The Riders face off against the Plymouth City Patriots on Friday for their second game of the season, looking to even up their record at 1-1.
Here, we look back at last season’s series between the two sides.
The Riders took the season sweep against the Patriots last year, winning all four of their games against the South Westerners.
Kimbal Mackenzie in particular had success in the matchup, putting up two 20-point scoring nights, including a 23-point and seven-assist performance in late March.
Leicester averaged over 100 points against the Patriots last season, Rob Paternostro’s side finding the holes in Plymouth’s defence consistently.
They concluded the season against Plymouth with a 111-68 win, with Mackenzie putting up 20 points in the game.
The Riders needed every point of Mackenzie’s 23-point outing in March, as the Riders and Patriots played out a game wire-to-wire.
It was a 92-89 Leicester win at the Morningside Arena come the final buzzer, with the game was in the balance throughout.
Mackenzie finished the fixture with a pair of free throws to put the Riders up three, before Elivis Dusha’s three-point attempt was blocked by Marc Loving to conclude the action.
But Plymouth’s Rashad Hassan who put a late scare into his former team with a minute left, making a layup to cut it to one and coming up with a block on the next possession to give the Patriots a chance to take a late lead.
The Riders saw the game out through a clutch steal from Jubril Adekoya and Mackenzie’s free throws, and went on to secure second place in the league table.
Battle of the backcourt
This season featured revamped rosters on both sides, making Friday’s action a different task for the Riders than they faced last season.
The matchup in the backcourt remains the same, however, as Mackenzie faces up against Plymouth captain Elvisi Dusha.
Dusha had a pair of team-leading performances last season, putting up 24 points in the first matchup between the sides and 19 points later in the year.
Both games were in Plymouth, so Dusha will look to see his performances translate to the Morningside Arena floor to challenge Mackenzie in this one.
Leicester Riders took a 99-64 win in the annual pre-season “Red vs Purple” fixture against Loughborough University.
Miryne Thomas led the Riders with 17 points, in a game, backed up by 15 from Jaren Holmes.
After a tightly contested opening exchange, with Loughbroough’s Justin Hedley’s five quick points making it 10-8 to the hosts after five minutes, the Riders seized control of the game.
Miryne Thomas made an immediate impression on the Riders faithful with eight first-quarter points, and a highlight throw down from Jaren Holmes’ lob pass.
Leicester leapt out to a double-digit advantage early, with Mo Walker’s five-point burst ending the period 26-14 in the Riders’ favour.
Thomas continued to dominate in the second, rising high to swat away Hedley’s layup attempt. He was backed by Kimbal Mackenzie, who came alive in the quarter for eight points.
Loughborough kept within touching distance for stages, and Elija Bailey entered halftime the game’s leading scorer with 11 points and five rebounds.
But Riders big man Sam Idowu stretched the lead to close the half with a three, followed up with a layup and a block of the next possessions. The teams entered the half with Leicester up 49-32.
Mackenzie and Idowu saw the Riders build on their advantage in the third, finishing as the Riders’ two leading scorers by the end of the period. On the other end, Bailey found the hoop consistently to rack up 16 with a quarter to play.
Leicester won the third quarter 28-16, taking a 77-48 lead into the final period.
The fourth was a case of seeing the game out, which the Riders did professionally. They kept their 30-point lead until the final buzzer, taking home a win from their first preseason game.
Conner Washington has returned for his 11th year in Riders Red! The club legend and fan favourite has helped pack the Morningside Arena trophy cabinet during his time in the East Midlands.
We take a look back through his storied career!
Loughborough University: Where history began
Washington started life in the Riders programme in 2012, finding success with Loughborough University in the BUCS Championship.
He helped win Loughborough’s first BUCS title in 22 years, alongside now Assistant Coach Will Maynard and former Rider Anthony Rowe.
He was named MVP of the BUCS final, leading the University to a historic win.
After lifting the first of his 14 pieces of BBL silverware in 2014, Washington went off for a breakout year in the 2014/15 season.
He was named to the BBL British Team of the Year, averaging 7.3 points per game on the season and shooting a red-hot 40% from three. The Bedford native put up double-digits on eight occasions and scored a season-high of 23 points.
Washington made a name as an integral part of the Riders’ roster going forward.
Double award winner
The following season, Washington’s performances on the season saw him named on both the BBL British Team of the Year and the BBL Defence Team of the Year.
He helped the Riders to the Championship and Trophy titles, the fifth and sixth pieces of silverware for the Riders under Head Coach Rob Paternostro.
Washington scored 13 points in the Trophy Final, putting up four rebounds and four assists and going 4-8 from the field, making his presence known on the big stage.
Winning his first treble
In the 2016/17 season, Washington won the first of his two trebles in his Riders career. The team lifted the BBL Trophy, Championship and Playoff titles, with Washington contributing another 40% three-point shooting season to the team.
His three-point shooting was on full display at the back end of the season, draining five threes on his way to 18 points against the Plymouth Raiders.
Washington was once again named to the BBL British Team of the Year and the Defensive Team of the Year for his performances on the season, now established as one of the League’s best homegrown talents.
2021 league title
On his way to the 2021 BBL Championship title, Washington enjoyed his finest statistical season for the Riders.
He put up 10.4 points per game on 47.4% shooting from the field and 38.4% shooting from three, earning him a spot on the BBL British Team of the Year for the fourth time.
The Riders needed every point from Washington that season, winning the title by two points with a record of 24-6. It was the start of back-to-back seasons with one of the most successful Riders squads in the club’s history.
The following year, Washington won his second treble with the Riders. They took home the BBL Cup, Championship and Playoffs, losing only two games on their way to the trio of silverware.
It was a dominant season, where Washington made an electric impact off the bench behind back-to-back MVP Geno Crandall. He put up 20 points in the second leg of the playoff semi-final, sending the Riders to the O2 Arena.
In the playoff final, Washington drained four threes on his way to 12 points, winning his 14th piece of silverware in his ninth season with the Leicester Riders.
Sport is in Jaren Holmes’ blood. He and his brother were raised with it, and now, they make careers from it. His brother, William, was drafted to the Los Angeles Angels in the MLB, and Jaren has signed his first professional contract with the Leicester Riders.
“I was raised by a single mother, and she always put sports in our hearts,” said Holmes, reflecting on his journey. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a ball in my hand.
“I played baseball too until my freshman year in high school. But when I had to choose, I couldn’t live down the fact my little brother was better than me at baseball! So basketball was my choice.
“I’ve always had a great IQ, my grandfather taught me how to play the right way: making the right play, not being selfish, it’s all about winning. That’s how I was raised.
“Now, when I step on the basketball court, it always feels like home. It feels like I’m supposed to be there. It’s peaceful.”
It wasn’t a straight road to the best conference in college basketball, where Holmes completed his final college year. It all started at Ranger Junior College, under legendary coach Billy Gillispie.
There, he helped them to a berth in the NJCAA Division I championship game, starting all 33 games as a freshman, averaging 12.0 points and winning 31 games.
“Coach G brings a lot out of you as a player. He has a mentality of everyone leaning on each other to get through all his ways of coaching. Playing for him was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life.
“I believe that my body changed in JUCO playing Coach G. The workouts he had us doing were second to none, and prepared my body for D1. I give all the credit to him.
“He moulded me into the player I am today, and I take my body very seriously now.”
And at Ranger, Jaren made lifelong friends. Most notably with Caleb Asberry, who will suit up with him on the Riders roster this season.
“Caleb and I have been really good friends for about five to six years. We started from the bottom at Ranger, and we had to endure a lot of trials and tribulations to get where we are today.
“I hold Caleb and his family close to my heart, and we’ve stayed in close contact. Even our mums are close! It’s come full circle now we can play together again, and I’m super excited about that.
“There was nothing to do at Ranger; the town is literally a petrol station and a Subway. We only had each other, and we became brothers. It’s good to be back with my brother again.”
His work at Junior College brought him to the big leagues. St Bonaventure gave him a shot in the NCAA D1, and he took it, proving he belonged at the top level of collegiate sport.
He scored over 1000 points for the Bonnies, putting up 13.5 points, five rebounds and 3.6 assists in the 2021/22 season. He was named to the Atlantic 10 Second Team All-Conference in 2021.
Holmes transferred to Iowa State in the Big 12 conference for his final year of college and continued to impress. He was named to the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team and received an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, playing under Assistant Coach and former Rider JR Blount.
“It was amazing to get to D1—a breath of fresh air. I worked so hard to get to that level: through every no, the doubts and people saying I couldn’t play at that level. After all of the hard work, faith, prayer and sacrifice, it was something I could never imagine. I couldn’t believe it.
“I always thought I was supposed to be at that level. I just had to change my body, become more athletic and become a better ball player. I proved that this year.
“I was able to play in the best conference in the country and not miss a step. I’m tremendously thankful to St Bonaventure and Iowa State for the opportunities they gave me. They both gave me a shot when a whole lot of other teams didn’t.”
But even after all the rejection and upset that led him to this point, Holmes wouldn’t change a thing.
“I’d go through every situation, every heartbreak that I had to endure on this journey to make it here to the Riders. It’s made me a better basketball player and a better person. It helped me understand that life is hard, and you’re going to be disappointed throughout it.
“It doesn’t matter where you want to go, or what you think you deserve. Timing is everything, and I’m a firm believer in waiting for your time and being ready when your name is called. Keep your head down, work and believe in yourself.
“Keep God first, and no matter the situation, the upset and the heartbreak, I keep my head high and move two feet at a time.”
His assistant coach at Iowa State, Blount, helped recruit Holmes to Leicester. Blount played for the Riders in the 2010/11 season, averaging 20.6 points under Head Coach Rob Paternostro.
“JR always talked about his time in Leicester and said it was amazing. He said Coach Rob believed in him and trusted him, and let him play his game. When Coach JR brought this opportunity to me, I would never pass it down.
“I had a great conversation with Coach Rob. We talked everything through and I liked what he said: the way he talked about my game, and how he wanted me to play my role.
“The Riders are the best fit for me because of how they carry their organisation. It’s a well-run club, with a tremendous fanbase.”
Holmes is now ready to build on the success the Riders have had over the last decade.
“I love basketball, and I love to win. And that’s what the Riders do. They win.
“I’m excited and happy to be a part of this great organisation. I can’t wait to see the fans go wild. I’ve watched a couple of games already and the fanbase is crazy! I’m super excited.
“I’ll bring a winning attitude and work ethic, and excitement, laughter and intensity. I’m also committed to working hard in the community of Leicester.
“It’ll be an honour to meet the fans in Leicester. I’m ready to get to work!”
Riders’ new man Jaren Holmes is entering his first professional season following a four-year college career.
The 6’4” guard made a name for himself as an elite scorer and facilitator during his time in the NCAA D1.
Get to know him with some of his best showings.
Career high 38 points
Holmes exploded for a career-high 38 points in just 37 minutes in his second year for St. Bonaventure Bonnies. It was a sharpshooting clinic, as a red-hot Holmes drained eight threes in his team’s 83-57 win against Saint Joseph’s Hawks.
He hit a triple to get the action underway, but it was a 28-point second half that blew the game open. He scored 11 straight points in the half to build the lead and lead the Bonnies to a blowout win.
Holmes dominated the boards as well as the scoring, grabbing 10 rebounds on his way to an emphatic double-double.
The game is tied for eighth all-time for single-game scoring performances in college history.
You could have forgiven Holmes for a down game after his career-high night against St Joe’s. Instead, he went off for 26 points to lead the Bonnies to a 68-54 win against the Fordham Rams.
Holmes hit the dagger with a 1:30 remaining to seal the win, his hot hand staying hot with another five threes in the game. He went 10-16 from the field in a game where neither team found a rhythm on offence.
The win moved the team to 5-1 to start the season, in the midst of a seven-game winning streak.
Holmes went on to average 13.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game on the season, earning a place on the Atlantic 10 second-team All-Conference honours and was named to the A-10 All-Academic Team for the second year in a row.
Upset on primetime
In a top-25 matchup live on ESPN, Holmes led Iowa State to an upset win against the #5 Kansas State in front of a raucous home crowd.
He had 23 points for the Cyclones in the fight for the Big 12 one-seed, going 8-11 from the field and dishing seven assists.
It was a hard-fought game wire-to-wire, but Holmes cooly knocked down the game-winning free throws, after being sent to the line up two.
A 16-point second half from Holmes saw Iowa State take the win. Holmes led the team to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.
Double-double against Coppin State
Playing 37 minutes against the Coppin State Eagles, Holmes went off for 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the Bonnies’ 93-81, going 10-14 from the field and and 3-5 from three.
He made his presence known on both ends, adding two steals and a block to his box score.
The Bonnies won 93-81, kicking off a three-game winning streak as they started Homes’ senior year 4-1.
Playing big minutes was something Holmes became accustomed to that season, as he became one of the national minutes leaders at 38.1 per contest and started all 33 games.
Crashing the glass
Holmes showed he could lead the team in multiple ways by dominating the paint for his career-high in rebounds.
Holmes led the Bonnies in points and rebounds in a 70-54 win against the Marquette Golden Eagles, going off for a 19 and 13 double-double in the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic tournament.
Holmes made just six field goals in the game, but his persistence on the glass and ability to get to the free throw line saw him fill up the scoring column, leading his team to the win.
The win put the Bonnies to a 5-0 start to the season, building early momentum in Homes’ junior year.
Riders revisited: Tony Windless on his Leicester Riders career
“I really enjoyed being here. We have some of the best fans in the league!”
Riders legend Tony Windless reflected on his time with the Leicester Riders, and how the club has grown since his arrival in 2008.
Windless was there for the start of the Riders’ revolution. The 6’5” guard signed to now legendary Head Coach Rob Paternostro’s first Riders roster, having spent time in France and the BBL for the London Lions.
He hit the ground running, putting up 12.7 points and 6.4 rebounds in the 2008/09 season. The Riders went 21-12, good for third in the BBL Championship standings and improved from a 10-23 record the season before.
Windless would remain on the Riders roster until 2011 when he announced his retirement from professional basketball.
He is remembered as a key fixture in the team that kick-started the Riders winning culture under Rob Paternostro.
He sat down with us to talk about his Riders career, and the growth of the club.
Leicester Riders are excited to present their rebrand ahead of the 2023/24 season, ushering in a new era of Riders basketball.
The Riders are proud to have innovatively evolved throughout their 56-year history as Britain’s oldest professional basketball club. This rebrand allows the club to continue modernising, 10 years on from the launch of its previous logo.
This marks a fresh start for the club, with a revitalised roster of young talent ready to take the reins and add to the Riders’ rich history.
The updated brand incorporates every facet of the club, from its community work with the Leicester Riders Foundation, its player pathways and development through Charnwood College and Loughborough University, to the first teams in the BBL and WBBL.
The club would like to thank its partners at 5or6 for their support during the rebrand.
Leicester Riders managing director Russell Levenston commented: “It’s been 10 years since the previous logo was created, as we thought it was the fitting moment for us to re-evaluate the Riders brand.
“Looking at how branding has changed over the past decade, we thought it was the right time to refresh ours.
“Thank you for all the work 5or6 has put into supporting the club, both with the rebranding and their continued support through the years. We have worked closely with the team there since they designed the last logo in 2013.
“What is especially pleasing is the new brand’s versatility, and how it can incorporate everything we are about, from our pathways and community work through to the pros.
“These are exciting times for the club, and we look forward to seeing how the brand grows over the coming years. We hope everyone loves it as much as we do!”
It’s been a busy offseason! Both new and familiar names have signed to play in Riders red for the upcoming season!
Here you can familiarise yourself with our roster for 2023/24…
Kimbal Mackenzie- Guard
Kimbal Mackenzie is back for his third season with the Riders. During that time has proved himself one of the League’s best in the backcourt.
After gaining experience in Spain and his home nation Canada, Mackenzie took up a starring role last season, averaging 12.7 points and 3.8 assists per game.
His play earned him a spot on the Molten BBL British Team of the Year, and won him Molten BBL Player of the Month for February.
Kimbal’s college career was spent in the NCAA D1 for Bucknall. He enjoyed a sensational senior year, scoring 17.6 points per game, the seventh-most in a season in college history.
Samuel Idowu- Forward
Samuel Iwodu is a force in the Riders’ frontcourt. The 6’8” forward brings strength and physicality to the paint on both ends of the court.
The New York native is a fourth-year professional, having played in the Netherlands and Denmark. His most recent season for Yoast United was cut short due to injury, having averaged 15.8 points and seven rebounds in his first two years.
Iwodu spent his college career in NCAA division one with Saint Peter’s University. He starred for the Peacocks in helping them win the program’s first-ever national postseason tournament championship in 2017.
Braelen Bridges- Forward
Braelen Bridges is a first-year pro, following four years in the NCAA division one.
He played his first two college seasons at the University of Illinois at Chicago, before transferring to his hometown University of Georgia for his junior and senior years.
Bridges averaged 12.9 points and 5.6 rebounds as a junior. He was the only Bulldog to start all 32 games, and was Georgia’s most efficient scorer in his time there, shooting 56.1% from the field.
Victor Ndoukou- Forward
Victor Ndoukou playing against Finland u20s Ndoukou first joined the Riders in 2019 and is one of GB basketball’s exciting young talents.
He represented GB at the youth level and played for the Loughborough and Charnwood Riders during his time in Leicester.
Ndoukou also represented GB Under-20s this summer in the FIBA European Youth Championships.
He averaged 15.5 points per game for Charnwood College in the 2021/22 season, winning EABL MVP.
Mo Walker- Forward
Canadian-born, British big-man Mo Walker returns for his fourth season with the Riders. Mo graduated from the University of Minnesota, leading the team in rebounds and blocks as the second-leading scorer in his senior year.
Walker signed his first pro contract in the Italian first division. He gained experience around Europe, playing in Latvia, France and the BBL for the Worcester Wolves.
Mo was been a key fixture in the Riders’ treble-winning season in 2022.
TJ Lall- Foward
TJ Lall is a first-year Rider, who has played in the Canadian CEBL for much of his career.
He was selected by the Ottawa BlackJacks as the first overall pick during the 2020 CEBL Draft, and played in Canada for four seasons.
Lall played last season in the Japanese first division for Kyoto Hannaryz, putting up 6.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.
In college, the Ontario native won four national titles with the Carleton Ravens before transferring to Brock University for his fifth college season.
Miryne Thomas- Forward
Miryne Thomas signed in the summer for the 2023/24 season.
The 6’8” forward is in his rookie year after averaging 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds for Kent State in the NCAA Division One last season.
Thomas, a Cleaveland native, averaged double-digit points in his final two college seasons, transferring from Ball State to Kent State for his final year of eligibility.
He averaged 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds over his five-year college career.
Caleb Asberry- Guard
Caleb Asberry signed straight out of college to the Riders’ 2023/24 roster.
The 6’3 spent his final year of eligibility with Oklahoma State in the NCAA Division One. He averaged 9.7 points per game in the Big 12 for the Cowboys, following three seasons with Texas State.
At his home university, the Texas native had back-to-back seasons scoring over 13 points per game. He was the only Bobcat to start all 29 games and led the team in steals and three-pointers made.
Asberry also became the first Bobcat in school history to earn back-to-back All-District honours from the NABC.
Jaren Holmes- Guard
Holmes arrived in Leicester as a rookie, having spent his final season of college eligibility at Iowa State. He led the Cyclones in scoring with 13.3 points per game and was one of two players to start all 33 games.
He was named to the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team and received an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention.
Three years at St. Bonaventure University proceeded Holmes’ year at Iowa State.
He scored over 1000 points for the Bonnies, putting up 13.5 points, five rebounds and 3.6 assists in the 2021/22 season. He was named to the Atlantic 10 Second Team All-Conference in 2021.
Blake Bowman- Forward
Blake Bowman joined the Riders for his first venture into BBL basketball last season, establishing himself as one of the UK’s hottest prospects. His high-flying dunks and infectious energy quickly made him a fan-favourite.
Bowman played previously with his hometown Derby Trailblazers, playing through their youth setup. He averaged 19 points, six rebounds and three assists in the NBL, helping to bring silverware to the midlands.
Blake’s father Barry had a spell in the BBL during his professional career, while his uncle, Marc Hawley played 56 games in two seasons for the Riders between 1997 and 1999.
Conner Washington- Guard
During his decade-long tenure with the Riders, GB guard Conner Washington has won everything there is to win in the British Basketball League with 14 pieces of silverware to his name.
Washington is an integral part of the Riders’ successes over the last 10 years. In the 2016/17 season, Conner made the BBL Defensive Team of the Year and British Team of the Year. He developed into a dangerous perimeter threat, averaging over 40% from three in three separate seasons.
Washington is respected around the League as an intelligent veteran, playing to an elite standard on both ends. He has earned Molten BBL Defensive Team of the Year honours on three separate occasions.
Xavier Pinson- Guard
American guard Xavier Pinson signed from New Mexico State University, following stints at LSU and Missouri over his five-year college career. The Chicago native averaged 13.3 points and 4.5 assists in his final college season in New Mexico.
Pinson served as LSU’s starting point guard for the 2021/22 season, averaging 9.8 points, 4.8 assists and 1.9 steals per game. He helped lead the Tigers to a 14-1 start to the season and an overall record of 22-12
He spent three years prior at the University of Missouri, putting up 10.3 points as a junior. Pinson helped Missouri to an appearance in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
The Riders are thrilled to announce the return of Mo Walker for the 2023/24 season.
It will be the Canadian/British big man’s fourth season with the Riders, after signing for the 2020/21 season.
Walker was an integral part of the club’s treble-winning success in 2022, averaging 11.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game that year.
Before last season was cut short due to injury, the University of Minnesota graduate was putting up 10.3 points and 4.5 rebounds, shooting 58.6% from the field.
“I’m excited to still be a part of the Riders!” said Walker.
“Anyone who has followed the club and has watched my journey knows I have lost time in the past due to injury. But I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to make up for lost time, and I’m looking forward to being back out there in front of the Riders fans!”
“We are all looking forward to having Mo back on the court for us next season,” commented Head Coach Rob Paternostro.
“I thought he started off very well last season and was playing good basketball before the injury. He can be very difficult to match up with, can score in different ways and has the ability to put real pressure on the opposing defence.
“Mo has always shown great leadership during his time here and we have valued that on and off the court.”
Kyron Cartwright joined the Riders following playing his rookie professional season in Hungary with Alba Fehervar competing both domestically in the Hungarian first division and the FIBA Europe Cup.
Cartwright is a true Point Guard who’s ability to lead the team and distribute the ball was a key part of the Riders offence this season. Kyron’s elite court vision saw him finish second in the BBL Championship in assists with 8.80 per game, first across all competitions in assists with 8.72 per game and included season highs of 30 points and 19 assists.
Coach Paternostro was pleased with Kyron’s performance this past season and noted he had a unique ability to impact games without scoring. “Kyron speed and quickness was something the defence had to prepare for, his ability to see the floor was incredible, his passing was tremendous, he could dominate the game without even taking a shot. We loved what Kyron brought to our team this season”.
Cartwright was also pleased with the season however, admits it was frustrating the season has been postponed as the team was finding their form. “I thought personally and as a team we had a pretty good season, being a second year professional now I definitely felt more comfortable out there on the floor leading the team. As a team I feel like we were starting to play some of our best basketball right when we needed to so it’s a real shame that all our remaining fixtures have been postponed as who knows what we could’ve gone on to do.”
October 26th 2019 v Manchester Giants – BBL Cup
Stat line: 14 points (5/10 FG), 3 rebounds, 12 assists
The Leicester Riders and Manchester Giants did battle in the group stages of the BBL Cup as Kyron Cartwright posted his first double double in a Riders Jersey. Kyron got the Riders off the mark with a tough layup a minute into the contest followed by a trademark midrange jumper off the dribble as the Riders jumped out to an early 6 point led at the end of the first quarter. The Riders continued to assert themselves in the second quarter giving them a 20-44 half time lead with Cartwright running the show contributing 7 points and 7 assists. It was more of the same from the Riders and Cartwright in the second half as they continued to cause the Giants problems, Cartwright handed out another 5 assists and scored 7 points with a variety of crafty finishes around the basket as the Riders took the 57-96 victory to moved to 3-0 on the season.
December 6th 2019 v Plymouth Raiders – BBL Championship
Stat line: 11 points (3/7 FG), 8 rebounds, 19 assists
The Leicester Riders took on the Plymouth Raiders at the Morningside Arena as they opened up their 2019/20 BBL Championship campaign. It was yet another jaw dropping passing display from Kyron Cartwright who handed out a season high 19 assists. Cartwright set the tone early pushing the pace with two sweet dimes on the break before finding Andy Thomson for three to push the Riders out to an early 2 point lead and the end of the first quarter. The Riders came out hot in the second quarter scoring 4 threes in the period with Cartwright running the show dishing out a further five dimes including two flashy no look passes to Darien Nelson-Henry for easy finishes inside. The Raiders fought back in the third quarter winning the period 24-18 to close the gap to just 6 heading into the final period. Cartwright ignited the Riders run at the start of the fourth scoring a jump hook over Raiders guard Josh Wilcher before once again connecting with Nelson-Henry inside for two. Kyron saw the Riders over the line in the closing minutes finding Josh Ward-Hibbert on the break for two followed by Jesse Chuku for a jumper as he totalled 19 assists on the game and the Riders took a 96-79 win.
January 17th v Worcester Wolves – BBL Championship
Kyron Cartwright posted a career high 30 points as the Leicester Riders defeated the Worcester Wolves avenging their BBL Cup Semi Final loss to the Wolves two weeks earlier. Kyron put on his most impressive scoring display of the season causing the Wolves problems all evening. Cartwright got going early pushing the pace and finding lanes to the basket with ease as the Riders jumped out to an early 31-15 lead at the end of the first quarter. Worcester closed the gap in the second quarter winning it by 6 despite still being unable to control Cartwright who found his way into the lane at will. The second half was far closer with the Wolves pulling it back to just an 8 point game heading into the final quarter however it was Cartwright that sealed the deal for the Riders scoring 8 points including three clutch free throws in the final minute to secure a 4 point victory for the Riders.
Following defeat on the road in Bristol last weekend the Riders will be looking to bounce back this Friday as they take on the Manchester Giants at the Morningside Arena, here’s all you need to know about the two teams.
About the Giants
Manchester Giants are looking to build for the future after a new ownership group pulled together by former player Jamie Edwards took charge a month ago.
It has been lean pickings since the Giants return to the BBL in 2012, and the new group will look to turn that around, but, with the deadline passed for player signings this season, much of the change is likely to occur in the off-season.
Current Head Coach Danny Byrne is in his third season with the club.
Mancunians Callum Jones and his brother James Jones provide experience in the backcourt, aided by Latvian sharpshooter Ingus Bankevics, Spanish forward Eduard Arques and local guard Jack Hudson. Benson Arogbo and Zak Powell provide support off the bench
Americans Jonathan Mulmore and Del’vin Dickerson have been dispensed with, replaced by Londoner Allie Fullah and Brit David Ulph.
Manchester has yet to win in the BBL Championship, but is showing much improved form in recent weeks. They took Plymouth Raiders to overtime in a home defeat, racked up 80 points away at Sheffield Sharks in a 92-80 loss, and then took Cheshire close last Sunday, before Phoenix prevailed at home, 99-88.
After winning 6 in a row, Riders are now on a 2 game losing streak, after going down away to London Lions and Bristol Flyers.
The teams met twice in the Group stages of the BBL Cup, Riders winning both, 96-57 in Manchester, and 102-70 at home.
Players to Watch
Captain Callum Jones pulls the strings for the Giants from the point guard position, and he had a typical display against Cheshire last time out, scoring 16 points at a highly efficient 80% shooting, as well as dishing out 2 assists in 34 minutes of play.
For Leicester, the ability to get Darien Nelson-Henry engaged in the offence is often key to their performances. He is averaging 13 points and 5 rebounds per game, and shoots over 60% from the floor.
Tickets are still available for Friday’s game, CLICK HERE to purchase yours!
Three Things to look out for this weekend v Giants
The Leicester Riders take on the Manchester Giants this Friday at the Morningside Arena as they look to bounce back from last Weekend’s defeat in Bristol. Here’s three things to look out for ahead of Friday’s game.
Riders aim to move 3-0 on the season against the Giants
In their two meetings so far this season the Riders have had great success against the Manchester Giants overcoming the Giants on both occasions. The Riders have stamped their authority on the defensive end against the Giants in both their previous meetings holding the Giants to 57 points in the first meeting and just 70 points in the second meeting. Although the Giants are yet to win a game in the BBL Championship they have pushed the Raiders, Sharks and Phoenix close in their last 3 games. The Riders will once again need to be locked in on the defensive end of the floor if they are to defeat the Giants on Friday as the Giants have averaged a much improved 86 points per game across those three games.
Improved execution down the stretch
In their defeat to Bristol last weekend the Riders struggled to get their offence going down the stretch, Coach Paternostro mentioned that he was happy with the shots they were getting however they could not get them to drop. Coach Rob mentioned that it is important he sees a reaction from his team this weekend who in previous weeks showed great execution on their way to a 6 game winning streak.
Riders look to get back to winning ways
The Riders were the most impressive team in the league over the month of February winning all four of their games in impressive fashion however, in their last two games the Riders have stumbled falling to the Lions and Flyers. Typically, Coach Rob has his men playing their best basketball right when it matters at the end of the season, and Friday’s game v Manchester provides the perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways. The Riders face a busy April with 6 games as the BBL Championship comes to a close with everything to still play for the Riders.
Tickets are still available for Friday’s game, CLICK HERE to purchase yours!
Leicester Riders slipped to a fourth league defeat of the season, going down 73-69 at Bristol Flyers. In a similar pattern to their trophy defeat in the south west, Riders had led for long periods, only for a fourth quarter rally to see the home side over the line.
Jesse Chuku hit a couple of early three pointers before Josh Ward-Hibbert scored eight consecutive points for the Riders as they opened an 18-11 lead.
Levi Bradley pulled his team back into the game, but Leicester would post eight points without reply to lead 28-17 early in the second quarter. Namon Wright’s back-to-back three-pointers kept Leicester’s lead in double figures, but Bristol were able to make inroads into the deficit just before half-time.
Corey Johnson was able to send Riders into the interval with a nine-point lead as he connected from behind the arc for the final score of the first half.
The home side then started the second half strongly to trim Riders’ advantage to only three-points as Lewis Champion got the scoreboard ticking for his team, but Ward-Hibbert and Johnson re-establish a small cushion a 52-44 with twelve minutes to go.
Early in the final quarter, Bristol posted seven points without reply to move 55-54 ahead and for the next five minutes the lead went back and forth. With 2:30 to play, Riders trailed by one-point, but Champion helped the Flyers to a 72-66 advantage.
Andy Thomson halved that with a three-pointer and though he had to more attempts to level the game from behind the arc, neither dropped and Riders slipped to a second consecutive victory against the Flyers.
Riders struggled to find consistency in their shooting and as such whilst they had four players in double-figures, their top score was only 13 from Josh Ward-Hibbert.
The Riders return Home to the Morningside Arena next Friday when they take on the Manchester Giants in the BBL Championship, CLICK HERE to get your tickets!
Coach Paternostro Claims February Kevin Cadle Molten BBL Coach of the Month award
Head Coach Rob Paternostro has claimed the Kevin Cadle Molten BBL Coach of the Month after leading the Riders to a perfect four wins from four in the month of February.
The Riders impressive Month included their largest ever win over the Newcastle Eagles after they defeated their rivals 101-63 at the Morningside Arena as well as gutsy road wins against the Surrey Scorchers and Plymouth Raiders.
Coach Paternostro signed the Month off in style defeating the Sheffield Sharks 87-80 on February 29th as Rob celebrated his 500th game as Head Coach of the Riders.
New additions Corey Johnson and Jordan Spencer played a key part in the Riders change in fortune in the Month of February with the pair fully integrating into the squad adding extra bench depth to the Riders Roster. Johnson and Spencer’s additions now mean that the Riders have nine players averaging double figure minutes per game and and seven players averaging eight points per game or more.
The Riders return to the Morningside Arena on Friday March 13th when they take on the Manchester Giants, 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!
Report: Riders defeat Sharks to continue winning run
Leicester Riders survived a late scare to claim an 87-80 victory over Sheffield Sharks and stretch their winning run to six games.
Riders had led by 20 in the third quarter, but some impressive shooting from the short-handed visitors in the fourth period meant the result was in the balance until the final seconds.
Both teams started slowly, but Leicester were able to hit a few three-pointers as they edged the first five minutes 11-6. Andy Thomson sparked a bit of life into proceedings and with Jamell Anderson scoring well, Leicester still held a five-point lead at the end of the opening quarter.
Sharks level the scores at 24 points each, but the two sides were stuck on that score for over two minutes. A bizarre goaltending call gave Sheffield a 29-28 lead with four minutes to go, but Riders then held the Sharks scoreless for the remainder of the half.
Namon Wright had five of 11 unanswered points to finish the second quarter and Leicester took that momentum into the second half. Nick Lewis hit a tremendously difficult three-point shot early in the third quarter, but that was their only score in the first three minutes of the period.
In the seven minutes either side of half-time, Riders posted a 22-3 burst which had them 50-31 in front. The lead peaked at twenty points and with 13 minutes to go it looked like the game would meander out into a comfortable home win.
But Bouna Ndiaye caught fire for the Sharks, pulling them to within ten at the start of the fourth quarter. Corey Johnson’s three re-established a 15-point lead, but Lewis and Ndiaye had the gap down to five with four minutes to play.
Johnson hit another two corner three-pointers as Riders seemed to be keeping the visitors at bay, but Connor Cashaw refused to let it go and cut the deficit to 83-80 with a minute to go. Riders, though, held their nerve and sealed the win from the free throw line.
Wright was again in imperious shooting form, netting 20 points including four three-pointers, whilst Thomson and Ky Cartwright both posted double-double.
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