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. 

Giveaways

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 lose in London

The Leicester Riders 89-74 lost on the road to the London Lions, falling to 1-1 in the British Basketball League Trophy Group B. 

Teddy Allen, recently named British Basketball League Player of the Month for December, led the game with 21 points. Sam Idowu backed up Allen with 13 points and 10 rebounds, logging his second straight double-double off the bench.

The game got away from them in the third quarter, as Leicester went scoreless through five minutes. London stretched the lead to 20, and despite a positive Riders fourth quarter, saw the game out from there. 

Leicester struggled to connect from three all afternoon, finishing the game 8-29 from range. 

London’s Matthew Morgan led the hosts with 15 points, and their big man Donte Grantham put on a good showing with 14 points in 19 minutes. The Lions dominated in close, going 30-51 from inside the arc. 

The Riders hung with the Lions through the opening stages, despite struggling for offence. Allen got to the line twice to lead the team through five minutes with 4 points, but the Lions led 10-7. 

Miryne Thomas picked up two quick fouls, allowing Blake Bowman to impress off the bench. 

He scored on back-to-back possessions, draining a contested turnaround from the post before taking Josh Sharma off the dribble and laying in a bucket, then dishing an assist to Sam Idowu next time up the court. 

The Riders trailed 25-19 after a quarter, but that quickly became 31-19 a minute into the second. They started 1-9 from three, and the Lions started the second quarter on a 6-0 run by getting to the bucket on three straight trips. 

Jaren Holmes connected from deep for the Riders’ first points of the quarter, cutting the deficit to nine. 

This took the lid off the basket, and Leicester were able to stem the tide. Allen found his shooting form after an 0-5 start from the field, and put 8 points together quickly to make the score 39-34. He had 15 with 4:18 remaining in the half. 

The Lions rebuilt their lead to double digits come halftime, as GB guard Luke Nelson put the ball in the basket to generate some offence for the hosts. The score was 50-40 by the buzzer to end the second. 

London scored 11 quick points to start the second half to extend their lead. Grantham drained three straight triples, two more than the team scored in the first half, making it 61-40. 

The Riders went scoreless until 4:04 left in the third. Thomas put it through, but the Riders were down 21. It was 70-49 going into the fourth, after Leicester lost the period 20-9. 

Leicester’s efforts to chip into the deficit saw them contest in a hard-fought final quarter. Kimbal Mackenzie got on the board to score five straight points and cut the game to 15 with 5:58 left. 

The Riders kept chipping away, and Allen attacked the hoop and made it 76-62.  But after making it a 14-point deficit, the Lions held the Riders from there and saw the game out led by Grantham’s shot-making. 

The Riders return to action on Wednesday, taking on the Manchester Giants at home, tipping off at 7:45 pm. 

Get tickets here!

Report: Riders fall to Lions

Leicester Riders fell 100-62 on the road to the London Lions, making their record 7-10 in the British Basketball League Championship standings. 

A 33-17 third quarter in London’s favour sealed the game, in which the Riders trailed from midway through the opening quarter. 

Miryne Thomas led the Riders with 13 points and 6 rebounds. Leicester shot 33% from the field and went 4-23 from three in a tough offensive showing. 

For the Lions, Irish forward Conor Morgan once again showed his deep shooting threat against Leicester. He went 5-7 from deep on his way to 21 points to lead the game. 

Following a 6-0 Lions start, Kimbal Mackenzie got the Riders on the board with an and-one pull-up from the elbow. 

Leicester matched their opponent’s scoring early, taking a 10-9 lead following TJ Lall’s fadeaway, but couldn’t stop the Lions’ drive to the baskets. London’s first four makes came from attacking the hoop. 

Conor Morgan, whose three-point shooting proved the difference between the teams last time out, hit two straight from distance to build a London lead. It was 28-17 to the hosts after one, and Morgan led the game with eight points. 

The Riders’ defence stepped up in the second quarter. They held the Lions to six points in five minutes to match their opponents once again. 

Thomas led a low-scoring second period for the Riders, putting up 9 points and 4 rebounds by the half. The Cleveland-born forward’s highlight of the game saw him pin Matthew Morgan’s layup attempt to the backboard after scoring four straight points.

Mackenzie’s midrange ability kept Leicester in the game, as the Canadian/British guard drained another deep two with 2:06 left in the second. The Riders entered the locker rooms down 44-32, but remained within striking distance despite shooting 2-12 from three. 

Thomas got the second half underway with a breakaway slam to bring the deficit to 10. The Lions hit back through Conor Morgan, who scored 11 quick points to make the Lions’ lead 21. 

London put the game beyond reach with their three-point shooting in the third. Tarik Phillip’s corner triple with 4:26 left made it 68-42. 

Samuel Idowu and Conner Washington put points on the board for Leicester, Idowu throwing down a putback slam as the Riders’ highlight of the period, but they couldn’t chip into the deficit and ended the third with the score 77-49. 

The fourth was a formality, as London saw it home. Mo Walker went to work for six points inside, but London continued to drop in threes to stretch their lead to 38.

The Riders are back in action on Friday, taking on the Caledonia Gladiators at home.

Get your tickets here

Championship Preview: Riders at Lions

Sunday afternoon sees the Riders continue their tough run of fixtures as they travel to London to face the Lions in Round 13 of the British Basketball League Championship.

The trip to the Copper Box arena is only nine days removed from a 89-79 victory for the Lions over Rob Paternostro’s squad.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders @ London Lions

Copper Box Arena, London

Sunday, December 10, 4:30pm

Watch live!

A Four Quarter Game

The Riders came agonisingly close to claiming a statement win in Cheshire last Sunday after three-quarters of excellent basketball.

The away side, playing the second of a two-game doubleheader, went into the final ten minutes boasting a 13-point lead, but a cold fourth quarter on offence gave the hometown Phoenix the opportunity to stage a comeback for the win.

Fatigue will certainly have been a large factor in the Riders’ late-game troubles, but with a full week of rest behind them, Paternostro will be expecting a 40-minute performance from his squad.

The squad saw an exciting new addition in the week, as reigning CEBL MVP Teddy Allen joined the Riders’ ranks. He will bolster the Riders backcourt with his elite scoring ability which saw him break several CEBL single-game scoring records in the summer.

READ MORE: Riders sign CEBL Most Valuable Player Teddy Allen.

But as Riders’ fans have experienced first-hand, the Lions have unmatched squad depth, demonstrated by the seven players who have put up double-digit games against Leicester in just two meetings.

The production of the second unit will be crucial. Riders’ bench only dropped 16 points on the Phoenix last weekend – a rarity this season – so that number must improve if they are to have a chance at besting the league leaders.

Playmaking two-guard Sesan Russell and strong big man Samuel Idowu will be the players to watch, as they must step up against a London squad playing it’s fourth game in a week.

The Lions could well use the squad’s full depth, giving fringe members more playing time than usual. The Riders’ must take advantage.

Defeats at Home

The British Basketball League Championship leaders go into the weekend having won just two of their last eight games across all competitions.

Victory at the Morningside Arena and a home win in Europe are the only triumphs for a Lions squad that has struggled during the second half of November.

With the expected fixture congestion that comes with European competition, London’s squad has been stretched, culminating in two home losses on the bounce in the League.

However, the ballers of the capital still sit comfortably clear at the top of the standings with a 15-3 record and have had the better of the Riders in their two clashes so far.

Key to the Lions’ success against Leicester is the double-digit scoring from across the roster. If one star has a bad game, another has stepped up to take his place.

In the tilt on December 1, experienced point guard Jordan Taylor failed to get on the scoring sheet, going 0-4 from the field and league top scorer Matt Morgan was held to just five points – his lowest total of the season.

The scoring was taken up by forwards Sam Dekker, Conor Morgan and Dante Grantham, all of whom scored in double-digits, with Morgan netting 19.

The Lions have also dropped 83 points from the bench on the Riders so far this season.

If the road team can stifle that production, they could replicate the feats of both Newcastle and Caledonia with a win in the Copper Box.

Key Players

The contest to watch on Sunday afternoon is one between permitter men with swathes of experience: Jordan Taylor and Kimbal Mackenzie.

34-year-old Taylor has seen it all outside of the NBA. The veteran has competed in Italy, Israel, Turkey, France and (more recently) Japan.

While he hasn’t posted knockout scoring numbers this season – about six points per game – Taylor is a quintessential floor general.

He is the perfect player to have orchestrating the offence and attempting to dish the ball to the right shooter.

The former Wisconsin Badger has performed well against the Riders, laying on 13 assists so far in two games.

Attempting to throw Taylor off rhythm will be Riders’ captain Mackenzie.

Leicester’s talisman has, once again, been a standout player in Paternostro’s squad this season.

Coming off the bench for the first quarter of the season before stepping up to a starting role, the Canadian has been a storm of energy and effort anytime he takes to the court.

Mackenzie can do it all. Drive to the rim, stop on a dime and fire up a pop shot, lay on a nasty pass to an open teammate. 

He has the full package, shown with his 12.6 points per game total as well as an assist number that sits at 4.1.

Both players are vitally important to their team’s chances. Whoever has the better performance on the night could decide the fate of this game.


Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Caledonia Gladiators!

3 keys for Leicester Riders at London Lions

The Riders take on the London Lions for the third time this season on Sunday, after falling to the league leaders twice at home earlier in the year.

Leicester have been in both games late, but haven’t found enough to get over the line. They now head to the capital, looking to take a game back. Here are three areas of emphasis ahead of the clash…

Stopping the three

The only side that has been able to match London’s elite deep shooting early in the season is the Riders, with both sides locked at the top of the shooting charts with a three-point percentage of 38.8%. 

The Riders have gunned from deep against London, shooing 40% over the two games and 44% in their most recent matchup, but on the other end have failed to slow down their opponents on the perimeter. 

It was Irish stretch forward Conor Morgan who heated up last time out, making four threes and scoring 17 points in a decisive first half of action. Morgan hit five attempts in the first game, totalling 36 points across the two games between the sides. 

Not only will the Riders have to maintain their hot hand in the capital, but their defence on the outside will prove a pivotal element of this clash. 

Bench contributions

Playing against a deep Lions squad, who have had seven different players put up double-digit games in the two meetings so far, the Riders will need contributions from all the way down the roster. 

It was 11-year Riders veteran Conner Washington and newly signed Sesan Russell who put the scoring load on their shoulders last weekend, Washington earning Wok 68 Player of the Game honours with 15 points after shooting 5-8 from beyond the arc.

Kimbal Mackenzie led the second unit in the first matchup with 17, as the Riders remained late in the game on both occasions thanks to their ability to field high-level scoring throughout.

The Riders will look for contributions from every player who takes the court to match London on the road.

Play clean basketball

Over the previous two fixtures, foul trouble has prevented the Riders from throwing their full force at the Lions. 

In the most recent game especially, the Lions commenced their game-deciding second-quarter outburst with star guard Jaren Holmes on the bench. He picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter and another in the second which saw him sidelined for much of the first half. 

Holmes played foul-free basketball in the second half and made an immediate impact on the game, but the damage was already done, and Leicester were never able to recover fully.

Miryne Thomas also played with fouls in mind late on, finishing up with four.

In order to have success at the Copper Box, the Riders will have to play foul-free defence and keep their stars on the hardwood. 


Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Caledonia Gladiators!

Championship Preview: Riders at Lions

The Women’s British Basketball League will lose one of its three undefeated records this weekend as the 4-0 Leicester Riders head to the capital to take on the 3-0 London Lions. 

Fixture information 

Leicester Riders at London Lions 

Copper Box Arena, London 

Sunday, December 2, 6 PM

Off the back of a battle

The Riders remain undefeated and top of the Women’s British Basketball League Championship table, but it took overtime for them to keep the loss column vacant against the Nottingham Wildcats. 

The Riders fell down early and struggled to get into a rhythm throughout but came back from down double digits to take control of the game late. The hosts looked like they’d done enough to win it in regulation and would have if not for a three from Mari Stewart, which tied it up. 

GB international Sam Ashby stepped up in overtime with two clutch threes, taking the win and improving the team to 4-0. 

The Riders have hung their hat on their offensive firepower thus far this season, scoring 94.3 points per game- the second most in the League. 

Taylor O’Brien leads the team’s scoring with 21.3 points per game, ranking third among all players in the League. The American guard put up 22 points against Nottingham, her second straight 20+ point performance. 

They’ll need every ounce of that offence in this one to overcome the Lions. 

The team to beat

Last season’s quadruple winners have picked up where they left off last season after they won the Women’s British Basketball League Championship with a dominant 21-1 record. 

They’re 3-0 to start the season, winning by an average of 42 points- blowing away anyone in their path. They’re the only side with a higher-scoring offence than the Riders, scoring 103.7 points per game and shooting a red-hot 52% from the field and 44.3% from three.

The Riders met the Lions in all three domestic finals last year, the Lions coming away victors on each of the occasions. The Riders came closest in the Trophy final, bringing it to a five point game midway through the fourth, but fell 11 points short by the final buzzer. 

Karlie Samuelson leads the team on the season with 22.5 points per outing. The former WNBA player, with experience playing for the LA Sparks, Phoenix Mercury, Seattle Storm and Dallas Wings, has two Spanish National League Championships to her name, and is showcasing her elite quality on British soil. 

The Riders will have their work cut out defensively to slow down Samuelson and the Lions. 

Key matchup 

In the absence of Mckenzie Johnston through injury, British guard Jessica Eadsforth-Yates stepped up into the starting five to run the point against the Nottingham Wildcats. 

She pulled the strings effectively, logging 13 points, six assists and six rebounds in the overtime win. The performance marked three straight games where Eadsforth-Yates amassed double-digit points, making an effective contribution to the high-firing Riders offence. 

Eadsforth-Yates arrived at the Riders at the age of 16 for Charnwood college and suited up for the Loughborough Riders a year later in the WNBL D1. Following two seasons in the NCAA DII with Davis & Elkins, she returned to her home country to sign with the Newcastle Eagles as a rookie then the Riders a year later. 

She’ll go face-to-face with fellow Brit Shanice Beckford-Norton, who is putting up 11 points per game on the season so far in her fourth season in London. 

Beckford-Norton is a GB international who most recently represented her country alongside Sam Ashby in the Eurobasket qualifiers. She spent her college career at the prestigious LSU in the NCAA D1, before playing her rookie season in Germany for Heidelberg. 

In 2020, the Londoner returned home by signing with the Lions – averaging just over 14 points in her first WBBL season. 

Eadsforth-Yates is faced with the stern task of matching up with Beckford-Norton in the place of Johnston in a face-off that will go a long way in determining the outcome of the tie. 


Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Cardiff Met Archers!

Report: Riders fall to Lions

A spirited performance from Rob Paternostro’s Riders wasn’t enough to overcome a clinical London Lions team, who left the Morningside Arena with an 89-79 victory in the British Basketball League Championship.

Tonight’s defeat was Leicester’s second of the season to the league leaders, dropping their record to 7-8. 

Most of the Riders’ success came from beyond the arc where they shot at a 44% clip, largely due to the play of second-unit point guard, Conner Washington. The experienced sharpshooter hit five treys to lead the team with 15 points from the bench.

Washington was ably supported by fellow bench guard Sesan Russell, the new man dropping 13 points after an action-packed second half.

A number of Lions played their part, but big man Conor Morgan was the pick, top-scoring with 19 points after a near-perfect display of shooting, going 87% from the floor.

The opening minutes saw the visitors gain ascendency with clean, incisive play. Early buckets from key men Conor and Matt Morgan gave the Lions an early six-point lead and with the Riders struggling at 1-7 from the field, London looked in charge.

However, industrious play from TJ Lall and a red-hot Washington brought the home side back into the game and got the home fans on their feet.

Lall – who is becoming increasingly important for the Riders with each game – was effective on both ends of the court, making chase down blocks and using his strength to work to the foul line.

Three-ball specialist Washington was the star of the first quarter, knocking down three deep balls, including a catch-and-shoot attempt from a different postcode.

The fast-paced quarter sped to an end, with the scores at 20-20 and Leicester showing plenty of fight.

The second ten minutes began with London turning the heat up on the Riders. Clean jump shots coupled with telescopic offensive rebounding by Josh Sharma pushed the Lions out to their second six-point lead of the night.

The Riders’ effort was present on both ends of the court, but the clean looks they were producing were hitting rim rather than net. Captain Kimbal Mackenzie was all over the court, combining four first-half points with five boards and three assists, but even he couldn’t hold back London’s onslaught.

Getting to the foul line seemingly at will, the Lions opened a commanding double-digit lead, and with the likes of Sam Dekker heating up from the outside, Paternostro’s squad would need to play tough basketball in the second half.

Another picturesque three from Washington and an emphatic fast-break dunk by Miryne Thomas showed that toughness, but the Lions went into the half with a 52-36 lead.

The start of the second 20 was the story of Jaren Holmes versus the Lions. The Riders’ most prolific scorer had the bit between his teeth, draining a pair of threes and slamming home a breakaway dunk to bring the home side back into the game.

Lall continued to hustle hard and Russell’s chemistry with Samuel Idowu was yielding points, but the league leaders managed the contest well, keeping the Riders in a double-digit deficit.

The final stanza started in jubilant fashion for the Riders, Russell and Victor Ndoukou stringing triples before Mackenzie followed suit. When Russell splashed from distance once more, the deficit was down to single figures and the Riders looked to be on a charge.

More deep balls in the final minutes from Washington and Division One prospect Seth Wylie drew cheers from the Riders’ faithful, but more efficient play from London down the stretch gave them the win.


Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Caledonia Gladiators!

Championship Preview: Riders vs Lions

The Riders begin December basketball on Friday night by welcoming the London Lions to the Morningside Arena in Round 12 of the British Basketball League Championship.

It will be the second meeting between the two sides, the first a high-scoring 102-95 victory for the league leaders.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs London Lions

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Friday, December 1, 7:45pm

Get tickets here!

Back on Track

After a tricky run of results and significant changes in personnel, the 7-7 Riders jumped back to winning ways with a 94-79 defeat of the Manchester Giants.

Coach Rob Paternostro’s team completely outplayed their opponents, most pleasingly restricting Manchester to just less than 80 points.

A commanding first-quarter lead and accuracy from three-point range – led by the experienced Connor Washington – made the difference. Washington went four of seven from deep, leading the bench with 14 points in a show of effective ‘shoot first’ point guard play.

The starters also had impressive nights, most notably the versatile TJ Lall, who ended the game just shy of a 16-point double-double.

The Lions should be a much stiffer test and, as the Riders’ faithful discovered in early November, have game-winners throughout their roster.

However, a packed European schedule has forced London to manage playing time and the 102-80 loss to a surging Newcastle shows potential vulnerability in the BBL Championship.

There’s no doubt that the Lions will bring their best to Leicester come Friday, but on the back of a refreshing victory over the Giants, the Riders may well replicate the feat of the Eagles.

Conquering Europe

The championship leaders may have an eight-point advantage in the British Basketball League with a 14-2 record, but it is their performance in Europe which demonstrates the quality of this roster.

The Lions are 7-2 in EuroCup play and sit second in Group A having beaten top European competition at home and on the road.

Star players like Matt Morgan and Donte Grantham have elevated London to a new level this season, but last Thursday’s loss in the Copper Box to Newcastle shows that teams can rise to meet them.

The Eagles hurt the Lions with their guard play. Jordan Johnson and Larry Austin Jr both having impressive nights, scoring 25 and 14 points respectively. 

Austin Jr backed up his scoring with seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals. The Riders have players who can fill the stat sheet like Austin. It will be needed on Friday.

London also suffered at the hands of bench shooter Josh Ward-Hibbert, who drained five three balls at a high clip. Riders’ fans should look for rangy big man Samuel Idowu, or the deadly accurate Washington to provide points in bunches from the second unit.

Morgan, his namesake Conor Morgan, Grantham and Gabe Olaseni all troubled Leicester in the previous clash between these two teams. 

Continuing the three-ball shooting accuracy from the win over Manchester and restricting these four to limited points could be the recipe to hand London their third domestic loss of the season.

Key Matchup

The crucial battle on Friday may develop between two players who do everything well – the previously mentioned TJ Lall and Conor Morgan.

Morgan, a 6’9” Irish Canadian forward, came to the UK this season with a fine pedigree after seasons spent in the top tiers of Spain, Poland and Turkey.

The big man has shown that he can do it all in the League, mixing his offensive output up with smooth skills inside and an ability to shoot efficiently from beyond the arc.

Among forwards, Morgan has one of the best jump shots in the league and is often the outlet after the Lions drive into the lane, demonstrated by eight contests scoring double-digit points.

The former Joventut player has also shown hustle around the rim and an eye for an assist in his 13 games with the Lions.

Lall may not have the height of his counterpart – standing at 6’7” – but he makes up for it with physicality and sheer determination.

The Canadian, a former first-overall pick in the CEBL draft, predicates his game on hard work on both sides of the court.

Due to minor injury, Lall has only suited up 10 times for the Riders this season, but each time he has taken to the court, opposition players and fans alike can feel his impact.

The forward’s best game came last week versus the Giants with 16 points and eight rebounds. As Lall earns more minutes, expect those numbers to become a regularity.

Five things we learned from facing the Lions

Last night, the Riders went toe to toe with the table-topping London Lions, falling just short in a 102-94 loss.

Here’s what we can learn from the fixture.

Hanging with the best

From wire to wire, this Riders roster showed it could compete with the best the British Basketball League has to offer. It was a one-score game at the end of the second and third quarters before the Lions found late form in the fourth. 

It was just a four-point game late after Miryne Thomas’ layup in close, the Riders hanging around until the final buzzer. 

After their blowout of the Eagles last time out, and pushing London all the way, Leicester are growing into the season and establishing themselves as a contender for the top end of the table game by game. 

Caleb’s tenacity 

Last night’s Wok 68 Player of the Game was Caleb Asberry, who covered every inch of the floor in an energetic display. 

Asbery’s infectious energy spread through the entire Arena, snatching the ball of the Lions three times, including a timely steal on Donte Grantham to end the half, which led to two important points. 

He finished with a stat line of 16 points, 9 rebounds, three steals and three blocks, all worth an index rating of 30. He made his mark all over the stat sheet and kept the Riders in the tie through heart and hustle. 

Offence clicked into gear

The Riders’ offence has been a strength all season, but in this one it showed it can contest with the League’s most productive and high-firing unit. 

Four of the Riders starters scored in double-digit points, Xavier Pinson missing out by only one, and Kimbal Mackenzie made an incredible impact off the bench with 17. 

Competing with a Lions side that had three 20-point scorers on the game, the Riders have consistently found multiple plates who can put the ball in the basket up and down the roster. 

Led by Jaren Holmes’ 18 points, topping the Riders’ scoring charts once again, the Riders shot 47% from the field and 35% from three, their killer efficiency allowing them to go blow for blow with the Lions.

After their 111-point scoring night against the Eagles, the Riders have proven their ability to blow anybody out of the water on any given night. 

Recipe for rebounding  

After having difficulty on the defensive glass throughout the season, the Riders had no such issues last night. 

They kept the Lions off the offensive boards completely for three and a half quarters to secure every defensive possession and won the offensive rebounding battle 9-5 by the finish. 

It was a group rebounding effort, with five Riders finishing the game with four or more, and all but one player contributing to the rebounding tally. 

It’s a momentous step in the right direction should the Riders find the same success against the Cheshire Phoenix. 

The sixth man

The Riders fed off the Morningside crowd all evening long, allowing them to battle back from deficits and keep it a game throughout. 

Your energy spurred the team on and came agonisingly close to getting us over the line for a hard-fought win. 

Thank you for your incredible support, and we need you back behind the team on November 25 as we take on the Manchester Giants!

Get your tickets here!

Report: Riders fall just short to Lions

Friday night saw the Riders fall 102-94 to the league-leading London Lions after a captivating game in the British Basketball League Championship.

Coach Rob Paternostro’s squad fought to the last buzzer and led mid-way through the second half, but clinical offense from Petar Božić’s side gave them their 13th win in 14 games.

The best player on the court for the Riders was tenacious shooting guard Caleb Asberry, who dropped 15 points, pulled down nine rebounds and snagged three steals in a complete display.

BBL ‘Team of the Week’ member Jaren Holmes top scored for the home side, dropping 18 points, including three of four from deep range. The wing forward also showed his ability to hit the open man, dishing eight assists on the night.

London’s roster quality showed in a big way, three players scoring over 20 points, Dante Grantham the pick of the bunch with a 22-point/11-rebound double-double.

The game started at a frenetic pace as both teams looked to use speed and ball movement to create easy buckets.

After a breathless first three minutes, the score sat at 12-9 in favour of London – the Lions looking in fine form but being matched by the Riders.

Miryne Thomas once again opened the Riders’ account, hitting two shots from the free throw line, followed by an emphatic two-handed dunk by Braelen Bridges who found space with a nice perimeter move.

A beautiful cut to the basket from Holmes was rewarded with a layup and Xavier Pinson brought the home faithful to its feet by hitting a nasty crossover on the experienced Jordan Taylor, before draining a three.

It didn’t take long before the Lions – who became the first British outfit to defeat Spanish opposition on Wednesday – showed their quality, Matt Morgan leading all scorers with 10 first quarter points.

Leicester’s depth was also showing its value, led by a fired-up captain in Kimbal Mackenzie, who hit a pair of ‘and one’ plays to peg the visitors back from an eight-point lead.

A corner three from veteran Connor Washington brought the Riders within three, and a premium quality quarter ended with the Lions holding a 29-26 lead.

If the first ten minutes started with a bang, the second quarter was the opposite.

Both teams found hitting buckets tough, and the vaunted Lions’ offense was struggling to get through the Riders’ ‘three-two’ zone defence.

Mackenzie continued to bring energy from the bench, feeding Bridges on consecutive plays for two quick buckets, and after a deep three from Holmes, Riders were within reach of a first lead of the game.

Once more, London showed their class and built another useful gap after a pair of threes from Connor Morgan, but like a marching band, the Riders kept moving forwards and bringing the noise.

The loudest moment of the night came with the first half buzzer ready to sound, as Asberry pilfered the ball and slammed it home to record his tenth point and bring the Riders within three.

An entertaining first 20 concluded with London leading 51-48 and all to play for.

The second half commenced with the home crowd in full voice, and the back-and-forth basketball didn’t disappoint.

London were showing a metronomic ability to get to the foul line and hit at a clip of over 90%, but the intensity from the Riders was rattling the league leaders.

Bridges was showing his skills inside, hitting on a couple of smooth post moves, but the defence of Asberry was ‘stealing’ the show.

The Texan was all over the court, picking pockets, smashing home dunks and showing hustle on the offensive glass – his excellent play helping the Riders to a narrow third quarter lead.

Not to be outdone, the Riders’ bench also flashed, Samuel Idowu demonstrating soft hands to feed a cutting Thomas, and when Mackenzie dropped yet another ‘and one’ coupled with a deep three, the Morningside was rocking.

As good as the Riders were playing, the Lions matched them, ending the quarter with an easy layup from a missed free throw to lead 74-72.

The final ten minutes brought with it a tense atmosphere, but consecutive shots from downtown by Holmes and Mackenzie saw the home fans on their feet once more.

The Lions’ offense would not be denied however, as they hit three shots in a row to take a five-point lead. 

Gabe Olaseni and Grantham were providing most of the visitors’ threat, showing strength and accuracy inside to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Coach Paternostro’s young squad showed commendable endeavour and fight during the final five minutes, but big plays from Holmes and Thomas weren’t enough to reel last season’s champions in.

The final buzzer sounded, and the Lions returned to the capital after possibly the toughest game of their campaign so far.

Championship Preview: Riders vs Lions

This Friday is an important one for the Riders as round nine of the British Basketball League Championship brings the visit of the table-topping London Lions to the Morningside Arena.

It will be the first time Rob Paternostro’s team will face the reigning champions this season, having narrowly lost to them in the Playoff Final last May.

Both squads will also need to manage their minutes wisely, with the Riders due to play Cheshire on November 12 and the Lions competing in midweek EuroCup games.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs London Lions

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Friday, November 10, 7:45pm

Get tickets here!

Maintaining Form in the Morningside

Since the opening-day loss to the Cheshire Phoenix, the Riders have turned the Morningside Arena into a fortress, winning four consecutive home games by a margin of 14.8 points.

Victories against Plymouth, Newcastle and a double over Surrey have proved vital in keeping the Riders above .500, but their fiercest test of the young season is likely to come this Friday.

One thing the Riders need to maintain is a prolific offence at home.

Leicester are hitting an average of 94 points in front of their home supporters and last Saturday’s 111-point demolition of the Eagles shows a continuous upward trend in scoring production.

Jaren Holmes, Miryne Thomas and Xavier Pinson regularly drop double-digits in the scoring column, ably supported by captain Kimbal Mackenzie and cultured big man Samuel Idowu off the bench.

They must be at the top of their game against the Lions, who are giving up just 79.2 points per game on the road so far and are one of the best defensive teams in the league.

Depth scoring, which proved so successful against the Eagles, could once again be the key to success for the Riders.

Leicester’s bench dropped an immense 51 points on Newcastle, and players like Mackenzie and high-flying wing Blake Bowman finished with a plus/minus of 17, illustrating the positivity a strong second unit can bring.

The Lions also have a squad that runs deep with quality, so expect this contest to be a battle of attrition – especially with both teams looking to important games in the next few days.

A ‘Near Perfect’ Start

In the first 13 games of their title defence, the Lions have looked nothing short of dominant.

Remaining unbeaten until a loss in Plymouth on November 5, where six Lions first team players were inactive, Petar Božić’s team have sat first in the British Basketball League Championship table since round one.

Sunday’s 94-70 defeat to the Patriots came after the Lions heavily rotated the squad as they attempt to manage the rigours of competing in two competitions simultaneously.

Top contributors Tariq Phillip, Luke Nelson and Conor Morgan were rested, and League leading scorer Matt Morgan was limited to just 16 minutes on court.

However, the blowout proves that if teams force tough perimeter shots – London shot just 19% from three-point range – and work hard on the offensive glass for second chance points, the Lions can be outmatched.

Friday’s trip to Leicester bisects two road games in Europe (last night against Joventut Badalona and next week at Besiktas Emlakjet Istanbul) so the Lions’ strength in depth will be tested to its limits.

The Riders will still need to front up on the defensive side of the ball though, as their opponents bring an offense that leads the League in every major shooting category.

A 99.9 PPG average, a field goal percentage of over 50 and a 39.1% three-point clip demonstrate the potency of the Londoners’ attack.

The visitors can score from anywhere, matching the Riders at just over 38 points in the paint per game and sitting atop the league in buckets from beyond the arc with 144.

In what is sure to delight both sets of supporters, this contest could turn into a shootout.

Key Matchup

Friday’s key matchup is between two American guards who can do it all: Jaren Holmes and Matt Morgan.

A free-scoring point guard who is proving deadly from beyond the arc this season, Morgan is crucial to the Lions’ success.

In his first British Basketball League season since joining from Le Mans (French Betclic Elite league), the North Carolina native leads the league in scoring and three-point percentage, hitting 20.3 PPG and 47% of his deep shots.

The 26-year-old comes with high-level pedigree, having spent two seasons in the NBA G-League for the Toronto Raptors before moving to Europe where he shone during spells in Turkey and France.

Morgan is a matchup nightmare for opposing defences. If there is one player on the Lions that can never be left open, it’s #33.

Riders’ ‘Team of the Week’ member Holmes may lack the experience of his opponent, he makes up for it with sheer intensity and will to score.

Standing at 6’4” and powerfully built, Holmes is formidable when he finds a lane, and his ability to fight through contact to finish inside is largely why he sits atop the Riders’ scoring charts with 14.4 PPG.

Evidence from last Saturday’s 28-point performance against the Eagles shows that #13 can also score with finesse as he dropped three-pointers and delicate floaters inside with barely a miss.

The former Iowa State athlete is getting better every time he enters the court, and despite not directly facing Morgan on Friday, the points battle between the two could prove crucial.

Played for both- Josh Ward Hibbert 

Josh Ward-Hibbert, playing in his eighth British Basketball League season, has played seven of those years with the Riders and Lions. 

He first joined Leicester in 2016, kicking off his Riders career with back-to-back trebles in 2017 and 2018. He collected seven pieces of silverware during his four seasons in the East Midlands, improving season on season. 

His final year saw Ward-Hibbert average 11.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, shooting 51.6% from the field and 41.2 % from three. The season, cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, proved to be his final in Riders red. 

He moved to the Lions the following season, remaining in the capital for three years. Last year he helped London to a treble of their own, contributing 4.9 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. 

This season, Ward-Hibbert took his talents to the North East to suit up with the Newcastle Eagles. Early in the year, he’s scoring 4.6 points per game, shooting 35.1% from the field.

EverythingBranded to “Takeover” London Lions fixture

EverythingBranded are hosting a takeover of the Morningside Arena on 10th November for the Riders fixture against the London Lions.

EverythingBranded will be hosting the fan zone in Mattioli Courts with activities, freebies and games running for two hours before the game.

Leicester Riders’ thriving relationship with merchandise partner EverythingBranded dates back to the beginning of the 2022/23 season.

The partnership has brought the Leicester Riders John Lewis pop-up store in the Highcross shopping centre, the reinvention of Riders’ between-quarter entertainment “chuck-a-duck”, and exclusive Leicester Riders merchandise. 

EverythingBranded’s takeover at Leicester Riders represents a new pinnacle for this partnership.

Lauren Lawless, Marketing Manager at EverythingBranded, commented:

“We are thrilled to be a sponsor of Leicester Riders for the second season. We are excited to be working with the team at the arena to launch our first proper takeover on 10th November. 

“As ever, the fans are our priority for this event, with freebies, giveaways, lots of fun interactive elements and, of course, basketball! It is bound to be a brilliant evening for the whole family as the Riders take on the Lions and a great way to celebrate our partnership with the team.”

Russell Levenston, Managing Director of Leicester Riders, added: 

“EverythingBranded is a great partner of the Riders, and we’ve enjoyed working with them over the past season. We’re working really closely with them to provide even better merchandise offers for our fans, and we are all incredibly excited about the takeover game against the London Lions. We appreciate their continued support of the club!”

Want to see the takeover in action?

Get tickets to the Riders’ fixture against the London Lions!

Rob’s reflections on 500 games in charge and a busy last weekend

Leicester Riders Head Coach Rob Paternostro had a mixed weekend, as he went through the milestone for 500 games in the BBL as a coach, splitting a pair of games in the BBL Championship.

Riders had to work very hard for their sixth straight league win over Sheffield Sharks 87-80 on Saturday night, but then struggled to recover on the road on Sunday afternoon against the London Lions, going down heavily 99-65.

Against Sheffield, Riders led from the middle of the first quarter and had a twenty point lead midway through the third quarter, but the Sharks got back within a single shot in the final thirty seconds, before a Kyron Cartwright steal sealed the result.

Cartwright scored 10 points and dished out 11 assists, and Andy Thomson had a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds. Namon Wright finished with 20 points on 67% shooting along with 5 assists.

Against the Lions Riders scored the first basket of the game, but the Lions scored the next 21 points and never looked back. Only Darien Nelson-Henry troubled the Lions with 17 points and 6 rebounds.

“It was disappointing on Sunday for sure, because we never got going.”

“These back-to-back games with so little recovery time are a mental as well as a physical challenge, and we did not handle it well.”

“The Sheffield performance was excellent at times, but they are always tough, physical affairs, and this one was no different.”

“The win took a lot out of us, because we were hanging on at the end.”

“But we know the Championship is going to be tight this year and we are still sitting on just 3 losses, as good as anybody.”

“it is about quickly putting that loss behind us and getting back on the horse.”

Riders now go on the road to Bristol Flyers this Friday night in the BBL Championship.

The Riders return to the Morningside Arena on Friday March 13th when they take on the Manchester Giants, CLICK HERE to purchase your tickets!

Three things we learnt last Weekend

Last weekend the Leicester Riders defeated the Sheffield Sharks at the Morningside Arena on Saturday Night before falling to the London Lions on the Road the next day, here’s three things we learnt across the two games.

Depth makes the difference

The Leicester Riders continued their impressive form on Saturday Evening as they took down the Sheffield Sharks 87-80 at the Morningside Arena. It was the usual controlled performance on both ends of the floor from the Riders who won each of the first three quarters giving them a 12 point lead heading in to the final period. It was the Riders strength in numbers that got them over the line, with 6 players contributing 9 or more points it the Riders versatility offensively was too much for the Sharks to handle. Kyron Cartwright and Andy Thomson led the way for the Riders contributing double doubles of 10 points and 11 assists and 12 points and 13 rebounds respectively.

Darien Nelson-Henry continues to produce

6’11 American Centre Darien Nelson-Henry has been in fine form for the Riders over recent weeks arguably playing his best basketball since joining the Riders in October. Nelson-Henry is averaging 15.4 points per game on an outstanding 68.2 percent shooting from the floor over his past 4 games which has contributed to the Riders win streak. Darien has been a major presence inside for the Riders using his back to basket playing style to outmuscle defenders on the defensive end but also clogging up the paint on defence making it tough for opponents to score around the basket.

Win Streak snapped at 6 by Lions

Prior to playing the London Lions on Sunday afternoon the Riders were firing on all cylinders on a 6 game win streak in the BBL Championship and playing their best basketball of the season. The defending BBL Champions got off to a quick start and never looked back as their hot shooting kept the Riders at arm length for a majority of the contest. The Riders now have the opportunity to bounce back on Friday Evening against the Bristol Flyers before they return to the Morningside Arena to take on the Manchester Giants on March 13th.

Tickets for the Riders v Giants clash are on sale now, CLICK HERE to purchase yours.