Recap: Riders beat Donar

The Riders beat seven-time Dutch champions Donar Groningen 104-75, to start their pre-season campaign 2-0. 

It was an impressive win against established European opponents, as this newly formed Riders outfit appears to have gelled quickly. 

Kimbal Mackenzie led the team with 17 points, backed up by his backcourt teammate Jaren Holmes’ 16.

It was a confident display throughout. Donar’s only led the game for 15 seconds early in the first quarter, as the Riders took control of the tie. They won all four quarters, and after a Groningen surge to make it 52-51 to get the second half underway, the Riders blew the game wide open. 

Their points total, surpassing a century, came from only five three-point makes. The Riders play style leant into their youth and athleticism, outscoring Donar on the fast break 27-4. 

An eight-point quarter from Mackenzie got them over the line, the newly named captain continuing his hot form from last season which saw him named to the BBL British Team of the Year. 

Following up a 15 point game in the Riders’ pre-season opener, American rookie Jaren Holmes caught the eye once again with another impressive scoring display. 

As was the case in Leicester’s pre-season opener against Loughborough University, forward Myrine Thomas led them out the gate with his infectious energy. His seven-point first quarter set the tone from the jump. 

Meanwhile, after a 13 point showing against Loughborough, young forward Blake Bowman continued to show the promise of his potential. The East Midlands native had 12 points and five rebounds, leading the game with a +/- of 22.

“I thought we did a really good job,” commented Head Coach Rob Paternostro.

“Our depth has been impressive. We played 10 guys, and all of them made a great impact. We know we have a long way to go, but I like where we’re going.

“These are the types of trips where you learn a lot about your team, and because we have so many new players this season, it’s a great opportunity for them to bond on and off the court.”

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our season opener against the Cheshire Phoenix!

Get tickets to our preseason home opener against USA Select here!

Preview: Riders at Donar

The Riders head to the Netherlands to take on Donar Groningen over two games.

Here’s all you need to know:

Fixture information

Leicester Riders at Donar Groningen

Sporthal Wildervanckhal, Wildervank, Netherlands

Friday, September 1, 6:30 pm GMT

Familiar opponents

The sides face off in their annual pre-season meeting, providing a stern test for both outfits ahead of their respective seasons. 

Like Leicester, Donar enters this year after falling just short in the BNXT playoffs, losing game five of a best-of-five series to ZZ Leiden in the Finals. 

The prestigious organisation has won seven Dutch Championships, seven Dutch Cups and three Dutch Supercups in their history, most recently winning the Cup in 2022. 

Last pre-season, the Riders took back-to-back victories against their Dutch opponents, winning 80-75, then 69-61 two days later. 

There were two tightly contested games, with a late surge seeing the Riders take a win in the second fixture. 

Positive strides in pre-season opener

The Riders enter this game after a win in their first pre-season outing against Loughborough University. 

It was a 99-64 win in the annual pre-season “Red vs Purple” fixture. Miryne Thomas led the Riders with 17 points, in a game, backed up by 15 from Jaren Holmes. 

Thomas impressed throughout, making highlight plays and showing early aggression to build his points tally in the opening stages. 

Another positive was the return of Mo Walker and Conner Washington following their injuries last season. Both put on good showings in positive minutes. 

“It was great to have them back,” said Head Coach Rob Paternostro post-game. 

“Conner missed a lot of time with a back injury last season. I gave him a lot of minutes tonight, and he was the same old Conner. Mo also missed almost all the season, and he played really well today.”

Played for both: Carrington Love

Former Riders guard Carrington Love joined the team mid-season, after playing the 2019/20 season for Donar. 

There, he averaged 13.4 points and 5.8 assists and 2.3 steals, helping Donar to a 17-5 record in his 22 games. 

Love played another season in the Netherlands and spent a year in Germany before coming to the Riders in January 2023. 

Love went on to drop the second most points in the BBL Playoff Final vs London Lions with 17, behind teammate Zach Jackson’s 20.

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our season opener against the Cheshire Phoenix!

Get tickets to our preseason home opener against USA Select here!

Donar Groningen: Through the years

Leicester Riders will hed to the Netherlands to take on Donar Groningen during their pre-season. The game will take place on Friday, September 1.

Riders face Donar annually, providing a stern test during the Riders’ season preparations.

Donar, seven-time Dutch champions, enter this campaign after finishing second in the playoffs last season.

The game will provide key minutes for the newly formed Riders roster, looking to build on-court chemistry for a packed Britsh Basketball League schedule.

Donar has a storied history in Dutch basketball. We take a look back into the prestigious organisation’s past. 


Founded in 1951, Donar is one of the original Dutch first-division clubs, entering the league in 1970. 12 years on, they won their first championship with an emphatic 158–58 win against BOB Oud-Beijerland. 

The 100-point win has never been repeated in the Netherlands, as Donar wrote themselves into the history books. 

Following relegation just one year later, Donar returned to the first division in 1986, where they remained ever since.

Winning ways

The 2009–10 season kick-started Donar’s modern trophy-winning run. They won their third national championship, beating West-Brabant Giants 4–1 in the Finals. 

The title-winning squad returned for the next season, and they became the first Dutch basketball team to take part in the qualifying rounds of the new Euroleague.

Star man Jason Dourisseau was named the Dutch League MVP, and the team won a second NBB Cup in 2011, beating WCAA Giants. 

They fell just short in the playoffs Finals to Zorg en Zekerheid Leiden, in a historic game seven featuring three overtimes.

The 2013/14 season saw a reshuffled roster, which won the 2014 NBB Cup by beating Zorg en Zekerheid Leiden 79–71. They went on to win their fourth national title, this time emerging victors of a seven-game series against SPM Shoeters Den Bosch. 

Dynastic run 

In the 2015 offseason, Erik Braal took the role of Head Coach, and became the most successful coach in club history, winning five trophies in six seasons. The first: Donar’s fifth DBL title. 

In the 2016–17 season, Donar reached the second round of the FIBA Europe Cup, their best European performance in club history. That season, they won the treble for the first time, winning the Supercup, the NBB Cup and the playoff title. 

In 2017, Donar again qualified for the FIBA Europe Cup. They made strides in Europe, progressing all the way to the semi-finals of the playoffs before falling to the defending Italian champion Reyer Venezia, despite winning the second leg at home.

Domestically, the club had success behind star man Brandyn Curry, who was named league MVP. Donar won its third consecutive Dutch title after sweeping ZZ Leiden in the finals.

The following season, Donar reached the round of 16 in the FIBA Europe Cup for the second time in their history.


In 2020, Braal departed the club. A year later, Donar joined the newly formed BNXT League, which merged the national leagues of Belgium and the Netherlands. They immediately added more silverware to their packed cabinet, winning their seventh Cup, and making the playoff finals.  

In 2022/23, under Head Coach Andrej Štimac, Donar reached the finals of the Dutch League for the 13th time. In the series, Donar played ZZ Leiden once again and narrowly lost a decisive Game 5, therefore finishing second in last season’s playoffs.

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our season opener against the Cheshire Phoenix!

Get tickets to our preseason home opener against USA Select here!