How things stand in the Women’s British Basketball League Championship

The postseason is fast approaching for Leicester Riders in a tightly packed Women’s British Basketball League Championship.

The Riders have two pivotal games remaining in their League season, which could see them land in second, third or fourth in the standings.

Here’s how things are shaping up for the Riders ahead of their final two games…

The state of play

The Riders currently sit third in the standings with a 15-3 record, tied with the Caledonia Gladiators and a win behind the undefeated London Lions, who have two games in hand. 

The Riders are battling for seeding with the Gladiators and the Sheffield Hatters in fourth, who are their two remaining fixtures. 

Sunday’s game against the Gladiators will decide the tiebreaker between the sides, which may prove vital come season’s end. Leicester currently possess it with a four point win against the Scots last week, so a win against Caledonia would lock up the two seed for the Riders. 

A loss however, would risk the potential of Leicester falling to the four seed, with a showdown against the Hatters awaiting. Sheffield is a win behind the Riders with the tiebreaker, so the winner of that matchup would take the three seed for the postseason. 

Riders’ recent form 

Leicester enter this game having won nine of their last 10 games in the Women’s British Basketball League Championship. 

They have responded to their only hiccup, a road loss to the Hatters, with three straight wins, including an important victory against the Gladiators in the clutch last time out. 

The Riders have beaten the Essex Rebels, who knocked them out of the Trophy in January, the Newcastle Eagles twice and the Gladiators on their recent run, coming out on top against the better teams in the Championship. 

The win against the Gladiators made a statement to the League as they approach the 2024 Playoffs. 

The numbers

The Riders have established themselves as one of the elite offensive threats in British basketball, putting up the second most points in the League this season with 75.9 per game. 

They have done so with efficiency inside, knocking down 49% of their two point looks, led by Rayevn Peeples who is connecting on 65% of her shots in close. 

Peeples has been pivotal for the Riders establishing themselves on the glass this year. She ranks first among all players in offensive rebounds, and second in total rebounds per game, while sending away an average of 1.1 blocks, third best in the League. 

Defensively, led once again by Peeples, the Riders average the most blocks of any team with 4.3 per game. Katie Janusewska has been key to this from the wing, putting up 0.8 blocks per game. 

But the leading scorer of the Riders’ high-powered offence is Taylor O’Brien. The two-time Player of the Month has put up 15.7 points per game in her rookie season. She comes off the back of scoring 13 of the team’s 59n points against the Gladiators, and will look to lead the Riders to a crucial road win in Caledonia.

Riders recap: What we can take from a winning weekend

The Riders recorded two wins in a crucial doubleheader weekend, beating the Plymouth City Patriots at home, and the Caledonia Gladiators in the clutch on the road.

Here’s what we can take from the weekend of action…

Multiple scoring threats 

In both games over the weekend, the Riders had three players score over 15 points and two score 20. 

Different games are for different guys, and only two players, Jaren Holmes and leading scorer Teddy Allen, put up double digits in both games, but the Riders showed they can rely on multiple players to step up and put the ball in the basket when their name is called. 

Leicester shot 37% from three in both games and 51% from three across the two fixtures to flex their offensive firepower and efficiency. 

Their 102 points against the Gladiators on Sundays means they now average over 90 points per game on the season, third-most in the League. 

Captain Kimbal in the clutch

For the second straight game on the road in Caledonia, the Riders’ captain stepped up in the clutch for crucial scores. 

Last time, he pulled up from midrange with 10 seconds to go to put the Riders up one, but the Gladiators found a response to win it at the hands of Clifton Moore Jr. 

Two weeks ago, Mackenzie had a clutch outing in the Trophy Final Four, where he drove to the bucket for an and-one score to put the Riders up one with 20 seconds left. 

But this time, he led Leicester to a win with his performance late. The Canadian took over with a minute and a half left and scored six straight points, including two go-ahead buckets to put the scoring load on his back. 

Mackenzie’s play earned him the Player of the Game, and secured an important win for the team in a doubleheader weekend. 

Turning a corner 

Leicester entered the weekend with a .500 record, with an important pair of games awaiting them as they hoped to climb the Championship standings. On Sunday night, they improved to 13-11, and now sit fourth, just a game behind the Gladiators in third. 

The Riders have won four on the bounce in the Championship, a run which started at home against the Sheffield Sharks with a 103-75 win on December 30. They have a chance to make it five with the same fixture on Friday. 

Their game against the Sharks marks the first of another doubleheader, with a trip to the Plymouth City Patriots awaiting them on Sunday. It’s another vital run of games for Rob Paternostro’s side, and they need you behind them. 

Get your tickets here!

Riders see off Gladiators in the clutch

The Riders won a thriller on the road, beating the Caledonia Gladiators 97-93 in the final seconds of the game.  

Captain Kimbal Mackenzie led them down the stretch with six clutch points to win it, He put up 21 points and 5 rebounds, going 8-12 from the field.

Teddy Allen led the game’s scoring, however, exploding for 28 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals. 

The Gladiators, led by Lukas Palyza’s 17, were down big in the fourth but fought back to take the lead with less than a minute left. They didn’t have enough to secure the win however, and the Riders improved to 13-11 on the season. 

Leicester endured a slow offensive start, which found them in an early hole. They started 1-7 from the field, and the Gladiators ran out to a 9-3 start led by 4 points from Fahro Alihodzic. 

Allen took the lid off the basket with a three from the top of the arc to cut the difference to a score. The Riders found some rhythm from there, and the sides exchanged baskets going up and down the court. 

Caledonia had the better of the final stages of the first quarter. They crashed the offensive glass for second-chance points, and led 24-15 after one led by 6 points from Whelan. 

Allen got the second quarter underway with a triple to claw some points back. But the Gladiators kept pouring on the points, getting to the foul line consistently to keep their scoreboard ticking over. 

The Riders came storming back midway through the period. TJ Lall and Allen hit threes back to back, Allen pulling up in transition to make it 34-31. He exploded in the quarter, scoring 13 to bring his game tally to 17 by halftime. 

The hosts threatened to pull away, rebuilding their lead to eight, but a 7-0 Riders run to end the half, finished off by a buzzer-beating three from Holmes, to make the score 48-47. 

Mackenzie ran in transition to start the second half to take the Riders’ first lead of the game. The Riders kept the Gladiators at arm’s length for the start of the third, finding consistent offence to contrast their start to the game. 

Miryne Thomas connected from deep with a big three to put the Riders up nine going into the media timeout. Out of the break, Mackenzie ran the floor for a tough finish inside to make it a double-digit difference. 

Allen stayed hot, putting in 7 points in the third, and the Riders entered the fourth up 75-67.

But the Gladiators came out into the fourth with two straight scores to make it a four point affair. 

Mackenzie hit back, draining a three to stop the run of momentum, and Holmes built off the triple, making two buckets at the rim to keep the Gladiators at bay. Allen followed him up with two finishes of his own, responding to Caledonia’s trips to the foul line. 

But the hosts did find a way back, and Palyza hit a big three with 2:49 left to make the score 87-90. Clifton Moore Jr hit back-to-back baskets to take the lead with 1:35 left. 

Mackenzie hit back with a three from the top of the arc, putting the Riders up two. With the ball going the other way, Holmes rejected Whelan, but Bothwell found the bottom of the basket after the subsequent rebound to tie the game at 93. 

Mackenzie struck again with a midrange pull-up with 52 seconds left, and Palyza missed a three on the next possession. With 30 seconds left, Mackenzie made one of two free throws to make it a three-point lead. 

Bothwell had a chance to tie it for Caledonia but missed from three, and Idowu put the game beyond doubt from the foul line with eight seconds left, securing an important win for the Riders. 

Leicester returns to action on Friday, hosting the Sheffield Sharks.

Get tickets here!

Five things we learned from win against Gladiators

Friday’s 96-90 win against the Caledonia Gladiators gave the Riders lots to build on going into the rest of the season.

Here is what we can take from the win…

Buckets has arrived

The debut that has everyone talking! Teddy Allen’s 32 point outing, the highest-scoring British Basketball League debut since 2016, meant the Phoenix-born guard lived up to the hype in his first appearance in Riders red. 

Allen was pivotal in the clutch, hitting a three to put the Riders up five before dishing to Jaren Holmes for a dagger triple next time up the floor. He reached his points tally with the game-sealing free throws to conclude a historic outing. 

He made his mark on every facet of the game with his scoring, playmaking, rebounding and defence. His message after the game to further excite the Riders faithful: “there’s definitely more to come!”

Allen provides an explosive scoring threat on any given game, just three games before the start of the all-new Trophy. 

A Threat from Three 

Aside from his scoring ability, which was on full display throughout his debut, the gravitational pull of Allen, who attracted a wall of defenders whenever he touched the ball, meant for open shots for his teammates. 

The new man’s playmaking saw the ball find the open man, and the Riders knocked down 50% of their attempts from deep on the night.

Kimbal Mackenzie, in particular, benefitted from the good looks, going 3-4 from three on the evening. 

Leicester have been a threat from three all season, ranking third in deep shooting percentage at 38.2%. The improved spacing will allow their sharpshooters the chance to punish defenders for leaving them open on the arc. 

Decisive Defence late

After giving up 51 in the first half, the Riders stepped up the defence late for a comeback win. 

The message from Head Coach Rob Paternostro at the break was clear: “we’re going to have to play defence at some point.” The Riders responded to his message after falling into a 13-point hole in the third. 

The team held the Gladiators to under 20 points in the fourth quarter, which they won 27-17 to secure the win. 

Sam Idowu was a key factor defensively late, his efforts in the post preventing Clifton Moore Jr from putting in a bucket in the clutch, and Jaren Holmes’ 2 blocks from the perimeter earned the Riders emphatic stops. 

Paternostro will look to put together 40 minutes of defence to that level next time out against the Giants. 

Idowu’s impact 

Idowu logged a season-high 28 minutes in the game, and his impact was felt all game long. 

The big man led the game in +/- with 11, demonstrating the positive influence of his efforts down low.  

He ran the pick and roll effectively throughout, battled hard on defence and was effective on the glass, putting back Allen’s miss late to give the Riders a late lead for his second offensive board of the night. 

All of Idowu’s buckets came in the paint, as he went 7-12 from the field on his way to 14 points – his second-highest tally of the year. 

His consistent performances all season have made Idowu a reliable source of points and rebounding and was vital to Friday’s win. 

Taking advantage of turnovers 

While the teams were tied in total turnovers, each giving the ball away 14 times, the Riders made their opponents pay for their mistakes. 

They scored 20 points off turnovers compared to Caledonia’s 13, a key factor in a game decided by six points. 

They proved a threat on the fastbreak throughout, with Miryne Thomas and Holmes’ speed in transition making for easy buckets at the rim and electric high-flying plays. 

Should the Riders’ defence continue its form from late in Friday’s affair, expect more opportunities in transition for Paternostro’s side. 

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Bristol Flyers on December 28!

Riders react to win against the Gladiators

The Riders won a hard-fought battle against the Caledonia Gladiators 96-90 last night, moving their record to 8-10 in the British Basketball League Championship.

Here’s how the Riders reacted to the victory…

Teddy Allen- “There’s definitely more to come.”

Teddy Allen exploded onto the British basketball scene with the highest-scoring debut in the League since 2016.

He scored 32 points, including a clutch three late to put the Riders up five with a minute left. 

“I’m happy to get the win with my new team,” said Allen post-game. “My teammates were looking for me, telling me to look for the basket and that helped me to succeed. I’m grateful for them.”

It was Allen’s first competitive action since August, but you’d have been forgiven for not noticing. He hit the ground running with a 14-point second quarter, coming off the bench and making an immediate impact. 

Any concerns of rust were washed away quickly for Riders fans. 

“I had to keep my mind and my body right through the last few months, and for that I thank God, but there’s definitely more to come from me. 

“My legs felt better than I thought they would. I’m a hooper, so it feels good to be playing in front of people again.”

Rob Paternostro- “We were deserved winners”

It had been a difficult run of games for the Riders going into last night’s fixture. Having played the League’s top two teams in their last three games (the table-topping Lions’ twice), they were in need of a win to get back on track. 

Emerging victors of a nail-biter was important for this group. 

“That was fun!” said Head Coach Rob Paternostro after the win. “Playing a tight ball game in the fourth quarter and coming up with the big plays was fun to watch. The crowd was into it, and we were deserved winners tonight.”

The Riders gave up 51 to the Gladiators in the first half, and found themselves down 13 in the third quarter. But they flipped a switch on offence and came back for the win.

“We went into halftime knowing we were going to have to play some defence at some point. We did pick it up in the third quarter, and that turned the game around. 

“We then did a great job in making plays late, and we had Teddy Buckets on our team today! He put on a show today.”

As he did everybody else in the building, Allen impressed his head coach with his ability to immediately find form in Riders red. 

“One thing I know, having been around the game this long, is that there are certain guys that when the lights turn on, they’re ready to go. 

“When he took the floor in warm-ups, he said he was feeling good. He was special. He did a great job in finding other guys too, and the rest of the guys dug in on the defensive end.”

Allen was supported by his captain, Kimbal Mackenzie, who scored 11 in the first quarter and 19 in the game, and big man Sam Idowu who made his presence felt in the paint all evening. 

Paternostro sang the praises of his duo:

“I really thought Sam played well today. He played with lots of energy on both ends of the floor, and his competitiveness was a big factor tonight. 

“Kimbal was solid too. He came out tonight with 19 after a few quiet games recently, and that was great to see.

“I feel really good about these guys. They work hard and they work together, and Teddy provided something extra for us tonight to get us the win.”

Sam Idowu- “We fought through adversity.”

Idowu put up 14 points and six rebounds, going 7-12 from the field in a  solid showing. He battled all night on the glass and on the defensive end in the post. 

“It was a lot of hard work. My body’s sore!” said Idowu. “I’m proud of the team, we fought together and came through a lot of adversity and played hard from wire to wire.”

The New York-born big man came up with a huge stop in the clutch again Clifton Moore Jr to give the Riders a chance to seal the game late.  He reflected on his individual performance: 

“I think I played way better than I have been playing! I was just trying to find a rhythm. I had a good week of practice, so I’ve been trying to follow that up with some good games. I’m keeping my energy up, keeping in shape and staying healthy. That’s my biggest priority right now.”

With a road trip to Manchester coming on the 23rd, Iwodu spoke on how the team can build on the performance. 

“Today was a big win. We had a tough schedule and taken a couple of tough losses, but it showed our resilience here in how determined we were to turn it around.

“It’s good for us to show we can come from behind to win. We can go into future games knowing we can stay confident when we’re down, so I’m glad we were able to pull through.”

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Bristol Flyers on December 28!

Report: Riders win a battle against Gladiators

The Riders won a hard-fought battle against the Caledonia Gladiators 96-90, led by Teddy Allen’s emphatic debut. 

Allen scored 32 points in his first appearance in Riders red, putting on a show in the clutch. Teddy “Buckets” went 5-7 from three and 10-19 from the field to explode on the British Basketball scene. 

It was a tightly contested game throughout, the Riders coming back from a double-digit deficit in the third to win it late. They won the fourth 27-17 to secure the win. 

Allen was backed by his captain, as Kimbal Mackenzie went off for 19 points, including 11 in the opening period to get the game underway. Sam Idowu also found success, working with his teammate’s elite guard play to score 14. 

The Riders cooked from three, shooting 50% from deep in the game and going 33-66 from the field in an efficient shooting display. They overcame the League’s third-placed team to bounce back from recent losses, improving to 8-10. 

For Caledonia, Ian Dubose went off for 22 and seven assists to lead the team. They came close to a second win against the Riders this season, but it was Leicester who got it done in the clutch this time around. 

The Riders hit the ground running with a hot start, as TJ Lall and Mackenzie combined for the game’s first five points. Mackenzie scored 11 to start the game, the captain exploding early. 

Caledonia quickly clicked into gear. Led by Prince Onwas who scored seven points, they climbed back into the game and made it a back-and-forth encounter. Former Rider Patrick Whelan ended the first with four points to make it 25-18 to the visitors. 

Allen opened his Riders account with a layup to start the second quarter. But it was New York native Idowu who got to work down low to chip into the deficit, throwing down the highlight of the night with an explosive two-handed slam over Lukas Palyza. 

Allen caught fire midway through the second, connecting with his first three as a Rider before hitting at the foul line to cut the game to one.

The debutant scored 14 in the second quarter to burst onto the scene at the Morningside Arena, the Gladiators finding no answer for Allen as he attacked the rim relentlessly. 

But Caledonia, led by 12 from Onwas, led 51-47 after the first half of action. They went on a 6-3 run in the final minute to build their narrow lead. 

The Gladiators were the better team to start the second half, building their lead to double digits with a 9-2 start after Palyza’s three. 

The Riders cut into the deficit with Allen checking back into the affair. He lit up the Arena with a four-point play with three minutes left in the quarter, before Jaren Holmes put away a tough finish inside to make it a seven-point difference. 

Idowu scored back-to-back baskets, including a breakaway jam to lift the roof off the building as the Riders continued to roll. Holmes cut it to a possession with an and-one to cap off an 11-2 run. 

Idowu tied it up at 73 to start the final period of play, setting up an intense finale. The sides exchanged baskets through the opening stages, but it was 81-81 by the media timeout with 4:21 left. 

The Riders continued to pour in buckets. Allen dropped Moore Jr with a stepback, draining his fourth three of the night following the ankle breaker, before Idowu hit a putback layup to take a late lead. 

Allen continued his emphatic display, draining a three for his 29th points with 1:11 on the clock to make it a five-point Leicester lead. Holmes followed up his new teammate with a triple of his own to seal it. 

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Bristol Flyers on December 28!

Championship Preview: Riders vs Gladiators

Round 14 of the British Basketball League Championship sees the Riders tip-off against the 11-5 Caledonia Gladiators.

Friday night is the first time the Morningside Arena will see the Gladiators this season, as Rob Paternostro’s squad look to notch their eighth championship win.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs Caledonia Gladiators

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Friday, December 15, 7:45pm

Get tickets here!

Allen to Make Debut

The most enticing feature of this week’s contest is the much-anticipated debut of Canadian Elite Basketball MVP, Teddy Allen.

Riders’ supporters will – for the first time – be witness to the skills of the Canadian league’s best player as he comes off a season averaging 27.6 points per game, eight rebounds per game and 1.7 steals per game.

The former Winnipeg Sea Bears guard had a record-breaking year for his team and should provide a significant offensive figurehead to Paternostro’s roster.

Allen – tall for a guard at 6’6” – brings an insatiable appetite for points, especially from beyond the arc, leading the CEBL in three-pointers made.

Leicester currently sit middle of the pack in three-pointers attempted per game with an average of nearly 25. Expect that number to take a leap on Friday night and potentially for the remainder of the season.

The Phoenix-native is also efficient from deep, hitting 72 triples at a clip of 36.5%, which will only add to the Riders’ already high accuracy from downtown.

Leicester’s defence has improved markedly in the last few weeks. With the introduction of an offensive anomaly like Allen, fans can expect scoring numbers to improve too – starting with the tilt against the Gladiators.

On a High

This week’s visitors are currently experiencing a terrific run of form. 

Coach Gareth Murray’s team are riding the momentum of a four-game winning streak, and it will take a good performance from Leicester to slow them down.

Three of those four victories were against the other teams in the BBL’s top four, illustrating the high level the Gladiators are reaching.

Murray likes his team to be a defensive wall inside the paint and to aggressively attack the basket to draw fouls on the other end.

Teams that struggle to shoot from distance find it particularly difficult to put up points on the Gladiators, who are the best in the British Basketball League at blocking shots (4.1 per game) and hustle hard on the defensive glass. They pull down 29.5 defensive rebounds each night, greatly limiting second chances.

Offensively, the regularity at which Caledonia make it to the free-throw line masks a 44.3 field goal percentage that sits in the bottom half of the league.

The Glads do possess some good shooters – primarily former Rider Patrick Whelan – but if the home side can avoid committing fouls and force contested shots, they have a chance to severely limit Caledonia’s scoring total.

Coupled with the efficient outside shooting of the Riders, it appears Paternostro’s squad match up favourably with Friday’s opponents.

Key Matchup

The back-and-forth between Teddy ‘Buckets’ and Whelan will be an entertaining watch, but the key matchup could well come down to a couple of experienced big men: Mo Walker and Fahro Alihodzic.

Alihodzic is an imposing centre who has plied his services all over the world, spending time in the United States, Argentina, Kosovo, Greece and here in Britain.

The 6’10” Bosnian-Brit will bring a good inside touch and rebounding strength, particularly on the defensive board.

Alihodzic currently averages 11 points per game, just over six rebounds per game and has notched a double-double on a couple of occasions this season.

A 19-point performance against Plymouth in November showed his offensive threat, but Riders’ defensive lynchpin Walker will be a tricky puzzle to solve.

The Riders’ stalwart has seen increased minutes over the past month, and his quality of play has taken a leap.

#9 may is an excellent inside link player on offense and focal point on defence.

By clogging up the paint, Walker provides space and opportunities for Leicester’s primary weapons, and his deftness of touch has seen him record assists in eight of his last 10 games.

If the Canadian-born Brit can lock up his opposite man while providing an outlet for the offense, the Riders should enjoy a lot of success on Friday night.

3 things we learned from the doubleheader

The Riders come off the back of a doubleheader week, which they split 1-1 against the Surrey Scorchers and the Caledonia Gladiators.

Here’s what we learned from the matchups…

Bowman steps up

The Riders pushed the Gladiators all the way on Sunday night, and they can credit a large part of that to Blake Bowman. The young star led Leicester’s charge back into the game in the third quarter, putting up a career-high 15 points. 

Bowman scored eight points in the final two minutes of the third and the start of the fourth, throwing down an electric breakaway jam to get the final period underway. 

The Derby native missed only one of his seven shots in the game, earning our Player of the Game with a stat line of 15 points, three rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes of action. 

Washington heating up

Riders veteran Conner Washington is building form as the season progresses. He built on his third-quarter performance, which sparked the Riders’ historic comeback against the Surrey Scorchers with two season highs in the same weekend.

Washington scored eight in as many minutes against the Scorchers, not missing a shot and draining two crucial threes as the Riders began their comeback. He followed this up with 10 points in 13 minutes against Caledonia, pulling the strings to dish six assists. 

Head Coach Rob Paternostro said that Washington’s effect on the team transcends his scoring ability:

“He gets up to the ball with incredible energy to play denying defence, and he’s part of a second unit that’s having a real impact on games. That’s the great thing about having veterans like him on the bench.

“They can see when the starting unit doesn’t have it, and they’re always ready to go. I think Conner turned the game around in a lot of ways against Surrey.”

Offensive consistency is key

The Riders have possessed the second-best offence in the League for much of the season, and this weekend was no different on that end of the ball. They averaged 88.5 points over the two games, making their season average 88.4. 

It comes from all over the court, with seven different players scoring in double-digits across the fixtures, and every Rider contributing to the points tally against the Caledonia Gladiators. 

They get it done efficiently, scoring at a 47.8% clip on the season and 47.4% over the doubleheader. The offensive consistency Leicester has shown in the opening stages of the season puts them in good stead going into any game. 

Want to see the Riders in action?

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Report: Riders fall in dying seconds against Gladiators

The Riders fell in a heartbreaker to the Caledonia Gladiators, losing 84-83 on the road.

Clifton Moore Jr. won it with two seconds remaining for the hosts, after Kimbal Mackenzie put the Riders up one just five seconds prior. Mackenzie had a chance to win it on the buzzer but missed his effort as Leicester fell just short. 

Blake Bowman’s career night led the Riders, the athletic forward driving his team’s charge back into the game after falling down double digits in the third. He finished with 15 points, and was backed by Xavier Pinson’s 14 points following his 10 point fourth quarter. 

It was former Rider Patrick Whelan who led the game with 24. He hit two huge threes in the clutch which kept his team alive. 

The sides wasted no time exchanging blows from the tip-off, in a closely fought game throughout. All five Gladiators got on the board within five minutes, but the Riders found offensive responses to remain within a possession early. 

The hosts found separation in the first, led by Whelan who topped the game’s scoring with seven to build a lead as big as eight points. But a 10-0 run, highlighted by Conner Washington’s four-point play from the corner, meant the Riders led after one. 

Sam Idowu, building off his four-point first quarter, lifted the Riders’ bench to their feet to start the second with a monster two-handed slam off the dribble. Washington continued to roll back the clock, hitting two threes in five minutes as the Riders edged ahead. 

The teams fought tooth and nail until the half, the Riders never trailing throughout the second period. Caledonia’s Moore Jr. ended it with a jumper at the buzzer, tying it up at 44. 

The Gladiators came out of the half with the hot hands, starting 14-6 to put the Riders down eight once again. They extended their lead throughout the third: Lukas Palyza fifth three from five attempts made it a double-digit advantage with 3:16 left. 

Once again, the Riders battled back, cutting it to four after a Bowman breakaway layup. After a Gladiators response, Bowman then found the ball in his hands at the buzzer, fading away for two to make it 63-67 with one to play. 

The young Brit continued to make his mark in the fourth, throwing down an electrifying fast break jam to get the final period underway. After a cagey few minutes with both sides struggling to find the basket, Caleb Asberry putback Jaren Holmes’ miss to tie it up.

Pinson followed up his teammate with a tough fadeaway look from the corner, making it 72-69 to the Riders with five remaining. In a back-and-forth finale, the Chicago-born guard came up big, getting to the free throw line on back-to-back possessions to keep the Riders ahead. 

With two and a half minutes remaining, Pinson dropped off a pocked pass to big man Mo Walker, who finished inside for two to make it a three point Leicester lead. He continued his dominance a minute later, weaving to the rim and finishing a lefty layup over the defence.

Whelan hit back, nailing back-to-back threes to give the Gladiators a one point edge with 30 seconds on the clock. 

His former teammate Mackenzie came up huge in the clutch. He came up with an offensive board from a Pinson miss, dribbling out the shot clock before pulling up and draining a midrange jumper with seven seconds left. 

Moore Jr had a response, rising with a jump hook which found the bottom of the net, putting the hosts up one with two seconds remaining. Mackenzie had a shot to win it, but it fell short and Caledonia took the win. 

Want to see the Riders in action?

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Championship Preview: Riders at Gladiators

Sunday evening will see the Riders complete their second game of British Basketball League Championship Round 7 as they head north to face the 4-2 Caledonia Gladiators.

This will be the first time Rob Paternostro’s team head to Scotland this season, facing a Gladiators squad that boast a three-game winning streak, including a close victory over European competition.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders at Caledonia Gladiators

Playsport, East Kilbride, Glasgow

Sunday, October 29, 6:00pm

Overcoming Adversity

The Riders currently sit fourth in the championship table, holding a 5-3 record following Thursday night’s comeback victory over the visiting Surrey Scorchers.

Leicester’s young squad took the game 94-86, fighting back from an early 23-point deficit to take the win and continue a winning streak over the Scorchers that stretches back 12 years.

‘Mr. Reliable’ Miryne Thomas once again put in a game-winning performance for the Riders, shooting 20 points and pulling in 11 rebounds for his second double-double in as many games.

The enigmatic Caleb Asberry put in an impressive shift, dropping 17 points on 60% shooting, including three deep balls and experienced guard Connor Washington used his minutes off the bench to great effect, draining two crucial threes that sparked the Riders’ offence into life.

Thursday’s comeback proved that Paternostro’s squad can remain calm under pressure and respond positively when the situation calls for it. 

Beating Surrey might seem par for the course, given the head-to-head record, but the Riders showed grit and a will to win, traits that will serve them well in Sunday’s tilt against the in-form Gladiators.

A Solid Start for Caledonia

Gareth Murray’s squad have started the season in promising form, backing up their winning record in the BBL by going undefeated in Europe.

Victories over Romanian outfit BC CSU Sibia and Anwil Wloclawek from Poland has seen the Gladiators make a flying start to their FIBA Europe Cup campaign.

Caledonia’s two losses came on the road and the Riders will be hard-pressed to win in an arena that is becoming somewhat of a fortress.

The Gladiators are known for their proficiency in reaching missed shots, snagging an average of 38 rebounds per game which is good for second in the league.

This dominance on the boards is largely attributed to the play of the frontcourt duo, Trent Buttrick and club captain Fahro Alihodzic.

Both the American and British/Bosnian are averaging seven rebounds per game and sit inside the Top 10 rebounders in the BBL.

Former Rider Patrick Whelan has also been a positive influence from the wing, knocking down threes at a typically high rate, hitting on over 46% of his shots from beyond the arc.

The trend for Leicester this season shows that when they reach parity on the glass and from three-point range, they win.

Sunday may well continue that trend.

Key Matchup

The battle of the big men under the rim will be crucial in deciding the winner of this fixture, however for Sunday’s key matchup, we’ll be focusing on a pair of playmaking guards.

Riders’ flashy passer Xavier Pinson will have to be on top form if he is to get the better of Caledonia’s wily veteran, Ian DuBose.

Standing at 6’4”, DuBose is a physically gifted guard that backs up his size and strength with efficient shooting and an eye for a pass.

 The American, who has plied his trade in Germany and Denmark, is averaging a solid 15.5 points per game and 4.3 dishes per game, good for a Top 10 place in both categories.

Pinson, who is as automatic from deep range as any player in the BBL, has also demonstrated a nose for the rim and the ability to find an eye-catching pass.

The rookie point guard had another strong game on Thursday, using deft touches in the paint to score 13 points while laying on six assists in a team-centric display.

It will be exciting to see what wins between youth and experience come Sunday night.

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