Kimbal Mackenzie named to 2024 British Basketball League British Team of the Year

The British Basketball League announced today that Leicester Riders captain Kimbal Mackenzie has been named to the 2024 British Team of the Year.

The Canadian/British guard finished the Championship season as the Riders’ second-leading scorer with 13.2 points and leading playmaker with 5.2 assists per game. 

Mackenzie’s assist average ranked fifth in the British Basketball League among all players. He also ranked fifth in free throw percentage for players who have over 40 attempts on the season, shooting 87.2% from the foul line. 

This was Mackenzie’s best statistical season in his five-year professional career. He averaged a career high in points, rebounds, assists and minutes. His performances earned him his first appearance on the British Team of the Year in his third season in Leicester. 

Mackenzie scored in double digits in 28 of 39 appearances this season, topped by his 26 points and 15 assists against the Plymouth City Patriots in March. He was a consistent performer in the clutch, taking lead and hitting big shots in key moments late in games. 

He was named a 2024 All Star in recognition for his performances this season. 

Mackenzie commented: “It’s a huge honour to be named to the British Team of the Year. I’m proud to represent a fast growing league with a tonne of talent. 

“Credit goes to the coaching staff and my teammates for trusting me and putting me in a position to succeed.”

Kimbal Mackenzie named 2024 British Basketball League All-Star

Leicester Riders captain Kimbal Mackenzie has been named to the 2024 British Basketball League All-Star team.

South Head Coach Petar Bozic picked Mackenzie as one of his five reserves to suit up at the Copper Box Arena on March 24. 

This comes after Riders duo Teddy Allen and Jaren Holmes were named All-Star starters a week ago.

Mackenzie is one of the League’s premier playmakers, ranking top 10 in assists per game on the season. He is scoring 13 points per game from 44.9% shooting, and has been the team’s go to man in the clutch of late.

The full All-Star teams are as follows:

GuardLarry Austin Jr. (c) –Newcastle EaglesMatthew Morgan- London Lions
GuardJordan Johnson- Newcastle EaglesJaren Holmes- Leicester Riders
ForwardAaryn Rai- Cheshire PhoenixTeddy Allen (c)- Leicester Riders
ForwardTajh Green- Newcastle EaglesSam Dekker- London Lions
CenterEthan Chargois- Cheshire PhoenixBrad Greene- Bristol Flyers
Reserve Jamell Anderson- Manchester GiantsKimbal Mackenzie- Leicester Riders
Reserve Clifton Moore Jr- Caledonia GladiatorsTJ Atwood- Plymouth City Patriots
Reserve Rickey McGill- Newcastle EaglesTevin Olison- Bristol Flyers
Reserve Jalon Pipkins- Sheffield SharksPadiet Wang- Surrey Scorchers
Reserve LaQuincy Rideau- Cheshire PhoenixGabe Olaseni- London Lions

You can get tickets to see your Riders at the All-Star game here!

Trophy by Numbers: Breaking down the stats for the Riders Final Four clash

Leicester Riders are set to take on the Cheshire Phoenix in the British Basketball League Trophy Final Four on Saturday.

Here, we take a look at the numbers behind the matchup…

Locking off the paint

The Riders have invested in the defensive side of the ball, making the paint their own over the Trophy campaign. 

They lead the competition in blocks, sending away 6.3 shots per game, with four Riders averaging at least a block per outing. They’re led by Canadian forward TJ Lall, who has denied opponents on six different occasions through the four group games. 

Riders captain, Kimbal Mackenzie, said his CEBL teammate over the summer has been an integral factor in the defensive effort:

“TJ is a high-level, all-around threat. He can score the ball to a great standard, he is an underrated passer, and his defence, length and athleticism are special. I’ve gone against him many times in practice, and he can be tough to shake.”

READ MORE: Kimbal Mackenzie previews the Final Four

This rim protection will be vital against the Phoenix, who lead the Trophy in points in the paint with 47 per game. 

Battle on the boards

No defensive possession is complete until the rebound is pulled down, and the Riders have been closing the possessions to a high standard in recent weeks. They pull down the second-most defensive boards in the Trophy with 30 per game, just 0.5 per game away from the highest-ranked London Lions. 

The battle on the boards will be key in this matchup. Cheshire crashes the offensive glass to grab the second most offensive rebounds in the competition with 13.5 per game. 

However, their leading offensive rebounder, Ethan Chargois, will be sidelined for the game after suffering a dislocated finger last time out against the Sheffield Sharks. 

For the Riders, Lall, again, has been a beast on the boards, grabbing 4.8 defensive rebounds per outing. But it’s big man Samuel Idowu who has rebounded at the highest rate in total, with 7.5 per game, including 2.8 on the offensive glass. 

Idowu, who has been recovering from a season-ending knee injury for the previous two seasons, is back to his bruising best. He feels back to 100% fitness and can play with full confidence and athleticism. 

“My body has been feeling good,” said Idowu. “It’s finally feeling normal after recovering from an injury for two seasons. I’m not overthinking any decisions on the court and playing how I used to play. 

“I feel 100% because I have confidence in my knee again. It doesn’t hold me back from doing what I want to be doing out there when jumping or running, as it did at the start of the season. I’m where I wanted to be when I started my rehab.”

READ MORE: Samuel Idowu previews the Final Four

Idowu has ranked second on the team in scoring during the Trophy group, scoring 13.8 points per game after his 17-point explosion against the Newcastle Eagles to help send the Riders to the Final Four. 

Track meet in transition 

A key to the Phoenix’s success this season has been their ability to get out and run. They lead all teams in points off turnovers (24.75 per game) and fastbreak points (23.5 per game) and take the ball from the other team at the highest rate (21.11 turnover %), leading to the breakaway buckets. 

American guard Laquincy Rideau has been a key factor in this, leading the team in steals, and ranking third among all players in that statistical category.

The Riders will have to play clean basketball, which they have done throughout January, turning the ball over the second-least with 11.75 turnovers per game. 

Head Coach Rob Paternostro emphasised the importance of winning in transition:

“We can’t allow easy baskets. We have to take away easy runouts and layups, offensive rebounds and second-chance opportunities. We have to make it tough for them to get good looks. 

“In these types of games, it’s important to limit offensive opportunities, and if you do that, you put yourself in a good position to win.

“They’re really good in the open floor- they’ve scored the most in transition of any team season. They’ve done a good job of getting second-chance opportunities. That’s going to be vital to stop. 

“When we’ve been able to limit those against anyone, we’ve been successful this year.”

READ MORE: Rob Paternostro previews the Final Four

Want to see the Riders go for gold this weekend? You can join the Sea of Red and get behind the team! 

Get tickets here!

Kimbal Mackenzie named to British Basketball League Team of the Week

Riders captain Kimbal Mackenzie has been named to the British Basketball League Team of the Week for the final round of Trophy group games.

In a win-or-go-home clash on the road against the Newcastle Eagles, Mackenzie went off for 22 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds to lead the team to a 101-85 win.

The victory saw the Riders through to the final four in Birmingham, where they will take on the Cheshire Phoenix.

Get tickets here!

“I let the game come to me, didn’t force anything and played within myself,” said Mackenzie.

“Shots were falling, my teammates got me good looks, and Newcastle sat back into a zone a lot which got some clean looks from three. It seemed like guys were making shots every time I passed the ball, so all credit to them.”

Kimbal Mackenzie previews the British Basketball League Trophy Final Four

Ahead of the Leicester Riders British Basketball League Trophy Final Four clash against Cheshire Phoenix on Saturday, captain Kimbal Mackenzie reflects on the campaign so far, and looks ahead to the matchup…

Thank you to everybody for your incredible support during our Trophy run so far. We’re all excited that we’ve been able to pay our fans back with another trip to Birmingham this season. 

I’m proud of the team for how we’ve played during the group phase, and that we’ve booked our ticket to the Final Four. 

Personally, I’m really looking forward to going back to Birmingham. I love that city, and I love that arena. It’s always a great atmosphere, and it’s cool to have a new format with the Final Four being played out over the weekend.

Hopefully, we can take care of business on Saturday and have the opportunity to play there again on Sunday in the Final.

We’re really looking forward to the opportunity to play Chesire again in the semi-finals. They have gotten the better of us so far this season, so we will really be looking to play well and get the win.

We’ve put together a good month of basketball so far, and most importantly, handled business at home during the group phase. Of course, we didn’t get the result we wanted in London, but they’re a tough team to play, and we knew that winning 3 games should be enough. 

Going on the road and beating Newcastle was a great response. It was a fun game, and those are the games you remember, win or lose. It’s always a good atmosphere there, so adding a win-or-go-home scenario to it created a playoff-esque environment.

It was great to get the win, and it was important to get a big game under our belts before heading to the Final Four.

The arrival of Teddy Allen has been a great boost for us over the last month. Of course, the thing that stands out with Teddy is his ability to score the ball, but he has also provided us with added depth and an overall confidence and swagger. 

There is no doubt that he is a winner. It’s simple to say, but he cares about winning. You can tell throughout the week at practice- he always wants to play more, and he works hard on both ends. He’s been great to have around. 

And beyond Teddy, we’ve had guys stepping up all the way down the roster. We’re definitely more locked into the game plan, and locked in on defence, and a special shout goes to  TJ Lall, who has been playing excellently over the last stretch.  

TJ is a high-level, all-around threat. He can score the ball to a great standard, he is an underrated passer, and his defence, length and athleticism are special. I’ve gone against him many times in practice, and he can be tough to shake. 

Another shout-out goes to Sam Idowu, who has also been playing excellently recently. He’s given us a spark off the bench which is so important, he’s been shooting it well and finishing around the net effectively. His activity level, blocking shots, rebounding, and overall energy have been amazing for us.

It’s also been great to add Duke to the roster! 

Duke has fit in seamlessly, and he’s a true professional. He came in and learned the sets quickly, and understands our concepts really well. 

His length and athleticism and his ability to finish above the rim have really benefited us on the court, and just having a great guy around who wants to win is always beneficial. It’s been great to have him and has been a brilliant addition to our team.

Having guys up and down the roster who are locked in and playing with confidence and energy has been great and it’s something we’re going to have to fall back on going into Birmingham. 

We’re hoping to be playing games in back-to-back days, and part of what has allowed us to have a good group stage is getting contributions from all over the place. 

And as usual, we’ll have to lock in on defence, rebound and take care of the ball. When we’ve done those things well, we’ve been on the right side of the scoreline this season. 

We’re hoping to do that twice this weekend and bring some silverware back to Leicester. We can’t wait to see that Sea of Red in Birmingham!

See you there! 

Your captain,

Kimbal Mackenzie

Want to join the Sea of Red and get behind the Riders in Birmingham?

Get your tickets here!

Captain’s Log: Kimbal Mackenzie on the season so far

Leicester Riders captain Kimbal Mackenzie shares his thoughts on the team’s British Basketball League season so far…

As always, thank you all for your support this season.

I can’t express enough how important it has been to have you in our corner. You have been right behind us when we needed you most, and it’s been amazing to see the entire club come together the way it has. 

As you all know, there’s been some big changes to the roster.  We all understand that there’s a lot that goes into these decisions, and it’s the organisation’s job to do what’s right for the team. Our job is to trust the people making the decisions and show up and perform on the court with the team. 

It’s a difficult part of professional basketball, but I hope the guys can learn and grow from the experience and keep moving in the right direction. They’re good people, and I wish them all the best in their careers.

And on the other side of that, we have a fresh face in the building! It’s been great to have Sesan here. He has an infectious love for the game and loves to compete. You can tell he’s disappointed when practice ends because he just loves to play. 

On the court, he’s curious about the game and how we want to play. To lead NCAA Division II in assists is an incredible feat, so we know we have another ball handler out there. He knows how to play the game the right way and play both sides of the ball.

There’s a different energy about us now. Everyone is on the same page, and we’re all locked into getting better every day and winning as many games as possible. It’s been a good couple of weeks of practice, and we all know that this is a long season with a lot of games to play.

Our defence has been improving, and we’re buying in on that end of the floor. It is a challenge at times to do that- it’s hard work to commit to defence- but we’re seeing the guys apply themselves to that side of the ball. 

Connor and Mo have been especially important in building the mentality of this group. They’re the pinnacle of professionalism, and I can say that having played with them for three years now.  

Our current group of guys come into the practice with a good focus, and that’s all you can ask for. They show up and are professionals whether they’re playing well or not. This group has shown up and put their best foot forward.

It’s exciting to see guys getting more opportunities. Victor, for example, has been getting more minutes, and it’s a great chance for some guys to step into a bigger role. I’ve been in that position in my career where the team needs you to step into a bigger role, and as a pro, you have to stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready.

Now, the aim is to keep improving every day. We’ve shown all year we can put points on the board and that we have plenty of talent. For us, it’s about tightening things up so that when these games get close and physical, we can fall back on our habits and win plenty of games. 

We’re ready for the challenge, and we can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings. 

Your captain,

Kimbal Mackenzie 

Riders review: October summary

October was a busy month of Riders basketball, featuring six games and four road trips.

Here, we take a look back at the month of action.

October games

The Riders went 3-3 across the month of October, facing two doubleheader weekends and four games on the road. They began with a bang, winning 92-85 in a wire-to-wire game on the road against the Eagles, led by Miryne Thomas’ 17 points. 

They followed this up at home a week later, beating the Surrey Scorchers comfortably 91-74. October featured two home games against Surrey. In the second, the Riders pulled off the biggest recorded comeback in British Basketball League history to take the win. 

The Riders fell to the Manchester Giants in the second of back-to-back games, lost another wire-to-wire battle against the Eagles and fell short in the final seconds against the Celadonia Gladiators, as Clifton Moore Jr.’s hookshot sent Leicester back to the East Midlands empty handed. 

Going .500 in October means the Riders sit fifth in the standing with a 5-4 record, two wins behind second. 

Magic Miryne

Leading the team over the month was Miryne Thomas, who averaged 13.5 points and 7.7 rebounds over the six games. His performances earned him a place on the British Basketball Team of the Week twice, leading the Riders scoring in each of their wins. 

His best performance of October was the second of back-to-back 20 point double-doubles as he led the comeback against Surrey. Thomas put up 20 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block in his stat sheet-stuffing effort. 

Thomas’ rebounding efforts have seen him rise the League charts, now ranking seventh in total rebounds among British Basketball League players. 

Jaren Holmes remains the Riders’ leading scorer on the season, after putting up 12.3 points per game over the month. 

Building off the bench

The Riders’ strength in depth continued throughout October, outscoring their opponent’s bench by an average of 8.2 points per game. 

The team had a double-digit scorer off the bench in five of their six October games, Kimbal Mackenzie leading the second unit with 12 points per game. He led the team’s scoring with 22 points in the Riders’ first game against Surrey. 

Leicester’s captain came up huge in the clutch against the Gladiators, making what appeared to be the game-winning basket with seven seconds left. Mackenzie leading the second wave of attack for the Riders is pivotal to their success.  

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to the next Riders home game against Newcastle Eagles!

Captain’s Log: Kimbal Mackenzie’s thoughts on the season so far

Thank you to everybody for their incredible support this season. It’s been great to see you all back in the stands and getting behind the team. 

The start to the season has been a great challenge for us with plenty of lessons, but ultimately I’m proud of the way this team is coming together. We have a phenomenal group stacked with talent, and I’m happy to see that starting to come to fruition on the court. 

Opening night was an important lesson for the team. Give Cheshire credit. They showed that they can be a dangerous team, and they outplayed us. 

We have a reputation for being one of the better teams in the league and for playing well at home, but we learned quickly that if we don’t show up and bring our best, we’re going to get punched in the mouth.

The first game of the year is always tricky, but the bottom line is they played harder than us and outperformed us. There are no easy games in this league, and that was important for us to learn quickly. 

This was an almost brand-new group with a couple of injuries early on, so we really didn’t have a great idea of who we were when we first entered the season. But I believe in this group, and I believe in this coaching staff. 

Every week we get in better shape, and we better understand our team philosophy, our roles, and each other. We’re a few weeks into the season, and we are all getting to know each other better every day. 

Since opening night, I have definitely seen the team start to gel. We’re finding our roles and learning how to play with one another. The way we beat Newcastle was especially important. It’s really good to show you can grind a game out early in the season. 

We’re starting to find our identity as a team. This roster is incredibly dynamic, and we have a lot of three-dimensional guys who make plays in multiple ways. We will be a difficult team to scout because we have many guys who can score, pass, rebound and understand the game well. 

You don’t know where we’re going to find success every night because we have a lot of playmakers and shot-makers.  With this packed schedule, seeing teams four times a season, that kind of versatility is going to be essential. 

Having a dynamic group that can beat teams in a lot of different ways gives us an edge. Ultimately, you never know how we’re going to approach a game. That comes from our depth, which is one of our biggest strengths. We have gotten contributions from everyone.

I could go all the way down the roster talking about the players who have contributed this season. It’s truly been a group effort, top to bottom. 

One guy who has somewhat flown under the radar and who has quietly been playing great is Braelen. He’s been a monster in the paint. He’s tough to stop: He has a great touch around the hoop and a good understanding of the game. He’s been excellent for us. 

He brings something that I can say for all of the players on our roster: fearlessness. The returning players all bring pride and toughness to the roster, and the guys that have come in have amplified that. They don’t back down from anyone.

I’m also proud to be a part of a team that puts winning first. Every player on our roster is dedicated to the teams success. The more we give ourselves to the team, the better we’re all going to play. We’ve done a good job as a team to go out there, be competitive together and enjoy winning.

For the rest of the season, I’m excited to see this team’s development. 

The trait of great teams is their progression through the season, and we have so much room to grow. We will, of course, have many ups and downs over the course of the season and will likely lose another game (as great as it would be to go undefeated the rest of the way), but the important thing is to keep looking forward and improving every day.

We have seen that early in the season, and we’ll work hard every day to continue to improve. 

Thank you to all of our fans for your unwavering support. We, as ever, have felt your support in the stands this season, and we will continue to work hard to make Leicester proud the rest of the way. 

Your captain, 

Kimbal Mackenzie

Riders abroad: Mackenzie and Lall make CEBL Conference Finals

Leicester Riders duo TJ Lall and Kimbal Mackenzie are headed to the CEBL Championship weekend!

The Canadian pair have spent the summer with the Niagara River Lions, who booked their place in the Eastern Conference final with a game to spare. 

Four CEBL teams will compete for the coveted CEBL Championship Trophy at the Langley Events Centre, the River Lions’ Conference Final taking place on August 11. 

Mackenzie and Lall showed out in the River Lions’ final game of the regular season. 

Lall had an impactful outing with a game-high 18 points to go along with six rebounds, four assists and a block. Mackenzie scored 17 points and dished seven assists to direct the Niagara offence as the starting point guard.

“I feel like we’re all together all the time,” Lall said after the game. “Our defence picked up throughout the season, and we’re gaining trust with each other.”

Want to see Lall and Mackenzie in action?

Get tickets to our home preseason opener against USA Select!

Quote credit: Niagara River Lions

An update from Head Coach Rob Paternostro

Firstly, I’d like to thank everybody for your continued support. The offseason is an exciting time for us, but we can’t wait to see you back in the stands for our first game!

Looking back, we’re coming off a really good season. We improved from the beginning to the end, and I thought we were a better team at the O2 Arena in May than we were throughout the course of the year. That’s satisfying as a coach.

We just couldn’t get over the hump against London. We had opportunities, but we just weren’t able to convert them. But when you look at how we competed against the rest of the league, we had an exceptional record. 

This time of year is exciting for coaches. We’re looking at prospective players and putting the pieces together. 

We anticipate having to sign a lot of players so we’re trying to see who is the right fit. It’s a change from last season where almost everyone came back. This year is going to be totally different.

It’s a huge task going into the offseason after we’ve had the core of our team together for so long, but we have to do our due diligence looking at the players that are out there and trying to figure out the best way to rebuild. 

We haven’t ruled out re-signing guys from last season, but we have to understand that our players have put in really good seasons and will be marketable around the world.

Having Kimbal back is a blessing for us. On the court, he’s a really dangerous player to deal with for opponents. His ability to score and get in the lane to make key plays at key moments is really valuable to our team. 

Off the court, his leadership and commitment to practice and gameplan are second to none. He’s going to help immensely with the transition with new guys.

READ MORE: Return of the Mack!

And speaking of new players, we’re delighted to have Sam Idowu on board! 

He is versatile, which I really like about him. You can put him in different positions on the floor, so he’s not just a traditional big. His versatility will be really beneficial. 

He’s a good rebounder and he’s always been a high-field goal percentage scorer, so we have an efficient player with energy and versatility. I’m really looking forward to working with Sam.

He has great size and strength, and I think it’s important in basketball to have that. Ultimately, you have to protect and finish around the basket.

It’s an exciting time, and when you evaluate and sign a player, you certainly look forward to working with them.

READ MORE: Riders sign Idowu

It’s almost like unwrapping a gift! So when we get to August, we can’t wait to look at some of these players. It’s one of the parts of the job I look forward to. It’s a challenge, and it’s not a science by any means, but I’m looking forward to it. 

We know there’s plenty of games in the BBL, so there are lots of opportunities to compete, and we’re excited about the challenge ahead.

Thank you all for your patience this offseason, and we have some exciting news down the line for you all! 

Rob Paternostro