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. 

Report: Riders beat Giants to improve to 2-1 in the Trophy

The Riders took another step towards the final four of the British Basketball League Trophy with a midweek 104-86 victory over the 0-2 Manchester Giants.

The win takes Leicester’s record to 2-1, putting pressure on the Bristol Flyers and Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles, neither of whom can afford to lose if they want to claim a top two spot in Group B.

The Riders struggled at times to score efficiently, but coach Rob Paternostro will be happy with his team’s dominance on the boards – outrebounding the visitors 50-37 – and the unselfish basketball on display, the Riders dishing 30 assists on the night.

The home side also did an excellent job of forcing missed shots down low, Leicester’s big men battling hard against the sizeable Manchester front court.

Athletic power forward Miryne Thomas took ‘Player of the Game’ honours, putting up a stat line of 16 points, seven rebounds and eight assists to flirt with a triple-double.

The Riders’ second unit also played well, spearheaded by 19 from TJ Lall who consistently hit big shots in important moments to keep the home side ahead.

Not to be outdone, Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen drained 21 in what appeared to be a ‘quiet’ display by his standards, popping up each quarter with a play to get the Morningside Arena bouncing.

Manchester’s defensive issues continued, but they flashed on offense, William Lee and Nick Lewis the top scorers with 16 and 17 points respectively.

As predicted, the game started quickly, both teams wasting no time putting points on the board. Lee, one of a glut of former Riders suiting up for the Giants, opened the scoring with the first of his ten first half points before an instant answer from captain Kimbal Mackenzie, who had eight of his own.

Thomas soon drained the first three of the night after nice play from Jaren Holmes – five first half assists – before Allen got in on the act, casually pulling up and stringing a classy deep trey to give the Riders an early ten-point lead.

Thomas then splashed again from deep in transition and, with Mackenzie constantly pushing the pace of the offense, Leicester looked in control.

A couple of threes from big-man Lee (the main scoring option with Jamell Anderson injured) kept Manchester within striking distance as the first quarter clock wound down, but an authoritative jam by Samuel Idowu and Lall joining the three-point party maintained Leicester’s control.

The second quarter started with super-sub Lall hitting a tough, fadeaway three and rising for a huge block to get the Morningside on its feet.

Not to be outdone, Holmes drove to the basket for a nice ‘+1’ play which led to a string of Riders free throws, facilitated by the aggressive attacking play of high-flyer Blake Bowman.

The Giants showed fight through Evan Walshe’s 13 first half points and Legend Robertin was his usual abrasive self-down low but continued quality play from Lall and the introduction of debutant Duke Shelton – six points – built the home side’s lead.

A beautiful block on Robertin from Shelton set the tone for the last five minutes of the half, matched by another ‘+1’ play from ‘Buckets’ Allen who reminded the fans why he won December’s ‘Player of the Month’.

Thomas drained his third deep ball of the game to stretch the Riders’ lead to 15 and good team basketball carried Paternostro’s squad towards half time. 

A great first half for Leicester saw them take a 59-44 lead into the locker room, punctuated by a breakaway dunk from Holmes with a few seconds remaining.

The second 20 began and the Riders were now showing dominance on the offensive glass, Mo Walker using his size well before Thomas put back a missed Allen layup with feeling.

However, the following few minutes were scrappy for the home side, missed shots and turnovers allowing Manchester to come back into the game through Lewis, who was slowly heating up.

A nervous energy rippled through the Riders’ fans, but that was soon put to bed after a silky move by Allen.

The CEBL MVP had his man in knots with isolation moves before blowing past him and laying home a tough shot. When Thomas thundered in a two-handed dunk, home supporters were back on their feet.

The final minutes of the quarter saw both teams slow down on the offensive side of the court, the Riders uncharacteristically missing several three-point attempts, allowing the Giants to creep back within ten going into the final stanza.

As he had done to start the second quarter, Lall drained from deep to get the Riders back on track.

Bowman hit another nice move into a layup to bring the lead back to 11, but the Giants were showing something, sticking around with buckets from Jalen Harris and Robertin.

The teams hit a period of trading baskets, going toe-to-toe, the Riders lead at just four points. Leicester soon wrestled back the momentum though, Thomas setting up Idowu for a one-handed flush before ‘Buckets’ Allen hit a layup that only he can for back-to-back scores.

Paternostro’s squad rode that momentum to another double-digit lead with three minutes left, a pair of corner triples in succession from Lall virtually clinching the Riders’ victory.

A clutch trey from the Riders’ captain took them into triple-digits and iced the game, with the Giants unable to make a late-game comeback.

The Riders return to action on Friday, January 19, taking on the Newcastle Eagles on the road.

The game will decide the team’s seeding in Group B, and whether they will advance to the Trophy semi-finals at Utilita Arena Birmingham.

Trophy Preview: Riders vs Giants

The group stages of the 2024 British Basketball League Trophy continue Wednesday night as the Riders welcome the Manchester Giants to the Morningside Arena.

Rob Paternostro’s squad split their two games in the competition so far, dominating the Bristol Flyers before a difficult trip to London a couple of days later resulted in a loss.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs Manchester Giants

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Get tickets here!

A Packed Schedule

The start of the new year continues in frenetic fashion for the Riders as the Giants’ visit marks a third game in six days.

Leicester’s bid for the League Trophy started perfectly on January 5 with a confident 95-74 win over the Flyers, Teddy Allen the ‘X Factor’ once again with a cool 30-point, seven rebound and seven assist showing.

Second-unit superstar Samuel Idowu also caught the eye, combining 15 points with 14 boards to post his first double-double for the Riders.

48 hours later, the squad found themselves facing a deep London Lions team in the Copper Box. The Riders fought hard, outplaying the home team in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t match London’s strength in the paint and roster depth which propelled them to an 89-74 win.

Despite the loss, Idowu continued his excellent start to 2024, bagging a second double-double in as many games. A certain quote about London buses comes to mind.

One major positive for the Riders is that they have maintained a positive points difference, which could prove crucial in a tough Group B, sending just the top two teams into the semi-finals.

Only the Lions remain undefeated, so victory over the Giants will put the Riders in great position to take the all-important second spot and put pressure on Friday’s clash between the Flyers and the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles.

Expect the Riders to fire on all offensive cylinders this Wednesday as they face a Manchester squad with the leakiest defence in the League championship. Newcastle’s Jordan Johnson posted 30 points in their round one win over the Giants, so home supporters should be treated to another special night from ‘Player of the Month’ Allen, Kimbal Mackenzie and Idowu.

It wouldn’t be a surprise for Paternostro to challenge his team to a triple-digit offensive output against Manchester.

Wins are vital, but points differential could decide who advances to the semis.

Out for Revenge

Trophy games often carry an extra bite to them, but Wednesday’s visit of the Giants may bring even more spice as they try to avenge a first-round loss to the Riders in last year’s competition.

2023’s knockout format saw the Giants hosting Leicester in the first weekend of action, falling to a dominant Marc Loving display in an entertaining 114-107 game where both teams ended with a 30-point scorer.

Former Rider Loving dropped a 32/13 double-double and Tajh Green – who now suits up for the Eagles – posted an incredible 38 points and 14 rebounds, mainly fed by flashy point guard Rahmon Fletcher, who dished 14 assists on the night.

The road team clinched the win through efficiency from beyond the arc which outstretched the Giants’ defence and forced them to try and keep pace on just 28% three-point shooting.

Now, Fletcher has retired, and Green is shooting hoops in Newcastle, but the same defensive struggles remain.

The Giants do possess solid offensive weapons – Jamell Anderson, Nik Lewis and Evan Walshe – but if the Riders limit them to less than 80 points as they did on December 23, Manchester supporters may need to wait a little longer for revenge.

Key Matchup

The 86-73 championship victory the Riders took away from Manchester towards the end of 2023 was largely due to accuracy from beyond the three-point line.

The big men cancelled each other out and may do again, so the key battle could come between sharpshooters Teddy Allen and Nick Lewis.

6’3” British-Canadian guard Lewis is a confidence shooter that maintains hot streaks longer than most in the League. 

His usually high three-ball numbers are down this season – standing at just over 23% from deep – but if he drops a couple of treys in a row, he can take over a 10-minute quarter.

Lewis has made some huge contributions for the Giants this season, hitting the 20-point mark on five occasions including a red-hot 33 points against the championship-leading Lions.

Put simply: the Riders cannot afford to let Lewis get his eye in.

A player who knows all about heat checks is the Riders’ mid-season star, Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen.

Allen, who deservedly clinched December’s ‘Player of the Month’ after starting his Riders career off in style, brings sureness in spades.

A scorer more than a shooter, the former Winnipeg Bear has looked impossible to guard during his small sample of games, averaging over 26 points per game including totals of 30 and 21 in the Trophy.

The 6’6” combo-guard has also been deadly accurate from downtown, splashing threes at a 55% clip in the championship, his only blemish a 3-11 effort against London.

Allen versus Lewis is a tussle between two players that thrive on confidence. Whoever can maintain that for most of the 40 minutes will be key to victory.

3 takeaways from win against Giants

The Riders battled out a road win against the Manchester Giants in last night’s British Basketball League Championship action. 

Here’s what we can take from the win…

Defence Wins Championships

A hallmark of Rob Paternostro’s sides is suffocating and stifling defence, and that was on full display last night. 

The Riders entered the game with the second-highest points allowed per game in the British Basketball League (89) but went on the road and held their opponents to under 80 points for just the third time this season. 

Their intense ball pressure forced 22 turnovers out of the Giants, allowing them to show their speed in the full court and get buckets on the break. 

Manchester were held to 42% from the field and 22% from three against the Riders’ defence.

“Defence was the name of the game, and we are really happy with what we held them to,” said Paternostro postgame.

“We really ground them out, and we thought it was important to stop them running the fastbreak. They’re a team that likes to run, and we got bodies back and defended.”

Captain Kimbal finds form

Kimbal Mackenzie has made an impact on the scoring column on back-to-back performances, finding scoring form as we approach the midpoint of the season. 

The GB international scored 16 points on 5-9 shooting, going 2-3 from deep and pulling down 4 rebounds. 

This came off the back of a 19-point outing against the Gladiators last time out, making it two straight games where he has ranked second in the team in points behind the red-hot Teddy Allen.

“I’m just being aggressive and being myself,” said Mackenzie when asked about his recent scoring form.

“When I’m looking to score everything else opens up, and my teammates trust me to make plays.”

Winning on the road

Having lost the last seven games on the road, the Riders were in need of an away win to build momentum going into the new year. 

They did so in confident fashion, leading for the entirety of the second half in a game that was in little doubt in the fourth quarter against a team that had won their last three at home.

“It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but to come on the road and beat Manchester who have been playing really well at home was a good win,” added Mackenzie.

“We were pretty gritty. Our effort and attention to detail was good tonight, and we hung in there and did what we had to do.”

The Riders now return home to the Morningside Arena Leicester for back-to-back games, looking to bring their record to above .500 to start 2024. 

“We needed a road win,” said Paternostro. “We’ve been in a lot of close games where we haven’t got the job done, so that was really important.

“Now we’re looking forward to getting back to the Morningside. We want that place rocking on the 28th!”

The Riders face the Bristol Flyers next on December 28. Get your tickets here!

Report: Riders take road win against Giants

The Riders gave their fans an early reason to celebrate the holiday period with a confident 86-73 win over the Manchester Giants in round 15 of the British Basketball League Championship.

Teddy Allen continued his dream start to Leicester life with his second game-leading scoring performance, following up his 32-point debut with 21 points and six rebounds on the road. 

Leicester forced tough shots and double-teamed the Giants’ key weapons down low, resulting in a low 22% three-point percentage and 22 turnovers.

The Riders, led by Allen and Kimbal Mackenzie, shot more accurately from deep and from the foul line – 48 of the away team’s points coming in those areas.

Coach Rob Paternostro will also be pleased with how his team spread the scoring; Allen’s 21 points backed up by three other Riders hitting double-digits.

Mackenzie and quick forward Miryne Thomas dropped 16 points each, while TJ Lall scored 11 hard-earned points on his way to a plus/minus of 17.

Quick hands from Allen saw him add to his scoring totals with five steals, Thomas and bench big man Samuel Idowu getting in on the act with four and three takeaways, respectively.

Speedy shooting guard Evan Walshe top scored for the home squad with 18 points from the bench, as star duo Jamell Anderson and Nick Lewis had quiet nights by their standards, contributing 15 points each.

Tonight’s victory for Leicester sees them take back-to-back wins heading into Christmas, improving their record on the season to 9-10 and pushing them within touching distance of the top four.

The game started in disjointed fashion, with both teams committing early turnovers but also failing to capitalise on opposition mistakes. 

A Thomas two-handed dunk – something that is becoming a familiar sight to Leicester supporters – opened the Riders’ account, but offensive play remained muted in the opening five minutes.

Paternostro soon introduced new star Allen to the Manchester crowd and his impact was felt immediately, the 32-point debutant bringing impetus and focus when on the ball.

The shooting guard’s presence also opened space on the floor for his teammates, allowing captain Mackenzie to stroke home the Riders’ first three-pointer and workhorse Lall to score two with a nice finger roll.

A couple of buckets from downtown kept Manchester in touch, but seven first-quarter fouls gave the Riders plenty of opportunities at the free-throw line. 

The opening ten minutes predictably finished with a score from ‘Buckets’ Allen, who hit high off the glass to give the Riders a narrow, one-score lead.

After a short break, the teams entered the court for the second quarter and – after a surprisingly subdued opening stanza – the scoring began to accelerate.

Buckets from former Riders Anderson and Walshe were answered by a smooth Allen three-ball, and with the Riders’ continuing to force fouls, the contest became a back-and-forth affair.

It continued in that fashion until the final minute of the half, which saw Leicester ride the momentum of a clutch Jaren Holmes trey to build an eight-point halftime lead.

Solid play on the defensive side of the ball – including a huge block by the athletic Thomas – gave Lall a chance to finish at the rim and saw Allen (12 first-half points) stroke home another triple.

More good defence from Thomas stunted the Giants’ attempt at a final first-half bucket, and the teams entered the locker rooms with the score at 41-33 in favour of the Riders.

The second 20 minutes began with a quickfire six points from the home team, Legend Robertin and Anderson entertaining the crowd with some spectacular plays.

The Riders soon stopped the bleeding, though, Holmes hitting a pair of important free throws followed by a run of five points from Mackenzie that stretched the lead to double-digits.

Leicester’s defence also started to clamp down, forcing the Giants into the low post to meet a defensive wall of Mo Walker and Idowu.

Dangerman Anderson couldn’t beat the consistent double-team, and Manchester were struggling on 43 points deep into the half.

An eye-catching alley-oop from Austin Lawton gave the home crowd something to celebrate, but once more, a deep three from Lall staunched any thoughts of a Giants run.

The Riders continued to pour on the points to end the quarter with pretty three-balls from Allen and Mackenzie, and Blake Bowman showed some shifty footwork down low to hit a nice layup.

Key Manchester man Anderson finally began to make his mark on the game during the opening minutes of the first quarter, but a tricky finish by Holmes and yet another silky triple from Allen saw the Riders boasting a 16-point lead. 

As the clock wore down, the Riders were helped by clutch scoring from Mackenzie and their 79% free throw shooting, negating Manchester’s attempt to set pulses racing with a Walshe-led comeback.

A final layup from Thomas ended the game, giving the Riders a deserved win.

Leicester is back in action on December 28, hosting the Bristol Flyers as they look to get back to a .500 record.

Get tickets here!

Championship Preview: Riders at Giants

Saturday night gives the Riders a chance to give fans an early present for the holidays with a win in Round 15 of the British Basketball League Championship.

Coach Rob Paternostro’s squad travel northwest to face the Manchester Giants, who sit eighth in the standings with a record of six wins and thirteen losses.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders at Manchester Giants

National Basketball Performance Centre, Belle Vue Sports Village, Manchester

Saturday, December 23, 5:00pm

Watch live!

A New Star

Since the Riders’ impressive 96-90 victory over the Caledonia Gladiators last weekend, all the talk and excitement has been focused on the performance of new signing, Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen.

Making his British basketball debut, the 6’6” combo guard set fire to the Morningside pine, dropping 32 points – including five buckets from three-point range – pulling down six rebounds, laying on three assists and finishing the game with a plus/minus of ten. 

Allen showed confidence from deep, aggression when finishing at the rim and an uncanny ability to slice to the basket with finesse and style.

Despite a three-month gap between his British Basketball League debut and MVP season in the CEBL, ‘Buckets’ came ready to put on a show and to live up to the extensive hype surrounding him.

The Arizonan’s influence also impacted the play of his teammates, most notably Kimbal Mackenzie and experienced big man Samuel Idowu.

The Riders’ captain had one of his best shooting displays of the season – hitting 19 points at a FG% of 63 – and Idowu controlled the low post, scoring 14 points and building a game-high plus/minus of 11.

Now, for Allen and the Riders’ squad, it’s about riding the wave of momentum into 2024 and finishing Championship play on top before the Trophy competition commences.

That starts with Manchester.

Struggling for Consistency

November 17 saw Brian Semonian’s Giants’ squad score an impressive road victory in Bristol – just Manchester’s third of the season – and it looked like they would turn a corner.

In the ensuing weeks, the Giants’ play has improved, however they have been unable to put consecutive wins together, alternating wins and losses in the last eight games.

Most of Manchester’s problems have come on the defensive side of the court as they currently sit last in points conceded per game and defensive rating at 91.1 points allowed and 114 defensive rating.

The Riders have been one of the better offensive teams in the League, and – with the introduction of Allen – away supporters should expect plenty of points to fall.

Manchester can put up big numbers of their own though, with weapons like the free-scoring Jamell Anderson and long-range sniper Nick Lewis leading the scoring charts.

The deadly duo collectively contributes over 30 points per night for the home team and the Riders need to be constantly aware of their positions on the court.

Rangy guard Lewis particularly catches the eye, putting up six deep balls a game as one of the most prolific three-point shooters In the BBL.

Preventing the Canadian from getting hot must be a priority for Paternostro.

Key Players

There are a number of exciting matchups to look forward to across the court, but perhaps the most fun contest will be between rookie Rider Jaren Holmes and former Rider Evan Walshe.

Walshe is a speedy guard that can finish athletically around the rim and is dangerous on the fast break.

Riders’ fans will know how effective the Brit can be at bringing energy off the bench and changing the game with attacking intent and positivity.

After impressing with the Surrey Scorchers, the guard spent two seasons with Leicester before joining the Giants this season, currently dropping nearly ten points per game in his new home. 

Much like his opponent, Holmes predicates his game on speed and athleticism, often with a show of strength thrown in for good measure.

The wing player – who is as effective beyond the arc as he is near the rim – has been ever-present for the Riders this season, scoring 13.6 points per game including a high of 28 against the Eagles.

Holmes has been knocking on the door of a 20-point performance during December, and with the Giants’ defensive record, look for the former Iowa State star to hit that mark on Saturday.


Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Bristol Flyers!

5 takeaways from our win against the Giants

The Riders got back to winning ways in their latest outing in the British Basketball League, besting the Manchester Giants 94-79.

Here’s what we can take away from the result…

The importance of hitting the ground running 

The Riders have found themselves battling back from early deficits throughout this season, but with three new players brought into the starting lineup, they hit the ground running in this one. 

Miryne Thomas burst out of the gate with eight points, two rebounds, and two steals, setting the tone and leading the team to a 29-11 opening quarter. 

Leicester built a platform to see the game out from, and never allowed the Giants to come within single digits the rest of the way. 

“We’ve been starting slow and playing from behind early, and we couldn’t have that tonight,” said Head Coach Rob Paternostro after the game. 

“We knew they were coming into this one having played the night before, and we stuck it to them early and saw the game out really well.”

Getting ahead at the jump injected life into the Riders faithful, building an incredible atmosphere in the arena and giving energy into the team throughout. The early form was pivotal to the victory, and the team will be hoping for more quick momentum this weekend. 

Experience steadies the ship

Following the departure of three players in the previous weeks, it fell on the Riders’ veterans to take up bigger roles in this one. They stepped up in a big way, with three long-term Riders bagging double-digit points. 

Kimbal Mackenzie made his return to the starting lineup, after leading the bench unit for much of the season so far. He didn’t miss a beat, tallying 16 points and six assists, and finishing the game with a +/- of 14. 

Mo Walker, in his second straight start, saw the team over the line with his impact in the fourth quarter. The Giants brought the game back to 11 going into the final period, so making the next run was pivotal for either team’s success. 

The Riders dumped the ball down low to the big man, and he responded with six quick points to put the game to bed. 

The final piece of the puzzle was 11-year Rider Conner Washington, who put up a season-high of 14 off the bench. Washington was gunning from deep, hitting four of his seven three-point attempts and hitting timely shots throughout the game. 

The calm heads of players who have seen it all in Riders red played an important role in getting back to winning ways. 

Strength in numbers

In addition to Walker, Washington and Mackenzie, the Riders had three further double-digit scorers in a team effort up and down the roster. 

Thomas led the game with 17 points in only 19 minutes, but it was TJ Lall who earned player of the game honours with 16 points and eight rebounds in his return to the starting five. 

Lall combined with Washington to make waves in the second quarter, going for six points and three rebounds to close the half and keep the Riders in control. His impact on both ends through his 33 minutes of play, through his scoring, rebounding and defence, saw him put together a well-rounded performance in the win. 

Making it count at the line 

The Riders showed poise and composure at the foul stripe in the game, not letting a single freebie go to waste. They made all 14 of their attempts, with six different Riders making journeys to the line and making all of their shots. 

Leicester ranks among the League’s best in free throw percentage, knocking them down at  77% rate, the second-best in the British Basketball League. 

Their killer efficiency from the line was an important part of seeing the game out, preventing any life from being breathed into a Giants side that fought wire to wire. 

Battling in back-to-backs 

The Giants played the Riders off the back of a gruelling battle with the Plymouth City Patriots, where they took home a 91-90 win. 

They made the trip to Leicester the next day, and perhaps lacked the legs underneath them to keep up with the Riders’ energy early. 

It has been a theme of this British Basketball League season, with teams having to dig deep through a densely packed schedule. 

The Riders face a similar task this weekend, taking on the Cheshire Phoenix on the road two days after a clash against the London Lions, with Cheshire enjoying a week’s rest in the build-up to the game. 

They’ll have to find ways of overcoming this task when they hit the road next weekend.


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Report: Riders record big win against Giants

The Riders got back to winning ways in the British Basketball League Championship, beating the Manchester Giants 94-79. 

A 29-11 first quarter set the tone, in a game which Leicester never trailed. The hosts fended off the Giants’ runs throughout the game to remain in control wire to wire. 

Points contributions came from all over the roster, the Riders getting six double-digit scorers in the box score. Miryne Thomas led the way with 17 points and missed just one shot along the way. 

TJ Lall and Kimbal Mackenzie backed him up with 16 each, the latter tallying his points in 23 minutes. 

The Giants, on the second day of a back-to-back which has proved difficult for all in the League this season, struggled with the congested schedule in this one. Nick Lewis led the game with 22 points, but couldn’t overcome the Riders’ infectious energy throughout. 

Three straight triples settled the Riders into the game, as they bolted out to a seven-point lead. The hosts suffocated the Giants with relentless energy on both ends, holding them to a 4-12 start and bagging a quick 18 points through five minutes of action. 

Thomas led the energetic explosion with eight points, two rebounds and two steals. He proved the catalyst for the early run. The Riders led 29-11 after one, starting 5-10 from three. 

Washington started the second with the same deep shooting form, nailing a three in his first contribution to the game. He and TJ Lall took charge of the game in the quarter as the Riders maintained their lead. 

The Giants matched the Riders in the second but were unable to make significant inroads. Canadian guard Nick Lewis led the game with 12 points at the half, draining a buzzer-beating three from halfcourt, making it 52-36. 

Manchester threatened to commence a run coming out of the half, getting the first two buckets to make it a 12 point affair. Lall and Thomas hit back with a pair of threes to stifle any comeback and settle into the second half. 

Manchester found form late in the quarter, going on a 7-0 run concluded by Evan Walshe’s three to make it a closer contest with one to play. The difference was 11 points going into the fourth. 

Kimbal Mackenzie got the fourth underway with a pair of threes to snatch back momentum in the tie. Jaren Holmes and Mo Walker contributed to a 13-4 start to the final period, which was capped off by a deep three from Washington. 

The Riders saw the game out comfortably from there, capped off by Washington taking charge on Lewis for his fifth and final foul. 

The Riders are back in action on December 1, taking on London Lions at home.

Get your tickets here!

Championship preview: Riders vs Giants

Saturday’s British Basketball League Championship game is an important one for the Riders as they look to get back to winning ways and a .500 record.

The Morningside arena will play host to the 3-10 Manchester Giants, who are also searching for form after losing four of their last five games.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs Manchester Giants

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Saturday, November 25, 8:00pm

Get tickets here!

Riders look to bounce back

The weekend’s clash with the Giants will be a good test of how coach Rob Paternostro’s talented squad face adversity after falling to three close defeats in the past couple of weeks. 

In the first championship fixture between the two clubs, the Riders came away from Manchester with a 94-80 loss.

It was the second game of an attritional back-to-back weekend for Leicester, who had downed the Surrey Scorchers the previous night.

This time, the roles are reversed as Manchester will arrive in the East Midlands following a Friday night game against the Plymouth City Patriots.

Expect Paternostro to employ a fast-paced game, wearing down the visitors and reaping rewards in the second half.

Riders’ captain Kimbal Mackenzie will be crucial to this strategy, his speed of foot and thought is a large part of an offence that is putting up over 90 points a night. 

Another player who could have a sizeable impact is second-unit big man Samuel Idowu.

Aside from his brick wall defence, the 6’8” power forward is a great floor stretcher and often finds space beyond the arc for a three-pointer.

Idowu is no slouch from long range, hitting on over 35% of his three-point attempts.

The veteran may prove to be a nightmare for a tiring Giants defence that should be slowed in the fourth quarter.

Scoring Depth Needed for Giants

Coach Brian Semonian’s Giants squad have faced a tough start to the season and sit ninth in the British Basketball League Championship standings with six points.

Playoff quarter finalists last year, Manchester have seen a significant drop in offensive production in 2023, falling from over 89 points per game to just over 80. 

Star forward Jamell Anderson – who dropped 19 on the Riders in October – and ‘shoot first’ guard Nick Lewis are balling, but points from the rest of the roster have been scarce.

The Giants are seventh in points per game and eighth in true shooting percentage.

Saturday’s visitors struggle to fashion offence from sources other than Anderson and Lewis, so shutting that dynamic duo down will be a top priority.

The Riders may also expect to break three figures on offense, exploiting Manchester’s league-worst defence that is giving up 92 points per contest.

These factors, coupled with the fact of a back-to-back weekend of fixtures, means it could be a difficult night for the Giants.

Key Players

A current Rider takes on a former Rider in what is possibly the juiciest matchup of British Basketball League Championship round 11.

High-flying power forward Miryne Thomas will put his skills to the test against the reliable William Lee.

Lee, playing a second season in Manchester, has only suited up for three games this season, but showed his value with a 19-point performance in a recent win over the Bristol Flyers.

The 6’9” forward has had trouble with injuries during his spell with the Giants, but has been impressive when on the court, winning Molten Player of the Month honours twice last season.

The veteran was kept quiet in a round 10 loss to the London Lions, but Riders’ supporters will be aware of his dangerous combination of solid defence and efficient scoring. 

The athletic Thomas has had an excellent start to his career as a Rider.

A team standout this season, #3 has posted three double-doubles including a 21 and 11 showing against the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks last week.

The Cleveland native spends most of his time in the paint, using his shiftiness to find space inside before slamming home a powerful dunk.

Thomas is knocking down over 66% of his close-range shots, but supplements that with solid accuracy from the top of the arc, draining 44% of his three-pointers from that area.

A plethora of talent will take to the floor this weekend and the Riders’ faithful should see a thoroughly entertaining game.

If round 11 follows the trends of the season, expect the home offence to catch fire.

Report: Riders beat Giants to open season

The Riders recorded a dominant win in their season opener, beating the Manchester Giants at home. 

American rookie Rayven Peeples led the game with 18 points, leading a third-quarter charge where the Riders built their lead. She was backed by Taylor O’Brien and Katie Januszewska who scored 16 each. 

 
 
 
 
 
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The score was tied at the half, but the Riders’ offence clicked into gear to score 31 in the third quarter, taking a 20-point advantage going into the fourth. 

For Manchester, the newly re-franchised outfit struggled to generate offence against stifling Riders defence in the second half. Myah Pace led their efforts with 13, but her team managed only 25 points after halftime. 

Throughout a high-scoring first half, nothing separated either side. Young Brit Januszewska impressed in the opening stages, leading the game with eight points upon her Riders return. 

The Charnwood Academy graduate was hot from three early, making two of her first three attempts. 

The Riders went into the half shooting 50% from the field, but 6-13 shooting from the free throw line left the door open for the Giants who were able to remain in the game with their three-point shooting. 

Manchester went 7-14 from deep, and the game was tied at 40 after 20 minutes. 

 
 
 
 
 
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American guard Taylor O’Brien made her mark early on her Riders debut, putting up 13 points and eight rebounds following the first two quarters. She then added to her tally to get the third underway, draining a three to give the Riders the lead. 

Spurred on by the triple, Leicester stretched their lead in the quarter and held the Giants and arm’s length. Six points in two minutes from forward Peeples saw them establish authority at the rim, and a pull-up jumper from returning Rider McKenzie Johnston gave them an eight-point advantage. 

Peeples had 12 points and three offensive rebounds in a monster third-quarter performance, which the Riders won 31-15 to blow the game open. 

Following the offensive explosion in the third, it was a case of seeing it out professionally in the fourth. The Riders stretched their advantage to 30, securing the win in their opening game. 

The Riders return to action on Saturday, where they take on Oaklands Wolves on the road. 

Championship Preview: Riders vs Giants

The Riders host the Manchester Giants on their opening night of the Women’s British Basketball League. 

Attempting to follow up on making all three domestic finals last season, Leicester’s revamped roster will test themselves in competitive action for the first time in this one. 

Fixture information

Leicester Riders vs Manchester Giants

Netball & Badminton Centre- Loughborough University

Saturday, October 21, 6 PM

Get tickets!

New Riders faces

The Riders enter a new era under newly appointed Head Coach Ben Stanley, who brought in a plethora of new signings among returning familiar faces. 

Accompanying the likes of Mckenzie Johnstone and Jessica Eadsforth-Yates, who played a pivotal part in last season’s success, are six new additions to the roster. 

Meet the full roster here! 

Australian guard Sam Ashby, Israeli forward Shahd Abboud and American pair Rayven Peeples and Taylor O’Brien are just a few of the new faces suiting up the East Midlands this season. 

They impressed in pre-season, beating the Sheffield Hatters and Newcastle Eagles, the latter by 20 points on the road. 

The League Championship will prove a whole new task, but early signs are positive for the new Riders roster. 

Giants re-franchise 

Over the summer, the Manchester Mystics franchised to become the Manchester Giants, putting both men’s and women’s basketball under the same name in Manchester. 

The Mystics have left a lasting legacy on the sport, having played nine seasons in the Women’s British Basketball League, memorably lifting the Cup in 2017.

Their first signing of the summer: British Basketball legend Georgia Anderson who returns to action following a season away from the game after the birth of her first child. 

Accompanying Anderson is Leah McDerment, who won the quadruple with the London Lions last season, Commonwealth Games Silver Medallist Hannah Shaw, and former Rider Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus.

With a talented roster marking the start of a new-Giants era, Manchester will have high aspirations going into their first game of the season. 

Key matchup 

Having spent a year on the sidelines, Georgia Anderson will be itching to get back on the court for this season opener. 

The 5’8” point guard is one of the League’s all-time greats, leading the Women’s British Basketball League in all-time Regular Season assists (942) and steals (255), ranks third in scoring (2226) and defensive rebounds (615) and in the top four overall for overall rebounds, assists per game and games played. 

The last time we saw Anderson in action, she put up 13.8 points, seven assists, 4.3 rebounds and two steals per game. 

Facing up against her, and a player who will play a pivotal role from the same spot is American guard Taylor O’Brien. 

The rookie signed to the Riders from Flordia State, having averaged 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. 

O’Brien also owns Bucknell’s record in the outdoor high jump and was named to the second Team All-Patriot League with a runner-up finish in the 2019 Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

That athleticism will aid in her defensive efforts against Anderson, as they battle for supremacy in the backcourt. 

Riders fall to Giants

Saturday night saw the Riders fall to a 94-80 defeat in Manchester against the Giants in the British Basketball League Championship.

Rob Paternostro’s young squad now sit at 4-2 after battling through an attritional two games in two days.

Talented guards Xavier Pinson and Caleb Asberry top-scored for the Riders with 15 points each, and TJ Lall was close to a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds.

The Giants relied on a big second half from former Riders forward Jamell Anderson, who dropped 19 points, as well as speedy guard Jalen Harris’ 20 points on 57% shooting.

The first half began in smooth fashion, Pinson slicing through the Giants’ D to net the opening points of the game.

Manchester soon established themselves in the game though, and with Jalen Harris’ effective scoring countering Pinson’s influential start, they went bucket for bucket with the Riders.

Big man Legend Robertin was absent for the home team, so Mo Walker was introduced early to take advantage of the Giants’ lack of size inside.

The 6’10” Canadian helped himself to four points in four minutes, only missing on one of his shots.

A confident Caleb Asberry also contributed with a pair of threes, but the Riders entered the second quarter 28-27 down.

The second ten didn’t offer much chance, both teams going back and forth in an even contest.

The Giants were dominant on the offensive glass, pulling down 11 OR’s, but the tenacious Riders’ defence held Manchester to just six second-chance points.

Lall provided 17 high-quality minutes off the bench, dropping eight points as well as leading the Riders’ rebounding effort with six.

Leicester uncharacteristically struggled from the free throw line, only hitting at a 53% clip, but a spectacular dunk from Pinson and solid defence kept the score level at 46 going into the half-time break.

The second half started with an early blitz from the Giants. Former Rider Evan Walshe led the way with his signature coast-to-coast scoring.

The Riders, combating fatigue after two games in two days, looked to the bench to keep within striking distance, but things weren’t quite clicking on the offensive side of the court.

A cultured Lall three from the corner just before the fourth quarter buzzer gave the Riders hope, but they had a mountain to overcome down by double-digits.

The Riders hit the pine hard at the start of the fourth, responding to Coach Paternostro’s words perfectly, an Asberry deep ball bringing them within seven points.

Once Pinson put a nasty cross on the Giants’ defence and finished in close, the comeback was on.

A dismissive block from Asberry rocked the Giants with five minutes remaining, but the ball wouldn’t roll the Riders’ way.

Despite a long three-pointer from Pinson and a beautiful ‘and one’ play off an inbound from Asberry, the Giants were able to hold on, securing their second victory of the season.


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Preview: Riders at Giants

The Riders play the second of back-to-back games, heading to Manchester to face the Giants. 

After last night’s win against the Scorchers, they look to continue their hot start to the season.

Fixture information 

Leicester Riders @ Manchester Giants

National Basketball Performance Centre

Saturday, October 14, 8 PM

Watch live!

No Rest for Riders 

The Riders are rolling entering tonight’s game, having won four games on the bounce. Their 4-1 record means they sit a clear second in the standings early in the season. 

It was a confident win last time out against the Scorchers. Led by Kimbal Mackenzie’s 22 points, six assists and six rebounds, the Riders took control in the third and saw out a 92-74 win. 

There’s little opportunity for rest and recovery for this one, as they are set to take on the Giants just a day later. 

With that in mind, no Rider played over 27 minutes in the Scorchers games, as they look to rely on their deep bench to get them through a congested schedule. 

Led by Mackenzie, 47 of the Riders’ points against Surrey came off the bench, and they’ll need more of the same to come away with a win. 

Giants suffer from strong schedule 

It hasn’t been the start to the season the Giants may have imagined under new Head Coach Brian Semonian. They possess a 1-3 record following losses to the Caledonia Gladiators and the London Lions twice. 

They have faced some of British basketball’s sternest opposition in the Lions and Gladiators, and while their first two fixtures featured blowouts, they fought the undefeated Lions wire-to-wire last time out. 

The Giants ultimately fell 94-89, but forced the League’s leading scorer Matt Morgan to ice the game at the free throw line. Second-year Giant Nick Lewis led the team with 24, beaten only by Morgan’s 30 in the game. 

The defensive end of the ball has seen Manchester struggle early in the season, giving up a League-worst 94 points per game through four fixtures. They’ll have to shore up defensively in this one, as they take on the second-highest scorers in the British Basketball League. 

Key matchup 

Former Rider Jamell Anderson leads the Giants’ scoring so far this season, putting up 16.5 points per game. The versatile two-way wing has established himself as a top-level scorer over the last few seasons and has continued that form into this year. 

Anderson, a 6’7” wing, is playing in his 13th professional season, which has featured 12 years in the British Basketball League. His stature and skillset allow him to impact every aspect of the game, from scoring, rebounding and elite defence against all four positions. 

Looking to help occupy Anderson on both ends is Canadian wing TJ Lall. the 6’6” small forward is able to match up with Anderson in frame, and his offensive and defensive talents can challenge him on both ends. 

Lall impressed early in his Riders tenure, earning Player of the Game honours with 14 points and four rebounds against the Plymouth City Patriots, leading the team to their first win of the season. 

A second-year pro, having spent last season in the Japanese first division for Kyoto Hannaryz, is sure to play a big role from a pivotal position on the court in this one. 

Played for both: Jamell Anderson

Most of Anderson’s storied British basketball career was spent in Leicester, where he won eight trophies for the Riders. 

He signed in 2011 from the Essex Pirates and helped the team to their first piece of silverware in 12 years, with a treble in 2013. 

His final season with the Riders was 2021, concluding his decade-long commitment to the club with a BBL Championship title. 

Jamell’s defensive prowess earned him a spot on the Defensive Team of the year twice with the Riders, and once last season with the Cheshire Phoenix. 

He left the Riders for the Giants for 2021/22, scoring 10.8 points per game on the year. Anderson re-signed with the Manchester Giants last year, after departing the city for the Cheshire Phoenix last season. 


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Preview: Riders v Giants

Following defeat on the road in Bristol last weekend the Riders will be looking to bounce back this Friday as they take on the Manchester Giants at the Morningside Arena, here’s all you need to know about the two teams.

About the Giants

Manchester Giants are looking to build for the future after a new ownership group pulled together by former player Jamie Edwards took charge a month ago.

It has been lean pickings since the Giants return to the BBL in 2012, and the new group will look to turn that around, but, with the deadline passed for player signings this season, much of the change is likely to occur in the off-season.

Current Head Coach Danny Byrne is in his third season with the club.

Mancunians Callum Jones and his brother James Jones provide experience in the backcourt, aided by Latvian sharpshooter Ingus Bankevics, Spanish forward Eduard Arques and local guard Jack Hudson. Benson Arogbo and Zak Powell provide support off the bench

Americans Jonathan Mulmore and Del’vin Dickerson have been dispensed with, replaced by Londoner Allie Fullah and Brit David Ulph.

Form Guide

Manchester has yet to win in the BBL Championship, but is showing much improved form in recent weeks. They took Plymouth Raiders to overtime in a home defeat, racked up 80 points away at Sheffield Sharks in a 92-80 loss, and then took Cheshire close last Sunday, before Phoenix prevailed at home, 99-88.

After winning 6 in a row, Riders are now on a 2 game losing streak, after going down away to London Lions and Bristol Flyers.

The teams met twice in the Group stages of the BBL Cup, Riders winning both, 96-57 in Manchester, and 102-70 at home.

Players to Watch

Captain Callum Jones pulls the strings for the Giants from the point guard position, and he had a typical display against Cheshire last time out, scoring 16 points at a highly efficient 80% shooting, as well as dishing out 2 assists in 34 minutes of play.

For Leicester, the ability to get Darien Nelson-Henry engaged in the offence is often key to their performances. He is averaging 13 points and 5 rebounds per game, and shoots over 60% from the floor.

Tickets are still available for Friday’s game, CLICK HERE to purchase yours!

Three Things to look out for this weekend v Giants

The Leicester Riders take on the Manchester Giants this Friday at the Morningside Arena as they look to bounce back from last Weekend’s defeat in Bristol. Here’s three things to look out for ahead of Friday’s game.

Riders aim to move 3-0 on the season against the Giants

In their two meetings so far this season the Riders have had great success against the Manchester Giants overcoming the Giants on both occasions. The Riders have stamped their authority on the defensive end against the Giants in both their previous meetings holding the Giants to 57 points in the first meeting and just 70 points in the second meeting. Although the Giants are yet to win a game in the BBL Championship they have pushed the Raiders, Sharks and Phoenix close in their last 3 games. The Riders will once again need to be locked in on the defensive end of the floor if they are to defeat the Giants on Friday as the Giants have averaged a much improved 86 points per game across those three games.

Improved execution down the stretch 

In their defeat to Bristol last weekend the Riders struggled to get their offence going down the stretch, Coach Paternostro mentioned that he was happy with the shots they were getting however they could not get them to drop. Coach Rob mentioned that it is important he sees a reaction from his team this weekend who in previous weeks showed great execution on their way to a 6 game winning streak.

Riders look to get back to winning ways

The Riders were the most impressive team in the league over the month of February winning all four of their games in impressive fashion however, in their last two games the Riders have stumbled falling to the Lions and Flyers. Typically, Coach Rob has his men playing their best basketball right when it matters at the end of the season, and Friday’s game v Manchester provides the perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways. The Riders face a busy April with 6 games as the BBL Championship comes to a close with everything to still play for the Riders.

Tickets are still available for Friday’s game, CLICK HERE to purchase yours!