident in Lall’s ability to stem the tide. 

Tevin Olison vs Jaren Holmes

Alongside Greene, Bristol’s other All-Star on their roster is Memphis-born guard Tevin Olison, who is shining in his second season as a pro. 

Olison is Bristol’s leading scorer, averaging 15.8 points per game on 46.5% shooting from the field. He’s taken a step up from his rookie year, where he averaged 10 points as a rookie for the Flyers. 

Olison missed the previous two fixtures against the Riders through injury, but played at home against Leicester at the start of the season. He scored 17 points on 37.5% shooting from three, leading his team’s scoring in a 92-74 Riders win. 

Going face to face with Olison in the backcourt will be Leicester’s own All-Star, Jaren Holmes, who has been playing elite hoops of late. 

He went off for 15 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists in the game, stepping up alongside Lall. Holmes has gone off for big performances throughout the year, and is the Riders’ second leading scorer on the season. 

Michigan-born Holmes is putting up 13.2 points and 4.4 rebounds from the backcourt, and can go toe-to-toe with any guard in the League on both ends of the ball. 

Expect a battle between the two All-Star guards in Bristol.

Report: Riders beat Flyers to start Trophy campaign

Leicester Riders began their British Basketball League Trophy campaign with a bang, beating the Bristol Flyers 95-74. 

Teddy Allen dropped his second 30-point performance as a Rider, putting up 30 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists to earn Player of the Game honours. 

He was backed by Sam Idowu off the bench, whose impact inside prevented second-chance points for the Flyers, and prevented star big man Brad Greene from dominating the matchup as he did two weeks prior. 

Greene was held to 7 points, and the Flyers to 9 offensive rebounds, below their season average of 13.4, which leads the British Basketball League. 

The Riders’ offence was clicking throughout, shooting 50% from the field, and found success at the rim to shoot 64% from the field. Idowu and Allen combined for 14-19 from within the arc. 

Miryne Thomas’ 7 points to start the game led the Riders to an early lead. He hit the team’s first three of the game before getting to work down low for his next two buckets, making it 11-9 to the hosts. 

Following the first commercial timeout, the Riders blew the game open. A barrage of Riders offence, which included a four-point play from Allen who drained a three through contact, saw them grow the lead to double digits after a quarter. 

The Riders made it 20 quickly in the second quarter. Veteran guard Conner Washington pulled up from deep three-point range to get the period underway before Allen dropped Rowell Graham-Bell with a crossover and hit a triple. 

Allen, catching fire and running in transition, then connected with Thomas, who threw down a lob pass emphatically for the play of the game. Leicester won the second 30-17, and led 57-32 at the half, led by Allen’s 15 and Thomas’ 11 points. 

Idowu made his impact felt off the bench. Getting to the rim with ease, he went 6-7 from the field in the first half, logging 13 points and six rebounds. 

Towards the end of the third, Bristol clawed back into contention with hot three-point shooting. They cut it to 18 after Kedrian Johnson and Trejon Jacob hit on back-to-back possessions, but Kimbal Mackenzie drove to the hoop for an and-one to stem the tide. 

The captain drained a three next time down with 1:30 to go to make it 73-49. Jacob ended the third with a slam in transition, the Riders up 21 with a quarter to play. 

Washington got the final quarter going, hitting a turnaround catch-and-shoot three with a hand in his face. 

The Flyers continued to battle, chipping into the lead once again in the fourth. Forced a Riders timeout, the score 81-64 with 7:06 left. 

The Riders fell back on their defence, holding Bristol to four points in as many minutes to keep them at arm’s length. Allen and Jaren Holmes combined for five quick points with three minutes left to put the game beyond doubt, with Leicester up 22. 

The Riders return to action on Sunday, facing the London Lions on the road, before returning home to play the Manchester Giants on Wednesday, tipping off at 7:45 pm.

Get tickets here!

Statement: Bristol Flyers Fixture Unavailable for Live Stream Viewing

Due to adjustments in this week’s fixtures, our Trophy fixture against the Bristol Flyers on Friday, January 5, will not be available to be viewed via live stream. 

The game, tipping off at 7 pm at Morningside Arena Leicester, will therefore only be able to be watched in person at the Arena. 

You can purchase tickets for the game here.

If you cannot attend the fixture, we will be providing updates throughout the game on our social media channels. 

We apologise for any inconvenience caused. 

Trophy Preview: Riders vs Flyers

The Riders begin 2024 by welcoming the Bristol Flyers to the Morningside Arena in Round One of the British Basketball League Trophy.

The competition’s format has been revamped this season, placing Rob Paternostro’s squad in Group B with the championship-leading London Lions, the in-form Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles, the dangerous Manchester Giants and the always-tough Flyers.

READ MORE: 2024 Trophy format explained!

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs Bristol Flyers

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Friday, January 5, 7:00pm

Get tickets here!

One Shot Away

Riders’ fans will be keen to see the return of the British Basketball League Trophy competition after last season’s second-round exit to the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks. The pure knockout format saw the Riders play just two games – both on the road.

The opening round was an entertaining 114-107 victory in Manchester, the Riders benefitting from a deadly night of three-pointers from Marc Loving and Zach Jackson, who finished with 32 and 25 points each.

Fellow former Rider Patrick Whelan also splashed for 20 points, and current Riders’ captain Kimbal Mackenzie dropped 18 in a typically energetic display.

Both Loving and Whelan pulled down enough rebounds for a double-double as the Riders matched an excellent rebounding team in the Giants.

Posting double-doubles will be tough for the current Leicester squad against a Flyers team containing Brad Greene (17 boards against the Riders on December 28) but look for 2024’s power forward-shooting guard duo of Miryne Thomas and Teddy Allen to replicate Loving and Whelan.

The second-round loss told the opposite story for last season’s squad, who fired more shots than the Sharks but only converted at a 17% clip from deep.

Loving, Jackson and Mackenzie once more led the way for the Riders in the box score, but only four of their 23 three-ball attempts hit the mark, allowing the Sharks to take advantage of a rare night of inaccuracy.

The current crop of Riders ended 2023 with a clash against the Sharks and the ball hit nothing but net from downtown. Leicester’s shooting percentage has been a major strength this season, demonstrated by the team hitting 50% from inside the arc, 51% from beyond it and 87% from the free throw line in the victory on December 30.

If the Riders want to get their Trophy campaign off to a flyer, they need to learn from the mistakes of last season’s second-round performance.

An Early Exit

If Riders’ supporters were starved of Trophy action, the Flyers’ faithful must be ravenous after last year’s first-round exit to the Surrey Scorchers.

Bristol hosted the Southeasterners and – given the form of each team – will have been confident of victory. However, in a minor shock the Scorchers rode the hot hands of Padiet Wang and Boban Jacdonmi to claim a deserved 78-72 win.

The Flyers, who have struggled hitting from the floor efficiently this season, suffered the same woes last January, dropping only 37% of their field goals despite having 12 more attempts than the visitors.

They also failed to outrebound Surrey, a problem 2024’s squad do not have. 

Assisted by their hulking centre Greene and a brilliant showing from Rowell Graham-Bell, the Flyers bested the Riders on the boards 48-40 on December 28, and after a poor first half, shot accurately enough in the second half to take the win.

Leicester allowed Friday’s first-round opponents too many second-chance points the last time they visited the Morningside. Victory may hinge on how well the Riders’ frontcourt manages to box out the ball-hunting Greene.

Key Matchup

As previously mentioned, the battle to grab missed shots between Brad Greene and the Riders’ ‘bigs’ is going to be huge, but the supplementary scoring from Rowell Graham-Bell and Miryne Thomas could become the deciding factor in the game.

Versatile British forward Graham-Bell showed the Riders how effective he can be in a supporting role in their last game. 

The 29-year-old’s experience led him to 14 points and eight boards – all on the defensive end of the court – despite dealing with two personal fouls early in the game.

A journeyman who has played primarily in Spain, Graham-Bell is a big-bodied defender who has the range to pull up for long two balls or the occasional three. 

He is averaging just north of ten points per game as the Flyers’ fourth scoring option and has nearly broken the 20-point barrier on several occasions.

Aiming to use his speed and athleticism to outplay Graham-Bell will be Riders’ rookie Miryne Thomas.

On form Thomas has proven to be one of the most devastating power forwards in the league, able to blend his offence between high-flying jams and picturesque threes.

The young American is also improving dramatically on defence, using his length and timing to block multiple shots a game.

The Ohioan is currently in sparkling form, earning a spot on the British Basketball League Team of the Week for superb performances against the Sharks and the Flyers.

Thomas is averaging a cool 12 points per game this season and has posted multiple double-doubles.

He will need to continue that form into the Trophy. The first obstacle is Graham-Bell and the Flyers.

How to watch

This game will not be available to view via live-stream. Therefore, the only way to watch the action is at the Arena.

You can purchase tickets for the game here.

If you cannot attend the fixture, we will be providing updates throughout the game on our social media channels. 

Report: Riders fall to Flyers

The Riders were unable to make it a three-game winning streak after a tight 87-81 loss to the 11-11 Bristol Flyers in round 16 of the British Basketball League Championship.

Rob Paternostro’s team remains seventh in the standings with a 9-11 record and hopes to finish the year with a win against the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks in two days.

The home team outscored their opponents from three-point range, and strong first-half defence held the Flyers to just 33 points, but a record-breaking game on the offensive glass by Brad Greene willed the visitors to victory.

The powerful centre put up a 19-point, 17-rebound double-double, which included a franchise record of 14 offensive boards.

The Riders spread scoring nicely, with five players dropping double-digit point totals, led by 17 from Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen who started the game on the court for the first time.

Forwards Miryne Thomas and Samuel Idowu both gave good accounts facing up to physical inside play from the Flyers, scoring 10 and 11 points respectively, and Kimbal Mackenzie hit some clutch shots down the stretch to keep the Riders in touching distance.

The Flyers’ Greene was supported by second-half scoring runs spearheaded through Trejon Jacob and Kedrian Johnson, who dropped 18 points apiece, largely helped by the second chances provided by their double-double machine.

The opening minutes of the game began with rare inaccurate shooting by the Riders, who missed their first four attempts allowing the Flyers to build an early six-point lead.

Visiting power forward Rowell Graham-Bell made space for a couple of buckets early, but the Morningside Arena didn’t have to wait too long before Teddy ‘Buckets’ gave fans a reason to cheer.

The wing forward hit high off the glass to open the Riders’ account before casually pulling up from three and draining the game’s opening triple.

The home side’s defence soon started to cause the Flyers problems too, big centre Mo Walker standing up well in the paint against the hulking Greene, forcing missed shots that regularly allowed the Riders to spring a fast break attack.

Excellent defence led to the most eye-catching moment of the quarter, Walker jamming home in transition after a spectacular block by lengthy forward Thomas.

Thomas then splashed from deep to give Leicester the lead and complete the mini-comeback, but tenacious offensive rebounding from the Flyers’ front court (they finished the half with seven) saw them take advantage of the second chances to head into the second quarter with a two-point lead.

The second ten minutes tipped off with a clash of styles, as the Riders’ speed faced off against the Flyers’ size.

Both teams found increased success on the offensive side of the court, but it was Paternostro who appeared the happier as his small second unit built a multiple-shot lead.

High-flyer Blake Bowman led the way, finessing a tough step back jumper before displaying his famed euro step to hit a transition layup. Bowman’s buckets came either side of a picturesque Sechan Russell three, and the Riders were gaining momentum.

A Leslie Smith ‘and one’ slowed the home side’s roll for a minute, but a classic Conner Washington three and a beautifully destructive TJ Lall dunk kept the scoreboard ticking in Leicester’s favour.

The Riders’ defence caused nine first half turnovers for the Flyers and, coupled with good ball movement on the other end of the court, the lead grew.

A late dry spell allowed Bristol to close the gap, but another three from Teddy ‘Buckets’ and a tough layup by captain Mackenzie pushed the Riders to a 38-33 half-time lead.

The defence limited Bristol to a scoreless half from three-point range, and the home fans knew that a better shooting percentage from Leicester would give them a great chance at victory.

The third quarter began with Allen in heat check mode, stringing his 12th point to open the half before another transitional three found its mark.

The Flyers would develop effective offense of their own though, Jacob heating up after a cold first half assisted by Greene’s insatiable appetite on the glass.

The 6’11” big man’s quality play was only trumped by the 16 third quarter points for the red-hot Jacob.

The Riders needed to halt their opponents’ momentum, and a strong rebound from Idowu who put back the easy layup did the trick.

Still, 31 third quarter points from the Flyers catapulted them into a four-point lead, with a lot to do for Paternostro’s squad heading into the closing stanza.

Lall got the Riders off to the perfect possible start, facing up to the much larger Smith to finish at the rim. Idowu soon followed suit and when Jaren Holmes hit his first big three of the night, Leicester retook the lead.

A momentum-stealing takeaway and jam from Holmes saw the home side on a 9-2 run, forcing the Flyers to take a timeout and rethink.

Kapoulas’ squad did manage to swing the pendulum back in their favour, going on a nine-point run of their own, although a crucial five points by captain Mackenzie kept Leicester in contention.

More glass-eating from Greene saw him break the Flyers’ franchise record for offensive rebounds in a game, and the Riders were facing a five-point deficit with 90 seconds left.

A timely block by Idowu gave the home crowd hope, but a couple of calls that went the Flyers’ way allowed the visitors to ice the game.

The Riders return to action on Saturday, hosting the Sheffield Sharks in their final game of 2023. Get tickets here!

Championship Preview: Riders vs Flyers

The Riders’ penultimate game of 2023 sees them host the 10-11 Bristol Flyers, the first contest of a three-game stretch in the Morningside Arena.

Thursday night’s tilt gives Rob Paternostro’s squad the chance of a three-game winning streak, and victory could see the Riders leapfrog their visitors in the British Basketball League championship.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs Bristol Flyers

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Thursday, December 28, 7:45pm

Get tickets here!

A Strong End to the Year

After a tricky start to December – three tough losses to the top two teams in the league – the Riders have picked up their play, downing the Caledonia Gladiators 96-90 before a double-digit win in Manchester.

The introduction of Teddy Allen has energised the entire roster, and performances on both ends of the court have risen as a result.

Leicester’s offence remains one of the most potent in Britain, highlighted by a field goal efficiency of 46.9% and 38.2% accuracy from beyond the arc.

Since Allen’s debut, the Riders have married their efficiency with production from three-point range, outshooting both the Gladiators and the Giants from deep.

The American has taken the plaudits – averaging 26.5 points per game – but the play of Kimbal Mackenzie was also key to the Riders’ improved fortunes.

Leicester’s captain steered his team to victory in both games by taking responsibility in clutch moments, knowing when to drive to the basket for a quick two or stopping and popping in all areas of the court.

The point guard’s leadership has been evident in the last few weeks, and it will be needed again on Thursday night in a tough game with the Flyers.

A Tough Flyers Stretch

Bristol’s 76-66 loss in Sheffield on December 22 was the Flyers’ seventh in their last ten games, dropping them down the British Basketball League standings with a below .500 record.

Andreas Kapoulas’ team struggled for consistent offence against the stingy Sharks, being held to just 11 points in the first and third quarters.

The Flyers – as has been the case for much of the season – dominated the offensive glass, snagging 15 offensive rebounds, but a 32% field goal percentage hampered them.

Field goal percentage is something Thursday’s visitors have wrestled with throughout the season, currently sitting near the bottom of the league on 41.5%.

The majority of the Flyers’ ten wins have come from out-hustling their opponents on the boards. Skilled big man Brad Greene and lengthy forward Raphell Thomas-Edwards are two players home fans need to look out for, the hardworking duo combining for an average of 17 rebounds per game.

Their physical play in the frontcourt gives dangermen like Trejon Jacob extra chances to hit buckets.

The quick wing player dropped 23 points on the Sharks, carrying his team’s offence by combining athletic inside moves with touch from three-point range.

The Flyers may not have the most feared offence in the league, but letting a player like Jacob get hot could be a losing strategy for the Riders.

Key Players

Jacob may have taken charge against the Sharks in round 15, but the juiciest matchup on Thursday night may come between big men, Brad Greene and Samuel Idowu.

Greene, who joined the Flyers from Austrian outfit OCS Capital Bulls this season, is a hulking 6’11” centre who possesses moves in the post that bely his size.

The Californian is averaging a near double-double, sinking 12.5 points per game and pulling down 9.6 rebounds per game, illustrating his dominance in the paint.

Greene’s finest outing came a couple of weeks ago against the in-form Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles as he put up a 27 and 14 double-double to lead the Flyers to a dominant victory.

Facing the former Irvine Anteater from the bench will be the rangy Idowu.

Idowu is an experienced front-court baller who has grown into the season, providing a defensive wall in the paint and an ability to score in the post, off the dribble or from deep range.

The fourth-year veteran gives up some size to Greene but makes up for it with tenacity, shown in a ten-rebound performance against the Giants, and a season-best 18-point showing against Cheshire in November.

Greene and Idowu may not share the court at the opening tip-off, but Riders’ fans can expect a titanic battle when they do.

Riders Trophy fixture vs Flyers rearranged

Our British Basketball League Trophy fixture against the Bristol Flyers has been rearranged.

The game, previously expected to be played on January 6 at 7 pm, will now take place on January 5 at 7 pm.

Tickets purchased for the original fixture will still be valid for the rearranged date.

For those who have purchased tickets and can no longer make the game, please get in touch with [email protected] to exchange them for a new fixture.

Want to see us tip off our British Basketball League Trophy campaign against the Flyers?

Get tickets here!

Report: Riders take win in Bristol

Leicester Riders took a convincing win on the road, beating the Bristol Flyers 92-74. Miryne Thomas led the game with 18 points, shooting 7-10 from the field in a red-hot performance. 

Supporting Thomas in a strong team display was Xavier Pinson, whose playmaking provided an offensive spark throughout. He dished a game-high nine assists to pair with his 17 points, pulling the strings with his flashy passing. 

The Riders cooked from deep, going to come away with victory in their first road game of the season. They exploded out to a 37-10 lead after a quarter, and fended off a Flyers second-quarter comeback to see the game out comfortably. 

In contrast, the South Westerners struggled to get their three-ball falling, going 6-31. American guard Tevin Olison was the hot hand for Bristol, putting up 17 points and shooting 37% from range. 

The win improved Leicester’s record to 2-1 early in the season after last week’s win against Plymouth. 

The Riders charged out the gate, forcing turnovers from the Flyers, which led to points in transition. Thomas hit a three from the corner with five minutes gone to make it a 20-2 Leicester lead. 

Thomas dominated the paint in the opening stages. His buckets inside set the tone for the Riders’ explosion to start the game, his interior play opening up the three for his tenth points of the game. 

Leicester caught fire from deep, hitting tough deep shots consistently to extend their advantage. Kimbal Mackenzie concluded the first, his turnaround jumper making it 37-10 in their favour. 

The Flyers showed fight in the second, scoring the first seven points of the quarter to cut into their deficit. They crashed the offensive glass to generate second possessions and generate momentum. 

British forward Raphell Thomas-Edwards had five offensive rebounds and 11 points by the half, Bristol’s rebounding making it a single-digit game after the Riders led by 27 after one. 

The Riders responded coming out of the break, stretching the lead back to 16 following a pair of contested Xavier Pinson triples.

With the Riders having snatched back momentum, Thomas heated up once again, hitting a three off a no-look Pinson pass, and an and-one play next time up the floor. 

Thomas forced a Flyers timeout with a minute and a half left in the third, making it 72-52 and bagging his 18th points. 

With a significant lead in the final period, the Riders saw the game out in the fourth, keeping Bristol at arm’s length until the buzzer.

The Riders play the second game of their two-game road trip on Friday, taking on the Newcastle Eagles. Newcastle look to bounce back after their first loss of the season last time out, so expect a fiercely fought encounter between long-standing rivals in British Basketball. 

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home fixture!

Preview: Riders at Flyers

On Saturday, the Riders will play their first road game of the British Basketball Championship season as they visit the SGS College Arena to face the Bristol Flyers.

Coach Rob Paternostro’s squad will travel to Bristol in high spirits after a hard-fought 88-81 victory over the Plymouth City Patriots last Friday.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders @ Bristol Flyers

SGS College Arena, Bristol

Saturday, September 30, 8:00pm

Watch live!

Riders Aiming to Build Winning Streak

After the bounce-back win in round two, the Riders will want to back up the victory with more of the same in the upcoming two-week road trip.

Leicester will face adversity against the Flyers and the upgraded Serios Group Newcastle Eagles, but the triumph over Plymouth demonstrated that this group is packed with resilience.

Trailing by 10, deep into the third quarter, Paternostro’s squad dug deep to wrestle back momentum through aggression at the rim and reliable free throw shooting.

Former Iowa State guard, Jaren Holmes, was a key part of the comeback and should be a focal point of the Riders’ offence come Saturday night.

Holmes is currently getting to the foul line eight times a game and hitting at an impressive rate of 88%. The abilities of both Holmes and captain Kimbal Mackenzie to draw fouls could be crucial to building a lead in this one.

Mackenzie himself had a difficult three-quarters last Friday, but his refusal to stop taking shots paid off, and he ended the game with a well-earned seven points – incidentally, the difference between the Riders and their opponents.

Leicester’s captain is the epitome of confidence, a trait that the Riders need to take into their matchup with the Flyers if they are to get the better of a team that finished third in the championship last season.

Riders’ thoughts

Texas-born guard Caleb Asberry made is Riders debut against the Plymouth City Patriots, and impressed in front of his home crowd. 

“It felt good to be back, especially because I’ve been out for a little while. It felt good to be out there with the guys,” said Asberry. 

After finding rhythm in the second half last Friday, Asberry looks for the team to put in a performance for the full 40 in this one. 

“Everybody needs to buy in, and play our roles. That’s all it’s going to take: doing the small things.

“We’ve been watching a lot of film, and Bristol play hard. The rebound well from all five spots, so we’ll have to box out well. That’s been our main struggle, so we’re going to have to execute there.”

Bristol’s 2022/2023 in Review

An impressive 25-11 record in the BBL Championship saw Bristol place third in the standings last season, before making it to the Playoff semi-finals. The Flyers were unable to make it to the O2 Arena however, losing to the Riders by three points on aggregate in a hotly contested series.

A surprise defeat to the Surrey Scorchers in the BBL Trophy and a loss to the London Lions in the Cup wrapped up a promise-filled season that ended without a trophy.

Key players for the Flyers were Basketball Journalists Association Player of the Year, VJ King, and the winner of the BJA Pete Jacques Award for British Player of the Year, Jelani Watson-Gayle.

King was the heart of Bristol’s offensive production, dropping 17 points a night at a 44% clip.

Watson-Gayle assisted King with pinpoint accuracy from deep, knocking down 38.9% of his three-point attempts whilst averaging 11.7 points a game.

The Flyers, who will be without the award-winning duo this season, will nonetheless be hoping to remain a force to be reckoned with in the BBL.

Flyers Replace Key Pieces

Bristol managed to retain a large part of their roster for the current season, but lost the services of star players, VJ King, Jelani Watson-Gayle and Thomas Bell.

King moved to Germany to hit buckets for the Hamburg Towers, Bell will play in the Czech National League after a good rookie season with the Flyers and Watson-Gayle has not returned after playing for Winnipeg in the summer.

The Flyers responded by making four off-season moves, notably signing 6’11” centre, Brad Greene, from the Kapfenberg Bulls.

The American led the Austrian Basketball League in rebounds last season and put up 22 double-doubles for the Bulls.

Greene has carried that form into the BBL early, averaging over 14 points and seven rebounds in his first couple of outings.

Finding ways to combat Greene in the paint on both ends of the floor will be vital if the Riders want to come away with the dub.

It will be a tough task for the Flyers, however, as they took on the London Lions on the road on Thursday night, falling 98-84 to start the season 1-2.

Played for Both

Northampton-born power forward Shane Walker has suited up for both the Riders and the Flyers.

The 35-year-old played six years of basketball in the BBL, occupying the Riders’ front court between 2015 and 2018 before consecutive stints with the London Lions and Flyers.

Walker averaged 6.9 points per game in his three seasons with the Riders and became an important piece of a squad that won three BBL Championships, three BBL Trophies and two BBL Playoff titles. 

The 6’10” big man also earned a place in the England squad for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, helping the national team reach the quarter-finals.

Walker most recently competed in the UK with the Flyers in 2021/22, taking to the court on 23 occasions averaging 3.5 points per game.

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Rob’s Reflections on a tough visit to Bristol and an opportunity to bounce back this Weekend

Leicester Riders Head Coach Rob Paternostro was left frustrated after Riders let another game get away, as Bristol Flyers came from behind to beat Riders for the second time this season 73-69 on Friday night.

Riders had a first half lead of 13 points, and were still up 9 points at halftime, and were 6 points to the good entering the final quarter, but failed to execute down the stretch.

Josh Ward-Hibbert led the way for Riders with 13 points and 7 rebounds and Darien Nelson Henry added 12 points and 7 rebounds.

“We let another game get away from us and it really should not have happened.”

“We controlled most of the game, but struggled to execute when it mattered.”

“This has happened a couple of times too often this season, and we must address it as a team.”

“It was not a matter of their defence, because we got the openings we wanted, and very few of our misses were poor shots which is a positive on the offensive end.”

“We still have a lot of work to do, to get this team to its potential and I will be looking for a reaction this week.”

“Fortunately everyone is dropping games at the minute as the league is so competitive, so we have the chance to recover.”

“The guys now have the perfect opportunity to bounce back this Friday.”

Riders now look to get back to winning ways in the BBL Championship when they take on Manchester Giants this Friday night in an 8pm Tip at the Morningside Arena. Riders have already beaten the Giants twice in the BBL Cup, 96-57 in Manchester, and 102-70 at home. CLICK HERE to purchase your tickets!

Rob’s reflections on 500 games in charge and a busy last weekend

Leicester Riders Head Coach Rob Paternostro had a mixed weekend, as he went through the milestone for 500 games in the BBL as a coach, splitting a pair of games in the BBL Championship.

Riders had to work very hard for their sixth straight league win over Sheffield Sharks 87-80 on Saturday night, but then struggled to recover on the road on Sunday afternoon against the London Lions, going down heavily 99-65.

Against Sheffield, Riders led from the middle of the first quarter and had a twenty point lead midway through the third quarter, but the Sharks got back within a single shot in the final thirty seconds, before a Kyron Cartwright steal sealed the result.

Cartwright scored 10 points and dished out 11 assists, and Andy Thomson had a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds. Namon Wright finished with 20 points on 67% shooting along with 5 assists.

Against the Lions Riders scored the first basket of the game, but the Lions scored the next 21 points and never looked back. Only Darien Nelson-Henry troubled the Lions with 17 points and 6 rebounds.

“It was disappointing on Sunday for sure, because we never got going.”

“These back-to-back games with so little recovery time are a mental as well as a physical challenge, and we did not handle it well.”

“The Sheffield performance was excellent at times, but they are always tough, physical affairs, and this one was no different.”

“The win took a lot out of us, because we were hanging on at the end.”

“But we know the Championship is going to be tight this year and we are still sitting on just 3 losses, as good as anybody.”

“it is about quickly putting that loss behind us and getting back on the horse.”

Riders now go on the road to Bristol Flyers this Friday night in the BBL Championship.

The Riders return to the Morningside Arena on Friday March 13th when they take on the Manchester Giants, CLICK HERE to purchase your tickets!