3 things we learned from Riders vs Patriots

Leicester Riders secured their first victory of the season on Friday, beating the Plymouth City Patriots 88-81. 

Here’s what we can take from the fixture.

Riders have heart 

The Riders had to dig deep in the game, coming back from a double-digit deficit to get one in the win column. 

The score was 61-51 in the visitor’s favour with five minutes remaining in the third, before Miryne Thomas’ three kick-started a run that would see Leicester take their first lead since the opening quarter two minutes into the fourth. 

It was a closely fought encounter down the stretch, as the Riders demonstrated their composure in the clutch to see the game out. 

After having difficulty putting the ball in the hoop through the first three quarters, Leicester captain Kimbal Mackenzie found form when it mattered, leaning on his experience to see out the win from the free-throw line. 

Head Coach Rob Paternostro’s side demonstrated their ability not only to fight back into a game but to see it out in the clutch. 

Success attacking the basket

During the comeback, the Riders found success in close, driving and attacking the hoop to get points on the board. In the fourth quarter, 18 of their 29 points came at the rim, and eight at the free throw line. 

High-flying Blake Bowman set the tone, using his speed and athleticism to find a way to the teeth of Plymouth’s defence and finish strong. The Riders have players up and down the roster who can find holes in defences, opening them up with dribble penetration. 

Combined with the post-play of Samuel Idowu, Bralen Bridges and TJ Lall, who allowed Leicester to dump the ball down low and let them go to work, the Riders found consistent methods of keeping the scoreboard ticking over. 

Asberry’s impact

Making his professional debut, Caleb Asberry returned to the gameday squad after missing the season opener through injury. 

Asberry made his presence known, playing a pivotal role in the lineup that got the Riders back into the game.

Subbing in with 3:52 left in the third, the Riders went 26-15 until Asberry’s exit from the tie with 3:12 left in the game. His layup early in the fourth cut it to one, and his ability to hunt down loose balls and secure rebounds was on full display. 

The 6’3” guard grabbed four rebounds in 13 minutes of action, injecting the energy and effort the Riders needed to come back and win the tie. 

“I thought Asberry gave us some really good minutes. He hasn’t played in a while, and defensively he was really solid,” said Paternostro after the game. 

“Caleb adds a lot. He’s quick, and he wins the ball. When the ball is loose, he has a talent for finding it. He can really shoot and make plays on the other end. He was in the lineup that turned the game around.”


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Riders react to win against Patriots

Leicester Riders secured their first win of the season, beating the Plymouth City Patriots 88-81. 

Here’s what Head Coach Rob Paternostro and game MVP TJ Lall had to say postgame.

Coach Rob- “It wasn’t perfect, but we showed a lot of character.”

The Riders found themselves down nine going into halftime, having given up 35 points in the second quarter to their opponents. 

They responded in the second half, and were able to overcome the deficit. 

“We had to play better defence in the second half and be a little tougher,” said Paternostro. 

“The challenge I set at halftime was for the guys to give it their all on the defensive side of the ball, and we held them to 29 in the second half.

“We did a really good job defensively, and that was important. When we’re getting stops, we can run in transition, which is where we’re strong.”

The return of rookie guard Caleb Asberry from injury lit a spark in the Riders backcourt. His gritty performance led to six points and four rebounds in 13 minutes of action. 

“I thought Asberry gave us some really good minutes. He hasn’t played in a while, and defensively he was really solid.

“Caleb adds a lot. He’s quick, and he wins the ball. When the ball is loose, he has a talent for finding it. He can really shoot and make plays on the other end. He was in the lineup that turned the game around.”

It was a gutsy win for the Riders, bouncing back from their defeat to the Cheshire Phoenix on opening night. It was important, in a lot of ways, to get a win on the board.

“It wasn’t perfect, but we certainly showed a lot of character to be able to come back and get the win. We have to understand that we’ve only been together a few weeks. We have to have patience. We have a lot of bodies, and we need to get as healthy as we can.

“A game like tonight will give the team some confidence that they can win a game in the fourth quarter.”

“That’s what was impressive for me. It was a tough loss last week, and no one felt good going into practice. We had a good week of practice, but then we went into halftime down nine. 

It was a challenge at halftime to come out and show some mental toughness to get the job done. We have a lot of work to do, but hopefully, we can keep getting better and better.”

TJ Lall- “It was good to get our first win.”

Canadian wing TJ Lall was named MVP after putting up 14 points, four rebounds and two blocks in a well rounded performance. 

Lall showed to the Riders faithful his ability to do what is needed to secure a victory. He battled on the glass, contested shots and put the ball in the basket when it counted.

“It was a hard-fought game,” said Lall. “We struggled on defence early, but in the second half, we turned it up, and good things happened for us. It was good to get our first win.”

He got most of his points in the first half to keep the Riders in it, but made clutch free throws down the stretch with the game in the balance. 

Lall was bright throughout, but the team’s intensity left room for improvement following the first half. 

“Our energy wasn’t where we wanted it to be. We needed to communicate better and rebound to close out possessions. It really helped us once we improved our standard in those areas.”

“We really picked up the ball pressure near the end of the third quarter and forced some turnovers. That got us some easy transition points and we could see the game out from there.”


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Report: Riders beat Patriots

The Riders claimed their first victory of the 2023/24 British Basketball Championship with an 88-81 defeat of the Plymouth Patriots.

An all-action fourth quarter, that saw Rob Paternostro’s men outscore their opponents 29-16, secured the win over a Plymouth team that led by nine points at halftime. 

TJ Lall dropped a team-high 14 points for the Riders in an efficient display which saw him hit 66% from the field.

The Ontario native was joined in double figures by Xavier Pinson, Jaren Holmes and Braelen Bridges as the Riders’ showed their ability to spread the scoring.

A particularly pleasing aspect of Leicester’s win was their hustle on the boards, limiting the visitors to just eight offensive rebounds.

The Patriots did put up a stern test with some promising performances – TJ Atwood scoring 20 in the first half alone. 

But Leicester responded well in the second half, shutting Atwood’s offense down to help towards a well-earned victory.

An end-to-end first half started well for the Riders, who utilised quick ball movement to create openings in the paint. 

Bridges and Lall benefitted early, both dropping five points in the first quarter which pushed the Riders into an 18-17 lead. 

Supported by a hard-working Samuel Idowu and the debuting Caleb Asberry off the bench, Leicester entered the second quarter looking to build on their narrow lead.

Despite showing a marked improvement on the defensive glass, limiting Plymouth to just a couple of offensive rebounds, an inspired ten-minute spell by the Patriots’ Atwood helped them to build a lead. 

Atwood, who dropped 17 points in round one, finished the first half with six rebounds and four assists to accompany his 20 points. 

A crucial three-pointer by Holmes kept the Riders within touching distance, swiftly followed by a deep three from long ball specialist, Asberry. 

The half ended with the Patriots 52-43 to the good – a buzzer-beater from guard, Mason Faulkner giving Plymouth a nine-point lead.

Starting the second half as he did the first, Bridges dropped the Riders’ first bucket, igniting an 8-2 run after good hustle on both ends of the floor.

A timely three from Miryne Thomas kept the Riders within striking distance before the home team bridged the gap through multiple trips to the foul line. 

The third quarter ended with Leicester facing a 6-point deficit but with their tails up heading into the final ten.

The fourth saw the Riders show the home fans what they can produce in the clutch. 

Buckets from Asberry, Idowu and the agile Pinson pushed Paternostro’s team to a 15-3 surge, wiping out the Patriots’ lead and giving the home side a small cushion.

The game hurtled towards an exciting finish full of back-and-forth action, with the Riders able to keep the lead on the back of fearless play by captain, Kimbal Mackenzie. 

Next Saturday, the Riders take on their first road trip of the season, travelling to Bristol to face the 1-1 Flyers.


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