Leicester Riders announce interim management structure

Leicester Riders announce new interim management arrangements as part of an ongoing restructure of their three businesses.

Simon Winfield, Managing Director of Red Monkey Play will, on an interim part-time basis, provide ongoing managerial oversight of the businesses, and support and drive, in particular, the preparations for the new Riders basketball season.

Mark Torr, joint Managing Partner at Leicester accountants Torr Waterfield, will also continue to provide financial oversight of the businesses, while the new structure of the businesses is finalised and implemented.

Simon and Mark are long time sponsors and supporters of the Riders, and Simon is also the Chairman of Leicester Riders Foundation, as well as another well-known Leicester charity, the Furnley House Foundation.

Riders Chairman Kevin Routledge said,

“We are hugely appreciative of the support and experience Simon and Mark are providing to the businesses over the last number of months, and their commitment to defining a new way forward for the growth and sustainability of the Club.

“We are all busy making preparations for the new season in September, and these changes will accelerate that process.”

Leicester Riders announce departure of Managing Director Russell Levenston

Leicester Riders announce the departure of Managing Director Russell Levenston.

Russell is moving on to pursue new opportunities, after 17 years with the Club.

Riders wish to thank Russell for his great service to the Club, which covered a period of very significant developments off the court, and exceptional success on the court.

The Board and all the staff and players at the Riders wish Russell well in all his future endeavours.

Leicester Riders Chairman Kevin Routledge commented:

“Thank you to Russell for great service over many years, which helped to develop and grow the Club. His work is appreciated by everybody at the Riders, and we wish him luck for whatever is next.”

Please stand by for further communications from the Club, which will be provided in the coming days.

A message from Russell Levenston

Dear Riders Fans, Sponsors, Staff, and Volunteers,

After 17 years, more latterly as Managing Director of the Leicester Riders, it is with a very heavy heart that I must say goodbye. I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has supported me since I joined the club. I have countless stories and fond memories shared with the people whose lives we as a club have impacted.

My journey with the Riders began in 2007 when I moved from Milton Keynes to Leicester as a young British basketball fanatic. Vince Macaulay, my mentor for over 30 years, guided me as I took the bold step of investing in the Leicester Riders. Many thought I was crazy, but I believed in the potential of British basketball to change lives. I am proud to say that belief has been validated by the programs’ successes – the men’s team winning 17 BBL national titles in the past 11 years and the women’s team securing 4 WBBL national titles.

One of my proudest achievements has been establishing pathways for athletes in partnership with Loughborough University, Loughborough College, and Charnwood College. These pathways have allowed aspiring professional athletes to receive high-level education comparable to opportunities in the USA and other countries. The academy’s success in EABL, WEABL, and BUCS is a testament to our efforts.

I would like to extend a special thank you to Robert Jelley for his unwavering support, both personally and financially. Without Robert’s support, the Leicester Riders program would not be where it is today, and I am forever grateful for his contributions. Robert helped lay the foundations and supported a great community program that has changed many lives.

My passion has always been to prove that British basketball can be successful both on and off the court with the right approach. I want to thank every Riders fan, volunteer, player, and staff member who believed in the vision and direction of the club. Your support has been invaluable, especially in those early days.

There are many players and staff I would like to acknowledge, but I must single out Rob Paternostro, who has been a colleague and great friend for the past 16 years. Our journey together has been filled with challenges, but I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else. I have loved every minute of it both the ups and downs! 

To the sponsors and partners, thank you for your unwavering support and belief in our vision. Your passion and commitment have been instrumental in our success.

Lastly, I want to thank my family. My parents and brothers, who initially thought I was crazy for leaving my job at Reebok in 2007 to take on this project, have supported me every step of the way. My amazing wife has been my rock, enduring my 24/7 work schedule, and my children, who have become diehard Riders fans. One of my best moments was during the playoffs this year, seeing Noah on the drums and Lydia on the horn, rallying the Riders fans. My family has shared many special moments with me during this journey, and I couldn’t have done it without their support. 

As I step away, I am not sure what comes next other than taking some time off to spend with my family. However, I am confident that I will not be far from British basketball for long.

Good luck to all of the Riders family and to Kevin Routledge, who will continue to take the Riders program forward.

With gratitude and best wishes,

Russell Levenston

Club Statement: British Basketball League

Following the announcement by the British Basketball Federation, the governing body of Basketball League Ltd (BBL), to terminate the current operational professional league licence, the BBL Clubs have taken the decision to issue the following statement.

In what has been a very challenging period in recent times, the decision to act by the BBF has been accepted in good faith by the incumbent club members of the British Basketball League, including Leicester Riders.

We understand the decision was not taken without serious consideration of what would be best for the future of professional basketball across the UK.

Furthermore, the BBL Club owners will now begin the task of co-operating with the BBF to ensure there is a topflight men’s professional League operating from September 2024 and to assist British Basketball and its stakeholders in the rebuilding and strengthening of the position for our sport.

The British Basketball League has made a significant impact in the growth of the game in profile, participation, development pathways, performance and especially in new purpose built Arenas and it is our intention to continue these contributions in partnership with the governing body.

Further information will be made available in the near future, meanwhile all existing clubs will continue with their summer preparations for the new season.

Leicester Riders and Leicester Arena Partner with Cyferd to Propel Sports Operations into the Future

Leicester Riders Basketball Club and Mattioli Arena, Leicester, proudly announce a new partnership with Cyferd, a leading innovator in artificial intelligence and digital solutions. Cyferd is set to become the Official AI and Digital Partner for both entities, signalling a significant leap forward in the integration of cutting-edge technology within the sports landscape.

Kevin Routledge, Chairman of Leicester Riders, and Jas Hayer, Global Sales Director at Cyferd, shake hands.

This strategic collaboration aims to enhance the efficiency of operational decisions within the Riders and Arena. Cyferd’s AI-driven platform operates as a centralised hub, offering comprehensive solutions for team management, development, knowledge, and training. The Cyferd Sport Platform is meticulously designed to address the unique operational needs of team sports clubs, providing an integrated ecosystem for streamlined operations.

Ranjit Bahia, CEO of Cyferd, expressed his excitement about the partnership, stating, “We are thrilled to join forces with the Leicester Riders and Leicester Arena. Cyferd is dedicated to supporting the local community and bringing innovation to the forefront of sports operations.”

Kevin Routledge, Chairman of Leicester Riders, and Jas Hayer, Global Sales Director at Cyferd, discuss the impact AI can have on sport.

Kevin Routledge, Chairman of the Leicester Riders and Mattioli Arena, emphasised the pivotal role of AI in the future of sports operations, stating, “As someone who focuses on data, I believe that integrating AI into our operations is not just a choice but a necessity. This collaboration with Cyferd signifies our commitment to staying ahead in the sports technology game, ensuring the Leicester Riders and Mattioli Arena are at the forefront of the digital revolution in sports.”

Kevin Routledge, Chairmain of Leicester Riders, discussing how Leicester Riders is leading the way with embracing AI.

The partnership signifies a shared vision for the future, where advanced technology and sports excellence converge. The Leicester Riders and Arena, in collaboration with Cyferd, are poised to redefine the landscape of sports operations, embracing a new era of innovation.

Want to learn more about our corporate offers for the upcoming season? Read our corporate brochure here!

Report: Riders fall to Lions in Playoff semi-final

Leicester Riders’ season ended in London, as they fell in the Women’s British Basketball League Playoff semi-finals 95-70 to the London Lions. 

It was a closely fought first half, the Riders taking a seven point lead in the first quarter through hot three point shooting. But the EuroCup champions battled back and took control in the absence of Riders’ captain Mckenzie Johnson, who was injured at the end of the second quarter. 

Riders’ record-breaking leading scorer Taylor O’Brien led the team again with 19 points and 8 rebounds, days after being named to the Team of the Year. She was backed by Jessica Eadsforth-Yates, who went 4-9 from three for 12 points and 5 rebounds. 

A big night for London’s Abby Meyers saw her lead the game with 22 points, as six Lions scored in double digits to book their spot in the Final. Mayers went 9-16 from the field and pulled down 5 boards. 

Red hot Riders start takes first quarter lead

The Riders had a hot start from deep, draining five triples in the opening five minutes to jump out to a 10-17 lead. Sharpshooters Katie Januszewska and Eadsforth-Yates had two each from behind the arc.

Lions’ guard Meyers found lanes to the hoop on the other end to cut into the Riders’ lead with 6 points, London starting 7-7 from two point range. But the hosts started cold from the outside, going 0-7 from three in the first quarter. 

Their first one went down with a minute left, as Shanice Beckford-Norton gave the Lions the lead. This took the lid off, and Katsiaryna Snytsina knocked down another to send the sides into the first quarter break with London leading 22-18. 

Meyers leads London to big lead

The start of the second saw the Riders cool off, and the Lions built their lead to eight. Maya Price hit a long two to force a Riders timeout a minute and a half in.

Johnston ended the cold streak with a corner triple for her first points of the afternoon. She was followed by O’Brien, who began her patented attacks of the rim to get to the foul line and keep the scoreboard ticking over for Leicester. 

Despite O’Brien’s play, the Riders’ deficit grew thanks to the red hot hand of Meyers, who brought her game tally to 11 with a three. It was a 15 point Lions lead with 3:52 left in the half. 

Riders run brings visitors back into it

An Erin Powell three, followed by an O’Brien runner, breathed life back into the Riders. With under two minutes left in the half, O’Brien pulled up and banked in a triple, cutting the deficit to single digits and forcing a London timeout. 

The Riders, rolling, put the ball in the hands of Januszewska, who logged her 7th points to further make inroads. 

Late London buckets from Snytsina and Meyers made it 48-38 at the break, the Riders in touching distance. But Johnston took an elbow to the face as the half closed, seeing her out for the game.

Lions rebuild lead out of the half

A breathless start to the second half saw a Marrissa Hamilton and-one play met by back-to-back threes from Holly Winterburn, as the Lions edged ahead. Savannah Wilkinson drained her first three of the game with 6:25 on the clock, for her 13th points and giving the Lions an 18 point lead. 

The Riders’ defence stood strong, keeping the hosts to two points in three minutes, but with Johnston on the sidelines struggled to generate offence. 

O’Brien, as she did in the second, continued to get to the foul line on her drives to the rim. She made it 17 points on the game, making the score 70-50. Shahd Abboud followed with a spin move from the midrange to trigger a Lions timeout. 

To end the third, Faye Endean hit from close to make it 72-52 with one quarter to play. 

London sees the game out

Abboud got the fourth underway with a smooth fake spin, laying in a two at the rim. In response, Beckford-Norton scored two straight buckets to seize back control for the hosts. 

Januszewska stayed hot, draining her third three of the game as the Riders kept chipping away. Eadsforth-Yates went back-to-back from three to make it 12 on the night from the British guard. 

Endean made the last bucket of the night from the foul line however, and the Lions won the fourth 23-16 to see it out. 

Playoff semi-final preview: Leicester Riders at London Lions

Leicester Riders are a game away from the Playoff Final at the O2 Arena. Standing in their way: the undefeated, EuroCup champion London Lions, looking for their third-straight clean sweep. 

Here’s how the playoff semi-final is shaping up.

Last time out

The Riders were forced to battle back in the quarter-finals to beat the Essex Rebels in the clutch. A slow start at the Mattioli Arena saw Leicester down as much as 21, but fought back behind Taylor O’Brien’s 21 points and 17 rebounds. 

Leicester’s biggest lead of the night was two points- their winning margin at the end of the game. Once the Riders were back in it in the fourth, Shahd Abboud took over with big shots as the hosts vanquished their first playoff foe. 

It was a gutsy win, as the Riders dug deep, stemmed the Rebels momentum and slowly climbed back into it over three quarters. They’ll take confidence from their late form into the game against London. 

Record-breaking O’Brien

Leading the team in the playoff opener followed the season trend for Riders’ star guard Taylor O’Brien, who was named to the British Basketball League Team of the Year this week.

READ MORE: Taylor O’Brien named to the Women’s British Basketball League Team of the Year

The rookie American broke the Riders’ single-season scoring record this year, surpassing Oceana Hamilton with 328 points. 

O’Brien is lightning fast from the backcourt, attacking the rim relentlessly from wire-to-wire. She runs the pick-and-roll effectively to get her moving down hill, and her determination and hustle gets her on the offensive glass for second chance points. 

She’ll attack the heart of the Lions’ defence all night long at the Copper Box, attempting to help the Riders to their second-straight visit to the O2 Arena. 

Lions’ season

The Lions, last season’s quadruple winners, are yet to be defeated in the British Basketball League this year. They won the League with a  20-0 record, and won the Trophy in January after facing the Rebels in the Final. 

However, key players departed to the WNBA ahead of the Lions’ playoff run, including Karlie Samuelson, Temi Fagbenle, Megan Gustafson and Shey Peddy. Samuelson and Gustafson were the Lions’ two leading scorers on the season, the latter winning the Trophy Final MVP. 

The adjustment to the departures was felt in their playoff opener, despite confidently putting away the Nottingham Wildcats. The Lions, who averaged 98 points per game over the season, mustered only 80 against Nottingham, winning by 10 on the final buzzer.

Compared to the Lions’ 140-42 and 105-49 wins against the Wildcats earlier in the year, the win was underwhelming as they felt the effects of losing their leading scorers. 

One to watch

Holly Winterburn

13.5 points, 4.4 assists, 60.8 FG%, 52.1% 3PT%

Remaining on their roster, however, is Holly Winterburn, who arrived on the European stage for this season. She hit the shot of the EuroCup final, her game-winning three which was dubbed the biggest shot in British basketball history against Besiktas. 

Her season can be defined by more than that single three, however. The former Riders led the League in three point percentage, knocking down a red hot 52.1% of her looks from deep, and hitting on 60.8% of her field goals. 

Winterburn played once against the Riders this season, but didn’t make her typical scoring impact with only 8 points. But she showed her ability to affect the game in multiple facets, finishing with 6 assists. 

Expect Winterburn to show up in the biggest moments should this one be close late. 

Where to watch

The game will be shown live on the Women’s British Basketball League YouTube channel, tipping off at 4:30 pm. 

Rob Paternostro reflects on the 2023/24 season

Following the conclusion of Leicester Riders’ 2023/24 season, Head Coach Rob Paternostro reflected on the team’s playoffs, and the season as a whole. 

Playoff series vs Sheffield

The Riders’ season ended in the quarter-finals of the playoffs, losing 2-1 in a best-of-three series to the Sheffield Sharks.

Leicester took a Game One win, and had a chance to take the lead with seconds left at home in Game Two. But a double-dribble call gave Sheffield’s Prentiss Nixon the opportunity to hit a game winner with 1.6 seconds left, and a hotly contested no-call on a Miryne Thomas three sent the series back to Sheffield the following day. 

“We knew we had a great opportunity, holding the lead at halftime and then having a chance to take the lead with 25 seconds left,” said Paternostro. “The double-dribble call was devastating for us, and then Nixon hit a great shot- credit to him.

“It was a tough loss. As tough as they come. Especially when we had to be back on the road 13 hours later. We had our chance to win the series in Game Two, and next thing we know we’re on the road to Sheffield.”

The Sharks won Game Three convincingly in the second half, after a first half in which missed free throws were the difference between the sides. The Riders were down nine at the half after missing nine foul shots in the opening two quarters. 

It was a continuation from the day before, where Leicester shot 66% from the line. 

“In the first half the free throw line hurt us as it did in Game Two. If we made our free throws we’d have been in it, but we couldn’t handle Sheffield in the second half. Give them credit. Their home court advantage with the way their crowd was was too tough for us to overcome.”

The Riders were without their captain, Kimbal Mackenzie, for the playoff run. Paternostro addressed the impact of losing the team’s point guard, who was recently named to the British Team of the Year, had on the series. 

“Not having Kimbal for the playoffs was devastating for our chances. He was our leader, and the guy with the ball in his hands in the biggest moments of our season. It was a huge huge loss, but I thought other guys in Game One and Two stepped up to give us an opportunity to win the series.”

The fans

The raucous crowd played a factor in every game, with travelling numbers adding to every atmosphere. 

“The fans were top notch- as good as I can remember in any playoff series. Our fans really got that going on the road in Game One, and their fans came back and were awesome in Game Two. 

“Our fans were incredible at home. They played such a big role in driving us on at the end, and the next day they were fantastic again.” 

This year’s British Basketball League playoffs featured a new format, with the first two rounds taking place over a best-of-three series. The new format created an electric environment in the arenas. 

“As someone who has played in these series as a player, I know that they’re great for the fans. We saw that in this matchup. It really was a positive thing for the League to have that environment.”

Final reflections on the season

The season saw ups and downs throughout, following a large turnaround in players in the offseason. 

Paternostro reflected on how it unfolded over the course of the year. 

“We lost so much from the year before, where we were 25-11 in the League. We lost a lot of experienced players, who we knew would move on after some time. We missed them, but we put together a roster that was 4-1 to start the year.”

After the 4-1 start, the Riders fell to 7-10 having lost to the London Lions twice, and Cheshire Phoenix three times over a difficult stretch of fixtures. Leicester made changes to their roster, adding high volume scorer Teddy Allen and energetic big man Duke Shelton to the team ahead of the upcoming Trophy run in January. 

“We were in the mix and trying to find our feet, but hit a tough stretch of games and had to make some changes. When Teddy and Duke arrived, they provided a boost and we started to play some good basketball around the holidays. 

“We put ourselves in real contention for the Trophy, doing a great job to qualify through a challenging group. Then we had an amazing fightback against Cheshire and had the lead with seconds to go. We were trending upwards at that point and with a couple of bounces going differently we would have been in the first final of the season. 

Following the Trophy, the Riders faced six double header weekends. They went 2-4 in the second games of double headers after the Trophy, contributing to Leicester’s fall to .500 come the end of the year. 

“We were like a lot like other teams at around .500, and dealt with injuries at a crucial part of the season with a lot of double header weekends. Our record on those Sundays wasn’t the best and we dropped some games. This league is very challenging with its schedule, and it’s about who can survive the grind of February, March and April.”

2024/25 season tickets on sale now!

As the offseason awaits for the Riders, you can book your spot in the stands by getting your 2024/25 season ticket now!

Early bird prices last until June 7. Get yours here!

A message from Leicester Riders Chairman, Kevin Routledge

Dear Supporters,

With the Riders 2023/24 British Basketball League season coming to a premature end last Sunday in Sheffield in the playoffs, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our fans, supporters, commercial partners, staff and volunteers for their unwavering support.

This has been a challenging season for the Riders, with the loss of a significant number of our experienced players in the last off season, and there have been more changes in personnel throughout the season than we would have ideally liked.

The British Basketball League has become ever more competitive each season and maintaining the high standards we have achieved on the court over the last decade or so becomes increasing more difficult.

In addition, our cost base, like many of your own family and business budgets, have come under increased pressure, due to the cost-of-living crisis, and, with our now large overheads, we have had to respond to the pressures and rethink how we do things.

Some of the matters at league level have been very transformational, but other aspects, as many of you know, have distracted from the many good things going on in the British Basketball League, the Club and in British basketball.

But national success has continued in other areas in our Club with our university and college teams.

We are fortunate in the strong support we have received throughout the community and are confident we can build on a stronger base for the future.

We will make the necessary changes in the off-season to make improvements wherever we can and look forward to earning your further support in the future.

Look out for further communications throughout the offseason and look forward to a reenergised Riders when we come back in the new season in September.

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Routledge


Taylor O’Brien named to 2024 Women’s British Basketball League Team of the Year

The Women’s British Basketball League today announced that Taylor O’Brien has been named to the 2024 Team of the Year. 

The rookie guard led the Club in scoring this season with 16.4 points per game. With 328 points scored, she surpassed Oceana Hamilton for the Riders’ single-season scoring record. 16.4 points is also the highest single-season average in Riders history. 

In 21 games, she scored in double-digits on 17 occasions, scoring a season-high 30 points in the final game of the season against Sheffield Hatters. 

O’Brien’s 6 rebounds per game ranked second on the team, and logged double digits in rebounds on four occasions from the guard position. 

It’s an honour to be named to the Team of the Year,” said O’Brien. “I owe it all to my teammates, coaches, family, friends and everyone who has impacted my first year playing overseas. 

“There have been so many people that have helped me in tremendous ways and I’m so grateful for their guidance and support all season. I really could not have done it without them.”

Head Coach Ben Stanley commented: “Taylor has been electric for us this season.  While people will rightly look at her scoring and ability to get to the rim, she’s contributed in a number of different ways. 

“She has improved her passing over the season, and owned the glass in a number of big games, none more so than her 17 boards in the playoff first round. She’s been a huge part of our success this season.”

Leicester Riders Managing Director Russell Levenston added: “Congratulations to Taylor for being named to the 2024 Team of the Year. It’s right that she is recognised for her incredible achievements this season, having broken multiple records in Riders red. 

“Well done Taylor!”

Teddy Allen named to 2024 British Basketball League Team of the Year

The British Basketball League announced today that Leicester Riders’ Teddy Allen has been named to the 2024 Team of the Year. 

The American wing was the Club’s leading scorer this season with 22.7 points per game. He was one of only two players in the League to average over 20 points, and one of three players to rank top 10 in points (2nd) and rebounds (10th), pulling down an average of 6.4.  

Allen played his first game for the team on December 16, logging 32 points and 6 rebounds in the Riders’ win against the Caledonia Gladiators. He went on to score over 30 points five times, and over 20 points 14 times in his 23 appearances for the Club. 

His performances this year saw him named 2024 All Star captain for team South. He put up 32 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in the game to earn All Star MVP. 

Allen adds to his growing list of accolades, which include 2023 CEBL MVP, 2022 Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year and 2022 Western Athletic Conference Tournament MVP.

Sam Ashby named to 2024 Women’s British Basketball League British Team of the Year

The Women’s British Basketball League today announced that Sam Ashby has been named to the 2024 British Team of the year. 

The Australian/British rookie was the Club’s second-leading scorer (13.6) and led the team in steals (1.8). She scored in double digits on 17 occasions in 21 appearances this season, putting up a season-high of 23 points and 7 rebounds against Oaklands Wolves in March. 

Ashby’s performances earned her a starting spot for Team South in the 2024 British Basketball League All Star game.

She also received her first international call up for Great Britain in November. 

The British Team of the Year selection adds to Ashby’s growing list of accolades, which includes Associated and Catholic Colleges Most Valuable Player in 2017 and Most Outstanding Female Basketballer in 2016 and 2017 for Newman College, Perth. 

 “It’s an honour to be chosen in a pool of such amazing British athletes this league has brought together,” said Ashby. 

Head Coach Ben Stanley commented: “Sam’s really developed from the start of the year to now, playing out of pick-and-roll and improving her decision making.  

“When you combine that with her ability to shoot the ball and her inherent toughness it’s no surprise she has made the British Team of the Tear, and we’re looking forward to seeing her on the international stage further with GB.”

Leicester Riders Managing Director Russell Levenston added: “Congratulations to Sam for her selection on the British Team of the Year. We have been impressed with how she acquitted herself all season both domestically and internationally, on and off the court.

“Well done Sam!” 

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.”

Rayven Peeples named to 2024 Women’s British Basketball League Defensive Team of the Year

The Women’s British Basketball League today announced that Rayven Peeples has been named to the 2024 Defensive Team of the Year. 

The American rookie ranked fourth among all players in blocks per game (1.4) and second in rebounds per game (11), leading the Club in both categories. 

Peeples logged six games with multiple blocked shots this season, including a season-high 4 blocks to go with 18 points and 13 rebounds against Cardiff Met Archers in February. She also recorded 12 games with double-digit rebounds, and a season-high of 18. 

Her average in blocks was a career-high for Peeples, bettering any of her three seasons at St John’s University and her single season at North Carolina A&T State University.

“Being selected to the defensive team of the year is a major accomplishment for me,” said Peeples. 

“My game has always been driven by my play on both ends of the floor, and I have always taken pride in being a great defender. Thank you to my coaching staff and teammates for putting me in a position to succeed.” 

Head Coach Ben Stanley commented: “Rayven has been an anchor for us on the defensive end all season. She’s not only defended her position but been great in switches and rotations as well as meeting the challenge to be dominate on the defensive glass. 

“We wouldn’t be where we are without her contribution at both ends of the floor.”

Leicester Riders Managing Director Russell Levenston added: “Congratulations to Rayven for earning a place on the Defensive Team of the Year. 

“She has been an outstanding performer on both ends this season, and she deserves to be recognised for her efforts on the defensive side of the floor. Well done Rayven!” 

The Riders return to action on Sunday, taking on the London Lions in the Women’s British Basketball League Playoff semi-finals.

Report: Riders’ season ends in Sheffield

Leicester Riders’ season ended in the British Basketball League Playoff Quarter-Finals, after losing to the Sheffield Sharks 86-69 in Game Three. 

After a closely fought first half, matching the tone set in the opening two games of the series, the Sharks blew the game open in the third with hot shooting, and the Riders couldn’t get back in it. 

Sam Idowu fought hard to chip into the deficit with 13 third quarter points, and led the team in the game with 16. But it wasn’t enough to make inroads, and the Sharks advanced to the semi finals. 

As he did in Game One, Prentiss Nixon led the Sharks with 17 points in 19 minutes of play. 

Riders fight back after slow start

Sharks had an electric start, with Malek Green capping off a 7-2 run from the tip-off with a putback jam. Sesan Russell found a response with a three from the top to momentarily quiet the crowd, but Devearl Ramsey and Green combined back-to-back to retake momentum. 

A shot clock violation from the Riders highlighted their slow offensive start. It was rookie Jaren Holmes whose aggression got them going as he pulled the strings with drive to the hoop. He drew a foul with 4:41 left in the first, his foul shots making the score 11-9, and Mo Walker tied it up at the rim a minute later. 

The Riders took their first lead of the game, Teddy Allen hitting his first three off the dribble, but the Sharks had the better of the final minute of the first with Prentiss Nixon banking in a three to end it, the hosts leading 24-21. 

Riders run meets Ratinho response 

Two Sheffield corner threes started the second quarter to give them a seven point lead. It was quickly double digits through Eytle-Rock on the break, forcing a Rob Paternostro timeout. 

A Miryne Thomas three stopped the bleeding, and after Samuel Idowu blocked Kipper Nichols driving to the rim, TJ Lall ran the break for two to cut into the deficit. 

As the Riders looked to equal the score, it was Holmes again to lead the charge. His and-one finish followed by a breakaway two cut it to one with 3:06 left in the half. 

Threes from Nichols and Jordan Ratinho undid the Riders work, however, and Ratinho hit another on the fastbreak to make the score 46-37 with one possession left in the second. That’s how the sides entered the half, as Nixon missed a prayer on the buzzer.

Sharks blow game open in the third

Ramsey got the second half underway with a midrange, followed by three scores from Green, to get the hosts the better start in the third period. They led 53-37 three minutes in. 

Idowu ran the pick-and-roll with Holmes to get two points back, but a Marcus Delpeche slam to get the points straight back. Idowu had 13 points in the third, attempting to get the Riders back in it with his work around the rim. 

But a rim-rocking alley-oop jam from Green took the roof off the Arena, and the score was 62-46 with 3:22 left in the period. 

Sharks see it out

The Sharks caught fire to end the game. Everything Pipkins and Nichols shot found string, allowing them to pull away to a 20 point advantage quickly in the fourth period. Pipkins logged with 12th points to make the score 74-52. 

Blake Bowman scored back-to-back for the Riders, using his athleticism at the rim, but Pipkins hit another three on the other end. 

The fourth quarter was 17-17, and the Riders’ season came to a close. 

Report: Riders fall in clutch to Sharks

Leicester Riders fell 74-77 to Sheffield Sharks in Game Two of the British Basketball League Quarter-Finals.

Prentiss Nixon’s game winner forced a Game Three in Sheffield, after a closely fought battle throughout. 

Teddy Allen led the tie with 23, hitting big shots consistently to keep the Riders in touch. The Riders had a chance to tie with 1.6 seconds on the clock, but Miryne Thomas’ attempt missed, and he found no call despite claims of contact. 

Malek Green led the Sharks with 22 points and 11 rebounds going 10-13 from the field. 

Game Three is to be played on Sunday May 5 at 4pm, at the Canon Medical Arena. 

Teddy takeover starts Game Two

Allen took over the opening stages with his tough shot making, draining two-and-ones including a fadeaway out of a double team. He scored six to lead Leicester to a 12-9 start by the media timeout. 

Duke Shelton, checking into the game for the first time, made an immediate impact with a slam, running the pick-and-roll with Sesan Russell. He pulled down an offensive board next time down which led to a Thomas hookshot, and putback Jaren Holmes‘ miss to put Leicester up 18-11. 

Fending off the fightback

Nixon picked up where he left off after 25 points in Game One, draining a corner three for Sheffield off the bench. He and Kipper Nichols took over for a stretch, and the Sharks tied it at 24 quickly in the second period. 

Allen stayed hot, hitting a triple from the top to get three points back for the hosts. TJ Lall drove inside for an and-one, then Conner Washington stepped up to hit a three, which took the roof off the Arena and rebuilt the Leicester lead to seven. 

A three from Allen with 3:48 left in the half, following Sam Idowu’s second block of the game, made it double digits and brought his tally to 12. 

It was Thomas’ time to get to work a minute later. He sized up Marcus Delpeche at the top of the arc, stepping back for three to make it 45-30. 

Ratinho run gets Sheffield back in it

Jordan Ratinho was the Shark to snatch momentum back, laying in a two before driving on the fastbreak to be sent to the foul line by Idowu.

After he made both, Ramsey stole the ball and found Ratinho on the run again, and he went to the line for two more to make it 45-38 with 1:07 left in the half. 

Russell, fighting among the trees for an offensive board, made a trip to the stripe himself to stop the 6-0 Ratinho run, but out of a timeout Nixon got to the midrange for two. The half ended with Green at the line, who made it 47-41 at the break. 

Sharks snatch the lead in tense third

RJ Eytle-Rock started the half with two buckets at the rim for the Sharks to make it a one score game. But Russell once again settled the team by making his way to the line, stealing the ball from Ramsey in transition and taking a charge on him in three straight plays. 

Russell was relentless, covering all 94 feet on defence to suffocate the Sharks. But his defence on Green in the post was deemed too physical for the officials, and he was forced to the bench in foul trouble. 

With Russell on the bench, Green tied it up with a drive to the rim with 5:30 left in the third, and the Sharks then took the lead at the hands of Delpeche. 

Defences locked down for the rest of the third, with only one point scored in over two minutes. Sheffield led by a score during that time until Jalon Pipkins laid in a two to make it 56-60. He then got to the hoop to start the fourth for two more. 

Sharks hit game winner in closely fought clutch

Despite a defensive start to the fourth, Idowu and Lall came up with Riders scores to cut it to two. Allen scored four straight points, but Sheffield got to the rim back-to-back and they took a four point edge. 

Two offensive rebounds for Green in succession meant it was 64-70. But Allen came up with a huge four-point play, hitting a three through contact to keep the Riders in touch. Fading away on the baseline, he then hit a tough contested two, and was followed by a layup from Holmes. 

Allen and Lall both had chances to tie the game from three, but missed both attempts with two minutes left. Idowu then went to the foul line and made one of two to make it 72-74. 

Green missed from two, and Iwodu followed his own miss to tie with 50 seconds left. Idowu was called for a double dribble, giving the Sharks a shot to win. Nixon took it, and hit a three with 1.6 seconds left. 

Thomas had a chance to tie on the horn, but missed and found no call despite claims of contact, and the series was sent to a third game.

Riders beat Rebels to progress to playoff semis

Leicester Riders pulled off a comeback in the clutch to beat Essex Rebels 81-79 and progress to the semi finals of the Women’s British Basketball League Playoffs. 

The Riders were down by as much as 21 in the game, and 11 going into the final quarter, but pulled off a comeback led by star guard Taylor O’Brien’s 21 points and 17 rebounds. 

She had 6 rebounds in the fourth, but it was Shahd Abboud’s scoring which lit the fire under Leicester with back-to-back buckets, cutting it to three. Her layup with 52 seconds left proved to be the game winner for the hosts. 

Essex had a red hot start, running out to a 20 point lead in the first quarter, but the Riders chipped away until the fourth and snatched the win. Dayzsha Rogan led the game with 23 points and 9 rebounds, going 10-17 from the field. 

Essex take early lead

A 13-3 Rebels lead to start the game was built from tough shot making inside. Rogan scored 6 points in four minutes, banking in two layups off balance as she drove to the rim. 

After the middle had been established, Renee Busch hit a corner three to make it 13, and force a quick Riders timeout. Essex’s hot first quarter meant they started 22-3, led by 8 points from Rogan.

Marissa Hamilton took the lid off the basket for Leicester with a layup in the post, which was followed by a midrange from Mckenzie Johnston, making it 7-22. 

But after chipping into the deficit, it was back to 19 at the end of one after Tia Freeman was sent to the foul line to end the quarter, making it 11-30. 

Riders charge back into it 

Long range efforts continued to fall for the visitors in the second, keeping Leicester at distance. The Rebels were shooting 50% from three midway through the third, while Jessica Eadsforth-Yates knocked down the host’s second triple with four minutes left in the half. 

However, a run to close the second breathed life into Leicester. Katie Januszewska ran the fastbreak at 2:49 on the clock, driving to the rim and finishing through contact to make it 30-43. Erin Powell was next to chip away with two shots from the foul line, and the deficit was 11. 

Essex stemmed the tide with free throws from Busch, but O’Brien brought her tally to 11 with a tough finish at the rim, and Januszewska finished the half with a triple to enter the locker rooms down 39-50. 

Forced to fight back

Essex refound their early form to start the second half, building their lead back to 18. Rogan added two more buckets to her tally to shoulder the scoring load, continuing to battle in the paint. 

They had no answer for O’Brien, however, who kept the Riders’ side of the scoreboard ticking over and bringing her points total to 16. 

Building on their point guard’s play, the Riders fought their way back in it, forcing back-to-back turnovers in the closing seconds of the third. 

Abboud and O’Brien punished the mistakes, and Leicester went on a 9-0 run at the end of the quarter to make it 55-66 with one to play. 

Riders charge into the lead

Hamilton got the fourth underway with back-to-back scores, cutting the deficit to single digits for the first time since the opening stages. 

The Riders dominated the offensive glass from the backcourt through Eadsforth-Yates and Johnston, grabbing three in the first two minutes, and Johnston hit from the foul line after her second offensive board to make it 61-66. 

Essex slowed the Riders’ charge with a three from Claire Paxton, but Abboud responded from distance on two straight plays, making it a one possession game. Johnston then tied it up from the foul line, and Eadsforth-Yates drained a three to snatch the lead for Leicester. 

Winning a battle in the clutch 

Essex steadied themselves to regain the lead, Daniella Turner hitting back-to-back to put them up three.

But the Riders, through Januzsewska’s up and under for two, kept in the game, and Hamilton’s block leading to a shot clock violation gave them a chance to get ahead with under a minute on the clock. 

Abboud, again, drove to the hole and finished for two to capitalise on that chance, before Januzsewska stole the resulting inbound. She then pulled down an offensive rebound from an Eadsforth-Yates miss, but couldn’t put in the putback and the Rebels had a chance to win it. 

The shot fell to Paxton, but her three hit iron. O’Brien pulled down her 17th rebound, and she was sent to the line with 0.2 on the clock. She made one and missed the second, ending the game and winning it for Leicester. 

Heading to the capital

The Riders will head to the capital to face the undefeated London Lions in the semi final. A win would see them progress to the Final at the O2 Arena on May 19.

Playoff Preview: Leicester Riders v Sheffield Sharks Game Two

Leicester Riders are set to take on the Sheffield Sharks in Game Two of the British Basketball League Playoff Quarter-Finals.

The Riders enter the game leading the best-of-three series 1-0, meaning a win in the game would see them advance to the Semi-Finals.

Here is everything you need to know about the fixture.

Fixture information 

Leicester Riders vs Sheffield Sharks

British Basketball League Playoffs: Quarter-Finals Game Two

Mattioli Arena, Leicester 

6:45 pm

Game One Recap

The Riders enter Game Two up 1-0 in the series, after taking Game One on the road 84-81. 

Riders’ rookie duo of Miryne Thomas and Jaren Holmes led the team to the win with a combined 46 points and 14 rebounds, Thomas leading the way with 24/8. 

After a hot start for the Riders, seeing them up double digits within minutes, the Sharks responded through their bench play to take the lead back, which they held until midway through the fourth. 

But a late Riders surge saw them bounce back in the clutch, locking the Sharks down with their defence. Teddy Allen sealed the win with two trips to the foul line, meaning Leicester are now one win away from the Semi-Finals. 

One to watch 

The Sharks’ bench, which scored 59 points in Game One, was led by a game-high 25 points from American guard Prentiss Nixon. 

It was a season-high for Nixon, who scored 20 on only two occasions prior this season, both times in December. 

Nixon averaged 9.2 points per game over the course of the year, but caught fire early in this one for 11 first quarter points off the bench, and led the hosts in the clutch to keep them in contention late. He went 9-15 from the field and 4-9 from three in 23 minutes of play. 

The third-year pro will take confidence into Game Two after his performance on Sunday, potentially providing a spark off the bench for the Sharks. 

The Numbers

The Riders went through shooting struggles in Game One despite coming away with the win, shooting 6-26 from behind the three point line. 

However, looking back on how the season series played out, Leicester can take confidence back to the Mattioli Arena where they shot 46% from three against the Sharks from three this season. 

This is in contrast to the 26% three point percentage in Sheffield. Leicester can expect to produce a more consistent threat from three in Game Two of the series. 

Turnover troubles also followed a similar trend. The Riders gave up double digit turnovers in their two road games against the Sharks this season, and another 12 in Game One. 

But at home, it was 6 turnovers per game for Leicester, and over 100 points scored on both occasions. 

If the numbers are anything to go by, home court advantage is set to play a role in Saturday’s action. 

Where to watch 

Only a few tickets remain to the Riders home playoff opener. You can get them here.

Tickets include entry to the Riders women’s playoff game against Essex Rebels at 2:45 pm. 

READ MORE: Playoff Preview: Leicester Riders vs Essex Rebels

Doors to the Arena open at 2:15, and the first 1,200 fans through the door will receive a free Dark Horse playoff t-shirt thanks to the generosity of the Riders’ sponsors at RDL Technologies, Vertu Motors, Torr Waterfield, Jelson Homes and EverythingBranded.

The game will also be shown live on Sky Sports and Sky Sports YouTube. 

Playoff preview: Leicester Riders vs Essex Rebels

Leicester Riders are set to tip-off their 2024 Playoff campaign at the Mattioli Arena against Essex Rebels. 

The Riders enter the postseason as the 4-seed, finishing 15-5 in the Championship. Meanwhile the Rebels’ 11-9 record earned them the 5-seed following their trip to the Trophy Final in January. 

Here’s what to expect from the matchup.

Fixture information

Leicester Riders vs Essex Rebels 

Mattioli Arena, Leicester

Women’s British Basketball League Playoff Quarter-Finals

2:45 pm

One to watch

Kat Tudor

18.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists

American guard Kat Tudor is Essex’s leading scorer this season. She ended the season as the fourth leading scorer in the Women’s British Basketball League, and shot the best from the field of anyone in the top eight of the scoring charts at 46.3%. 

The 25-year-old joined the Rebels from Australian NBL1 West side Mandura Magic, where she was the second-leading score on the team with 15.6 points. 

Her scoring ability translated seamlessly to British basketball. She scored in double digits in every game this season, and averaged 28.5 over her last two Championship games. 

Tudor’s best performance of the season, 31/5 on 80% FG shooting, came in her penultimate game against Oaklands Wolves, heating up in time for the postseason.

She went 6-7 from three in that game, and is capable of catching a heater from deep on any night. She shot 7-12 against the Giants and 5-9 against the Riders earlier in the season.

Tudor also shot 5-6 from three on her way to 24 points to knock the Riders out of the Trophy in January, and will look for another red hot game as the Rebels get their Playoffs underway. 

Season series

In all competitions, the Riders won the season series against the Rebels 2-1. It was 2-0 in the Championship season, the Riders winning by an average of 8.5 in two closely fought games, but the Rebels won in a win-or-go-home Trophy game 84-70. 

Game one, played in Essex, was a 79-70 Riders win, led by Taylor O’Brien’s 20 points and Rayven Peeples’ 17. It was a closely fought affair, with a four point difference on the scorebaord with three minutes on the clock, but captain Mckenzie Johnston’s 6 points in the final minutes saw the Riders over the line. 

Kat Tudor’s game-high 25 points wasn’t enough for Essex, but 24 in the next game was. Tudor shot 6-7 from the field, 5-6 from three and 7-9 from the foul line in a red hot shooting night to progress past the Riders in the Trophy. 

The Riders were down by as much as 24 in the game, but pulled it back to six late in the fourth. However, five straight points from Tudor ended the Riders comeback, and their Trophy journey in the first round. 

The Riders’ revenge came in April, playing Essex at home for the first time. They won 60-52, Johnston leading Leicester with 15 points. The hosts led wire-to-wire, and by as much as 17 points in the third.

But a run at the end of the quarter saw the Rebels enter the fourth down only 46-40. Johnston, again, put the team on her back late to score six in the final two minutes of play, leading Leicester to a win. 

Battle on the boards

The rebounding battle was pivotal to the Riders’ success against Essex this season. In their two wins, they outrebounded their opponents 55-36.5, and by 16.5-5.1 on the offensive glass. The Riders rebounded by committee on the defensive end to complete defensive possessions repeatedly. 

However, in Essex’s Trophy win, they found joy on the boards for the first time against the Riders. They pulled down 47 to Leicester’s 38, and grabbed 13 offensive rebounds to Leicester’s 11. 

The Riders, as the third best rebounders in the League this season, aren’t accustomed to losing the rebounding battle often, so winning on the glass will be pivotal to their success in this one. 

Where to watch

Tickets are on sale now for the Riders men’s and women’s playoff games at the Mattioli Arena. 

Doors open at 2:15 for a 2:45 women’s tip off, followed by the men’s tip off at 6:45.

READ MORE: Playoff Preview: Leicester Riders vs Sheffield Sharks Game Two

Thanks to the generosity of the Riders’ sponsors at RDL Technologies, Vertu Motors, Torr Waterfield, Jelson Homes and EverythingBranded, the first 1,200 fans through the door will receive a free “Dark Horse” playoff t-shirt. 

Get tickets here!

The game will also be shown live on the Women’s British Basketball League YouTube channel.

What we learned from Game One vs Sharks

The Riders opened their 2024 Playoff campaign on Sunday with an 84-81 win on the road against the Sheffield Sharks.

Series are won and lost through game-to-game adjustments, therefore Rob Paternostro and the team will pour over film from Game One to find an edge for Game Two.

Here’s what the Riders can take from Sunday’s action.

Riders’ rookies show resilience

If there were any nerves from the Riders’ rookies, Jaren Holmes and Miryne Thomas who were both making their professional playoff debuts, it didn’t show.

The American pair led the team to the Game One win with a combined 46 points and 14 rebounds, both putting up 20 to pick up the scoring load. 

Thomas’ Player of the Game performance saw him go off for 24 and 8, shooting 9-12 and making tough plays and highlights from start to finish. 

“I love this environment,” said Thomas post-game. “I love playing hard in competitive basketball, and tonight was a hell of a show.”

READ MORE: Riders react to Game One win

Meanwhile Holmes played downhill all game from the guard spot, relentlessly attacking the rim to keep the Riders in the game while they trailed through the second and third quarter. Like Thomas, Holmes relished the bright lights with his aggressive play. 

“I was just trying to make the right plays,” said Holmes. “That’s what I always try to do. I saw lanes and tried to attack, find my teammates and be aggressive. It’s a big part of my game when I’m aggressive and try to get downhill and make plays for others.” 

Sharks’ second unit shoulder scoring

The Sharks’ bench carried their scoring, going off for 59 points led by 25 from Prentiss Nixon. But 22 points from the starters, and none of the Sheffield starters scoring in double digits, meant the Riders had the best of the beginning and end of the game. 

Nixon checked in down 10 in the first quarter and scored 11 points in five minutes. His play cut the host’s deficit to two by the end of the first period. The Sharks’ bench was responsible for a 20 point swing in the score that saw them leading by seven with one to play. 

Rodney Glasgow Jr., also off the bench for Sheffield, led the team in +/- with 12. That tally was bettered only by Mo Walker for Leicester, who recorded a +/- of 15. 

The strong bench showing from the Sharks in Game One means the Riders should be prepared for a potential mix up to the Sheffield starting five.

Should there be no changes, the Riders bench will be required to lock in to stop the Sheffield second unit, which has showcased their firepower to start the series.

Defence wins championships

“Defensively is where we made our mark,” commented Head Coach Rob Paternostro following Game One, and that was especially true down the stretch. 

The Riders held the Sharks to 14 fourth quarter points after giving up over 20 in each of the first three periods, and got big plays from players in the big moments. 

The best defence was played in the first half of the final quarter, with Sheffield managing just six points. Sam Idowu blocked RJ Eytle-Rock and stole the ball from Jalon Pipkins in that period of play, and Teddy Allen stripped Nixon to set up a Thomas and-one.

The lockdown defence allowed the Riders to run in transition repeatedly, playing to the strengths of their rookie pair of Thomas and Holmes who thrived on the break.

In the closing minutes, Nixon scored five straight to keep Sheffield in it against Leicester, which allowed the Sharks two possessions to go for the win. But the Riders’ defence stood firm, forcing misses from Pipkins and Malek Green with less than a minute on the clock. 

While the Riders entered the game with one of the highest powered offences in the League, they’ll need consistent performances on the defensive end to go all the way in the Playoffs.

In that respect, they’ll be encouraged from Game One.

Shooting struggles

The opening game followed the trend set by the regular season series between these two sides. The two games played in Sheffield this year saw the teams duel out closely fought affairs, with the Riders struggling offensively compared to their performances at home. 

In game one of the season series in November, the Riders shot 5-21 from three in a loss, and they suffered an even worse shooting slump in the playoff opener. 

It was a 6-26 game from behind the three point line, but the Riders overcame their struggles by generating offence at the rim and in transition. 

Game two in December put an end to the Riders’ difficulties from deep. They went 51% in a blowout win. Leicester will hope to see a similar pattern unfold in the playoffs, and be able to rely on their three point shooting at home. 

Riders bring the cavalry

The Riders’ travelling crowd got them over the line, packing the stands in Sheffield to get behind the team. 

Holmes said post-game that he felt the energy from the stands:

“It was a huge victory for us, and we wouldn’t have done it without the fans,” said Holmes. “They were tremendous. They fuel us when they come and support us, so to have this many people come out and show up for us truly means a lot to me and the guys in the locker room.”

Paternostro also complimented the away crowd, and called out to Riders fans to bring the same noise to Leicester for Game Two. 

“Our fans were amazing today. It was an incredible job from them right behind the bench, and we need more of that at the Mattioli Arena on Saturday!”

The team need the same noise at the Mattioli Arena on Saturday. The Riders host Game Two on May 4, at 6:45 pm.

Tickets are on sale now, and include entry to the women’s playoff opener against Essex Rebels at 2:45 pm.

The first 1,200 fans through the door will receive a free “Dark Horse” T-Shirt. 

Get yours tickets here!

Riders React to Game One win vs Sharks

Leicester Riders got their 2024 Playoff campaign underway with a clutch 84-81 win on the road against the Sheffield Sharks.

The Riders came back from behind in the fourth quarter to snatch the win, and made big plays down the stretch to take a 1-0 series lead back to Leicester.

READ MORE: Report: Riders take Game One against Sharks

Here’s how the Riders reacted to the game:

Miryne Thomas: “I love this environment.”

Making his professional playoff debut, Miryne Thomas went off for 24 points and 8 rebounds to earn Player of the Game honours. 

Thomas said the playoff intensity is something he thrives on through his competitive spirit. 

“This time last year, I was playing March Madness,” said Thomas, who won the MAC Championship with Kent State in his final collegiate season. 

“I love this environment. I love playing hard in competitive basketball, and tonight was a hell of a show.”

The Riders, without their captain Kimbal Mackenzie, stepped up on the road and came through as a unit to take the win. With the words of Mackenzie echoing in their ears, the team put on one of the performances of the season.

“Kimbal told us to stay together. He’s here with us in spirit- he’s our leader and we know he’s in our corner- but the guys we had here came together and said ‘let’s get the job done.’” 

Many of the plaudits this season have gone to the Riders’ leading scorer, Teddy Allen. Allen burst onto the British basketball scene with his incredible scoring performances, earning him the Player of the Month Award in December, but the Riders unit is a deep one, with talent up and down the roster. 

Last night’s win, as has been the case with many wins this season, was a total team effort. 

“We know Teddy is an incredible scorer, but we have to play well for him to play well. If we don’t run in transition and set good screens, he doesn’t get good looks. 

“This is a team unit, not just one guy running the show. Everybody has a role, and we’re really settling into our identity. We play hard for each other.” 

Jaren Holmes: “We wanted it badly tonight.”

Also making his first professional playoff outing was Jaren Holmes, who was the other Rider to log a 20 point performance. He put up 21 points and 6 rebounds, and shouldered the scoring load for long stretches. 

“I was just trying to make the right plays,” said Holmes. “That’s what I always try and do. I saw lanes and tried to attack, find my teammates and be aggressive. It’s a big part of my game when I’m aggressive and try to get downhill and make plays for others.” 

The Riders came back from down seven in the final period to win on the road, holding the Sharks to 14 points in the final quarter. The defence down the stretch was instrumental in getting the job done. 

“It came down to getting stops. That was a huge point of emphasis down the stretch. Then we made some big shots, and got big plays from everybody. 

“Conner [Washington’s] three midway through the fourth was huge for us. Him coming in and giving us those minutes was so valuable, and it’s going to take a team effort to win these games. It’s the playoffs, which means its a different type of intensity. We wanted it badly tonight.”

The Riders’ road following got the team over the line, making raucous noise throughout. Holmes felt their presence on the court from the stands, and said as much after the game. 

“It was a huge victory for us, and we wouldn’t have done it without the fans. They were tremendous. They fuel us when they come and support us, so to have this many people come out and show up for us truly means a lot to me and the guys in the locker room.”

Rob Paternostro: “The guys really stepped up.”

After an electric Riders start, the Sharks took initiative in the second quarter and took the lead, which they held until midway through the fourth. 

Despite trailing for much of the game, there was no panic from the Riders’ sideline. 

“I felt pretty good about us at that point,” said Head Coach Rob Paternostro when asked about the team’s mindset while falling behind in the game. 

“We took decent shots and, in the halfcourt, we did a really good job on defence. In the open floor we struggled, so the second half was really important to slow the game down and get back on defence, and I thought we did that. 

“We didn’t feel like the momentum was stolen, we just felt like we needed to do a better job of getting back in transition.”

Without Mackenzie running the point, Paternostro’s team stepped up from top to bottom to come away with a momentous win to kick off the postseason. 

“We’re missing our leader- our point guard with the ball in his hands at the end of the game- but the guys really stepped up to make the plays they needed to.

“Miryne’s energy was excellent all game, he scored the ball really well. Jaren kept us in it with his scoring, TJ Lall was really good on defence and Conner came in and gave us the minutes we needed to settle us down late in the game. His experience was crucial- he’s been here before. 

“It was a total team effort. We are missing our point guard but these guys took on the challenge. A lot of people didn’t think we had much of a chance without him, but defensively is where we made our mark.”

The win means Leicester have stolen home court advantage in this best-of-three series, and return home on Saturday with a chance to end the series and progress to the second round. 

Coach called out to the fans to bring the same energy back home that they showed on the road. 

“Our fans were amazing today. It was an incredible job from them right behind the bench, and we need more of that at the Mattioli Arena on Saturday!”

Defend the house

The Riders host Game Two on Saturday May 4, at 6:45 pm.

Tickets are on sale now, and include entry to the women’s playoff opener against Essex Rebels at 2:45 pm.

The first 1,200 fans through the door will receive a free “Dark Horse” T-Shirt. Get yours tickets here!

Report: Riders take Game One against Sharks

Leicester Riders snatched Game One against the Sheffield Sharks in the clutch, winning 84-81 on the road. 

Miryne Thomas led the team with 24 points and 8 rebounds, scoring 5 points down the stretch in his professional playoff debut. Fellow rookie Jaren Holmes backed him with 21 points and 6 rebounds. 

It was Teddy Allen who sealed the game from the foul line, going 4-4 with the pressure piled high and seconds on the clock. Leicester came back from a deficit of seven in the final quarter to steal home court in the best-of-three series. 

For Sheffield, Prentiss Nixon exploded for 25 points off the bench, getting big bucket after big bucket when it got close late. The Sharks scored 59 bench points in the game, but didn’t have a starter score in double digits. 

The series will go back to Leicester for Game Two on Saturday May 4, tipping off at 6:45 pm, with the Riders having the opportunity to end the series with a sweep. 

Riders bolt out the gate

Allen, who averaged 29 against the Sharks this season, wasted no time getting on the board with an and-one for Leicester’s opening score. 

It was an 8-2 start for the Riders, as Jaren Holmes knocked down his first shot of the postseason from the corner, settling any nerves from the visiting camp. 

Leicester’s lightning start forced a quick Sharks timeout, after Thomas threw down a fastbreak jam- the ninth of the night for the Riders to make it 4-14. 

Holmes made the Riders’ second and-one play of the game with 2:21 left in the period, as they continued to lead from the front early.  

Sharks bite back

The Sharks got back in it at the hands of Nixon, who snatched momentum with five straight points. Nixon scored 11 in the first quarter to lead the game, and bring Sheffield back into it. 

Jalon Pipkins then cut it to five with a tough fadeaway, before Rodney Glasgow Jr followed with a three for the hosts. 

The late surge in the first meant it was 26-28 with one played. And quickly in the second the Sharks took the lead, as Kipper Nichols connected from the corner to make it 31-30. 

It was the Riders’ turn to try to stem the tide with a timeout after Pipkins’ 11th points. But they only scored 10 in the second quarter in their attempt to take the lead back. 

Glasgow got going midway through the second to build the Sharks’ lead to six, and the score was 38-32 by the media timeout. Sheffield’s leading scorer Malek Green then took the mantle from Glasgow with three quick scores and a big block on Holmes. 

The Riders got to the hoop to get their side of the scoreboard ticking over late in the half. Holmes charged to the paint repeatedly to set the tone in that regard, while Thomas got to the foul line after an offensive rebound, and Leicester brought themselves back within five. 

But two scores at the rim for Sheffield ended the half with the score 47-38. 

Sharks fend off Riders run

The Riders made a run back into the game with Thomas hitting their first three of the half, while Allen took it coast-to-coast to cut it to five once again. 

Holmes added another six to his tally, making it 17 on the game midway through the third, and the score was 57-53 to the hosts. 

Next time up, Sesan Russell led the fastbreak after a steal. He gave it to Allen, who threw up a lob to Thomas. The American rose high and threw it down with authority, making it a one score game for the first time since late in the opening period. 

The Sharks, however, kept ahead with timely scores throughout the third. Jordan Ratinho hit from three with a minute left in the period, and Devearl Ramsey finished inside at the buzzer to make it 67-60 with one to play. 

Resurgent Riders win in the clutch

To start the fourth, the Riders were right back in it. Veteran guard Conner Washington hit a transition three two minutes into the period, making it a two point difference. TJ Lall then tied it up with a putback layup, and Allen took the lead with a floater. 

For Sheffield, Nixon came up huge in the fourth. He scored nine of the Sharks’ 14 points in the quarter, and hit a three for his 20th points to stop the rampant Riders. 

Nixon went back and forth with Thomas, the pair exchanging tough buckets throughout the final stages. The Riders looked in control late after Thomas connected on a fadeaway, but a Nixon midrange jumper and Pipkins three tied the game at 79. 

Pipkins had a shot for the lead with 21 seconds left, but he hit the rim and Allen was fouled on the rebound. Allen knocked down both shots, and next time up the floor Green missed a three to win it, and Allen got the rebound again to seal the Riders Game One win. 

Taking a win back to Leicester

Tickets are on sale for Game Two of the series at the Mattioli Arena, on May 4 at 6:45 pm.

Tickets also include entry to the women’s playoff opener against Essex Rebels at 2:45 pm, and the first 1,200 fans through the door will receive a free Riders “Dark Horse” t-shirt.

Get tickets here!

Playoff Preview: Riders v Sharks Game One

Leicester Riders are set to take on the Sheffield Sharks for Game One of the opening round of the 2024 British Basketball League Playoffs. 

The four-seeded Sharks earned home court advantage after their performances in the Championship this season, so the Riders will take the short trip to Sheffield for the first game of a best-of-three series.

The sides have played out some closely fought battles in Sheffield this season. Here’s everything you need to know about the matchup. 

Where to watch

The game will take place at the Canon Medical Arena, Sheffield, tipping off at 4 pm.

It will be available to watch live on the British Basketball League YouTube channel!

Ones to watch

Malek Green 

15.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 49.7 FG%

The Sharks’ midseason acquisition, Malek Green, hit the ground running in the British Basketball League, and finished the season as their leading scorer. 

After going 17 and 7 on his debut in only 16 minutes of action, Green has been a consistent source of boards and buckets for the Sharks, finishing the year with 22 and 14 to lock up home court advantage against the Plymouth City Patriots. 

From the wing, Green ranked third among players in rebounds this season, and his 8.7 per game is more than he averaged throughout his five-year college career.

Green averaged 19 and 9 in his two games against the Riders this season, and will pose a true threat throughout this series. 

Devearl Ramsey 

11.1 points, 4.6 assists, 4.1 rebounds 

Devearl Ramsey has protected home court against the Riders this season with two explosive scoring performances. 

Typically, Ramsey is the Sharks’ source of playmaking, running the point to lead them in assists this season. But against the Riders the former G-Leager put his scoring ability on full display. 

His two highest-scoring games this year have come at home against Leicester, putting up 23 points and 9 assists last time out, and going off for 22 to lead Sheffield to a win in November. 

He consistently finds his way to the midrange, where he has shot most efficiently all season, so the Riders will need to be locked into their pick-and-roll defence to stop his drives off the dribble. 

Jalon Pipkins

11.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, 51.9 FG%

Sheffield’s second-leading scorer, Jalon Pipkins, has been a consistent source of points for the Sharks this season. 

The efficient bucket-getter has scored double-digit points in 25 Championship games, and put up 17 last time he suited up against the Riders. 

The 6’5” three-level scorer is a threat from anywhere on the court. He’s a human highlight reel, showcasing some of the most high-flying throw downs in British basketball over the last two seasons in Sheffield.

The Riders’ rim protection will be on high-alert when Pipkins looks to rise high on drives to the hoop. 

Season vs Sharks

The Riders have faced off against the Sharks four times this season, winning the season series 3-1. 

READ MORE: Season series: Riders vs Sharks

There was, however, a disparity in their performances when playing away compared to their home games. At home, they averaged 106.5 points, turning the ball over only six times per game and knocking down 46% of their threes. In Sheffield, however, it was 86 points per game with an average of 15.5 turnovers. 

In games where the Sharks forced over 10 turnovers out of the Riders they beat them by a net score of four, but when Leicester kept the giveaways in single digits they won by an average of 21. 

In contrast to Leicester’s varying performances at home compared to on the road, the Sharks found consistency in their output both home and away. However, their typically stalwart defence didn’t find the same success against the Riders as it did the rest of the League. 

Their League-best defence made them the only team to hold their opponents to under 80 points per game over the season, but they failed to do so against Leicester in their four meetings. They had no answer for Teddy Allen, who averaged 29 points in his three games against the Sharks. 

Sheffield did better their scoring average against the Riders over the series, putting up 86 points per game, but the numbers suggest that Leicester’s ability to take care of the ball will go a long way in deciding the outcome of the series. 

Playoff History: Riders vs Sharks

Sheffield are a familiar foe in the Playoffs for Leicester. This matchups marks the 10th time in the last 23 seasons where the sides have met in the postseason, and the fourth time in the past 10 years. 

The previous two postseason meetings have gone the Riders’ way, most recently last year where Leicester bested them 153-140 over a two-legged series.

2016 was the last time Sheffield beat the Riders in the Playoffs- Atiba Lyons’ men winning 84-77 in the Final. 

The Riders have the advantage of unrivalled playoff-winning experience at the reins. Head Coach Rob Paternostro has won the competition five times, the second most of any coach in League history, and four of those wins have come since the Final was hosted at the O2 Arena. 

Sharks’ Head Coach Atiba Lyons is no stranger to playoff success himself, winning in 2016 for the second time in the club’s history. It’s been first-round exits for Sheffield in the last two seasons, however, and they now look to avoid falling to Leicester in the postseason for the second straight year. 

What they said

With the Championship season in their rear-view mirror, the Riders are looking forward to the chance to set the record straight after what they feel was a season with unmet potential. 

READ MORE: Riders speak to BBC Radio Leicester ahead of the Playoffs

Here’s what they had to say ahead of the opening round:

Teddy Allen

“You never want to go out on a down note in win-or-go-home scenarios,” said leading scorer Teddy Allen

“We feel like we could have done a lot better throughout the year, and now is our chance to prove that. We are locked in as a unit, and it’s time for everyone to work towards a common goal. 

“When asked about the Riders’ path to a potential Final at the O2 Arena, Allen expressed his confidence in the team to be able to beat anybody in front of them.

“Anybody can get it. Whoever is in our way, we feel confident that we can win.”

TJ Lall

“Our mentality has to change now,” added TJ Lall, when asked about the difference in approach between the Championship season and the Playoffs. 

“We have to be more locked in and in-tune. We’ll see the Sharks multiple times, so we have to adjust and be ready for their adjustments.”

On a similar note to Allen, Lall looks forward to the chance of showing the League what this unit is capable of. 

“Everyone here wants to win. We know we’re talented and have not shown our full potential, and were ready to show it during the playoffs. The pressure is good for us. We play better under pressure.”

Duke Shelton

American big Duke Shelton discussed the level of intensity required ahead of a postseason matchup. 

“Everyone is going to step up and raise their level of play. It’s the playoffs, which is almost like a new season where anything can happen.

“It’s a new mindset now. I’m sure the rest of the team feel the same way, and that also goes for the other teams in the league. We’re ready to compete. 

“The team that’s willing to give a little bit more, most of the time, will win. Basketball is a game where the team with the fewest mistakes has a huge edge, so we need to be focussed and ready to play our best ball.”

Rob Paternostro

Having reached the summit of British basketball five times before, Head Coach Rob Paternostro knows exactly what winning in the postseason requires. 

He is as eager as ever to fight on the biggest stage, at the O2 Arena. 

“Once you get to the playoffs there’s so much urgency because if you don’t play well you’re going home. Everyone wants to be at the O2 by the end, and we’ve been there nearly every year. It’s wonderful to be there, so that’s always the goal.

“At our best we feel like we’re a really good team, and we’re in good shape going into the playoffs.”

Tickets are on sale for our home fixture against the Sheffield Sharks!

Get yours here!

Preview: Leicester Riders vs Sheffield Hatters

Leicester Riders conclude their Women’s British Basketball League campaign against the Sheffield Hatters, in a game to decide third and fourth place in the Championship standings. 

A win for the Riders will see them lock up third with a 16-4 record, but a loss would see the Hatters take the tiebreaker and third place at 15-5. 

One to watch 

Georgia Gayle 

14.1 points, 4.1 assists, 3.9 rebounds

Hatters leading scorer and 2024 All Star Georgia Gayle is the number one scoring threat the Riders will need to key in on in this matchup. 

The granddaughter of Betty Codona, the pioneer of women’s British basketball and founder of the Hatters, Gayle is a GB international and experienced professional. 

This season, she leads the Hatters in scoring and assists, scoring in double-digits on 17 occasions and putting up 20 three times in 19 appearances. 

Gayle put up 13/4/4 last time out against the Riders, shooting 6-12 from the field. Keeping her quiet for 40 minutes would go a long way towards slowing Sheffield’s side of the scoreboard down. 

The numbers

These two teams have been some of the highest-powered offences in the League this season, ranking second and third in points per game. 

The Hatters are one of two teams to score over 80 a night (82.7), and maximise their possessions by turning the ball over the least in the League. Meanwhile the Riders, who score 78.5 per game, are an efficient shooting group, connecting on a second-best 44% of their field goals. 

The Riders have the game’s highest scorer in American rookie Taylor O’Brien, whose 15.7 points per game has earned her two Player of the Month awards over the course of the season. 

Meanwhile the Hatters have seven scorers giving them over 7 points a night, their offence by committee giving the Riders issues last time the teams faced off.  


The Riders have faced the Hatters once before this season, falling 78-70 on the road. 

Desiree Ramos impressed with her highest-scoring performance on the season, putting up 25 points in 22 minutes, going 9-12 from the field. 

Turnovers were the difference in the game. Leicester lost the battle 25-11, and therefore lost a game in which they shot 43% from the field to Sheffield’s 36%. 

Riders’ All Star pairing of Sam Ashby and O’Brien combined for 36 (18 points each) to lead the team’s effort. 

But the loss means third place is up for grabs for the winner of this matchup. 

Tickets on sale

Tickets are on sale now for the Riders’ fixture against the Sheffield Hatters, and their playoff opener at the Mattioli Arena.

Playoff tickets include entry for both men’s and women’s playoff games on May 4, and the first 1,200 people through the door will receive a free “Dark Horse” playoff t-shirt.

Season series: Leicester Riders vs Sheffield Sharks

Leicester Riders tip-off their 2024 British Basketball League Playoff campaign against the Sheffield Sharks on Sunday.

The sides have met on four occasions so far this season, the Riders winning the series 3-1.

Here’s how the games played out…

November 17 Game 1: Sharks 91-84 Riders

Sharks battle from the front to take hard-fought home win

Sheffield drew first blood in the series, winning a closely fought battle late on. The Sharks edged ahead in the second quarter, going into the half up 46-39, and the Riders, despite bringing the deficit to two on multiple occasions, couldn’t take the lead back. 

The Sharks’ Devearl Ramsey led the game with 22 points, scoring five in the final 2:33 to lead the hosts down the stretch and secure the win. He was backed by 17 points from Jalon Pipkins who went 7-8 from the field in the game. 

The Riders made a charge from down 10 to five with four minutes remaining, but couldn’t get it over the line. Miryne Thomas led the team with 21 points and 11 rebounds- his first double-double in Riders red. 

A key difference in the game: three point shooting. The Riders went 5-21 while the Sharks shot 8-19, Ramsey leading the way with three makes from behind the arc.

But water found its level in game two from deep. 

December 30 Game 2: Riders 103-75 Sharks 

On-fire Riders torch Sharks from three

The Riders levelled the season series at home in convincing fashion to close out 2023. A 21-4 start blew the Sharks out of the water, and the Riders cruised home to a wire-to-wire win. 

Miryne Thomas led the team out the gate with 10 points in five minutes, and logged another 20 point double-double against Sheffield with 22 points and 10 rebounds by the final buzzer. 

But it was Teddy Allen, in his third game for the Riders, who led the game with 25 points. He went 4-9 from three on the game spearheading what was a red hot shooting night for the hosts.

In contrast to the first game against Sheffield in November, Leicester shot 51.9% from three point land in the blowout. It was the Sharks who went cold on this occasion, knocking down just 28.6% of their attempts from behind the arc. 

Prentiss Nixon had an effective outing for the visitors, bagging 17 points in 22 minutes of play, going 6-12 from the field. But it was a drop in the water against a Riders torrent, and Leicester entered the new year on a high. 

February 16 Game 3: Riders 108-94 Sharks

Allen explosion makes it two-for-two at home

Teddy Allen led the Riders for the second-straight game against the Sharks, this time going off for 35 points. It was a 35-12 double-double for Allen, shooting 50% from the field and 44% from three. 

The Riders were trailing 53-57 at the break and down by as much as 12 points in the second quarter. But a 12 point third period from Allen led them back into the tie, and another 10 in the fourth got them over the line. 

The scoreline was deceptive come the final buzzer, not reflecting what was a one possession affair with three minutes on the clock. Two straight buckets from TJ Lall gave the Riders separation, and they saw the tie out from there. 

Malek Green, making his first appearance against the Riders this season, led the Sharks with 19 points and 11 rebounds. He scored two buckets to start the final period, but Leicester were able to stem his scoring down the stretch to see it out. 

The game made it two wins at home for the Riders against Sheffield, giving them a 2-1 series lead with one game to play in South Yorkshire. 

March 29 Game 4: Sharks 85-88 Riders

Riders survive Sharks surge in final seconds

The game to decide the season series was fought wire-to-wire, Leicester coming away three point victors after Sheffield battled to give themselves a chance as the clock expired. 

Allen led Leicester in the first half with an emphatic performance, going off for 27 first half points, and finished with 29/8. But down the stretch, big buckets came from up and down the Riders’ roster. 

Kimbal Mackenzie, Thomas, Duke Shelton and Lall all scored in the final four minutes, giving the Riders an eight point lead with 2:18 left. But a turn of events, including an unsportsmanlike foul called on Shelton, gave the Sharks a chance to tie. 

Bennet Koch went one for two from the foul line after Shelton’s foul, and Ramsey drained a three with nine seconds left to make it a one point game. 

Mackenzie was sent to the line, and coolly knocked down both, but Sheffield could send it to overtime with a three. The opportunity fell to RJ Eytle-Rock who fired from the right wing, as Allen closed out but was keen not to foul. 

Eytle-Rock missed his attempt, and the rebound was pulled down by Thomas to close the season series. 

Tickets on sale!

Tickets for our home game against the Sheffield Sharks on May 4 are on sale now!

Get them here!

Riders speak to BBC Radio Leicester ahead of the playoffs

BBC Radio Leicester stopped by to speak to the team for their weekly “Game Night” show.

Ahead of the upcoming British Basketball League Playoffs, Riders players and Head Coach Rob Paternostro reflected on the Championship season, and previewed the postseason.

Here’s what they had to say…

Teddy Allen

Riders leading scorer, Teddy Allen, has spent the final weeks of the season getting into playoff shape. Working through injuries intensely has led to the American being in the best health that he’s been in all season, right in time for the postseason. 

“I have been dealing with some injuries, but I feel like I’ve got my body right and I’m ready to get to work in the playoffs,” said Allen. 

“The last few weeks I’ve been working closely with our training staff to get my body right. This is the healthiest I have been since I got here in Leicester, and I’m ready to make a run.”

The Riders enter the playoffs as the fifth seed. Reflecting on the second half of the year, Allen expressed disappointment in how the games fell, but is looking at ways to rectify recent results with his own performances. 

“I wish we could have got some more wins down the stretch. I have to look at myself first and think about what I could have done better to help our team win.

“If it’s points, rebounds, assists or defence, whatever the team needs me to do I just want to go out there and compete. 

“Nobody wants to lose, but we all left everything out there on the court with our effort and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”

The playoffs represent a fresh start for the Riders, and Allen sees that as an opportunity to set right unmet potential from the Championship season. 

“You never want to go out on a down note in win-or-go-home scenarios. We feel like we could have done a lot better throughout the year, and now is our chance to prove that. 

“We are locked in as a unit, and it’s time for everyone to work towards a common goal. Anybody can get it. Whoever is in our way, we feel confident that we can win.” 

TJ Lall

For the Riders’ end of season awards, TJ Lall was named the Defensive Player of the Year and Player’s Player to recognise his efforts. 

Lall looked back on his performances, and how he grew into the season as it progressed:

“I feel like I’ve played my role all year. Whatever the team has needed I’ve been able to give. The second half was better than the first for me personally. Playing together more, we’ve been a more cohesive unit, which has helped my game.” 

Despite a season filled with ups and downs, the Riders showed up with big wins in important spots all year. 

A win-or-go-home victory in the Trophy against the Newcastle Eagles springs to mind, as well as wins against the Sheffield Sharks on the road and the Cheshire Phoenix at home down the stretch. 

“We stepped up in some big games this season. But our mentality has to change now. We have to be more locked in and in tune. We’ll see the Sharks multiple times, so we have to adjust and be ready for their adjustments.”

On a similar note to Allen, Lall looks forward to the chance of showing the League what this unit is capable of. 

“Everyone here wants to win. We know we’re talented and have not shown our full potential, and were ready to show it during the playoffs. The pressure is good for us. We play better under pressure.”

Duke Shelton

Duke Shelton, an American big who joined the Riders midseason, has stepped into the starting unit in recent weeks. 

After an adjustment period where he looked to settle into the team, he feels comfortable in his role going into the playoffs. 

“I’ve adapted really well and found my position within the team. I’ve enjoyed my time here so far.

“I feel like I’ve shown flashes of what I can do, but maybe not to my full potential yet. There’s been times where I’ve been consistent but I’m looking forward to what’s to come. 

“Anytime you come into a new situation in the middle of the year it can be a little challenging finding your spot. Everyone is comfortable where they are and you don’t want to ruffle any feathers or step on toes. You want to come in, have good energy and try to help the team any way you can.”

Over the course of his nine-year professional career, Shelton has learned that postseason appearances are a valuable commodity, and is looking to make the most of his upcoming run. 

“This is going to be my second time in the playoffs in my professional career. I’m looking forward to the atmosphere we’re going to be playing in. Everyone is going to step up and raise their level of play. It’s the playoffs, which is almost like a new season where anything can happen.”

And with the new season comes a new mentality, where the urgency is ramped up and everything is on the line. Shelton understands as much, and the team is ready to go. 

“It’s a new mindset now. I’m sure the rest of the team feel the same way, and that also goes for the other teams in the league. We’re ready to compete. 

“The team that’s willing to give a little bit more, most of the time, will win. Basketball is a game where the team with the fewest mistakes has a huge edge, so we need to be focussed and ready to play our best ball.” 

Rob Paternostro

Five-time British Basketball League Playoff champion, Rob Paternostro, understands more than anybody what it takes to lift the silverware at the O2 Arena. 

Since the Playoff Final has been played at the O2, the Riders have been there every year bar one, and Paternostro is keen to continue that trend. 

“Once you get to the playoffs there’s so much urgency because if you don’t play well you’re going home. Everyone wants to be at the O2 by the end, and we’ve been there nearly every year. It’s wonderful to be there, so that’s always the goal.” 

As was the case for most teams in the League, the gauntlet of the British Basketball League schedule saw ups and downs throughout the season. 

But now that the dust has settled, Paternostro feels the team is in a good position to go on a postseason run. 

“We had a tough last couple of games, but we’ve been similar to most teams this year on our ups and downs. It’s been a real grind. 

“The changes to our roster had a positive impact for us midway through the season. Of course, injuries hurt us in the second half of the year with Jaren and TJ especially late, but at our best we feel like we’re a really good team, and we’re in good shape going into the playoffs.”

Tickets are on sale for the Riders’ round one home game against the Sheffield Sharks on May 4.

Tickets are 20% off until 11:59 pm on Wednesday, May 24. Get yours here!

2024 British Basketball League Playoffs Explained

The 2024 British Basketball League Playoffs will feature a new format, with the first two rounds taking place over a three game series. 

The top four in the Championship standings have home court advantage in the opening round, playing two of the potential three games at home. 

Those sides have the choice of the structure of those series, opting for game one or two to be their opening home fixture. 

Here’s how the postseason is set to unfold for the Riders…

Riders’ Round One

The Riders secured the fifth seed in the British Basketball League Championship, and will face Sheffield Sharks in round one. 

They will open the series on the road on April 28 at 4 pm, host game two on May 4 at 6:45 pm, and if necessary, play a deciding game three in Sheffield on Sunday May 5 at 3 pm.

Tickets are on sale for game two at 5 pm, and thanks to the generosity of the Riders’ sponsors at RDL Technologies, Vertu Motors, Torr Waterfield, Jelson Homes and EverythingBranded, the first 1200 fans at the Arena for our home game on May 4 will receive a free Dark Horse Riders T-Shirt. 

Leicester Riders’ 2024 “Dark Horse” Playoff T-Shirt.

If you are travelling to game one in Sheffield and want a Dark Horse T-shirt, you can contact [email protected] to arrange.

Playoff Bracket

After round one has concluded, the seeding will be restructured so the highest remaining seed will play the lowest. 

Therefore, the only scenario where the Riders would have home court advantage in the second round would be if two or more of the higher seeds lost in the opening round. 

If one or none of the top seeded teams lose, the Riders will host only one game of the second round series. 

The Final

As was the case in previous seasons, the Playoff Final will be a single game to decide the 2024 Playoff champions. 

Both Men’s and Women’s Finals will be played at the O2 Arena on Sunday May 19.

You can purchase tickets here, but if the Riders should make the Final at the O2, Leicester Riders will release ticket allocation for the Riders section of the Arena.

Ticket information: 2024 Playoffs home opener

Leicester Riders play their men and women’s 2024 playoff home openers on Saturday, May 4. 

Our men’s home game has been confirmed to be played at 6:45 pm, and will be preceded by our women’s playoff fixture at 2:45 pm. 

Tickets will be released on general sale from tomorrow (April 23) at 5pm. 

Leicester Riders season ticket holders will receive priority for their usual seats until Friday, April 26, at 11:59 pm. 

Tickets include entry to both men’s and women’s quarter-final playoff games.

Thanks to the generosity of the Riders’ sponsors at RDL Technologies, Vertu Motors, Torr Waterfield, Jelson Homes and EverythingBranded, the first 1,200 fans at the Arena will receive a free Dark Horse Riders T-Shirt. 

Doors will open at the Arena before our women’s game, at 2:15 pm.

Leicester Riders launch Dark Horse campaign for the 2024 British Basketball League Playoffs

Leicester Riders basketball club are excited to launch their Dark Horse campaign for the upcoming 2024 British Basketball League Playoffs.

The Riders enter the postseason as the fifth seed, and look to start their run to the Finals at the O2 Arena, which take place on Sunday 19 May 2024. 

Despite a League campaign which hasn’t reached the heights of previous years in Leicester, the Riders are a team that no team wants to face in the postseason, and is capable of knocking off any team in British basketball. 

No matter the opponent, seeding, time or place, the Dark Horse is a team that can bounce with the best the British Basketball League has to offer.

The goal, like any season, is to stand under the confetti at the O2 Arena, lifting the silverware. The six time Playoff champions aim to bring what would be their 20th British Basketball League silverware back to the East Midlands. 

The all new Playoff format features best of three series in the first two rounds, before the Final in the O2 Arena, London. 

The Riders will open the playoffs in Sheffield against the Sharks at 4 pm. Game two of the first round will be played  at Mattioli Arena on May 4 at 6pm. If necessary, game three will be played in Sheffield on a yet to be confirmed date.

Leicester Riders Managing Directors Russell Levenston commented: “We’re excited to launch our Dark Horse campaign ahead of the upcoming playoffs. 

“The postseason represents a fresh campaign and we’re looking forward to getting started. As a club, we always feel confident in our ability to win every competition we enter, and these playoffs are no different. 

“Thank you to all of our fans for their incredible support this season. We’ll give it everything we’ve got to give you another trip to the O2 Arena!”

Tickets for the Riders first round home fixture will be on sale shortly! Stay tuned for ticket information.

Thanks to the generosity of the Riders’ sponsors at RDL Technologies, Vertu Motors, Torr Waterfield, Jelson Homes and EverythingBranded, the first 1200 fans at the Arena for our home game on May 4 will receive a free Dark Horse Riders T-Shirt. 

Leicester Riders’ 2024 “Dark Horse” Playoff T-Shirt.

You can write us off. We won’t write back. 

Report: Riders finish Championship season with a win in Surrey

Leicester Riders concluded their British Basketball League Championship season with an 94-88 road win against the Surrey Scorchers. 

Teddy Allen led the game with a red hot 30 point performance, going 11-22 from the field. Allen was cooking from deep, going 6-11 from behind the line, and draining back-to-back triples from deep three point range to get the Riders out of a deficit in the second quarter. 

But it was Sesan Russell who got Leicester over the line, logging a season-high 20 points with 17 in the second half. His free throws sealed the game late, capping off an impressive display. 

The win sees the Riders lock up the fifth seed for the postseason, ensuring they will face the Sheffield Sharks in the opening round of the Playoffs. 

Scorchers survive sharpshooting Allen 

Allen wasted no time in taking it to the Scorchers. A four point play, drawing contact from Abdul Mohamed, gave him 9 points in three minutes as the Riders took an 8-12 lead. He was into double figures quickly after with his third three of the game. 

The highlights kept coming in a high-scoring first quarter. Next it was Jaren Holmes on the break, throwing it up for Miryne Thomas who threw it down with authority. 

Despite the big plays, they couldn’t shake the hosts who had a hot hand of their own: Quin Cooper. He drained three triples early in a back-and-forth start. He stayed hot in the second, hitting from the corner to make it 27-28 with 11 minutes played. 

Scorchers take initiative 

An 8-0 Surrey run, highlighted by a breakaway jam from Tayo Ogendengbe, gave them their first separation of the afternoon. 

The Riders responded with an and-one at the hoop from Russell, before Thomas connected on a tough fadeaway on the buzzer for his 12th points. 

But a corner three from Mohamed took momentum back, and Cameron Copeland made a layup inside to give the hosts a nine point lead. He then went back up the floor and nailed a contested triple over Holmes, making it a double-digit advantage. 

Teddy takeover 

The Riders, whose high-level scoring to start the game cooled off in the Scorchers run, re-found their rhythm through Allen, who took over once again. 

He drove to the rim for two, then drew contact for an and-one to pull the deficit down to eight. Testing his range, Allen went back-to-back from deep emphatically, pulling up from the car park and finding nothing but string. 

He cut the game to a single possession as the half came to a close, but Dijiani Parkinson ended the quarter from three to make it 54-48 going into the locker rooms. 

On fire out of the half

12 points in two and a half minutes gave the Riders the lead quickly after halftime. Allen got them going by driving inside and dishing to Russell, Thomas followed with an and-one play (his sixth make in as many shots), and Russell then tied the game at 56.

After a Cooper miss, Allen pulled up from the elbow and found the bottom of the bucket to force a Surrey timeout. He then made his tally 27 with a steal and score after the break. 

Gooden stopped the Riders’ run with a three, but Leicester were back in it. 

Riders win out in the clutch

With Russell shouldering the scoring load with buckets to end the third, Blake Bowman gave the Riders a four point lead with one to play, finishing on the fastbreak, plus the foul. 

Leicester started fourth on a run to make it a seven point advantage, Russell staying hot to snatch the ball from Cooper and add another two to his now 13 point tally. 

Surrey came storming back after stemming the Leicester momentum, however, and Mohamed’s three cut it to a one possession game with 4:52 left. 

The Riders seized control, building off the interior defence of Sam Idowu. He sent away Gooden’s attempted layup, and on the other end Russell and Allen hit threes to put Leicester up nine. 

Mohamed made an and-one to breathe life into the Surrey cause, but Holmes hit back with a finish inside. 

Copeland had a chance to cut the game to four, but dribbled off his knee, and Russell sank his foul shots next time up for his 20th points, sealing the win. 

A series with the Sharks

Game one against the Sheffield Sharks will take place on Sunday April 28 at 4 pm, and will be played at the Canon Medical Arena. 

Game two, at the Mattioli Arena, will be played at 6 pm on May 4. 

Stay tuned for information on game three, if necessary. 

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.

Key Matchups: Riders at Scorchers

Leicester Riders are set to take on Surrey Scorchers on the road in their final game of the 2023-24 British Basketball League Championship.

Here’s some of the key head-to-heads in tomorrow’s action…

Saiquan Jamison vs Duke Shelton 

Making a forceful impact in the paint this season for the Scorchers is Saiquan Jamison, who has established himself as one of British basketball’s elite big men.

He ranks second among all players in rebounds per game with 9.9, and has logged 13 double-doubles over the course of the season. 

Jamison is a weapon in the pick and roll, and is near unstoppable when he receive the ball in motion to the rim. He finishes explosively in close, but can also take defenders off the dribble from the centre position to drive inside, and keep defenders honest from distance with his shooting ability. 

Jamison is Surrey’s third leading scorer with 10.5 points per game to his name, and is able to generate his own offence at the rim by consistently pulling down missed shots for offensive rebounds. 

Looking to keep him off the glass is Riders centre Duke Shelton. Shelton has stepped into a starting role seamlessly in recent weeks, proving energy and hustle from the centre position. 

Three double digit performances in his last five outings has seen the 6’10” American become a reliable source of points, and his 14 points, 16 rebounds double double against the Plymouth City Patriots in late March showed his ability to get on the glass for big numbers.

The Riders will need a similar night on the boards from Shelton against the electric Jamison to control the paint in the final game of the Championship season. 

Cameron Gooden vs Jaren Holmes

The Scorchers leading scorer this season, high-flying guard Padiet Wang, is set to miss tomorrow’s game through injury. Therefore, they will once again rely on the services of rookie Cameron Gooden, who went off for Surrey last time out.

The American led his team with 21 points and 5 assists against the League champions, going 5-13 from three as he tried to shoot his team back into the game.

Gooden is averaging 9.4 points in 20 minutes per game, but thrived in an increased role against the Lions.

The shifty guard has elite handles to beat defenders off the dribble, getting to the hole or stepping back and taking midrange jump shots consistently.

Looking to slow down Gooden will be rookie guard Jaren Holmes, who is lighting up the League in his first professional season. 

Holmes is the Riders’ second leading scorer this season with 13.2 points per game, and leads the team in steals with an average of 1.2. 

He led the Riders last time out against the Giants with 20 points, his late three point shooting giving Leicester a chance late.

His work on the defensive end has impressed throughout the year, and he will be faced with the challenge of Gooden in the backcourt in this one. But Holmes’ ability to lock down opponents on defence will put him in good stead to stay in front of his opponent one-on-one.

He has the size to contest Gooden inside when he drives to the hoop, and the offensive skillset to keep him honest on the defensive side of the ball whenever he is in the game. Get ready for a hard-fought head-to-head in this one.

Justin Robinson vs Sesan Russell 

To overcome the Scorchers, the Riders will have to contend with a two-time British Basketball League MVP in Justin Robinson from the backcourt. 

Robinson won the award back-to-back in 2018 and 2019 for the London Lions, averaging 19.2 points per game in his second MVP season to earn the award. 

This year, Robinson has provided valuable experience to the Scorchers roster while putting up 10.8 points per game and shooting 39% from behind the three point arc. He has been a consistent threat from deep over the court of his 12-year professional career, and now is no different. 

Faced with the tall task of slowing the experience veteran down is Sesan Russell, who made his first start from the point last time out against the Giants.

Russell’s playmaking has been a key asset for the Riders in recent weeks, and it was no different after his insertion into the starting line-up. He put up 10 points and 6 assists, leading the team through the opening stages of the game.

Two games ago, Russell once again pulled the strings to dish 9 assists against the Bristol Flyers. His court vision has found open cutters to the rim consistently, as he runs the pick and roll from the point effectively with the Riders big men.

Keeping Robinson active in defending the pick-and-roll will go a long way in making his life difficult in the Riders’ last game of the Championship season.

Report: Riders fall to Giants

Leicester Riders fell to the Manchester Giants 89-94 in their final home game of the British Basketball League Championship season. 

After a quick start, Evan Walshe scored 10 straight in the second quarter to lead the Giants a double-digit lead. The Riders made a run late in the game led by Jaren Holmes, but it wasn’t enough to complete a comeback. 

Holmes led the Riders with 20 points, going 8-13 from the field, 3-7 from three and grabbing 6 rebounds. He was backed by Teddy Allen’s 19 and Miryne Thomas’ 18. 

But leading the game was Walshe for Manchester with 24, sinking the late free throws to end the game. 

Early Leicester lead

Thomas got the action underway in style for the Riders emphatically. The lane opened up for him after Mason Bourcier fell in the paint, and Thomas needed little invitation to drive to the hoop and throw down a two handed jam.

Neither side found an edge in the first five, however. Allen and Russell stringed back-to-back threes, but they were offset by Bouricer and Lee from deep as the sides stayed locked.

But out of the media timeout, the Riders found some separation. Allen got to work to snatch momentum, dancing behind the arc before pulling up for a deep three. Next up, he went to the hole on the drive for a two to put the Riders up 26-16. 

Giants battle back

Manchester fought back into the game in response, taking the lead early in the second quarter. Former Rider Walshe logged 10 points in as many minutes off the bench to lead the visitors to a 30-28 advantage. 

He scored 10 straight to take momentum back, and was followed by Jalen Harris and Callum Jones who connected from within the arc in the midst of the Manchester run. 

Russell stopped the run with an and-one, driving to his right and drawing a foul on Harris for three points the old fashioned way. But the Giants led 38-32 by the media timeout. 

The Riders mustered just 12 points in the second quarter, unable to take the lead back. Bourcier scored 5 points to end the half, and the sides went into the locker rooms with the score 38-49 in the Giants’ favour. 

All even in the third 

Nicholas Lewis found his rhythm in the third, hitting a tough fadeaway and a contested three back-to-back to grow the Manchester lead to 15. 

But in response to Lewis, Holmes got his head down to get two on the board at the hoop, before Allen connected from three to peg the deficit to 10, and force a Giants timeout. 

Homes drew an offensive foul out of the timeout, before Thomas hit from deep- the Riders recapturing their early form. 

Lewis responded to take back the big lead with back-to-back threes, but next time up, Holmes made a four point play by connecting on a three through contact, keeping the Giants within touching distance. 

But the score remained there until the fourth, Manchester leading 63-74 with one to play. 

Giants respond to Riders run

Holmes sparked life into the team to start the final period, driving to the hoop to get it underway, then throwing a lob to Shelton who threw it down two-handed.

The quick scoring brought it to a five point difference quickly in the final period, as TJ Lall added three more points from the foul line. 

But Walshe rebuilt the Manchester lead with a three from the corner and a layup inside, taking away the Riders work to start the quarter. 

It was 72-81 by the media timeout, with 4:49 left to play. 

Riders give themselves a chance late 

A barrage of threes went down for the Riders to give them a late chance. Thomas connected first, before finishing off a fastbreak from a Russell three, then Holmes and Allen caught fire. 

The Giants kept their side of the scoreboard ticking, Walshe, Lewis and Nick Stampley combining for seven points, but Holmes fired away from the corner with 52 seconds left to make it a three point game. 

The Riders got their stops, Walshe then Stampley missing, but the Giants crashed the offensive boards, getting three possessions and forcing Leicester to foul. Walshe made both from the line to make it a five point difference. 

Thomas couldn’t hit from three in response, and the Giants dribbled the game out.

Riders return to action on Sunday, hitting the road to take on the Surrey Scorchers. A win will see them lock up home court advantage for the 2024 postseason.

Stay tuned for playoff ticket information.

Key Matchups: Riders vs Giants

The Riders take on the Manchester Giants in their final home game of the 2023-24 British Basketball League season.

It’s an important weekend of action for the Riders in their final two games of the Championship, needing two wins to secure home court advantage for the postseason.

Here are the key matchups as the Riders take on the Giants…

Nicholas Lewis vs Kimbal Mackenzie 

The Riders will need to zero in on their opponent’s leading scorer this season, Nicholas Lewis. Lewis is putting up 14.9 points per game this season, 11th among all players, and comes into this one on good form. 

He has three 25+ scoring games in his last 10 appearances, his best outing being a 27 points, 7 assists and 4 steals game against the Cheshire Phoenix. Lewis played all 40 minutes for the third time this season in the game, putting a high workload on his back to carry the scoring effort.

The American is a shifty guard who makes his money driving inside, and can step back and take consistent twos from the midrange, finish at the hoop, or kick to teammates for open looks after the defence collapses. 

Lewis leads his team in assists with 4.5 per game, pulling the string while leading the scoring for the Giants. 

Looking to go back and forth with Lewis is Riders captain Kimbal Mackenzie, who is enjoying the best statistical season of his career. The Canadian is averaging a career high 13.2 points and 5 assists per game, and has led the team through the biggest moments of the season with his clutch play. 

He made a go-ahead and-one in the Trophy final four with seconds left, and took over late to see the Riders past the Caledonia Gladiators on the road. In the absence of Jaren Holmes and Teddy Allen, he played 45 minutes in a double overtime win against Plymouth City Patriots and hit the game-tying shot to send it to overtime.  

Mackenzie can match Lewis’ scoring and playmaking, making the head-to-head at the point guard position an interesting proposition going into the game with the Riders’ captain facing up against the Giants’ leading bucket getter. 

William Lee vs Miryne Thomas

High-flyer and former Riders William Lee patrols the sky for the Manchester Giants, making huge plays on both ends around the rim. 

The “Alabama slammer” is playing in his second season in Manchester having won the League in Leicester in 2021. 

Lee is best known for his aerial ability. The human highlight reel throws down monster jams and swats away shots emphatically on a game to game basis. But Lee has a versatile game, and can knock down shots anywhere on the court.

He’s scoring 13.4 points per game, and pulling down the third most rebounds of any player with an average of 8.3. From outside, the 6’9” forward is shooting 38.5% from three, the second best on his team. 

Meeting him in the frontcourt will be Riders forward Miryne Thomas, who has composed an electric highlight reel of his own in his rookie season. 

Putting up 12.4 points and 6.1 rebounds, the Cleveland native has come up huge for the Riders this season to lead the team to wins. He has scored double digit points in six of the last eight League  games, including a 21 point and 15 rebound double double against the Newcastle Eagles. 

Thomas is always a threat above the rim, but defenders, like Lee, need to respect the three where he can get hot on any given night. Last month against the Patriots, Thomas went 4-5 from three on his way to 19 points in 22 minutes, demonstrating his threat from anywhere on the court.

The frontcourt matchup between the two athletic fours is sure to get fans out of their seats. 

Evan Walshe vs Jaren Holmes

Another former Riders, Evan Walshe, is enjoying his best statistical season of his professional career in his first season with the Manchester Giants. 

The Brit, who suited up in Riders red between 2021 and 2023, is putting up 11 points per game with the Giants this season. 

Walshe caught the attention of the League from the off this year by putting up 16.5 points per game in his opening two fixtures. He has taken over games for the Giants with seven 20 point performances to his name. 

The 6’4” wing is aggressive on offence. He’s quick to get his head down and drive to the hole, but has shown his ability to step outside and knock down shots to keep defenders honest, going four for five from three against the Plymouth City Patriots earlier in the month. 

Walshe’s real threat comes in transition, however, where his speed and aggression takes him coast to coast consistently for scores on the fastbreak. He shares this in common with Riders’ guard Jaren Holmes, who made his return from injury last time out. 

Holmes was an All-Star in his rookie season after graduating from Iowa State University. He has lit up the league with his energy and effort this season, and is the Riders’ second leading scorer on the season. 

Michigan-born Holmes is averaging 13.4 points per game this season, and his 1.3 steals per game has led to a multitude of fastbreak opportunities where he is extremely effective. His speed is transition and vision when driving at pace makes him a dual threat to score and pass, in the half court and on the break. 

The fastbreak battle between Holmes and Walshe will be fought at an electric pace, and paired with the highlight plays from Thomas and Lee, expect a flurry of highlights from the Riders final home game of the Championship season.

Key Storylines: The final weekend of Championship action

Leicester Riders are fast approaching their final weekend in the 2023-24 British Basketball League Championship.

They face pivotal fixtures in determining their seeding for the postseason, with home court advantage hanging in the balance.

Here are the key storylines for the Riders going into their final two games…

Home court in our hands

The Riders hold pole position for home court advantage in the postseason with two games to go. Wins against the Manchester Giants and Surrey Scorchers would secure fourth place, as the Riders possess the tiebreaker against the Newcastle Eagles and Sheffield Sharks. 

This scenario would see Leicester finish the season in fourth with a 19-17 record, and could potentially see all three contenders for home court advantage finish on the same number of wins. 

The Sharks hold the season series against the Eagles, meaning if all three teams win out it would be Riders vs Sharks in round one of the 2024 Playoffs. 

But above anything, the Riders need to handle business in their final two games, and secure home court with two momentous wins. 

Riders look to build late form

Wins are not a given for the Riders in the two games, who enter this weekend having lost two on the bounce. 

The first was a 91-96 loss to the Eagles in a game where Leicester could have essentially locked up home court after beating the Sharks two games prior. The narrow loss, however, did mean Leicester secured the tiebreaker against their North Eastern rivals. 

Most recently, the Riders fell to the Bristol Flyers 77-89, a big result for Bristol in their mission to secure the seventh seed. 

After a weekend off, and a chance to recover, the Riders will look to lock in, bounce back and build their form going into the postseason. 

Healthy Holmes

The week away from action was significant for the Riders, who can heal any bumps and bruises and get fresh ahead of an important Playoff campaign. 

Head Coach Rob Paternostro echoed that sentiment while looking to the remaining two games of the Championship season. 

“These last couple of weeks are really significant,” he commented. “We want to make sure we’re healthy, and that we understand what our strengths are going into the playoffs. When we have everyone available we have a lot of weapons that can cause huge problems.”

Jaren Holmes, in particular, will benefit from the added recovery time, having spent a number of weeks away from action through injury. 

He returned to the roster in limited minutes last time out, and will look to build back into game shape in the final two games before attacking his first postseason campaign of his professional career. 

Having Holmes back is a major boost, and Leicester will look to maintain a healthy roster in their final two fixtures. 

“In any sport, the healthiest do well in the postseason,” added Paternsotro. “We’re happy to be able to spend some time recovering.”

The last few tickets remain for our final home game of the Championship season against Manchester Giants.

This game will not be broadcast, so get your tickets here to watch the action!

Riders partner with LivingWell Leicester

Leicester Riders are thrilled to be working with LivingWell Health Clubs Leicester as its official health club provider.

LivingWell Health Club prides themself on being Leicester’s friendliest health club, providing a welcoming and comfortable location to both exercise and relax.

They offer a range of facilities including a swimming pool, spa pool, sauna, steam room, air conditioned gymnasium, pro-shop and relaxation area.

Sam Ford, Health Club Manager at LivingWell Leicester, commented:

“LivingWell Leicester are delighted to be working in partnership with Leicester Riders basketball as their official health club provider, which brings together the power of fitness and athleticism to promote a healthy lifestyle and community engagement.

“We very much look forward to welcoming both the Men’s and Women’s first teams into the club, and building further relations within the community.”

Interested in joining the Riders family? For more information read our corporate brochure here.

Leicester Riders 2024-25 season ticket information

Leicester Riders 2024/25 season tickets are on sale now!

The tickets, which include entry to all regular season Riders home games, are available at Early Bird prices until June 7. 

Benefits include a signed team photo, exclusive Riders seating for selected non-Riders events, discounts at selected sponsors and much more! 

Early Bird tickets are on sale now! The prices are: 

Concessions (65+ and Students)£215
Child (Under 16s)£100

Early Bird pricing ends on June 7. The non-Early Bird season ticket pricing is as follows: 

Concessions (65+ and Students)£235
Child (Under 16s)£110

Current season ticket holders will receive an email with details on how to renew their season tickets for 2024/25, and retain their current seat.  

Not currently a season ticket holder? To purchase a season ticket for next season, click here, or contact Riders reception at 0116 255 8635. 

Thank you for your continued support!

Gallery 2024 All-Star Game

Leicester Riders stars Jaren Holmes, Teddy Allen and Kimbal Mackenzie suited up to play in yesterday’s 2024 British Basketball League All-Star game.

Relive the event through the lens…

Want to see the Riders in action? Get tickets to our next home game against the Caledonia Gladiators on March 22 here!

Gallery 2024 All-Star Game

Leicester Riders Women’s stars suited up for the South to compete in the 2024 British Basketball League All Star game.

Take a look at the event through the lens…

Andrew Sullivan named to British Basketball League Hall of Fame

Leicester Riders legend Andrew Sullivan has been named as one of the first 10 inductees of the British Basketball League Hall of Fame. 

Sullivan played five seasons of his 13-year professional career with the Riders, helping to bring nine pieces of silverware to Leicester, including two trebles in 2013 and 2017. 

He suited up for Leicetser from 2011-2014, before re-signing for two more seasons in 2015. 

He was named British Basketball League MVP for the second time in 2013, averaging 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. 

A serial winner, Sullivan won 20 pieces of British Basketball League silverware and two MVP awards.

Internationally, Sullivan was capped 100 times for Great Britain, and captained his country in the 2012 London Olympic games. He also won a Commonwealth Games bronze medal in 2006 in Melbourne. 

Sullivan’s services to basketball earned him a place in the League’s Hall-of-Fame, amongst legends of the Men’s and Women’s League, from players, coaches, officials and those who have demonstrated invaluable services to the Legaue.

You can read the full list of inductees to the British Basketball League Hall of Fame here!

Report: Riders fall to Flyers

Leicester Riders fell 108-71 on the road to the Bristol Flyers, making their record 15-14 in the British Basketball League Championship.

The Flyers led convincingly wire-to-wire, hitting shots consistently all afternoon. Tevin Olison went off for 31 points, and was one of three Flyers with over 20 points. 

Jaren Holmes led the Riders with 20 points and 3 rebounds. Despite their All-Star guard’s play,  Leicester lost the turnover battle 17-9, and shot 39% to the Flyers’ 49% in the defeat. 

The sides exchanged jabs through the first few minutes, the Flyers building a narrow advantage going into the first media timeout. They found joy getting to the rim, generating eight points in four minutes in close, giving the hosts an 11-7 lead with 4:41 left in the opening quarter. 

Bristol went on a run out of the break to stretch the difference to nine. An Olison and-one followed by a Levi Bradley long two sparked the run, allowing the Flyers to lead 32-20 after one. 

The momentum continued in the second quarter, the hosts building their lead to 16 midway through the period. Miryne Thomas and Jaren Holmes, with 10 and 9 points respectively, led the attempted comeback, but the Flyers had three scorers in double digits 15 minutes into the game in an offensive onslaught. 

The Flyers won the second 29-16, led by Tevin Olison who had 25 points at the half. Bristol shot 13-20 from the foul line in the first to the Riders 3-5, turned the ball over four times to the Riders eight, and shot 50% from the field to the Riders 36%.

Leicester trailed 61-36 at the half. 

The Riders chipped into the deficit in the third, but the Flyers hit big shots throughout to maintain their hefty advantage. Back to back Flyers’ threes rebuilt their lead, and an Olison corner triple made it 30. 

It was 92-57 with one to play, Blake Bowman ending the quarter from the foul line. 

The final quarter was a formality, with the game proving out of reach for the Riders. The Flyers won the fourth 16-14 to seal their win. 

Leicester returns to action after the All-Star break, hosting the Caledonia Gladiators on March 22. 

Scouting report: Bristol Flyers

Leicester Riders are set for their final game before the All-Star break, hitting the road to take on the Bristol Flyers.

The game features two teams with contrasting styles, looking to play the game on their own terms to take control of the fixture.

Here’s what the Riders can expect from Sunday’s opponents…

Battling on the boards 

Bristol have made their name on the boards this season, leading the League in total and offensive rebounds. The Flyers pull down an offensive board on 34.48% of their misses, leading to 11.87 second chance points per game. 

Their All-Star Brad Greene leads the League in this department, and is the only player averaging double digit rebounds in the British Basketball League this season. 

It’s a group effort on the boards, despite Greene’s dominance down low. Five players average over four a game, as the who roster crashes the glass every possession, from front court to back court. 

Sam Idowu’s outing last time the Riders faced Bristol neutralised their rebounding threat, however. He grabbed 14 boards to pair with 15 points, making the paint his own as the Riders took a Trophy win. 

Greene still pulled down 11 rebounds, but Leicetser won the rebounding battle 45-36 to take the victory. It will take the same level of effort on the glass to come away with the win in the South West. 

Points in the paint 

On the defensive end of the ball, the Flyers have a stifling defensive interior. They allow the fewest points in the paint of any team this season, allowing only 31.55 points per game around the basket. 

Bristol contest without fouling, ranking seventh in fouls per game, and their sixth ranked blocked shots ranking means they have found ways of preventing opponents from driving their way inside, and forcing difficult attempts when they do. 

The Riders rank third in points in the paint with 40.18 per outing, and will look to counteract Bristol’s interior defence to establish themselves inside. They can open up the rim from distance, however, with their second ranked 37.74% shooting from three. 

Bristol have not prevented the three at the same rate as the layup this season, allowing their opponents to shoot 35.8% from distance.

The Riders, with their sharpshooting quartet of Miryne Thomas, TJ Lall, Teddy Allen and Conner Washington who are each shooting over 40% from deep this season, will hope to continue their hot form from three to get points on the board. 

Setting the tempo

The game may feature a tug of war between two sides who play at opposite ends of the spectrum. 

Bristol plays a slow paced, half court brand of offence for the majority of their possessions. They play at the second slowest pace of any team in the League at 76.85, compared to the Riders who lead all teams at 80.61. 

The Riders continually want to get out and run in transition, using their speed and vision to push the pace and get easy looks at the rim.

In the halfcourt, they take shots early in the shot clock to maximise the amount of possessions they have in the game. 

Meanwhile the Flyers slow the tempo and grind down the shot clock, taking their shots deep into the clock through patient play. 

Both sides will look to establish the game at their tempo to take control of this matchup. 

Key Matchups- Bristol Flyers

Leicester Riders are set to take on the Bristol Flyers on the road, in their last game before the 2024 British Basketball League All-Star game.

Here are the key battles to watch in the game…

Brad Greene vs Sam Idowu

The Riders face the challenge of taking on the League’s leading rebounder in Brad Greene. The American, who was named the All-Star starter for the centre position, has averaged a double double this season with 12.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. 

Greene is a force on the offensive boards. He leads all players in offensive rebounds with 3.9 per game, on a team that grabs the most rebounds of any team this season. 

The 6’11” California native went off for 19 points and 17 rebounds against the Riders in December, grabbing 14 offensive rebounds. 

In the rematch, however, in January, Riders big man Sam Idowu was his equal. Greene was held to 7 points, while Idowu muscled his way to 15 points, 14 rebounds and 2 blocks, pulling down 5 offensive rebounds going against Greene. 

Idowu has been a physical force inside the paint off the bench for the Riders this season, . He has the size, the physicality and the hustle to contest Greene on the boards, and limit the Flyers’ second chance opportunities.  

Trejon Jacob vs TJ Lall

Despite his team’s loss, Trejon Jacob led the Flyers in a spirited performance last time against Leicester, scoring 16 points with 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. 

He scored 10 points in the third to keep Bristol in the game, but the visitors couldn’t capitalise on the offensive momentum, and Leicester kept their opponents at arm’s length. 

Jacob has averaged 17 points in the last two games against Leicester, finding joy putting points on the board. The American is putting up 12.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game committing to the glass from the wing. 

Tasked with helping to slow Jacob down will be Canadian wing TJ Lall, who is coming off the back of a Team of the Week selection for his performance against the Cheshire Phoenix.  

With leading scorer Teddy Allen and captain Kimbal Mackenzie ejected from the game, Lall stepped up in the fourth against the Phoenix to lead the team to a win. He scored seven to start the quarter, bringing his game tally to 22 points and 7 rebounds. 

Lall has made his name as an elite two-way wing, able to impact every facet of a contest. His size and length, combined with his playmaking and shooting ability, makes him a versatile threat on the offensive end.

On defence, Lall can pick up all five positions, and will feel comfortable going up against Jacob’s scoring threat from the wing. Should Jacob get hot again in this one, Coach Rob Paternostro will feel confident in Lall’s ability to stem the tide. 

Tevin Olison vs Jaren Holmes

Alongside Greene, Bristol’s other All-Star on their roster is Memphis-born guard Tevin Olison, who is shining in his second season as a pro. 

Olison is Bristol’s leading scorer, averaging 15.8 points per game on 46.5% shooting from the field. He’s taken a step up from his rookie year, where he averaged 10 points as a rookie for the Flyers. 

Olison missed the previous two fixtures against the Riders through injury, but played at home against Leicester at the start of the season. He scored 17 points on 37.5% shooting from three, leading his team’s scoring in a 92-74 Riders win. 

Going face to face with Olison in the backcourt will be Leicester’s own All-Star, Jaren Holmes, who has been playing elite hoops of late. 

He went off for 15 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists in the game, stepping up alongside Lall. Holmes has gone off for big performances throughout the year, and is the Riders’ second leading scorer on the season. 

Michigan-born Holmes is putting up 13.2 points and 4.4 rebounds from the backcourt, and can go toe-to-toe with any guard in the League on both ends of the ball. 

Expect a battle between the two All-Star guards in Bristol.

Teddy Allen named British Basketball League Player of the Month for February

Teddy Allen has been named February’s British Basketball League Player of the Month.

Allen averaged 28.6 points and 7.6 rebounds during February, including back-to-back 35 point performances.

He became the first British Basketball League player to score 35 in consecutive Championship games since 2012, and the second player to post 35 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists since 2008.

The Phoenix-born wing is the League’s leading scorer this season, putting up 24.8 points per game, and the Riders’ leading rebounder, pulling down 6.6 per game.

His play saw him named captain of Team South for the upcoming British Basketball League All-Star game.

It is the second time winning the award for Allen, who was named Player of the Month in December following his explosive arrival in the middle of the month.

Allen returns to action on Sunday, where the Riders will face the Bristol Flyers on the road.

Jaren Holmes reflects on the weekend’s action

Leicester Riders are the back of a 1-1 weekend, where they faced the top two ranked teams in the British Basketball League Championship standings. 

They kicked off with a hard-fought 101-93 victory against Cheshire Phoenix, handing them their first loss in 2024. 

On Sunday, they headed to London to face the league champion Lions, falling 105-89. 

Riders All-Star guard Jaren Holmes reflected on the weekend of play… 

Overcoming adversity 

The Riders pulled out the win against Cheshire in the face of adversity. They fell in a 20-2 hole to start the game and battled back to tie it in the second quarter.

Their leading scorer, Teddy Allen, then picked up a double technical foul as the game approached the half, and their captain, Kimbal Mackenzie, picked up a second unsportsmanlike foul in the third quarter. 

Despite all of that, playing against a team they were yet to beat this season, they rallied to grind out a win. 

“It shows our competitive nature,” reflected Holmes, who went off for 15 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists in the game. 

“We had to have a next man up mentality, and we have a great group of guys that love to play the game and compete. It showed that night. 

“When Kimbal and Teddy were ejected, we took a breath and continued to play our game. Guys stepped up and it showed in those moments. We have a lot of talent on this team.”

Despite falling in a big hole early, the home crowd willed their team to the win with infectious energy all night. 

“There was a great energy in the building, and our team really fed off it,” said Head Coach Rob Paternostro after the game, and Holmes seconded that sentiment.

“The crowd had a huge impact. They willed us to it. They kept getting louder and louder, and bringing that positivity. It truly helped me throughout the entire game. It was an exciting game overall, and they made it fun. They were world-class.

“I think it was our best win of the year so far.”

Battling in the capital

The second quarter is where the damage was done against the Lions. They lost the second 33-14, heading into halftime down 19. 

“Playing London, you have to hit shots and get back in transition. We missed a few shots in a row and they ended up with two threes. Those are swings you can’t have when you come up against a team that talented,” said Holmes. 

Despite the loss, the Riders won the other three quarters by five, fighting wire to wire despite the heavy deficit. 

“There are always positives to take from games. Kimbal had to sit out in the second quarter, and Conner [Washington] stepped up to lead the point.

“It showed his ability to step up in the big moments. It wasn’t the result we wanted, but we didn’t skip a beat. The offence continued to flow, we played hard until the end. 

“We were up against a good team who are in the playoffs of the EuroCup. There are moments where anyone can be beaten, so if you keep knocking on that door, it’s going to open.”

Ready to bounce back in Bristol 

The Riders are back in action on Sunday, heading to Bristol to face the Flyers. 

The last time the sides met in Championship action, the Flyers took an 87-81 win in Leicester. The Riders took revenge in the next meeting, winning 95-74 in the British Basketball League Trophy. 

“They’re a great team, coached well with dynamic players,” commented Holmes on his next opponent. 

They’re up in your face and they press most of the game. We have to take care of the ball because they thrive in transition, and then limit their three-point opportunities in the half-court.”

The Flyers lead the league in rebounds per game in the Championship this season and pull down the most offensive boards in the League as well. Their All-Star centre, Brad Greene, leads all players in rebounding with 10.2 a game and is averaging a double-double this season. 

“They rebound extremely well, especially on the offensive end,” said Holmes. “We have to keep them off the glass. Rebounding is absolutely the emphasis this week.

It’s not just Greene, They all crash and help him, so we have to find ways to create two-on-one against him and  take him out of the play when the ball comes off the rim.”

The sides play at opposite ends of the spectrum in regards to their play style. Leicester play at the fastest pace of any team this season, and Bristol at the second slowest. 

Holmes says it’s important to establish the game at Leicester’s tempo. 

“We have to trust in the work we have, not change who we are regardless of who is in front of us. We want to push the pace, get up shots and play together as a team.” 

The game tips off on Sunday, March 10, at 2 pm. You can watch the action live here, on the British Basketball League Youtube channel!

Report: Riders fall on the road to the Lions

Leicetser Riders lost 105-89 to the London Lions on the road, to fall to 15-13 in the British Basketball League Championship. 

The sides were squared at 27 after one, but an explosion in the second quarter from the Lions gave them a 20 point advantage which the Riders were unable to overcome in the second half. 

Leicester won the final three quarters by 5, but couldn’t find enough to get back into it. 

Teddy Allen led the game with 26 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals, continuing to establish himself as the League’s premier scorer. He was backed by Miryne Thomas, who scored 10 in the third quarter on his way to 17 points to get the Riders offence back in rhythm. 

But the issues were on the defensive end. The Lions had five double digit scorers, led by 17 points from Sam Dekker, and the team shot 58% from the field. 

The Riders burst out to a 9-2 start, attacking with authority led by four from Kimbal Mackenzie out the gate. London hit back in minutes to tie it at 11, but the Riders established their offence early to go toe to toe with the hosts. 

Allen scored seven in the first five minutes, getting buckets on the board early. A minute later, he drove the length of the floor on the fastbreak for the second time in the game, scoring his second and-one play.

Dekker, in his return to the roster from injury, got to work to close the first. He scored seven straight points to take the lead for London. But the first ended 27-27 led by 9 points from Allen. 

London started the second quarter 6-0 to extend out to a lead. They found success at the rim, as the Riders did early, scoring their first five buckets of the period in close to force a Rob Paternostro timeout. 

Tarik Phillip scored six points in three minutes for London on their run. They made it a double digit lead through David Nwaba, who was found on a backdoor cut to make it 41-30. 

The onslaught continued through to the half, the Lions winning the second quarter 33-14 to take a 60-41 advantage, led by 12 from Dekker at the break. 

The Lions picked up in the third quarter where they left the second, scoring six straight to grow their lead. Thomas found joy for the Riders to score 10 points in three and a half minutes, but visitors couldn’t slow down London’s scoring to break into the deficit. 

The Lions won the third 28-23 to lead 88-64 with one to play. 

The Riders went bucket for bucket to start the fourth, once again finding success at the hoop. Blake Bowman’s free throws made it an 8-6 start to the period. 

But London saw it out late, having built enough of a lead early to secure the win. 

The Riders return to action on Sunday, staying on the road to face the Bristol Flyers.

Scouting Report: London Lions

Leicester Riders are set to take on the London Lions in their second game of the weekend. They will face the League champions for the final time in the British Basketball League Championship, heading to the Copper Box for the second time. 

Here, we take you through what to expect from our opponents… 

Shooting efficiency

London have operated with killer efficiency on the offensive end this season. They lead the League in field goal, three point and free throw percentage, their effective field goal percentage sitting at 58% on the season, 4% more than the second ranked Riders. 

The Lions attack the hoop to generate offence. They lead all teams in points in the paint and free throw rate, getting easy buckets at the rim and putting their opponents in foul trouble consistently. 

While their leading scorer, Matthew Morgan, is the second highest scorer in the League with 19.4 points per game, the Lions share the ball to great effect to lead all teams in assists. 

The Riders offensive production is close to matching the Lions on the season, scoring just one point less on average in their games, but they’ll have to lock in on the defensive end to find success in this game, especially because of the quality London has on the other side of the ball. 

Stifling defence

While some of the Lions’ defensive success can be credited to their high field goal percentage, preventing opponents getting easy looks on the fastbreak, they have ranked among the League’s best in their score stopping. 

The Lions are the best at stopping transition buckets, allowing only 15.4 fast break points per game, they also hold their opponents to the worst field goal percentage of any other team at just 41%. 

In addition, London close possessions consistently, allowing few second looks at the basket. Their 31.69 defensive rebounds per game is best of any team. Their defence is a contributing factor with that number, forcing their opponents into more misses and getting more opportunities for defensive rebounds. 

Another aspect of London’s stifling defence is their rim protection. Led by the league-leading rim protector Josh Sharma, who sends away the most shots of any player with 1.7 per game, London tops the blocked shots charts also. 

The Riders’ high powered scoring will need to be at its best to overcome London’s defence. 


An area of weakness in the table toppers is their tendency to give away possessions. 

The Lions turn the ball over 15.69 times per game, the most in the League. This leads to them giving up the third most points off turnovers per game at 13.86 per game. 

While their shooting efficiency means London doesn’t give up many fastbreak points, but the Riders will look to take advantage of any Lions turnovers to generate good shots against London’s defence. 

The Riders rank third in fastbreak points, and their desire to get out and run in transition may play a factor in the action at the Copper Box.

Report: Riders grind out gritty win against Cheshire

Leicester Riders pulled off a gritty 101-93 win against Cheshire Phoenix, snapping the visitor’s undefeated streak in 2024. 

The entire Riders unit stepped up after the League’s leading scorer, Teddy Allen, and Leicester’s captain Kimbal Mackenzie were ejected from the game. 

TJ Lall topped the team’s scoring off the bench with 22 points, backed by Miryne Thomas’ who had 19 and exploded out of the half following Allen’s ejection. 

Leicester were red hot from three, shooting 47% from deep on the game led by Lall and Thomas who combined for six. 

Aaryn Rai led the game with 28 points, fighting wire to wire in his team’s effort. But they couldn’t overcome a spirited Riders effort, backed by a raucous home crowd.  

Starting slow

Leicester weren’t just faced with the adversity of two ejections. They started slow, falling in a 20-2 hole in the first quarter. 

Rai scored 8 points to start the game, and Leicester turned the ball over four times in three minutes in a stuttering start. 

Thomas took the lid off the basket with a score at the rim to make it 20-4.  One score was all it took for the Riders to find form, and Lall sank a corner triple to make it 20-9 with 4:10 left in the first.  

Bouncing back

The Riders rallied, going on a 15-3 run to end the first. Big man Duke Shelton ended the first with a drive to the hoop to make it 23-17, getting Leicester right back in it.

The surge continued in the second, and Sam Idowu grabbed the Riders the lead, as the hosts continued to attack inside. 

The sides were locked in a back-and-forth towards halftime. Jaren Holmes put up seven points in the second quarter to shoulder the scoring load, hitting a corner triple after an Allen behind-the-back pass.

But the big moment in the game came minutes later, as Allen picked up a quick double technical which saw him ejected from the game. With the League’s leading scorer out of the tie, the Phoenix ended the period on a 4-0 run to make it 42-42 at the half. 

Gunning out of the break

Thomas drained a three to settle the Riders into the second half. Leicester started the quarter in a 7-0 run, after three Skyler White misses on the other end. Thomas came out hot, hitting two quick triples to put Leicester up 55-48. 

He brought his game tally to double figures with 3:55 left in the quarter, sinking a tough and-one finish over White. 

Up 10, Leicester battled hard to close the third to keep their opponents at arm’s length. But to close the quarter, Riders captain Mackenzie picked up an unsportsmanlike foul after incidental off ball contact, which saw him out of the game with Allen. 

Battling it out late

The third ended 70-62, the Riders needing heart and hustle to see it out. 

Holmes attacked the hoop for two to start the final quarter, followed by Lall who put Leicester up 12. Lall hit a corner three, assisted by Holmes, before Miryne came down and nailed a triple of his own as the Riders ran away with the tie late. 

Cheshire’s star guard LaQuincey Rideau was the third player thrown out of the game, picking up his fifth and final foul in the fourth.

On the other end, Riders’ veteran Conner Washington stepped up in the absence of Mackenzie and Allen, taking a charge on Cam Christon and finishing a layup through heavy contact with four minutes remaining. 

Lall put the exclamation point on the performance with an explosive one handed jam, sending the Riders fans into raptures and sealing the win. 

The Riders are back in action on Sunday, heading to London to take on the table topping Lions.

Gallery: Leicester Riders vs Cheshire Phoenix

Pictures from last night’s 101-93 win against Cheshire Phoenix…

Championship Preview: Leicester Riders vs Oaklands Wolves

Leicester Riders return to Championship action, taking on Oaklands Wolves at Loughborough University.

Here’s how the game is shaping up…

Fixture information

Leicester Riders vs Oaklands Wolves

Loughborough University Netball Centre

Saturday, March 2, 6 pm

Get tickets here!

5 on the bounce 

The Riders enter this fixture having won their last five games, catching fire in the mid point of the Women’s British Basketball League Championship season. 

A winning weekend last week brought their record on the season to 11-2, good for second in the standings behind the undefeated London Lions. 

The weekend saw Leicester beat the Newcastle Eagles 90-75 at Mattioli Arena, before hitting the road to beat the Manchester Giants 92-67. All of the Riders wins on this streak have come by over 20 points, and they fire through games and climb the standings.

Star guard Taylor O’Brien has led the team through the stretch. She has led the scoring in the last three, and averaged 27 points over the last two. And the team has continued to assert themselves on the boards, led by Rayven Peeples who has logged a double double in four of the last five. 

The Riders return home to take on the Wolves, who they last played in the second game of the season. 

Contrasting form

In contrast to the Riders’ hot form, the Wolves enter this matchup looking to avoid making it five losses in the row. They have lost the last four by 20, and will look to turn their form around in Loughborough. 

Their last game was a 61-90 loss at home to the third-placed Caledonia Gladiators. They were outrebounded 23-53 by the visitors, so the Wolves will need to crash the glass to get a result against the Riders, who lead the League in offensive rebounding. 

Oaklands are typically solid in that department, pulling down 24.7 defensive rebounds per game, good for sixth in the League. 

Amy West leads them in rebounding with 6.9 per game, but missed a Gladiators game after a collision with a teammate in pregame warmups, which sidelined her with a head injury. Should she return to action against the Riders, she’ll be in for a battle at the rim with Peeples. 

Key matchup 

Topping the Wolves scoring charts this season is American guard Caterrion Thompson, who is averaging 16.2 points per game on the season so far. 

Thompson’s play this season should come as no surprise for those who have followed her career. She arrives in Oaklands having led the scoring for Finnish side Forssain, averaging 18.1 points per game. 

The Ohio-born guard started out her college career at Bowling Green, where she remained until her Junior year. As a Redshirt Junior, Thompson ranked second on her team in scoring with 13.7 points per game and averaged 5.3 rebounds. 

In her final college season with Mississippi State, Thompson averaged 8.1 points and 3.1 rebounds, leading the team in 3-point shooting percentage with 41%.

Tasked with the role of going toe-to-toe with Thompson is fellow American O’Brien. O’Brien, who also leads her team in scoring this season, is capable of going bucket for bucket with anyone in the League, as she demonstrated over her last two games. 

The rookie signed to the Riders from Florida State, averaging 6.7 points for the Seminoles last season. 

She spent four years prior at Bucknell University, leading the team in scoring for two straight seasons and earning a place on the All-Patriot League First team for 2021 and 2022. The Pennsylvania native averaged 16.7 points and 6.5 rebounds in her final season with the Bison.

Expect a battle in the backcourt between these two scoring guards.

Mckenzie Johnston named 2024 British Basketball League All-Star

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

Team South Head Coach, Stella Kaltisdou, picked Johnston as one of her six reserves to suit up at the Copper Box Arena on March 24. 

This comes after Riders guard Sam Ashby was named an All-Star starter a week ago.

The full All-Star teams are as follows:

GuardGeorgia Anderson (c)- Manchester GiantsShanice Beckford-Norton- London Lions
GuardGeorgia Gayle- Sheffield HattersSam Ashby- Leicester Riders
ForwardHarriet Ittewill-Soulsby- Durham PalatinatesAllison Day- Oaklands Wolves
ForwardEmma Eichmeyer- Sheffield HattersTemi Fagbenle- London Lions
CentreKirsty Brown– Caledonia GladiatorsMegan Gustafson- London Lions
ReserveLakan James- Caledonia GladiatorsMcKenzie Johnston- Leicester Riders
ReserveMadison Washington- Sheffield HattersHaylee Saurette- Cardiff Met Archers
ReserveMyah Pace- Manchester GiantsMari Stewart- Nottingham Wildcats
ReserveAriadna Pujol- Caledonia GladiatorsCaterrion Thompson- Oaklands Wolves
ReserveJanika Griffith Wallace- Durham PalatinatesKat Tudor- Essex Rebels
Savannah Wilkinson- London Lions

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

Scouting Report: Cheshire Phoenix

Leicester Riders take on the British Basketball League’s only undefeated team in 2024, the Cheshire Phoenix, in their next Championship fixture.

The Phoenix have proved too much to overcome for every opponent this calendar year, including the League leading London Lions who they bested in the Trophy final.

Here have been the keys to their success…

Running the Fastbreak

Cheshire plays fast, with willing runners going coast to coast in transition at the highest rate of any team in the British basketball League. 

The Phoenix lead the League in fast break points with 18.97 per game, and get their opportunities on the break often by topping the points from turnovers charts with 16.77 per game 

Their ability to get buckets in transition stems from their ball pressure on the defensive end, where they rank first in steals with 8.53. 

Trophy Final MVP Laquincy Rideau has been key to getting the Phoenix on the run. The American point guard is first among all players in steals this season with 3.1 per game in his first season in the British Basketball League.

He also leads the League in assists with 6.8 per game, pushing the pace in transition and dishing off to his teammates on the run for easy buckets. 

Good shot selection and hustle in transition will be key to keeping Cheshire in the halfcourt in this one, and prevent easy baskets on the break. 

Offensive rebounding 

As well as getting easy looks on the break, the Phoenix crash the glass for second chance points to generate their offence. 

Cheshire ranks second, behind the Bristol Flyers, in offensive rebounding with 13.57 per game, leading to a League-high 11.80 second chance points per game. 

Front court pairing Ethan Chargois and Arryn Rai lead the effort on the glass, grabbing 2.5 and 2.4 offensive rebounds per game respectively. They both rank in the top 10 among all players in that department, their two pronged attack making it difficult to box out from missed Phoenix shots. 

The Riders have multiple players willing to do the work on the glass, from the League’s leading scorer Teddy Allen who pulls down a team-high 6.7 boards per game, to the Riders’ depth at the big position of Mo Walker, Sam Idowu and Duke Shelton who all take pride in their rebounding efforts. 

With the Phoenix shooting at a 45.55 % rate on the season- third best of all teams- the Riders cannot afford to give them second looks at the hoop. 

Points in the paint

Cheshire’s speed in transition, offensive rebounding and halfcourt approach means they rank second in the League in points in the paint. The Phoenix score 39.73 points in the paint per game, led by stars who relentlessly attack the hoop. 

Arryn Rai has been key to the offensive playstyle. The new acquisition from the NBL in the offseason is the team’s leading scorer and a top five scorer in the League with 18.3 points per game. 

Rai attempts 8.2 shots from within the arc per game, connecting on 62.2% of his looks in close.

This ranks third in the League of those who have taken over 100 shots. Rai’s aggressive drives to the rim opens up shots for teammates and draws fouls on opponents, highlighting the emphasis on the Riders being able to contest without fouling. 

The Riders have bodies to throw at Rai in the paint, but staying in front of the talented wing may be key to preventing a big scoring night. Cutting off Rai’s drives to the rim will be tasked with the Riders premier perimeter defenders, who are in for an intense night to limit Rai’s effectiveness.

We need you there!

The team need your help to get over the line in this one!

Get tickets here to get behind your Riders!

Key matchups: Leicester Riders vs Cheshire Phoenix

Leicester Riders take on the Cheshire Phoenix on Friday, in an important clash for the team.

The star-studded fixture features three All-Star starters, and some of the best talent the League has to offer going head to head.

Here, we take a look at the key matchups in the game…

Aaryn Rai vs Teddy Allen

Last season’s NBL Player of the Year, Aaryn Rai, has established himself as one of the League’s best in his step up to the British Basketball League. 

The Canadian wing ranks top five in scoring (17.38 points per game), sixth in rebounding (7 per game) and top 10 in field goal percentage (56.47%), as well as knocking down his threes at a red hot 41% rate. 

Rai leads the League in three point percentage from the top of arc, finding success pulling up in transition and losing his defenders at the top of the three point line. 

He has also relentlessly attacked the rim all season long, and his willingness to push the tempo in transition has been key to Cheshire’s high-paced, fastbreak offensive approach. 

Rai has exploded for huge games this season, the biggest of which was a 32 point outing against the London Lions. But he’ll be faced with the tall task of keeping up with the League’s leading scorer- Teddy Allen. 

Allen enters this game after back-to-back 35 point performances. Only two players have scored more points in their first eight Championship games. Allen has averaged 26.4 points per game in the League so far, and will look to continue to rack up the points in an attempt to overcome the Phoenix.

Laquincy Rideau vs Kimbal Mackenzie

Laquincy Rideau was instrumental to Cheshire’s Trophy success, hitting the game winning layup against the Riders in the Final Four, and winning Final MVP with 25 points and 10 rebounds against London Lions. 

He has been the League’s true point guard, leading all players in assists (6.8 per game) and steals (3 per game), making his impact felt on both ends of the ball. 

Rideau pulls the strings for Cheshire, and has logged double digit assists seven times this season. This has contributed to his seven double doubles so far, three of which coming against the Riders. 

He battled down the stretch with Riders captain Kimbal Mackenzie in the Trophy, Rideau having the final say on that occasion, but Mackenzie has stepped up consistently in the clutch for the Riders over the past few seasons, and will look to again when his number is called. 

He led the team down the stretch in a clutch win against Caledonia Gladiators, scoring six points in the final two minutes, and has hit a rich vein of form of late. 

Mackenzie had scored 15+ in his last three games, earning Player of the Game with his 21 point performance against the Gladiators. 

The Canadian has been a killer from midrange, getting to his sports consistently and connecting on over 50% of his looks. Expect a back-and-forth between him and Rideau from the backcourt in this one. 

Skyler White vs Sam Idowu 

A Cheshire weapon that has been effective against the Riders this season has been stretch four Skyler White, who has put up big numbers from behind the arc. 

Two of his best games of the season were against the Riders, the first a 22 point outing on opening night, and 23 points in the Trophy Final Four. 

White hit a combined 13 threes in those games, and chucked up 31. His high volume of three point attempts mean the Riders have to close out when he drifts to the perimeter. 

Sizing him up in the front court will be Sam Idowu, a versatile forward who is more than comfortable stepping up to the outside. 

Idowu has a versatile game on both ends, capable of hitting the three, taking defenders off the dribble and working in the post down low. He has the size to challenge White when he goes to work in the paint, and the athleticism and perimeter defence to follow him out to the three point line and contest his three point attempts. 

Idowu has enjoyed good form over the last few months, and went off for 20 against Plymouth City Patriots on February 9. The matchup at the forward position has been a significant factor between the sides this season, and it could be no different in this one.

We need you there!

The team need your help to get over the line in this one!

Get tickets here to get behind your Riders!

Report: Riders cruise to victory in Manchester

Leicester Riders won their fifth game on the bounce with a road victory against Manchester Giants. 

In her third straight 20 point outing, Taylor O’Brien led the team with 25 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists in 30 minutes. 

Rayven Peeples continued her dominance on the glass, which has spanned all season, with a monster 15 points and 17 rebounds on the game. 

The Riders led from the opening quarter, and controlled the game throughout. Led by Peeples, they outrebounded the Giants 62-28 in the game. 

Brooklynn Mcalear-Fanus led the Giants with 20 in the host’s defeat. Manchester shot well from three, hitting 40% of their attempts, but couldn’t keep Leicester off the glass throughout. 

The Riders endured a slow start, falling in a 5-0 hole before O’Brien’s three from the top of the arc took the lid off the basket for the visitors. Marsissa Hamilton, following a 5/5 night from three on Friday, followed her up with a triple of her own, giving the Riders the lead in a quick swing. 

The threes settled the Riders down, and they took control of the first quarter. They established the paint, led by six points from Rayven Peeples, and led the first 26-17 after a relentless attack of the rim throughout the period. 

O’Brien took over the start to the second with 5 quick points, making her points tally 12 with seven minutes left in the half. Young star Erin Powell also put five on the board to bring her total to seven, and Leicester extended their lead. 

O’Brien’s hot first half meant the Riders won the second period 23-15. Peeples bossed the boards with 10 rebounds at the half, contributing to 10 offensive rebounds for the team as they owned the inside. The score was 49-32 at halftime- the Riders in control. 

Sam Ashby got the second half underway with a three to set the tone in the third quarter. The sides exchanged buckets, but the Riders held their opponents 20 points away. 

The Giants did chip into their deficit with four minutes left in the third, as Idil Turk hit back-to-back from deep to make it a 14 point difference. But Peeples got work out of the resulting timeout, making a tough bucket at the rim in response. 

They went 8-0 started by Peeple’s bucket, before the quarter was ended by another Turk three to make it 70-51. 

Boasting a big lead, the Riders saw the game out professionally. Ashby, Peeples and O’Brien shouldered the scoring load, and Leicester won the fourth 22-16 to improve their record to 11-2. 

Sam Ashby named to 2024 British Basketball All-Star Team

Leicester Riders guard Sam Ashby has been voted a 2024 British Basketball League All-Star starter. 

She will suit up for the South, alongside Oaklands Wolves’ Allison Day and London Lions’ trio Shanice Beckford-Norton, Temi Fagbenle and Megan Gustafson at the Copper Box Arena on March 24. 

Ashby was the highest-voted player in the guard position in the South. January’s Player of the Month is logging 13.2 points and 4.9 rebounds in her first season in professional basketball. 

Ashby commented: “I’m super excited to be selected for the All-Star game! Having the opportunity to play alongside the best players in the League, and under Head Coach Stella Kaltisdou, will be an amazing experience.”

The full starting fives for the All-Star game are as follows.

GuardGeorgia Anderson (c)- Manchester GiantsShanice Beckford-Norton- London Lions
GuardGeorgia Gayle- Sheffield HattersSam Ashby- Leicester Riders
ForwardHarriet Ittewill-Soulsby- Durham PalatinatesAllison Day- Oaklands Wolves
ForwardEmma Eichmeyer- Sheffield HattersTemi Fagbenle- London Lions
CenterKirsty BrownCaledonia GladiatorsMegan Gustafson- London Lions

The remainder of the team will be chosen by the two head coaches, B. Braun Sheffield Hatters Head Coach Vanessa Ellis for the North and London Lions Head Coach, Stella Kaltisdou for the South. 

The reserves will be revealed on February 29.

Get your tickets to the game here!

Riders duo named to 2024 British Basketball League All-Star Team

Leicester Riders duo Teddy Allen and Jaren Holmes have been voted 2024 British Basketball League All-Star starters. 

They will suit up for the South, alongside London Lions guard Matthew Morgan and forward Sam Dekker, and Bristol Flyers center Brad Greene at the Copper Box Arena on March 24. 

Allen is the League’s leading scorer, and has been named captain after amassing the most votes of any player in the South. Since signing with the Riders in mid-December, he’s putting up 26.4 points and 6.7 rebounds, while shooting 47.6% from the field and a red-hot 46.5% from three in the Championship. 

Allen commented: “It always feels good to be recognised for what you do, in any light. Thank you to all the fans who took the time to vote!”

Holmes was the highest-voted player in the guard position in the South.  He is logging 13.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game in the Championship this season, impressing in his rookie year. 

Holmes commented: “It’s an honour to be voted an All-Star. I’m grateful to my teammates for putting me in the situations to be successful, and to the coaching staff for believing in my abilities day in and day out.

“Thank you the fans for voting me in, especially with this being my rookie year. I’m super excited to be making memories that will last a lifetime. I can’t wait to be there, and have a good time with the rest of the players.”

The full starting fives for the All-Star game 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 Phoenix Brad Greene- Bristol Flyers

The remainder of the team will be chosen by the two head coaches, Caledonia Gladiators’ Gareth Murray for the North and London Lions’ Petar Bozic for the South. 

The reserves will be revealed on February 29. 

Get your tickets to the game here!

Championship Preview: Riders vs Eagles

Leicester Riders play the Newcastle Eagles for the second of back-to-back games against their North Eastern opponents. 

They will host the Eagles at the Mattioli Arena, Leicester, as the club looks to pack the house.

Here’s how the game is shaping up…

Fixture information 

Leicester Riders vs Newcastle Eagles 

Mattioli Arena, Leicester, 7 pm

Get tickets here! 

Last time out

Last week saw the Riders head to Newcastle to face tomorrow’s opponents, coming away with a 77-55 win. 

Contrary to the scoreline, the game was contested until late. It was a four-point game going into the final quarter, before the Riders won the fourth 30-14 to blow the game open and take home the win. 

Star guard Taylor O’Brien led the team with 18 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, proving the difference in the final quarter with 10 points. 

The Riders’ defence won the day, however, forcing 24 turnovers out of their opponents and holding them to 36% shooting from the field. 

Season so far

The Riders have established themselves as one of the premier teams in the League once again this season. They sit third with a 9-2 record, their two losses coming to the undefeated London Lions, who they are one win behind in the standings. 

They bounced back from a loss to London with three straight wins, beating the Cardiff Met Archers, Durham Palatinates and the Eagles convincingly. 

The Riders have made their trade on the offensive glass this season, leading the League with 14.1 per game. They only grabbed nine last time out against the Eagles, so expect the boards to be a point of emphasis in this one. 

One to watch

Despite her team’s loss, Tierra Hodges led the game with 20 points and 9 rebounds for the Eagles. 

Newcastle’s December signing exploded onto the scene in Newcastle, leading the League in scoring through six games. 

The 5’9” wing is scoring 22.1 points per game, awent off for 30 points on her debut and has failed to score 20 points in just one game for the Eagles. 

Hodges signed in the North East after an outstanding collegiate career at Furman University and an excellent rookie campaign last season in Finland.

In her final college season, she was named first-team all-conference by coaches and media, led the Southern Conference in rebounding with 10.4 per game and ranked third in scoring with 16.2 per game

Riders fall on the road to the Patriots

The Riders fell on the road 109-93 to the Plymouth City Patriots. 

A second-straight 35-point performance from Teddy Allen wasn’t enough to overcome a red-hot shooting night from the Patriots. 

The hosts went 12-26 from three, led by 33 points from Tyrell Green who went from 8-10 distance on the night. 

The Riders fall to 14-12 in the British Basketball League Championship, faltering in their pursuit of the Caledonia Gladiators and Cheshire Phoenix above them in the table. 

The Riders came gunning out the gate, with Mo Walker and Allen combining for their first 17 points. Allen made the highlight of the first, pulling up from near the logo and banking in a three to make the score 17-10 with 4:20 left in the first. 

The Patriots came into the game as the worst three-point shooting team in the League, but caught fire from deep to cut into their early deficit. They hit three straight to cut the difference to three points, Green connecting back-to-back. 

The Patriots tied it up at the hands of Jules Dang-Akodo from deep with less than a minute left in the period, but Allen ended the quarter with his 12th points, making it 26-24 after one. 

The hosts found their groove in the second, riding the hot hand of Green for 6 points and starting the quarter 14-5. Green hit his fourth three with a contest in his face, making it a double-digit advantage at 41-31. 

The Riders came storming out of the following media timeout with eight straight points, Allen pulling up from deep once again for his 18th points to make it 41-39 within a minute. 

It took another three minutes to tie the game up, and it was Shelton who did it with a putback layup. It was the last score of the half, and the sides entered the break tied at 46. 

Allen got the second half underway with a finish at the rim to get Leicester the lead back. The sides exchanged buckets to start the third quarter, both attacking the rim relentlessly. 

Both teams couldn’t miss to start the third. They combined for 36 points through six minutes, Kimbal Mackenzie making the last score before the media timeout to make the score 65-63 in the Riders’ favour. 

But the Patriots were the team to find some separation, Green staying hot to knock down his sixth three from seven attempts. Dusha stole the following inbound and beat the buzzer at the end of the period to make it 82-73. 

Green hit another to start the fourth to help build the host’s lead to 14. Allen then responded with a three in transition and a spin move in the lane to get five points back. Next time up the floor, he hit a stepback three to complete an 8-0 run on his own. Out of the following timeout, Allen drained yet another triple for 35 points. 

The Patriots responded with two straight scores, Cam Copeland with the second at the rim. With the newfound momentum they scored eight straight points, Jacob Wiley’s fastbreak jam off a lob pass forcing a Riders timeout. 

Green hit a three out of the timeout, making the difference 14. The Riders couldn’t overcome that deficit and fell to the Patriots on the road.

The Riders return to action after the international break, hosting the Trophy champions Cheshire Phoenix on March 1. 

Get your tickets here.

Scouting Report: Plymouth City Patriots

Leicester Riders are set to play the Plymouth City Patriots on the road for the first time this season after beating their opponents twice at home so far this year.

A win would see the Riders improve to

Here are three things to look out for in our game in the South West…

Close games 

The Patriots have featured in 10 games that finished within single digits in the Championship this season. Their record in those games is 2-8, including three losses that finished within a single score.

Two games ago, they lost another heartbreaker against the Surrey Scorchers 94-92. Should they have secured a defensive board following Saquon Jamison’s deliberately missed free throw with five seconds left, they’d have had a shot for the win.

Plymouth are 0-2 against the Riders this season, and they remained in both games until late. The first was an 88-81 Leicester win, and the game was within two points with less than two minutes remaining. The Riders saw it out late, led by four points from Mackenzie.

Mackenzie has put the Riders on his back this season and scored six points in the clutch against the Caledonia Gladiators last week to secure an important win.

Should Plymouth keep it close once again, the Riders may look to their captain to get over the line. But the Patriots will expect these close games to bounce their way later in the season, as they look to step it up in the clutch.

TJ Atwood

Plymouth’s leading scorer this season, and a player who has been in hot contention for a place on the British Basketball League starting five, is American TJ Atwood. 

Atwood went off for 17 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists last time he suited up against Leicester, and has been one of the Patriots’ most effective players all season. 

He is putting up 15.26 points per game from an efficient 52% from the field this season, leading the team. His 6.74 rebounds per game is second most on the Patriots roster, and he also leads them in steals with 1.44 per game. 

Atwood doesn’t need much of the ball to do his damage. He ranks eighth on his team in usage rate at just 18.85%, meaning the Riders will have to remain aware through 40 minutes of his presence on the court off the ball. 

If they’re not, he can go off for 30 as he did earlier in the year against the Bristol Flyers. 

Offensive rating

Despite the firepower of Atwood, the Patriots’ offence has struggled for rhythm this season, ranking last in offensive rating with 99.95. They score 78.46 points per game, one more point than bottom-ranked Sheffield Sharks, but rely on their offensive rebounding for second-chance opportunities. 

Their lack of consistent deep threat has been a contributing factor to this, as they shoot the lowest percentage from behind the arc in the League at 28.67%. From two-point range, they rank fifth, finding success attacking the hoop.

In addition to their shooting percentages, the Patriots have struggled to take care of the ball. They rank second in turnover percentage, giving the ball away on 16.04% of their possessions. 

The Riders will need to maintain pressure on the ball to force mistakes while limiting chances within the arc and pulling down defensive rebounds to hold Plymouth to their season trends.

The Riders return to home action on March 1, taking on the Cheshire Phoenix.

Get your tickets here! 

Riders react to beating the Sharks

Leicester Riders made it four wins on the bounce with a 108-94 win against the Sheffield Sharks.

The win improved their record to 14-11 in the British Basketball League Championship, one win behind the Caledonia Gladiators in third.

Here’s how the Riders reacted to the win…

Teddy Allen- “Pressure is a privilege.”

Star guard Teddy Allen went off for his highest-scoring night in Riders red so far, exploding for 35 points and 12 rebounds. 

It was one of only two such performances in the last 15 years in the British Basketball League, as the leading scorer continues to take the League by storm. 

He put the scoring load on his back when the team needed him most last night. 

“Pressure is a privilege,” said Allen, when asked how he handles the scoring responsibility when the Riders need a basket.

“I’m happy my teammates put me in those positions and that I could deliver for them when my opportunities arose. I’m just happy to get this win at home with my team.”

The Riders found themselves in a double-digit hole in the first half, and gave up the highest-scoring half in the Sharks’ season so far. Defence was the priority for the Riders to come back. 

“We had to lock in on defence. You’re not going to win many games if you give up 57 in a half. We did that in the second half, and I’m proud of my guys.”

Allen has hit the ground running with the Riders since signing in December. He spoke about how his relationship with Head Coach Rob Paternostro has allowed him to succeed. 

“We have a lot of trust in each other. He has never got on me for a shot- he just wants me to play my game, and he trusts me in those moments. I can do nothing but thank him and be appreciative to have a coach like that.”

Rob Paternostro- “He’s worth the price of admission!”

Coach Paternostro repaid the compliment from Allen, signing the American’s praises after the win. 

“He’s worth the price of admission! He was awesome tonight. He had two quick fouls, but we rode him for a while, and he did a good job of not fouling. 

“What’s impressive about Teddy is his stamina. He has the ball a lot and takes a lot of shots, but he doesn’t get tired. He can stay on the floor for a long time without me needing to give him a break. He came up big tonight.” 

After a tough start to the game, unable to stop the Sharks’ scoring onslaught, Paternstro made adjustments at the half to slow Sheffield down. 

“To give them credit, they were really shooting the ball well, and we struggled to guard them in the first half. But we knew if we were in the game after they shot like that, then this one could be ours. 

“We had to do better in transition and stop second chance points, and we were much better defensively after halftime.”

The Riders saw it out in the clutch for the second straight game, after they beat the Caledonia Gladiators in the final minutes on the road last weekend.

Getting wins out of close games has given the group confidence in those situations. 

“It was an entertaining game! Anyone who was here tonight enjoyed that. We really made the big plays late in the game, which we’ve been doing as of late. We played really well in the second half. 

“Our guys were really confident late in the game. When it’s tight, we feel like we can see the game out, and earlier in the year, we didn’t have the same confidence after we lost a couple of close ones.”

It’s a quick turnaround for the Riders, who head to Plymouth to take on the Patriots on Sunday afternoon. Rest and recovery is the priority for the Riders. 

“Rest is our biggest focus now. We know Plymouth can be a difficult opponent and challenging on the road. It’s our first time there this season, so we have to go down here and have a solid game to finish the weekend right.”

The Riders return to the Mattioli Arena on March 1, taking on the Cheshire Phoenix.

Get your tickets here!

Report: Riders overcome red hot Sharks

Leicester Riders made it four wins on the bounce, beating the Sheffield Sharks 108-94 in a game contested wire-to-wire. 

Teddy Allen went off for 35 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 50% and 44% from three in a Player of the Game performance.

He was backed by Jaren Holmes who scored 19, hitting a tough three through contact to end the half to jolt momentum into the team. 

The Sharks started hot, scoring 57 points in the first half, their most in any half this season. But the Riders overcame it, ending the third quarter on an 11-0 run and seeing out a win in the clutch. 

Sheffield was led by Malek Green who put up 19 points and 11 rebounds. They entered the game as the lowest-scoring offence in the League, but caught fire from the off to challenge the Riders throughout. 

A slow start for the Riders, with them struggling to find the bottom of the basket despite generating good looks, saw them fall into a 10-3 hole after 5 points from Sharks’ forward Jordan Ratinho.

It became 15-6 after Green spilt out onto the fastbreak for an easy two, which forced a Riders timeout after 3:24. 

The Sharks poured in the points in the first quarter. Green was firing from the jump to put up double digits in six minutes, and he made it a double-digit lead at 22-12 with a triple. Sheffield found joy on the glass to snatch 5 offensive rebounds until the Riders closed in to end the period. 

The insertion of Duke Shelton into the game saw the Riders clean up the glass and get back into the game. An 8-2 end to the first meant they trailed 30-27 after one. 

The high-scoring start didn’t stop in the second quarter, with each of the teams scoring on their first two possessions. Sheffield rebuilt their lead to 10 as Rodney Glasgow Jr pulled up from midrange- the visitors continuing their offensive hot streak. 

But again, Leicester found form as the clock ticked down. They went on an 11-2 run, capped off by a triple from Mo Walker, to bring it back within a score with two minutes left in the half.

The Sharks bit back, bringing it back to an eight-point game with a pull-up from three in transition by Glasgow Jr, but Holmes ended the second period with a three-point heave, taking a foul for another point at the foul line to make it 57-53 at the half. 

Leicester quickly tied it up to start the second half. Allen and Samuel Idowu scored four quick points to even the score and set the stage for the remainder of the tie. They took their first lead of the game a few minutes into the half, and Allen pulled up from deep to find separation with the score 64-59. 

Leicester had momentum in the final few minutes, Allen lighting the spark after pulling up on the dribble from deep. He drew an unsportsmanlike foul on Jalon Pipkins after they tangled legs on the break, and Shelton followed his subsequent free throws with a monster two-hand jam. 

The Riders entered the final period leading 82-71. 

Allen made his mark on the start of the fourth, pulling up from the car park for his fourth triple. But the Sharks stayed in the game, finding runs to the rim to chip into their deficit. They started the fourth 12-5, RJ Eytle-Rock cutting the game to five at the foul line. 

It was a tie game with five minutes left, as Devearl Ramsey pulled up from midrange to lock the teams at 88. They took the lead next time down through Bennet Koch, the Sharks holding all of the momentum. 

Kimbal Mackenzie took it back with a corner three, off the back of his clutch performance last time out in Caledonia. He was followed by Holmes, who fought his way to the free-throw line and put Leicester up 94-90. 

Lall was the next to be sent to the foul line, and rebounded his own miss and made the putback as the Riders found form in the clutch. Idowu scored a layup next time up the floor to put Leicester up seven with 1:37 left, and the Riders saw the game out from there. 

The Riders return to action on Sunday, heading to Plymouth to take on the Patriots on the road.

Championship Preview: Riders at Eagles

The Riders return to action after a winning weekend of action, facing the Newcastle Eagles on the road. 

The 8-2 Riders are coming off back-to-back wins, ready to play an Eagles team that has endured a difficult start to the season. 

Here’s how the teams shape up…

Fixture information 

Leicester Riders at Newcastle Eagles

Saturday, February 17, 7:30 pm

Vertu Motors Arena 

Watch Live!

Two-win weekend 

The Riders are coming off an impressive weekend of wins, beating the Cardiff Met Archers and Durham Palatinates in back-to-back days. 

They won by an average margin of 37 points, making a statement with dominant victories. They won every quarter of the weekend and maintained their pursuit of the top end of the table. 

Rayven Peeples dominated the weekend on the glass, notching two double-doubles on her way to a Team of the Week nomination. She averaged 16 points and 13 rebounds across the two games. 

The Riders, led by Peeples, have set the tone on the glass on their way to eight wins this season. They rank second in rebounding (0.1 rebounds per game behind the top-ranked London Lions) and first in offensive rebounding. 

Playing against an Eagles team who have struggled to pull down boards this season, will play a large factor in the North East. 

Newcastle looking for form 

Having lost the last three Championship fixtures, the Newcastle Eagles are looking for a win to turn their season around. 

Losses to Oaklands Wolves, Essex Rebels and London Lions are responsible for the poor run of fixtures. They enter this game after a loss against the League-leading Lions, who won 102-56 at home. 

They pulled off back-to-back wins against Durham and Cardiff in mid-December, but failed to build off their form to make a rise up the table. 

They have struggled on the boards this season, ranking second-last in offensive rebounds and third-last in defensive rebounds as the Eagles struggle to generate second possession and close defensive ones.

They’ll need to improve in this department to overcome the glass-crashing Leicester Riders. 

Key matchup 

Eagles’ December signing Tierra Hodges has exploded onto the scene in Newcastle, leading the League in scoring through five games. 

The 5’9” wing is scoring 23.2 points per game, went off for 30 points on her debut and has failed to score 20 points in just one game for the Eagles. 

Hodges signed in the North East after an outstanding collegiate career at Furman University and an excellent rookie campaign last season in Finland.

In her final college season, she was named first-team all-conference by coaches and media, led the Southern Conference in rebounding with 10.4 per game and ranked third in scoring with 16.2 per game 

The American’s performances in the British Basketball League earned her the Player of the Month award for December. 

Facing up against her is another Player of the Month, Sam Ashby, who won the award for her efforts in January. 

Ashby balled out against Durham last week, leading the game’s scoring with 21 points, and logged 6 rebounds and 5 steals in the win.

Ashby’s performances this season earned her a spot on the GB roster earlier in the year. She’s averaging 12.9 points per game and ranks fourth in the League in steals with 2.4 per game. 

Expect this battle from the wing position to play a significant role in the outcome of this clash.  

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!

Riders make it back-to-back wins with a blowout against Durham

The Riders made it back-to-back wins in a weekend of action, beating the Durham Palatinates 85-57 to improve their record to 8-2. 

Sam Ashby dominated wire-to-wire, the GB guard logging a game-high 21 points and 6 rebounds after hitting the ground running with 12 in the first. Rayven Peeples scored 14 to back up her teammate, grabbing 13 rebounds for her second double-double of the weekend. 

Leicester shot well from deep in the game, hitting 40% of their threes to blow the game open. On the defensive end, they held Durham to 2-18 shooting from behind the arc in a dominant defensive outing. 

Their standout was Elle Hendershot, who matched Ashby’s 21 points in her team’s effort. But the Palatinates struggled to match the Riders’ play on both ends throughout, and the hosts secured their second big win in as many days. 

Ashby’s defence made a huge impact in the opening stages of the game. She blocked Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby inside to force a 24-second violation and took a charge on Hendershot for two score-saving plays. On the other end, scored five quick points as the Riders charged out the gate for a 10-4 start. 

Durham established the interior to come back into it, led by Hendershot’s 7 points in the first quarter. But Ashby hit back with seven more points to rebuild Leicester’s lead to eight, finishing the first quarter at the free-throw line to make the score 22-14.  

Hot deep shooting meant the Riders maintained their lead in the second, as Marissa Hamilton and Katie Janszewska both hit triples. Taylor O’Brien followed up with seven straight points, and the Riders built their advantage to 39-22. 

The Riders shot 57% from three at the half, while the Palatinates missed each of their seven attempts. That made it 44-29 to the hosts by the break. 

A 6-2 start to the second half made it 50-31 within two minutes. Ashby built on her game tally with seven more points, including a three to put Leicester up 20. Peeples got to work inside with aggressive play around the rim. She scored 7 points in six minutes, capped off by an and-one play. 

To end the third, Katie Januszewska found the bottom of the basket on back-to-back plays to bring her game total to double digits. Leicester won the third 25-15 to make the score 69-44 with one to play. 

Elise Tweeide scored two straight baskets at the rim to get the Riders going in the final quarter of play. Leicester continued to be effective in their runs to the rim, seeing the game out by adding to their side of the scoreboard. 

They finished the game with a 16-13 fourth quarter, meaning they won every quarter of their two-game weekend.

The Riders are back in action on Febuary 17, heading to the North East to take on the Newcastle Eagles. 

Report: Riders secure big home win against Archers

The Riders took a dominant win against Cardiff Met Archers to improve to 7-2 in the Women’s British Basketball League Championship standings. 

It was an impressive win start-to-finish, as Leicester won the opening quarter 22-7 and never looked back. 

American forward Rayven Peeples set the tone in the paint, leading the game with an 18 point, 13 rebound double-double.

She was backed by Katie Januszewska, who had 12 points and 5 rebounds off the bench in 19 minutes. 

The Riders established the inside quickly, getting two offensive boards, a block and a finish at the rim in the opening minute. Peeples was instrumental in their physical approach, swatting Lara Habling’s shot and putting in a pair of layups within three minutes to make it a dominant 10-1 start. 

She finished the first with 6 points, 3 rebounds and 2 blocks, as the Riders got all five started on the board in the opening period. Despite shooting 0-8 from three, their dominance in the paint meant Leicester led 22-7 after Januszewska’s mid-range pull up to end it. 

Jessica Eadsforth-Yates knocked down the Riders’ first triple of the game to start the second quarter. She hit another with 5:41 left in the half to bring the team’s game tally to 30, and their lead to 22. 

With the lid off the basket from deep, Marissa Hamilton stepped into a triple to continue to pile on the points. On defence, Leicester locked off the interior, forcing the Archers to try their luck from three. They went 1-11 from range in the first half and 8-32 from the field. 

Emihear Morris joined the action from deep with a corner three to get the home bench off its feet. The Riders led 46-18 going into the break- a convincing first half of play. 

Peeples got the second half going with six quick points, as the Riders showed no let-up. She dominated the start to the third quarter with 8 points, 6 rebounds and a steal in five minutes of action. 

Januszewska caught fire in the middle of the quarter. She scored eight straight points, including two threes to stretch Leicester’s significant lead. Morris followed up with her second triple, and the Riders entered the final stanza up 65-29. 

Leicester started the fourth 6-2 to make it a 40-point advantage for the hosts. The quarter was led by 5 points from Eadsforth-Yates, as the Riders saw it home comfortably by winning the final quarter 21-11. 

The Riders are back in action tomorrow, hosting Durham Palatinates.

Get your tickets here!

Report: Riders take the win against Plymouth

A superb fourth quarter by the Riders fired them to a 102-81 British Basketball League Championship victory over the Plymouth City Patriots.

The contest was much closer than the final score suggests as Rob Paternostro’s squad were made to work hard by a determined Patriots side, who remain at the foot of the championship standings.

The home side dropped 33 points in the final ten minutes, heating up from three-point range to finish the game with a decent 37% from deep.

Led by captain Kimbal Mackenzie (who had a quiet scoring game with six points but distributed 11 assists), the Riders played excellent team basketball, ending the night boasting 24 dishes.

There were several solid performances, but Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen and Samuel Idowu stole the show, making 45 points between them with Idowu putting up yet another double-double.

Athletic big man Miryne Thomas also had a good game, especially from beyond the arc, draining a hot four from five on his way to 19 points, scoring 14 in the final quarter.

Paul James’ Patriots side showed plenty of positive flashes throughout the game and won on the offensive glass, pulling down 18 to the Riders’ seven.

Star man Jacob Wiley hit 22 and the speedy TJ Atwood scored 17, but the visitors were crippled by poor accuracy from the free throw line, hitting just 58% from the line.

An aggressive start to the game by the Riders saw a swell of scoring early on, started by Allen with a silky-smooth reverse layup. Mo Walker then hit an ‘and one’ play after a lovely dish from Mackenzie and – following a transition three from ‘Buckets’ – Leicester had seven points in two minutes.

The Riders were working hard to utilize their size inside, but the Patriots did a good job of keeping pace, showing fast hands-on defence and tenacity on the offensive boards, totalling ten offensive rebounds in the first half. 

It wasn’t long before the familiar sight of a scoring run from Idowu had the home supporters cheering, the bench big man dropping an impressive 11 points in seven first-half minutes.

The power forward was dominant on both sides of the arc, hitting turnaround jumpers in close and stretching the floor with pick-and-slide splashes from deep.

The game then entered a somewhat messy period as both sides engaged in numerous scrambles below the rim.

Leicester kept a small lead going into the second quarter, narrowed down to three points following a Wiley fast break dunk.

The opening minutes of the second were dictated by the visitors, who demonstrated excellent team basketball to ride a 13-0 scoring run.

Danger-man Wiley was starting to heat up, showing his skills in close with powerful finishes and accurate jump shots.

The Riders had to stop the bleeding, and a typically impassioned timeout from Paternostro did the trick, prompting Allen to start the mini comeback with an acrobatic, falling layup while under heavy pressure.

TJ Lall followed suit with a tricky finish of his own, and when Jaren Holmes slammed home a breakaway dunk following a nice steal, the Riders were back level.

The teams went bucket-for-bucket as the half drew to a close, but increased defensive pressure exerted by the home side caused Plymouth to cool down, allowing the Riders to edge ahead.

Duke Shelton threw his weight around in the paint to earn multiple trips to the line, and after a clutch corner three by Lall, Leicester found themselves five points in front, a leading margin they maintained to go into the locker rooms 48-43 to the good.

The second 20 couldn’t have started any differently than the first as both teams struggled to get into an offensive rhythm, perpetuated by a rare Mackenzie turnover.

Holmes didn’t get the memo though, hitting a pair of backdoor layups to keep the Riders ahead by five, answered by a buzzer-beating fadeaway by shooting guard Cameron Copeland.

A quiet phase of missed shots and fouling followed, ended by a stop and splash three from Thomas which sparked Idowu into action again.

The big American matched Thomas’ deep ball before finishing a nasty Holmes alley-oop with a one-handed jam.

Back came the Patriots again, Wiley hitting four quick points including a monstrous alley-oop slam. 

Four points from Mackenzie – his first of the night – ended the third quarter, giving his side a 69-64 lead going into the final stanza and with everything to play for.

The Riders began the fourth perfectly, relaxing the Mattioli Arena with four quick points to make it a nine-point ball game.

Atwood’s first trey of the game was matched by Thomas, and Leicester looked in good shape for another home win.

Lall soon put a punctuation mark on the ever-growing lead, dropping a corner three despite being fouled for a spectacular four-point play.

The Riders were now taking over the game, Thomas dropping a heat-check triple which preceded ‘Buckets’ Allen’s 23rd point of the night.

Paternostro’s squad were flowing, and despite some splash plays from the visitors, they rode the double-digit lead for the final two minutes to send the Riders’ faithful home happy.

Leicester Arena becomes Mattioli Arena in recognition of charitable trust

Leicester Riders’ home venue, Leicester Arena, will now be known as the Mattioli Arena.

The Ian & Clare Mattioli Charitable Trust has accepted naming rights to Leicester Arena, the largest indoor arena in Leicester.

The venue – previously the Morningside Arena – is now being rebranded.

The Trust has donated funds to the Leicester Riders Foundation, the charity which develops basketball and other sport participation for people of all ages across Leicester and Leicestershire.

The generosity of the Mattioli family has resulted in the Trust being offered naming rights to the Arena in recognition of their continued support.

Recent donations from the Trust are in addition to the £500,000 donation made to help fund the Arena’s extension in 2022.

The Arena will work with the family to create a lasting legacy gifted to communities in Leicester and Leicestershire.

The Trust – established by the Mattioli family in 2016 – works to help enhance the lives and opportunities of local people.

In particular it works with communities and socio-economic groups which are often sidelined and struggle to access opportunities for advancement, personal growth, and to fully participate in society. 

Ian Mattioli MBE, Founder of the Trust and CEO of Mattioli Woods, said: “We are delighted to continue our support of the Arena, and are proud to accept the naming rights.

“The Mattioli Arena delivers high-quality and high-class events, while at the same time focussing on its community commitments and increasing the profile of the city.

“Leicester has always looked after our family in the very safest of environments and that is why we are delighted to be part of creating a legacy for the diverse communities we support in the City of Leicester and beyond.

“To also be able to do this through sport and a venue that has the potential to impact so many people is something we will continue to take great pride in, and we hope it will be used by many, many people over coming years.”

Kevin Routledge, Chairman of Leicester Riders, Trustee of Riders Foundation, and a Director of the Arena, said: “Once again, Ian and Clare Mattioli Charitable Trust has shown its commitment to the city and the work of our Foundation, and the Mattioli Arena, and we are hugely appreciative of that.

“The work of the Riders Foundation, and the demands on the Arena, continue to grow and we are committed to further enhancements to our facilities.

“We are hugely appreciative to the Mattioli family’s generous support, which will enable us to deliver an arena, community services, and events that will continue to make the city proud.”

The 3,000-capacity Mattioli Arena stages an increasingly wide range of national and international sports and entertainment events.

It also provides a wide range of community sports opportunities through the Riders’ extensive underage basketball programmes through the Leicester Riders Foundation.

The venue also provides opportunities for Leicester College students, wheelchair basketball users, and other community sport users – making it the largest of its type in the UK.

Last year’s extension to the Arena is already bringing significant additional revenue to the city. It consists of a standalone, 1,200-metre squared, two-court sports hall, with a new entrance to the arena also completed at the top of Memory Lane.

It also has the largest solar array on any individual building in the city, generating 246 kW(p) of solar power as helping the Arena focus on becoming a net zero business.

The Riders are in action at the Mattioli Arena tonight, taking on the Plymouth City Patriots.

Get your tickets here!

Preview: Riders vs Patriots

British Basketball League Championship action returns to the Morningside Arena this Friday as the Riders host the 4-18 Plymouth City Patriots.

The home side will certainly be favourites to take victory following impressive winter form, but coach Rob Paternostro will warn his team against complacency after Plymouth ran Leicester close at the start of the season.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs Plymouth City Patriots

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Friday, February 8, 7:30pm

Get tickets here!

Ready to Rise

After a turbulent first quarter of the season, which resulted in the Riders revamping the roster and sat on a record below .500, the recent upturn in form sees captain Kimbal Mackenzie and his team poised to take a leap into the upper echelons of the league.

After a promising League Trophy campaign and last week’s 20-point victory in Surrey, the Riders hold a record of 11-11, fifth in the League Championship and only three wins shy of the Caledonia Gladiators in second place.

Mackenzie himself has seen his form improve simultaneously with his squad, taking advantage of the defensive attention dedicated to Teddy Allen to drop double-digit points in five of his last six outings.

The do-it-all point guard has also seen his assist totals spike over the winter, proof that even with Allen and Duke Shelton being relatively new additions, the team is gelling more and more with each passing week.

Allen could certainly be considered the Riders’ catalyst – the league’s top scorer has failed to breach 20 points only twice as a Rider – but speaking to BBC Radio Leicester earlier this week, he stated that the team was prepared for success when he arrived.

“The team were on a skid when I got here, but we had to pieces to compete. There is a lot of talent in every position, all the way down the bench. I was able to inject some energy into the group, and after that, we rediscovered our form and everyone has been playing well.”

Read the full interview here!

Expect the Riders to maintain that energy heading into tomorrow’s clash with Plymouth. The Patriots have the least potent offense in the league (averaging less than 80 points per game) and if Mackenzie and Allen continue on their current trajectory, 80 points could be surpassed before the start of the fourth.

New Year. New Start.

The end of 2023 was tough for the Patriots. Three losses on the bounce leading up to the break in League Championship play consigned Paul James’ men to bottom of the standings with a 3-17 record.

To compound things, top scorer Taylor Johnson had recently departed the club and it was tough to see who Plymouth could look to for an offensive spark.

However, much-improved performances in the League Trophy and the emergence of Jacob Wiley as a true scoring threat has given them cause to believe that a playoff berth is not out of reach.

The solid Trophy campaign carried forward into the Patriots’ return to the Championship as they travelled to Manchester and bested the Giants 93-79.

The trifecta of Wiley, Spencer Levi and Mason Faulkner overcame a superb 26-point showing from the Giants’ William Lee to take the win, Levi particularly impressing with a Miryne Thomas-esque 14-point, 10-rebound double-double.

Wiley once again displayed his offensive prowess with 20 points and Faulkner was instrumental, running the floor during his 26 minutes from the bench.

The Riders will provide a different challenge than the struggling Giants however, and Friday’s clash could prove how ready the Patriots are to make a run at the playoffs.

Key Matchup

Friday’s game is a battle between two teams with in-form, free-scoring, 6’6” wing forwards: Teddy Allen and Jacob Wiley.

Wiley, a veteran who has married his play on the court with his name, has a career that spans at least four continents.

Following college, the 25-year-old suited up for the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA before taking his skills to Europe, Australia and Japan.

His impact in the British Basketball League has been felt in the last couple of months after regular outings of 20 points or more.

Wiley isn’t a threat from beyond the arc, but his ability to use strength and finishing ability inside makes him a problem for defences, and combined with his tenacity on the boards, he will be a standout on the Morningside Arena court.

Allen will now be familiar to every Riders fan and many supporters across British Basketball.

The CEBL MVP has shown innate ability to score from anywhere, whether that’s slicing into the lane for a quick two or executing a nasty step back before splashing on a three-point dagger.

Possibly the least talked about facet of Allen’s game has been his defensive effort, rarely giving up on the cause and seldom getting beaten on the dribble.

Wiley and Allen are currently the primary outlets on offense for their teams, but both provide so much more around the court.

The winner of that battle could decide the winner of this game.

Leicester Riders speak to BBC Radio Leicester

Leicester Riders featured on last night’s episode of “Game Night” on BBC Radio Leicester. 

You can listen to the full episode here! 

Radio Leicester spoke to the team about their season so far and their mindset going into the rest of the year. 

Here’s what they had to say…

Teddy Allen- “The team welcomed me with open arms”

Teddy hit the ground running in Leicester following his arrival in mid-December, winning British Basketball League Player of the Month right off the bat.

He credited his early success to the unselfishness of his new team. 

“It’s hard to come in somewhere and be successful with my teammates being unselfish,” Allen told BBC Radio Leicester.

“This group is exactly that. I had messages from players even before I arrived, and it was good to feel welcomed to the team. Everybody had open arms for me when I got here. I can’t thank them enough for that.”

The Riders have seen a turn in form since Allen’s arrival, but the American guard said everything was already in place for the group to be successful. 

“The team were on a skid when I got here, but we had to pieces to compete. There is a lot of talent in every position, all the way down the bench. I was able to inject some energy into the group, and after that, we rediscovered our form and everyone has been playing well.”

Basketball is in Allen’s blood, as his younger brother, Timmy Allen, currently suits up for Memphis Hustle in the NBA G-League. Teddy said that growing up in a competitive environment with his brother helped them both become the players they are today. 

“We’re only a year and a half apart, so we were always competing growing up, playing with and against each other. When you have a brother is a blessing. You have a competitor and someone to help you get where you want to go, and he’s definitely been that for me.”

Kimbal Mackenzie- “This group will do anything they can to win.”

Kimbal started off by reflecting on a hard-fought Trophy Final Four battle with Cheshire Phoenix, where the Riders fell just short against the eventual champions. 

“It was a difficult loss in Birmingham- that was a tough pill to swallow. I’ve been on both sides of those types of games, and I hate being on that end of it. 

“That said, our team is playing well and with a lot of confidence at the moment, and I think we’re in a good place. We have to keep looking forward, and it’s time for us to move on to League play.”

It was a difficult start to the season for the Riders, but their recent form has seen them rise in the Championship standings, and they look to kick on for the remainder of the season. 

Mackenzie said the professionalism of the team has helped them turn their play around. 

“My teammates have been great. They’ve been excited to show up and put their best foot forward. This is a group that will do anything they can to win. That’s what I expect of myself, and that’s what Coach Rob expects of all of us.

“Everyone here is professional. At every level you play, you have ups and downs, no matter how good you are, so it’s good to be back on track. We have great coaches and vets around me and it’s a professional group to be around. 

“We approach every game to win and put ourselves in a position to lift the title come playoff time. Seeding really matters with the new format, so we have to work hard to be as high as possible in the league going into the postseason.”

Rob Paternostro-  “We’re putting ourselves in a good position for a nice run.”

Head Coach Rob Paternostro has always taken pride in seeing improvements in his teams throughout the season. 

Therefore, he has wanted to see the uptick in recent form all season long. 

“We always want to have a team that gets better throughout the season. We have had a lot of great teams here, but they’ve always been better in February than they were in January. Everyone is improving. It’s a long season, so you need to have that in your group. 

“I like the way we’re playing right now. Over the last 10 games, we’re ranked first in offence and second in defence. We’re putting ourselves in a good position for a nice run.”

Home form has been consistent all season long for Leicester. They have a 9-4 record at the Morningside Arena in all competitions, with two of the losses coming at the hands of the table-topping London Lions. 

And Paternostro has been pleased with the recent improvement in play on the road. 

“Away games always are a challenge in any sport. We went up to Newcastle in a hostile environment a couple of weeks ago and came away with a big win, so it’s clear that we’re getting better on the road. We’re showing more focus away from home than we did earlier in the season.”

While the start of the season was below the standards Paternsotro has set for this team over the previous decade, the recent improvements to the Riders’ play has given him confidence in their ability to challenge for playoff silverware. 

“Let’s let it all play out. We’ve had a run that is unprecedented in any sport in this country, and of course, it’s tough to maintain that. We know there will be highs and lows, but I like how we’re playing.”

Duke Shelton- “There’s still a lot of basketball to be played.”

Another new signing to the team, Duke Shelton, has also settled quickly into Leicester life. His high-energy play style has been a welcome addition to the roster. 

“This team really likes to get up and down the floor, so I thought it would be a good fit for how I play. It’s been great playing for Coach Rob, who knows how to get the best out of his players. He’s a player-coach, and that’s something different to what I’ve been used to.”

Basketball-obsessed Shelton’s seamless fit into the team is partly thanks to his dedication to the game off the court. 

“I started playing basketball when I was 15, so I came to it late, but since then, it’s been my daily regimen. Every day I’ve had something to do with basketball, and it has given me the opportunity to see the world and meet a lot of different people from all walks of life. 

“The game offers a lot more than what you see inside the lines.”

After their Trophy campaign, where the Riders showed signs of high-level play, Shelton sees that there is more to come from his new team. 

“We showed a bit of what we can do in terms of our identity, but there’s more potential in this roster, and there’s still a lot of basketball to be played.”

TJ Lall- “We’ve been focused on the end goal”

With the Trophy in the books, the Riders now apply their full attention to the remainder of their Championship campaign and the playoffs after that. 

TJ Lall, like the rest of the team, is locked in.

“All year, we’ve been focused on the end goal, but now, with the Trophy done, there’s an extra level of focus on the league and the playoffs.

“It would mean the world to win the playoffs at the end of the year. That’s what we’ve been striving for. We’re here to win, so it would be incredible.”

With big roster changes taking place earlier in the year, players such as Lall, who have been with the team at the start of the season, have had to adapt. But to him, it’s part of playing in professional basketball. 

“Teams change all the time. You have to adapt and move on; the new guys have improved the team. 

“We feel like it’s achievable to win it all. We showed what we can do in the Trophy, despite the loss. We were right there and lost by a point to the team that went on to win it.

“The emphasis is on getting better every practice, and hopefully, by the end of the season, we’re at our best, and we’ll see what we can achieve.”

The Riders are in action on Friday, hosting the Plymouth City Patriots.

Get your tickets here!

Teddy Allen named to British Basketball League Team of the Week

Teddy Allen has been named to the British Basketball Team of the Week for his performance in the Leicester Riders’ victory against Surrey Scorchers.

In the Riders’ 104-84 win, Allen scored a game-high 20 points, led all players with a +/- of 20, and finished the game with 6 rebounds and 3 assists.

Allen is the League’s leading scorer, putting up 23 points per game in Championship action.

This is the American guard’s fourth appearance on the Team of the Week, and a month of dominance in December earned him the Player of the Month award.

Teddy is back in action for the Riders on Friday, as the team hosts the Plymouth City Patriots.

Get tickets here!

3 things we learned from beating the Scorchers

The Riders returned to British Basketball League Championship action with a bang, beating the Scorchers 104-84 on the road.

Here’s what we can take from the win…

Strength in depth 

The Riders had contributions all the way down the roster, with every player in the game day squad scoring multiple field goals. 

From the leading scorer, Teddy Allen, who topped the game’s scoring charts with 20, to Blake Bowman, who attacked the hoop effectively in his 14 minutes of action, Leicester relentlessly scored throughout with multiple lineups. 

The Riders bench, led by TJ Lall’s 13 points, outscored Surrey’s 39-27, despite Surrey’s Quin Cooper providing a hot hand off the bench to score 16 and go 4-9 from three. 

“We knew they were coming off a back-to-back, so we wanted to play all 10 guys and get up and down the floor,” said Head Coach Rob Paternostro postgame. 

“We did a really good job of that, especially in the first half.”

Jaren Holmes, who went off for 14 points in the game, praised the group’s effort to get the job done in Surrey:

“We went out and played together and let the ball move. We had a lot of guys in double figures, so it was a good experience. It was fun to be out there- I love playing these types of games, where everyone is moving the ball and scoring.”

Practice makes perfect 

Both Holmes and Paternostro reflected on the week of practice, and how intense 5-on-5 action helped prepare them for the Scorchers and lift the mood in camp after last weekend’s Trophy Final Four defeat. 

“We were obviously a little down after the loss in Birmingham, but we had a great scrimmage on Thursday with 10 players playing really well, and that translated on the court today,” noted Paternostro. 

“The scrimmage we had this week was intense,” added Holmes. “Coach let us play for the longest we’ve played all season, and everybody was going at it.

“We were competing, getting into it with each other and trying to win, no matter what. That carried over into this game.”

Triple threat 

Coming into the game against Surrey, who take the most three-point shots in the League, it was important for the Riders to be able to win the battle from distance. 

They did exactly that, and as the most efficient deep shooters in the British Basketball League, shooting 39.5% on the season, they went 14-27 from behind the arc led by three triples from Kimbal Mackenzie. 

“We know they’re a really good three-point shooting team, and Cooper was exceptional out there. We really wanted to limit those opportunities for them where we could.”

Surrey shot 37% from three on the game, but couldn’t match the Riders’ pinpoint accuracy from range. 

“We’re not always looking for the three, but we have a lot of guys that can make it, and they made them today.”

Leicester had six players hit two or more threes in the game, providing deep threat from up and down and roster, everywhere on the court. 

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Plymouth City Patriots!

Report: Riders dominate in Surrey

Leicester Riders recorded a dominant win on the road, beating the Surrey Scorchers 104-84.

The British Basketball League’s leading scorer Teddy Allen came up with another 20-point game, logging 6 rebounds and 3 assists while leading the game’s scoring. 

He was backed by his captain Kimbal Mackenzie, who put up 15 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds in the wake of his nomination for January’s Player of the Month. 

Surrey shoots the most three-point shots in the League, but the Riders hit at a 51% rate from deep in the game to win the battle from behind the arc. In a team display, every Rider scored at least two baskets, and five scored in double digits.  

The win sees the Riders get back to a .500 record at 11-11 as they look to climb the Championship standings in the back half of the year. 

The Scorchers made three triples to start the game to take an early lead. Two-time League MVP Justin Robinson took the lid off the basket with back-to-back triples, followed by Padiet Wang who made it 11-9. 

Wang made the highlight of the first quarter, cutting back the door before taking off to throw down Robinson’s lob pass emphatically. 

The Riders came back to take the lead by the media timeout, Allen faded away for a tough bucket to make it 16-13. 

With a minute to go in the first, both sides flexed their shot-blocking ability. Wang kickstarted a block party by spiking Blake Bowman’s layup before Sam Idowu returned the favour next time up the floor by pinning Elliot Bailey’s shot. 

Bailey hit back and finished a succession of blocks with a denial on TJ Lall. But it was the Riders who carried a narrow advantage after a quarter, as Washington hit a corner three to put them up 30-25. 

Leicester blew the game open to start the third with back-to-back threes from Idowu. 

Surrey’s GB guard Andrew Lawrence then picked up two quick technical fouls as tensions ran high midway through the second. Leicester took advantage, and Idowu’s finish inside put Leicester up 18. 

Scorchers Head Coach Lloyd Gardner was the next to pick up a technical, putting Mackenzie to the line for his 9th point of the matchup. 

Miryne Thomas exploded to close the half, draining a contested three with a minute left, and ending the quarter with a monster putback off Allen’s missed layup. They entered the locker rooms up 62-40. 

It was the Riders’ first 60-point half of the season, as their offence clicked into gear upon its return to Championship action. 

Leicester extended their lead in the second half, playing physical ball on both ends and running the break consistently. Jaren Holmes attacked relentlessly, bringing his game tally to 10 with 6:06 left in the period and making the score 72-45. 

The Riders threatened to make the lead 30 throughout the third quarter, but Surrey kept plugging away to keep their side of the scoreboard ticking over. Wang led the game with 15 points with three minutes left, running the pick-and-roll with Saiquan Jamison effectively. 

Allen and Conner Washington combined for triples to quash any Scorchers momentum, finding open looks against Surrey’s aggressive defensive approach. Their threes made it 87-61 with one to play. 

Lall got the fourth underway for Leicester with his second three of the game. But the Scorchers came flying out in the fourth to cut the Riders’ lead back to 20, finding joy in attacking the hoop. 

The Riders hit back with a 6-0 run, capped off by a second chance make from Holmes, to take any life left from Surrey’s comeback hopes. 

Leicester returns to action next Friday, hosting the Plymouth City Patriots at the Morningside Arena, Leicester. 

Get tickets here!

Championship Preview: Riders at Scorchers

Leicester Riders are set to resume their British Basketball League Championship campaign on the road against the Surrey Scorchers. 

Here’s how the sides shape up…

Fixture information 

Leicester Riders vs Surrey Scorchers 

Surrey Sports Park

Saturday, February 3, 5:00 pm 

Watch Live!

Leicester Riders

Falling short in the Final Four

Last time out, the Riders bowed out of the British Basketball League Trophy in dramatic fashion to the Cheshire Phoenix. 

Leicester were down 12 with 2:55 remaining in the game, before mounting a spirited comeback and take the lead with 20 seconds remaining. 

But Cheshire’s Laquincy Rideau’s finish at the rim saw the Phoenix take back the lead with four seconds left, and Miryne Thomas’ Hail Mary three came off the rim to send the Riders home. 

“That was a heartbreaker,” said Head Coach Rob Paternostro postgame. 

“I’m proud of how we hung in there and put ourselves in a position to win. It was a heck of a comeback but a disappointing way to go out.”

Trending up

Despite Saturday’s loss, Leicester have gone 7-3 in their last 10 games in all competitions, seeing them capture some midseason form. 

A 3-1 record in the Trophy group phase saw their play rewarded with a trip to the Utilita Arena Birmingham, where they were seconds from toppling the eventual champions. 

The Riders currently possess a 10-11 record in the Championship following a 4-1 end to 2023. Their defence and rebounding, which were areas in need of improvement to start the season, became a strength during January. 

“We’re taking defence personally,” said Riders forward Samuel Idowu before the Final Four. 

“That’s from practice to in the games. We’re prideful in our efforts to get stops, so we’re happy to see it translate to the games. If we stay competitive, we’ll get results.

“Our rebounding especially has improved throughout the year, and we know how much that can control the game.”

Surrey Scorchers

Positive steps

Surrey looked set to progress to the Final Four after winning their opening two group games, but after suffering key injuries and running into two of the League’s inform teams in the Caledonia Gladiators and the Phoenix, they finished third in the group with a 2-2 record and failed to progress. 

They now turn their attention to the League, where their 7-14 record leaves them in the final playoff place, with two games in hand from the ninth-placed Giants on the same amount of wins. 

Surrey started the season 0-5, but responded with a 3-1 run and have picked up important wins throughout the year, including back-to-back victories against the Bristol Flyers in November. 

They’ll look to continue to add to their wins collum on the back stretch and make their first postseason appearance since 2018. 

Living by the three 

Surrey live and die by the three-point line this season, jacking up the most attempts in the League this season with 30.9 per game. 

While they don’t connect on the attempts at the most efficient rate, shooting 33.5%, when their shots are falling, the Scorchers become a difficult team to slow down. 

The Riders can compete from three, and connect on their deep shots at the highest percentage in the League at 37.8%, so expect the trading of three-point bombs in this one. 

Key matchup

Surrey’s three-point philosophy is led by two-time British Basketball MVP Justin Robinson, who takes a team-high 6.3 threes per game. 

The 17-year pro enjoyed his best years in British basketball with the London Lions, winning League MVP in 2018 and 2019. He signed with the Scorchers this summer, and leads the teams scoring with 12.2 points per game. 

The British point guard has been a lights-out three-point shooter throughout his career, averaging over 40% shooting in the last two seasons. 

Meeting him in the backcourt will be Riders captain Kimbal Mackenzie, who comes into this game off the back of two lights-out performances. 

In a win-or-go-home game against the Newcastle Eagles in the final round of the group, he led the team with 22 points in an important win. 

He followed up with a monster fourth quarter against Cheshire, where he took a charge, hit a three and made a go-ahead and-one play with seconds on the clock to lead the comeback. 

The back-and-forth between two of the League’s best point guards will be a can’t-miss action! 

Want to see the Riders in action?

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Mid-season Recap: Reviewing the Leicester Riders’ British Basketball League Championship season so far

After taking a break from Championship action for the British Basketball League Trophy in January, Leicester Riders return to League action on Saturday to take on the Surrey Scorchers on the road.

Here, we bring you back up to speed with the Championship season so far…

The State of Play

The Riders sit seventh in the standings with a 10-11 record, battling to get over .500 to set up the rest of their season. 

Having played the same number of games as the second-placed Caledonia Gladiators, they find themselves just three wins behind and are ready to make a run up the table. 

It’s a tightly packed midfield in this season’s British Basketball League Championship. Only three wins separate second and seventh, and six wins separate second from ninth, allowing for movement up and down the table as the teams fight for playoff seeding. 

PositionTeamWinsLossesGames Back
1London Lions223
2Caledonia Gladiators1387
3Cheshire Phoenix1287.5
4Newcastle Eagles1198.5
5Sheffield Sharks11109
6Bristol Flyers11119.5
7Leicester Riders101110
8Surrey Scorchers71413
9Manchester Giants71614
10Plymouth City Patriots31716.5

The Riders, in good form in the League of late, will look to benefit from that movement. 

Last time out 

The Riders went 4-1 to close out the year, heating up going into their Trophy run. They scored over 80 points in each of those games and finished 2023 with a dominant win against the Sheffield Sharks. 

It was a 103-75 victory, led by Teddy Allen and Miryne Thomas, who scored 25 and 22 points, respectively. The Riders had four double-digit scorers, Jaren Holmes having the biggest positive effect on the team, leading the game with a +/- of 32. 

Leicester exploded from three, shooting 51.9% from behind the arc, and held the Sharks to 28% deep shooting on the other end. 

The three-point accuracy has been a trend for the Riders all season long. 

The numbers 

In all phases of the game, the Riders are among the elite in the British Basketball League with their shooting efficiency. 

They lead all teams in three-point percentage (38.9%), and are second in field goal percentage (46.9%) and free-throw percentage (77.1%). This has led to 88.9 points per game, which is third in the League. 

After a solid Trophy campaign defensively, where the Riders ranked second in defensive rating, they will look to lock into that side of the ball as the Championship resumes. 

They’ve struggled in that department so far, giving up the second most points per game with 87 a night, but the additions of Duke Shelton and Teddy Allen have helped in that regard, allowing the Riders to defend the rim and pull down defensive boards more effectively. 

Should they maintain their offensive efficiency while showing more resistance on the other end as they did throughout January, Leicester will put themselves in good stead in the later months of the season. 

Want to see the Riders in action?

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Final Four Report: Riders bow out of Trophy to Phoenix

The Riders fell short of a dramatic comeback in the British Basketball League Trophy Final Four, losing 92-91 to the Cheshire Phoenix. 

Leicester were down 12 with 2:55 left, but led the game with 20 seconds on the clock after a spirited comeback. But the Phoenix had the final say, as Rideau finished a layup through contact to win it.

Miryne Thomas had a shot to win the game, but missed a tough running triple on the buzzer. 

Star guard Teddy Allen led the team with 20 points scoring five quick points to trigger the comeback. He was backed by 13 from Mackenzie and Thomas.

Cheshire’s physical wing Aaryn Rai led the game with a monster 27-point, 11-rebound double-double. Stretch big Skyler White went off for 23, hitting six threes in key moments throughout for Cheshire. 

Leicester’s veterans settled the nerves to start the game, as Mackenzie and Mo Walker put up the first seven points of the game. Jaren Holmes followed up with an and-one finish in transition, making it a 10-5 Riders start. 

Walker had a dominant start on the boards. He grabbed 3 offensive rebounds in the opening five minutes, the third making it 16-9 as he finished for two. 

The Phoenix hit back by driving to the hoop for back-to-back and-one plays. Rai had to second of the plays cut it to 16-13. 

The first closed at a slower scoring pace, but the Riders had the stronger of it and finished the quarter up 22-18. 

The Phoenix tied it up at 24 to start the second, with Maceo Jack running the break and finishing in close. Rideau drove to the hoop next time up the court, and took contact from Leicester’s Conner Washington for another score, plus the foul, to force a Riders timeout. 

Leicester locked in on defence to stem the tide and keep in touch with their opponents. They held the Phoenix to three points in two minutes, keeping them from the hoop with effective perimeter defence. 

All of the Riders’ second-quarter points came at the hoop. With their deep shots not falling, they stayed aggressive on both ends. 

But Cheshire ended the half with a 10-0 run, led by five from Rai, and the teams finished the half with the score 46-34 to the Phoenix. Rai led all scorers at the break with 13 points. 

Back-to-back White threes started the second half for the Phoenix, putting them up 18. The Riders started off 0-2 from deep, bringing them to 1-10 from three on the game. 

Thomas came up with a monster highlight, throwing down a putback jam off a Mackenzie missed layup. 

Walker connected to take the lid off the rim as the Riders attempted to claw back into the game. Holmes followed up with two scores to bring it to a 12 point difference. But the Riders efforts had a dent put in them with a Maceo Jack triple for Cheshire. 

Allen hit back with his first three of the game, and heated up with an and-one play, fading away from Cam Holden through contact. But Rai hit shots to keep the Riders at arm’s length, keeping his team up double digits. 

Allen scored seven in the third, but Rai came up with 9 points for the Phoenix. He blocked TJ Lall’s attempted three to end the third, Cheshire up 69-57. 

The Riders battled to start the fourth, Duke Shelton cutting it to 10 with a layup over Rai. Thomas quickly made it a single-digit affair on the next play with a score in the post. 

Allen drained a tough stepback three, then ran the break with Shelton with 5:41 remaining to bring the score to 79-73. Duke sent back Rai’s attempt in close to keep it to six with 4:52 left. 

White responded with a miracle three, pulling up from the corner with Shelton draped over him to snatch momentum back. White kept connecting from behind the arc, and the Phoenix stretched the lead back to 12 with 2:55 left. 

Thomas responded with back-to-back buckets to make it 82-89, before Mackenzie took a charge and drained a three to peg the Phoenix back. Holmes followed with a three, making it a one point affair. 

White got to the foul line with less than a minute left to put the Phoenix up two. The Riders fell back on their captain in the clutch, as Mackenzie came up with a monster and-one play with 20 seconds remaining to put Leicester up one. 

But Rideau had the final say, driving to the rim for an and-one of his own to snatch the lead back. Thomas missed a running three on the buzzer, ending the game. 

Trophy preview: Riders vs Phoenix

Saturday evening sees the Riders attempting to claim their most important win of the season as they take on the Cheshire Phoenix in the British Basketball League Trophy semi-final.

Rob Paternostro’s young squad will take the trip to Birmingham to face the Group A winners under the lights of the Utilita Arena.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs Cheshire Phoenix

Utilita Arena, Birmingham

Saturday, January 27, 6:00pm

Get tickets!

Riders’ Road to the Semis

The Riders’ journey to the final weekend of the Trophy initially looked tough, placed in Group B with the London Lions, Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles, Bristol Flyers, and Manchester Giants – all of whom have scored wins over Leicester this season.

However, with a renewed focus on defence and the seamless introduction of mid-season signings, the Riders finished the group stage with a 3-1 record to finish second behind the Lions.

The Trophy season began on January 5 with the visit of the Flyers to the Morningside Arena, confident after defeating Leicester on their home court in the Championship just a week prior.

The Riders learned from the previous contest that limiting big man Brad Greene’s effectiveness on the offensive glass was key to victory, and so they did, outboarding the visitors 45-36, led by a physical showing from Samuel Idowu, who bagged 14 rebounds.

The second-unit power forward backed up his glass-eating with 15 points for a maiden double-double, only bested by a spectacular 30-point night from Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen.

The CEBL MVP showed against the Flyers that he isn’t just a dominant scorer – he can dish an assist, use his 6’6” frame to grab rebounds and make life tough in perimeter defence.

The Riders hit the ground running with a 21-point win, and despite losing 89-74 to the London juggernaut, carried moment into a Wednesday-night tilt against the exciting Manchester Giants.

Paternostro knew that a win would put pressure on both the Flyers and the Eagles playing later that week, and with the Giants’ leaky defence and lack of Jamell Anderson, the Riders’ coach sent his team onto the floor to score early and often.

The players responded, buoying the home crowd with 59 first-half points and a double-digit lead going into halftime. The Giants threatened a comeback in the third quarter behind Nick Lewis’ 17, but it proved to be a false dawn after a 29-point fourth quarter from the Riders saw them to a 104-88 win.

The team win treated fans to several excellent performances, but the pairing of Miryne Thomas and TJ Lall stood out from the crowd.

Athletic big Thomas hit a near triple-double, rattling the rim for 16 points, collecting nine boards and even laying on eight assists for his team.

Lall also stuffed the stat sheets in 19 minutes from the bench, blocking shots on defence as well as bagging 19 points at the other end in an efficient display.

Sitting at 2-1 and in prime position to make the ‘Finals Weekend’, the Riders faced a must-win battle in Newcastle’s Vertu Motors Arena. 

Facing the prospect of crashing out of the Trophy with a loss, Paternostro galvanised his squad throughout the night which inspired them to put on a fantastic showing.

After a back-and-forth game of scoring runs, the Riders rose over the typically raucous Newcastle atmosphere to earn a 101-85 win, led by ‘Team of the Week’ point guard, Kimbal Mackenzie (22 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists).

Phoenix’s Road to the Semis

After a surprisingly bright first half of the season, Cheshire entered Group A of the League Trophy as favourites to progress through.

The unexpected pressure didn’t appear to tell on Ben Thomas’ squad though, as they remained unbeaten through group play and came top with a perfect record.

The trickiest game of Cheshire’s Trophy campaign came in Round One with a long trip north to face the in-form Caledonia Gladiators.

The two teams often play each other tight, and January 5 was no different, with the scores level on points after four quarters and overtime needed to decide the winner.

 With a 100-97 lead in the final minute, Cheshire missed a couple of free throws to give the home side a chance to tie the game at the overtime buzzer.

Luckily for the Phoenix, Clifton Moore Jr’s three-pointer missed the mark and Cheshire could ride the wave of a late win into the upcoming rounds.

As he has been throughout January, free-scoring forward Cam Christon made the difference for the Phoenix, bringing 18-points off the bench on an 80% shooting day.

The next two games were a pair of one-sided affairs which showcased the scoring potential of Cheshire’s offense.

First, Christon, Ethan Chargois and Maceo Jack all scored 20-plus points in a 102-74 victory over the Plymouth City Patriots, soon to be followed up with a 105-63 demolition of the Surrey Scorchers, where floor general Laquincy Rideau fed his team with ten dishes.

With qualification all but guaranteed, the Phoenix rotated the squad heavily in their final group game against the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks, but despite being down heading into the fourth, role-player EJ Stephens led a comeback to give Cheshire a healthy 78-70 win.

Key Matchups

The Utilita Arena court will be awash with talent this weekend, as two of the league’s best offences face off.

The team that advances to the Trophy Final will be the one that can orchestrate their potent attack most effectively, making the point guard battle between Kimbal Mackenzie and Laquincy Rideau the key matchup.

6’1” Florida-native Rideau has been a huge part of Cheshire’s rise in the Championship this season and has continued that form into the Trophy competition.

Known as a dynamic defender, Rideau is displaying his fast hands and timing by averaging over three steals per game, good for second in the league.

The 27-year-old – who has seen his professional career take him to Luxembourg and Ecuador – also has an eye for a pass, feeding out six assists per game including a ten-assist performance against the Scorchers.

 Attempting to unlock Rideau’s defence will be in-form Riders’ captain Kimbal Mackenzie.

Leicester’s leader has displayed excellent form during January, saving his best for the crucial victory over the Eagles.

The experienced Canadian is a big game player and Riders fans are accustomed to seeing him come through in the clutch with a dagger bucket.

If the Phoenix threaten to go on a run or the game is tight in the final few minutes, expect to see Mackenzie’s famous stop-and-pop jumper swishing the net.

The all-action point guard is averaging nearly 13 points per game and is +41 in plus/minus in the Trophy.

For the Riders to advance to the tournament final, Mackenzie may need to go over and above the already significant impact he is having on each game.

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!

Sam Idowu looks ahead to the British Basketball League Trophy Final Four

Few have stepped up like Samuel Idowu for the Riders on their British Basketball League Trophy run. 

The big man has averaged 13.8 points per game to help the team to the Final Four, the second most on the team, and exploded for 12 points in the first quarter against the Newcastle Eagles to steady the nerves after an 0-7 start for Leicester. 

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Idowu has battled back from injury for the last two seasons to get to where he is today, and he’s relishing the challenge. 

“The Trophy is something to really compete for,” he said. “It ups the stakes, mentally and physically, and it’s something I’ve been taking seriously. We have a chance to win with the team that we’ve been building, so we’ve all been locked in.

“My body has been feeling good. 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: Sam Idowu reflects on battling back from injury

Leicester locked in

The Riders have upped their level for the Trophy and went 3-1 through the group phase. Their loss was to the League-leading London Lions, and their three wins came in dominant fashion. 

“Our mindset was to win every group game. We didn’t play well in London- we didn’t shoot it well and turned the ball over too much- but for the other games, we handled business. 

“I’m proud of the statement we made. We tried to jump out the gate early, and we did a good job of grabbing those wins to get through to the Final Four.”

In front of a raucous home crowd in a win-or-go-home environment, it was important to start quickly in Newcastle and keep the crowd out of the game. Former Eagle Duke Shelton said as much beforehand in his preview of the fixture:

“Everybody is going to be up for the game, and we know it’s going to be rowdy in there. The key is to set the tone early, throwing the first punch and take it from there.”- Duke Shelton before the Riders faced the Newcastle Eagles.

But the Riders failed to do so, and the Eagles game flew out the blocks and forced them to dig themselves out of a hole. 

Leicester showed poise and composure, fought back and won in commanding fashion. Idowu thought it said a lot about the team’s strong mentality.

“Being down early against Newcastle showed growth for us. Coach called a timeout, and we knew it would be a game of runs- it always is against them. We just had to stay poised and play our game for the full 40 minutes. 

“Just because we went down in the first two minutes didn’t mean we needed to panic. We weren’t down on ourselves. At that point, the confidence throughout the team was there to come back and compete.”

Defence wins championships

After a difficult start to the season, the Riders have hit their stride at the right time as they go for silverware. Idowu discussed the secret to Leicester’s recent success. 

“We’ve cleaned up smaller mistakes that plagued us at the start of the season and paid attention to detail. We’re also able to adjust at halftime when we need to fix something. We take pride in our ability to do that going into the second half.

“We’re taking defence personally. That’s from practice to in the games. We’re prideful in our efforts to get stops, so we’re happy to see it translate to the games. If we stay competitive, we’ll get results.

“Our rebounding especially has improved throughout the year, and we know how much that can control the game.”

Chemistry with new teammates

The Riders have seen an improvement in their performances since the addition of star guard Teddy Allen and Idowu’s frontcourt teammate Shelton, who have complimented Idowu’s game and seen him thrive. 

“Teddy and I have a great connection on the court, especially in the pick and roll, which has led to a lot of dunks for me. 

“He reads the floor really well and sees openings to get me the ball. He’s been great for us, and we’ve found a way to integrate him into our offence. The energy has definitely changed since he arrived.”

Shelton, in particular, is a player that Head Coach Rob Paternostro expects to benefit Idowu’s game. 

“Sam’s athleticism on the defensive end has been important,” said Paternostro. “He’s a great teammate, and he’s a guy that plays with a passion out there. 

“That can really lift the players around him. Now, playing with Duke, his versatility will be on display even more, because he’ll be able to step outside and hurt teams from inside and out.”

Idowu seconded his coach, adding how much they complement each other’s game and personalities.

“Duke is an immediate energy guy, and he has contributed in a big way. I don’t see anything negative about him being out there. He’s a great rebounder and really athletic. 

“I enjoy playing with him. We communicate really well together and match each other’s energy, and it comes naturally between us. I think that’s helped him adjust at the perfect time going into the Final Four.”

Ready for the big stage

Should the Riders progress on Saturday against the Cheshire Phoenix, it will be Idowu’s first major final as a professional. 

As a rookie, playing in the Netherlands for LWD Basket, he made the final of a domestic competition, but it was called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This makes the potential of a final all the more exciting. 

“I’m looking forward to going to Birmingham. I’ve heard it’s a great city and a great atmosphere. I can’t wait.

“I’ve played in a couple of big arenas and in knockout games in the conference tournament at the end of college seasons. I’m looking forward to embracing an atmosphere like that again.”

Getting one back against Cheshire

But before then, the Riders have to beat a hot Cheshire team, who are one game behind second in the Championship standings and have beaten the Riders three times already this season.

Idowu laid out the keys to success. 

“The key for us is to keep doing what we’ve been doing. When we’ve played them we’ve had a different roster and played a different style of basketball, so we’re looking forward to facing them again. 

“I’m excited to see the intensity- ours is going to be through the roof knowing we’ve lost to them three times already. We definitely have a chip on our shoulders. We’ve been waiting for this, and we’re hungry for it. We’re not trying to lose them a fourth time when it matters most.”

The moment means everything to Idowu, who has fought to be out of the court in the first place. That’s not lost on him.

“I’ve been through so much in the past two years, so win or lose, I’m grateful for how far I’ve come. I thank god that I’m still able to play the game that I love professionally.

“For everything I’ve gone from recovering from injuries and watching from the sideline to potentially winning a trophy, which would be an incredible feeling.”

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!

Rob Paternostro previews the British Basketball League Trophy Final Four

The Riders are set to take on the Final Four in the British Basketball League Trophy this weekend. 

For Head Coach Rob Paternostro, it will be his sixth trip to Birmingham at the Riders’ reins as he goes for his 18th piece of League silverware with the club. 

He reflected on his team’s journey through the competition so far, and previewed Leicester’s clash with the Phoenix on Saturday. 

Building momentum

To punch their ticket to Birmingham, the Riders faced off against their historic rivals, the Newcastle Eagles, in a win-or-go-home scenario. The Riders controlled the game on the road against the Eagles, coming out 101-85 victors.

The result saw the Riders through with a 3-1 record, winning both of their home games against the Manchester Giants and Bristol Flyers before getting it done in the North East. 

“We played some good basketball on both ends of the floor,” said Paternsotro, looking back at the team’s performances throughout the group phase. 

“We took care of our home games, which was very important, and we showed a real toughness to go on the road in a win-or-go-home game and win by such a big margin in Newcastle.

“We felt really good about our team going into the game. With the additions of Teddy and Duke, we feel like we’re in a great position. 

“We have confidence, we’ve been having great weeks in practice, and we can see the work we’ve been putting in on the court in games. It was an impressive win to be in control like that.”

The Riders made waves midseason with the acquisition of CEBL MVP Teddy Allen and experienced forward Duke Shelton to their roster. 

The midseason moves have had a significant impact on the team.

“Our rebounding has certainly picked up, and both of those guys have really helped in that regard. Teddy’s size and energy from the wing have helped us close possessions, and adding Duke means we feel like we have more options to play bigger if needed. 

“Looking at this roster, we have a lot of guys now that are locked in and alert.

“That has improved from the beginning of the season until now, and it’s vital when you come into any important game. We have to have a group that’s aware of what the team is doing defensively.”

Impact players

It’s no secret to anyone following the team that the impact of Allen on this Riders roster has been immeasurable. He led the Trophy in scoring throughout the group phase and has given the team confidence going onto the court with an elite scoring threat. 

Riders captain Kimbal Mackenzie attested to this: 

“Of course, the thing that stands out with Teddy is his ability to score, but above that has provided us with an extra layer of confidence and swagger. 

“He’s given our team the confidence to go on the road in a game like Newcastle, knowing we have him on our side. He’s 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.”

Paternostro seconded his skipper, speaking on what having another All-Star talent on the roster has added to the team:

“Before Teddy arrived, we were already beginning to put together some smart, intelligent play, but he’s given us an X-Factor that can do so much. 

“His scoring has been tremendous. It’s given the group confidence knowing they have a guy who can make plays like that. But he’s also helped us in a lot of ways that people haven’t talked about. 

“His physicality from the wing, his rebounding and his ability to find the ball are all things that we’ve been looking for before he arrived, and he’s been someone that can explode and take your team to another level.”

TJ’s Trophy Performances

Beyond Teddy, the Riders have difference-makers up and down the roster. A player that has particularly impressed since he landed in Leicester is Canadian forward TJ Lall. 

“TJ has been fantastic in this competition, and he’s been a really good player for us all year. He’s one of the most underrated players in the league. 

“He can impact the game in many ways on both ends of the floor, cover multiple positions defensively, and his athleticism is valuable, but offensively, he has shown an ability to score and shoot efficiently and to create as well. 

“We’ve been very happy to have him playing for us. He’s been vital. He’s a hard worker- he’s there early and late in practice- and he wants to be in big games. 

“Going forward, the sky is the limit for him. When you combine his skills with his willingness to guard anyone, you’re looking at a player who is going to have a bright career.”

Back to Birmingham

Paternostro returns to Birmingham for the sixth time as head coach. He played for the Birmingham Bullets in the British Basketball League for two stints between 2000 and 2004. It’s a city of great sentiment for him. 

“I love it there. It’s always been a great place to play. I’ve been in this country a long time and played so many memorable games there, coaching and playing.”

The all-new Trophy format sees the Final Four fight it out over the weekend, bringing the Riders to Birmingham with the reigning champions Caledonia Gladiators, as well as the Cheshire Phoenix and London Lions. 

“The exciting part about this weekend is that it’s four teams and four sets of fans coming to the Arena on Saturday. Having a lot of British Basketball League fans around the city is going to make a great environment for British basketball.”

Facing the Phoenix

The Riders will take on the Cheshire Phoenix on Saturday, who have already bested them three times this season. 

Paternostro said that keeping them in the halfcourt is a big key to success in this one. 

“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.”

Cheshire are one of the stories of the season, sitting a win behind second in the British Basketball League Championship standings. They reached the final of the Trophy last season but fell on the buzzer to David Sloan’s corner three. 

The Riders will look to prevent them from making it back-to-back Finals appearances for the Phoenix.  

“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.”

These games, in these environments, are the types of matchups that the best players thrive in. Paternostro called out to his team to enjoy the occasion. 

“There’s a lot of good players in this game, so it should be a really good event for everyone involved. We’ve got to enjoy it. These are the games we play for, and you have to have a group that enjoys the challenge and is fired up to play well on the day.”

Want to be a part of the atmosphere, and join the Sea of Red in Birmingham? 

Get tickets here! 

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?

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3 things we learned from the Trophy Group Phase

The Riders punched their ticket to the British Basketball League Trophy Final Four, after beating the Newcastle Eagles in a win-or-go-home matchup.

The team has built momentum in recent weeks, putting in good performances in high-pressure matchups to progress out of Group B.

Here’s what we learned from the group phase…

The Riders are rolling

The Riders have hit a rich vein of form in the Trophy, winning by an average margin of 17.6 points on their way to a 3-1 record. 

Their loss came to the league-leading Lions on the road, but they bounced back emphatically with consecutive wins to progress to the final four. 

The Riders did so by making the most of every possession. They rank second in assists, second in scoring and third in field goal percentage through the Trophy phase, led by scoring savant Teddy Allen.

Allen leads all scorers in the Trophy through four games with a 21.5 average. His gravitational pull on offence has opened up the court for all of the Riders scorers, allowing them to click into gear as they go for silverware. 

The team are peaking at the right time, and will take confidence in their performances heading into Birmingham. 

Strength in depth

Leicester’s bench is what saw them to their momentous win against the Newcastle Eagles last night, mustering 37 points from the sideline. 

They have six scorers averaging double-digit points in the Trophy, but no one has impressed more of late than big man Samuel Idowu. 

Idowu led the charge out of the gate in Newcastle, going off for 12 first-quarter points and 17 on the game. He is the team’s second-leading scorer in the competition behind Allen, with an average of 13.8. 

“It was a real team effort. We have guys giving contributions all over the court,” said Head Coach Rob Paternostro after the win against the Eagles. 

“We’re pretty deep now, we have guys in every position, and we’re locked in. We’re especially locked in on the defensive end, which has been a real positive for us recently.”

Defence wins championships

As has been the trend for Paternosto teams over the last decade, the Riders have hung their hat on their defence. 

They lead the Trophy in blocks, with 6.3 per game, led by TJ Lall’s 1.5 per outing, laying down a gauntlet at the rim and forcing teams to shoot over them from deep. 

Another strength of the team is closing defensive possessions. The Riders rank second in the Trophy in defensive rebounding with 30 a game, allowing their opposition little opportunity for second chance points. 

The Riders’ defence will need to remain locked in should they want to lift the silverware in Birmingham.

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

Find out how you can book your ticket here!

Ticket information: Trophy Final and Semi-Final

Leicester Riders have progressed to the Final Four of the British Basketball League Trophy at the Utilita Arena, Birmingham.

You can get tickets in the Riders allocation to join the Sea of Red and get behind the team!

Here’s all you need to know about our ticket offers…

Weekend and Saturday Tickets 

With this year’s British Basketball League Trophy Semi-Final and Final taking place on the same weekend at the Utilita Arena, Birmingham, you can choose to purchase tickets for the entire weekend or just for the semi-finals. 

Tickets for the full weekend are £48 for adults and £38 for children in Band A, and £39 for adults and £34 for children in Band B. 

Alternatively, you can purchase tickets for the semi-final only, at £41 for adults and £32 for children. 

Band A tickets are for seats in the lower tiers, and Band B is for seats in the upper tiers. 

Should the Riders fail to progress to the Final on Saturday, your ticket will still be valid to watch Sunday’s action with a weekend ticket.


We can arrange your travel from our Arena to the Utilita Arena, Birmingham, on both Saturday and Sunday. 

Travel is £30 per day, or £45 for both days. 

Timings will be confirmed upon booking.

How to collect your tickets

Tickets will be available for collection at the Arena on Tuesday and Wednesday between 6 and 9 pm. 

Please collect from the main reception, at the following address:

Morningside Arena
12 Memory Lane

You can also choose to have your tickets posted to your home address for the price of £4. 

Sea of Red

We need your support in the Trophy Final Four! Help us to create a Sea of Red at the Utilita Arena Birmingham, by wearing red to the game! 

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

Riders beat Eagles to punch their ticket to the Trophy Final Four

The Riders deservedly reached the British Basketball League Trophy semi-finals tonight after a clinical 101-85 road victory over the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles.

Rob Paternostro utilised his squad’s depth perfectly, taking advantage of the depleted Eagles roster that is plagued with the injury bug.

Leicester’s bench contributed an impressive 40 points, led by big man Samuel Idowu who dropped 17 points in a display that perfectly demonstrates what he brings from the sideline.

Captain Kimbal Mackenzie also proved he can still be the main man under pressure, top-scoring with 22 points, pulling down six rebounds and dishing out eight assists.

TJ Lall and new man Duke Shelton also showed nice flashes, Lall hitting his customary near double-double going 14 and eight, with Shelton – a former Eagle – protecting the rim with some authoritative blocks.

Newcastle’s shortened rotation showed plenty of endeavour, the enigmatic Tajh Green mixing up trey-balls with rim-rattling dunks, and Larry Austin Jr displayed his rabid competitiveness on both ends of the court.

In the end, the Riders’ strength in depth was too much for the home side, and the win sees Leicester travelling to the Utilita Arena in Birmingham for the Trophy Finals Weekend.

As is often the case in the Vertu Motors cauldron, Newcastle hit the ground running, crashing out of the locker room to hit seven unanswered points in the first minute.

A Green triple kicked things off, followed by an Austin Jr layup and capped with a thunderous dunk from Newcastle’s power forward (11 first-half points).

A quick timeout was taken by Paternostro and his decision bore immediate fruit as Mackenzie pulled up for a three after causing Jordan Johnson to slip.

Both teams suddenly got hot, with every Eagles bucket being matched by the Riders.

Leicester’s captain got his second bucket with a nice layup, then Mo Walker found rare space beyond the arc to hit a triple of his own.

The net kept swishing as Teddy Allen, Miryne Thomas and Jaren Holmes all found the hot hand. Then Idowu stepped onto the court.

The second-unit star instantly made his presence felt, driving the Riders forward with aggression on both ends of the court.

The big man opened his account with a quick hit at the rim, bettering that finish with an ‘and one’ play before pulling up from three and showing his range. Idowu’s 12 first half points were a just reward for his impact from the bench.

The hot streak saw the Riders come back from the early deficit, and after taking their first lead of the game with a Thomas trey, pulled ahead of the home side.

Great defence and a lethal touch in transition saw the Riders hit 37 first quarter points and boasting a comfortable lead.

The second ten minutes told a slightly different story, as both teams locked down on defence, forcing multiple runs of missed shots.

The turnover bug also plagued the Riders, who ended the first half with ten giveaways to the Eagles’ four.

The quarter began with a much-needed Rickey McGill bucket, answered by ‘Buckets’ Allen after a nicely timed block from Lall.

Allen soon added to his total and – with Idowu and Shelton protecting the rim diligently – the lead remained a significant one.

However, galvanised by Green and Johnson, the Eagles started slowly crawling back into the game.

The lead eventually cut to single-figures and, despite Allen hitting picturesque floaters and making a one-handed offensive rebound to transition into a layup, the Eagles were back within six.

The crowd got to their feet after the 39-year-old Darius Defoe stole the ball and embarked upon a fast break that belied his years, but Lall immediately settled things down with an athletic ‘and one’ play.

The entertaining half wound down with the Riders in front, 55-49.

Leicester started the crucial second half in great fashion, showing quick hands on defence which was rewarded with a pull up and pop triple from Thomas.

The Eagles were displaying a fighting spirit, but after Green had to sit down for his third personal foul, a Mackenzie running triple saw Leicester breach 60 points.

The three was soon answered by Johnson though, and the tension in the building began to hang heavy.

One thing that remained consistent was the Riders’ protection at the rim, and during a prolonged period of missed shots and mistakes, solid defensive play in the paint kept the road team ahead.

Leicester’s front court defence was forcing Newcastle to take several ill-advised deep threes, and the lead stretched back out to 11 following a Mackenzie fast break layup and physical work on the offensive boards by Idowu.

The lead continued to advance after ice cold back-to-back threes from Idowu and Mackenzie, the latter hitting his 20th point of the night.

The quarter ended with the Riders in control but needing to keep their foot on the gas with the six-man Eagles rotation looking leggy.

Now, it was only ten minutes between the teams and a place in the semi-finals.

Yet again, the Riders shot into the quarter with a three, Lall pulling up from the top of the arc and stringing home a beautiful bucket.

Green ran the floor to dunk home a statement of defiance and to give the bumper home crowd something to shout about, but with the Riders slowing things down and sitting on a 19-point lead, the result appeared decided.

The game then started to reflect the spice seen in previous meetings between the two teams this season, and a period of heavy fouling resulted in Johnson having to take a seat.

The Riders’ rode their composure to the final whistle, capping off an excellent League Trophy group stage with a terrific performance on the road.

It remains unclear who the Riders will face in Birmingham, as the fate of Group A remains undecided.

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Plymouth City Patriots on Febuary 9!

Trophy Preview: Riders at Eagles

The Riders will take the long, straight trip up the M1 this Friday as they take on the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles in a win-or-go-home clash in Group B of the British Basketball League Trophy.

With two wins in the bank, Rob Paternostro’s squad know that victory in the Vertu Motors Arena sends them through to the final four of the competition to face the winners of Group A.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders @ Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles

Vertu Motors Arena, Newcastle

Friday, January 19, 7:45pm

Welcome to ‘Knockout’ Basketball

Leicester’s young squad face possibly the most pressurised night of the season on Friday, with the unenviable prospect of bowing out of the League Trophy lurking behind a loss.

However, much of this squad have faced games of this magnitude before. Kimbal Mackenzie, Conner Washington, Mo Walker and Blake Bowman have all suited up for the Riders multiple times in playoff basketball and in the latter stages of cup competitions, and first-year Riders’ Teddy Allen and TJ Lall have both experienced the pressure of the CEBL playoffs.

A much-improved defence has propelled Leicester into their second-place spot in Group B, a point against per game average of less than 84 proof that the squad is gelling nicely in 2024.

The tighter defence has come both on the front court – led by Miryne Thomas and Walker – and on the perimeter, with Allen proving his worth without the ball alongside his skills with it.

Those three have shown quick hands all through January, leading the Riders with over two steals per 40 minutes.

Double-digit home victories over the Bristol Flyers and Manchester Giants – where Leicester put up 104 – demonstrate that things are also clicking on the offensive side of the ball.

Teddy ‘Buckets’ has continued his devastating form, leading the league with 24 points per game, but it is the contributions of Lall and Samuel Idowu from the bench that have kept the Riders ahead in those games.

The second-unit pair are knocking down nearly 24 points a night between them, punctuated by Lall’s 19 points against Manchester and Idowu’s pair of double-doubles versus Bristol and the London Lions.

With Newcastle’s well-publicised injury troubles potentially acting as a hamper, expect coach Paternostro to utilise the full reach of his squad on Friday night to go into a crucial fourth quarter with the fresher team.

Coming Through in the Clutch

Like the Riders, the Eagles have won two games in a tough League Trophy Group B, although one of the victories was far from comfortable.

Leicester’s 104-88 defeat of the Manchester Giants last Wednesday laid down the gauntlet to the Flyers and the Eagles. Losing in Bristol could have meant the end of Newcastle’s campaign.

The contest was as tight as predictions expected, both teams trading blow-for-blow over the 40 minutes with both winning two quarters each.

Decorated veteran Darius Defoe had the final say, finding himself free after a scramble to drop in a two-pointer with 19 seconds remaining in the game. Defoe’s clutch bucket was reward for the depleted Eagles, who could only send six senior players onto the court.

Both teams have had at least a week to rest ahead of Friday’s clash, but it appears that Marc Steutel’s squad will still be without Josh Ward-Hibbert, Will Neighbour, Devin Whitfield and Scott Spencer.

As a result, many of the remaining Eagles have clocked heavy minutes in January, reflected by the four players who average over 15 points per game. Jordan Johnson, Larry Austin Jr., Tajh Green and Rickey McGill have done well to keep the team in winning form, and prove why Newcastle are a tough opponent, despite the injuries.

The battles between the Riders and Eagles have carried an added spice this season, with Leicester leading the series 2-1. Due to the high stakes – and the fact that new Rider Duke Shelton is returning to his former club – the Vertu Motors Arena will be bouncing come Friday night.

Newcastle will be hoping to shine under the bright lights.

Key Matchup

As intriguing as it is to see Shelton returning to his former club, the juiciest matchup in this game has got to be the battle of the scorers – Jordan Johnson and Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen.

Floor general Johnson has shown true leadership qualities in recent weeks for the Eagles. The former Caledonia Gladiators point guard is in top form, averaging 20 points per game in Group B.

Often required to be Newcastle’s primary scoring option, the 27-year-old can do it all, whether it’s draining shots from beyond the arc (42% from three) or driving into the lane before finessing home a tricky layup.

Johnson has played in the NBA G-League and across Europe (Netherlands, Kosovo and Germany), and his experience will tell during Friday’s biggest moments. 

Aiming to go bucket-for-bucket with Johnson will be the Riders’ mid-season magician, Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen.

The CEBL MVP has only suited up for Leicester seven times but has already made a sizeable impression with his scoring ability and fearlessness when taking big shots.

Allen began his time with the Riders with a 32-point exhibition of three-point shooting. His numbers from downtown have calmed somewhat during the League Trophy, but the 6’6” winger has shown versatility by sauntering into the post to drop a layup or earn a trip to the free throw line.

It is the charity stripe where the former Winnipeg Bear has really shone, hitting 22 free throws (the most in the league) at a clip of over 90%.

The battle between these two premium scorers is sure to be an exhilarating one. One thing is for sure – even if the game is low-scoring, Johnson and Allen are sure to get theirs.

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Plymouth City Patriots on Febuary 9!

Riders vs Eagles: The season series so far

The Riders face off in a win-or-go-home matchup against the Newcastle Eagles on Friday, the victor progressing to the Final Four in the British Basketball League Trophy. 

The sides have shared centre stage in some of the biggest battles in British basketball history over the last decade and once again meet with the stakes at their highest.

READ MORE: Riders vs Eagles: The History

Every Riders-Eagles fixture has been a battle so far this year, the Riders winning the season series so far 2-1. 

Here’s how the teams have matched up…

Game 1- Newcastle Eagles 85-92 Leicester Riders 

The teams first went face-to-face this season in the North East, and the Riders game out winners in the clutch. 

It was a one-score game with 1:25 remaining, after Malcolm Delpeche got to the hoop and laid in a finish. 

From there, it was a Riders onslaught on the free throw line, kicked off by Jaren Holmes’ and-one in transition. Kimbal Mackenzie finished it off from the stripe, making both attempts to seal a hard-earned win. 

Miryne Thomas impressed throughout with his interior presence, going off for 17 points and 7 rebounds in a Player of the Game performance. He was backed by Mackenzie’s 16, as the captain went 8-10 from the free throw line. 

Game 2- Newcastle Eagles 95-90 Leicester Riders

The Eagles had a chance to get back later that month and won in a war. Heated exchanges lasted throughout, seeing Newcastle’s star forward Tajh Green ejected from the game, but a 31-point explosion from Rickey McGill saw them win in a game that was contested wire-to-wire once again. 

McGill went 6-10 from three, the Riders with no answer to his hot hand. 

It was a one-possession game within the final two minutes after Miryne Thomas threw down a slam to cut the game to three. But this time it was Newcastle who finished strong, McGill scoring six down the stretch to win it for the hosts. 

Thomas impressed again, putting up 22 point and 10 rebound double-double. But ultimately, Leicester were outgunned from deep, the Eagles shooting 54% from behind the arc and tying the season series at 1-1. 

Game 3- Leicester Riders 111-88 Newcastle Eagles

Back in their own building, the Riders made a statement with a commanding win at the Morningside Arena. 

Jaren Holmes went off for 28 points and 5 rebounds, going 4-5 from three in the win. The Riders were down 10 in the first quarter, but a dominant third saw them turn a close game at the half to a 20 point lead.

Vote for Jaren for the 2024 British Basketball League All-Star game!

Holmes scored 13 on the run, and the Riders won the period 36-19 to burst out to a dominant lead. 

Mackenzie put up another 16 in the game, matching up well against the Newcastle backcourt to go 5-8 from the field. It was Leicester’s turn to shoot the light out, led by Holmes, going 57% from three-point range. 

Game 4- Win or go home

We’re back in Newcastle for our fourth meeting, in the most significant meeting between the sides so far this season. 

Should the Riders secure their second win in Newcastle, they’ll have booked their place against the winner of Group A in the Utilita Arena, Birmingham. 

The Riders’ roster has been revamped since the last meeting, with new signings Teddy Allen and Duke Shelton looking to face the Eagles for the first time. 

Watch the clash live on Friday, on the British Basketball League’s YouTube channel! 

Want to see the Riders in action?

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“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.”

Want to see Shelton in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Plymouth City Patriots on Febuary 9!