“It’s definitely a rivalry”- Duke Shelton on facing his former team, the Newcastle Eagles

Duke Shelton, in his second outing in Riders red, is set to walk into his old building in a win-or-go-home game against his former club.

The American forward suited up for the Newcastle Eagles between 2021 and 2022, and is well accustomed to the historic rivalry these teams hold. Shelton knows all too well the environment that is waiting for the Riders in the North East. 

“It’s a highly anticipated game, and there’s been a bit of heat between the teams in the last couple of games,” said Shelton. “Everybody is going to be up for it, and we know it’s going to be rowdy in there.

“We’re two of the most winning teams in the country. It’s definitely a rivalry, and you feel that when you play in these games. There’s definitely more energy, focus, and will to win when these teams play.”

The American, born in Florida, signed last week, and impressed in limited minutes on his debut in the Riders’ 104-88 win. He appreciated the chance to take to the court and impact the game where he could. 

“I felt comfortable, and really at home. I didn’t play a whole lot because I had just arrived the day before, but overall, I think I gave good effort and energy, and it was a good team win.

“I’m trying to bring energy, rebounding, communication and running to the team, and I think I did that during my time out there.”

Having been with the team for just over a week, Shelton can already see the makings of a team ready to make a run in the Trophy. 

“We have all the potential in the world. We are a pretty balanced team in all positions, and we have good team chemistry, so we just need to keep rolling. The Giants game was a good win, so we need to pick up where we left off.”

The Eagles, too, are coming into this one after a confidence-building win. They went into Bristol to play the Flyers, and got it done in the clutch to set up this knockout-style matchup against the Riders.

It was Shelton’s former teammate Darius Defoe who hit the go-ahead bucket from the elbow with seconds on the clock, and he thinks the veteran forward will have a say in the proceedings on Friday. 

“Darius is huge for them. You saw that last time out in the clutch- that was his signature shot. 

“He’s got a lot of experience, so everything he does is second nature. It’s huge to have a guy on the floor with you like that, especially on the defensive end. He can get guys in their spots and communicate- he’s the quarterback. He’ll play a huge role in the game.”

But despite the presence of the most decorated player in league history lining up against the Riders, they enter the game with confidence, having already gone into Newcastle and coming away with a win earlier in the year. 

“We match up pretty well against them, so we’ve got to come out and play team basketball. The atmosphere is going to be great, we know that, so we have to stick together and not get sidetracked by anything that’s not basketball. We can’t focus on anything that’s outside of sidelines.”

To fight for silverware so soon after signing is an exciting prospect for Shelton. With his new team, he’s ready to go to battle and help bring the Trophy to the East Midlands. 

“It would mean everything to win the Trophy. It’s what basketball is all about, and what every player is dreaming of. To have the opportunity, and be a part of a team that has to potential to win it is a great feeling, and we’d love to bring that to reality for the fans.”


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5 things we learned from Giants win

The Riders improved to 2-1 in the British Basketball League Trophy Group B last night with a 104-88 win against the Manchester Giants.

The victory puts them in the driving seat as Leicester looks to advance to the semi-finals in the Utilita Arena, Birmingham.

Here’s what we can take from the game…

TJ explodes with efficiency

The ever-reliable TJ Lall showed his ability to explode for big points last night and proved pivotal down the stretch. 

The Canadian wing put 19 points and 5 rebounds on the Giants in 19 minutes of action, shooting 7-8 from the field and 5-6 from deep.

Lall drained two clutch threes when the game was tight in the fourth, building a platform for the Riders to see the game out from. 

His size and strength down low provided much-needed resistance at the rim and on the glass, and his game-leading index rating of 27 demonstrates his impact on the game. 

“I was getting open shots at the beginning, saw a couple of shots go down and kept shooting,” said Lall post-game. 

“TJ is an excellent player,” added Head Coach Paternostro.

“He can play multiple positions and fill multiple roles. He doesn’t have to score. It doesn’t have to be about that for him. He can play defence, pass and rebound, so he’s a really valuable player for this team.”

Riders show their strength in depth

The Riders, having made two additions to their roster in a month with the arrival of Teddy Allen and Duke Shelton, flexed their strength in depth last night as they achieved a century of points. 

Ten Riders saw court time, five of which scored in double-digits led by Allen’s 21, Lall’s 19 and Miryne Thomas’ 16 points. 

Every Riders player finished with a positive +/- in the win, the most effective being Thomas, who finished with a +/- of 19 in a near-triple double performance. 

This proved a significant advantage over a short-handed Giants team, who in the absence of leading scorer and GB international Jamell Anderson, fielded seven players for significant minutes. 

Being able to transition seamlessly between the first and second unit is a strength of this Riders roster as the games progress.  


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Duke impresses on debut 

New Riders signing Duke Shelton impressed on his first Riders outing after joining the team only the day before. 

In six minutes, the American forward put up 6 points and 6 rebounds, 3 on the offensive end. His energy saw him all over the offensive glass, making an impact where he could during his limited court time. 

“I thought he was great today,” said Paternostro following Shelton’s performance. “He only practised with us for the first time yesterday, so he came into the game not knowing a lot of our stuff, but with his effort, he deserved more minutes than I gave him tonight. 

“He’s something we haven’t had with his athleticism and ability to run from the centre spot. He did a good job tonight.”

Allen’s infectious impact 

The Riders are 5-2 in all competitions since the arrival of CEBL Teddy Allen, who has led the team in scoring in every appearance so far this season. 

This time, it was 21 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals, which led all scorers in the game. 

He has sparked life into the team, who are playing with confidence as they look to attack the month of January and lift the Trophy in Birmingham. 

Lall, who played against Allen in the CEBL this summer as he suited up for the Niagara River Lions, complimented an overlooked aspect of Allen’s game: his defence. 

“He’s helped us a lot defensively and takes the pressure off our defence on the other end with his scoring,” said Lall.  “He makes our team way better.”

Win, and we’re in

The Riders’ 2-1 record in Group B means a win next week in Newcastle will most likely be enough to see Leicester through to the semi-finals in Birmingham. 

The Newcastle Eagles take on the Bristol Flyers on Friday evening, and a win would also give them a 2-1 record entering the faceoff against the Riders. 

This would mean a win would see both teams through, creating a knockout environment in the clash between the two long-standing rivals. 

For Leicester, regardless of permutations elsewhere, the focus is on the win on the road. With nine days between the Giants and Eagles games, they can rest up and prepare for the showdown. 


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Riders sign Duke Shelton!

Leicester Riders are thrilled to welcome the arrival of Duke Shelton to their 2023/24 roster. 

The American big brings a wealth of experience to Leicester, having played eight seasons of professional basketball across Europe. 

Shelton played two seasons for the Newcastle Eagles in the British Basketball League. The 6’10” forward averaged a double-double in ten games for the Eagles in the 2021/22 season, logging 14.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. 

The 28-year-old’s European experience has seen him compete in Israel, Finland and Slovakia, and now he brings his talents to the East Midlands. 

Shelton’s eligibility means he does not require a certificate of sponsorship since he already possesses a right to work in the UK. 

“It feels good to sign with the team,” commented Shelton. 

“It’s a blessing really to be a part of such an established club. I’m excited and anxious all in one to get started! I know it’s the right decision, and I couldn’t be happier about it.”

“We’re excited to have Duke sign with the team,” added Head Coach Rob Paternostro. 

“We were looking for more depth up front and someone that plays energy, quickness and athleticism. He brings all of those things.  

“We were already familiar with him following his time in Newcastle, and we think his skill set can be a good addition to our roster.”


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