Riders fall on the road to the Patriots

The Riders fell on the road 109-93 to the Plymouth City Patriots. 

A second-straight 35-point performance from Teddy Allen wasn’t enough to overcome a red-hot shooting night from the Patriots. 

The hosts went 12-26 from three, led by 33 points from Tyrell Green who went from 8-10 distance on the night. 

The Riders fall to 14-12 in the British Basketball League Championship, faltering in their pursuit of the Caledonia Gladiators and Cheshire Phoenix above them in the table. 

The Riders came gunning out the gate, with Mo Walker and Allen combining for their first 17 points. Allen made the highlight of the first, pulling up from near the logo and banking in a three to make the score 17-10 with 4:20 left in the first. 

The Patriots came into the game as the worst three-point shooting team in the League, but caught fire from deep to cut into their early deficit. They hit three straight to cut the difference to three points, Green connecting back-to-back. 

The Patriots tied it up at the hands of Jules Dang-Akodo from deep with less than a minute left in the period, but Allen ended the quarter with his 12th points, making it 26-24 after one. 

The hosts found their groove in the second, riding the hot hand of Green for 6 points and starting the quarter 14-5. Green hit his fourth three with a contest in his face, making it a double-digit advantage at 41-31. 

The Riders came storming out of the following media timeout with eight straight points, Allen pulling up from deep once again for his 18th points to make it 41-39 within a minute. 

It took another three minutes to tie the game up, and it was Shelton who did it with a putback layup. It was the last score of the half, and the sides entered the break tied at 46. 

Allen got the second half underway with a finish at the rim to get Leicester the lead back. The sides exchanged buckets to start the third quarter, both attacking the rim relentlessly. 

Both teams couldn’t miss to start the third. They combined for 36 points through six minutes, Kimbal Mackenzie making the last score before the media timeout to make the score 65-63 in the Riders’ favour. 

But the Patriots were the team to find some separation, Green staying hot to knock down his sixth three from seven attempts. Dusha stole the following inbound and beat the buzzer at the end of the period to make it 82-73. 

Green hit another to start the fourth to help build the host’s lead to 14. Allen then responded with a three in transition and a spin move in the lane to get five points back. Next time up the floor, he hit a stepback three to complete an 8-0 run on his own. Out of the following timeout, Allen drained yet another triple for 35 points. 

The Patriots responded with two straight scores, Cam Copeland with the second at the rim. With the newfound momentum they scored eight straight points, Jacob Wiley’s fastbreak jam off a lob pass forcing a Riders timeout. 

Green hit a three out of the timeout, making the difference 14. The Riders couldn’t overcome that deficit and fell to the Patriots on the road.

The Riders return to action after the international break, hosting the Trophy champions Cheshire Phoenix on March 1. 

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Scouting Report: Plymouth City Patriots

Leicester Riders are set to play the Plymouth City Patriots on the road for the first time this season after beating their opponents twice at home so far this year.

A win would see the Riders improve to

Here are three things to look out for in our game in the South West…

Close games 

The Patriots have featured in 10 games that finished within single digits in the Championship this season. Their record in those games is 2-8, including three losses that finished within a single score.

Two games ago, they lost another heartbreaker against the Surrey Scorchers 94-92. Should they have secured a defensive board following Saquon Jamison’s deliberately missed free throw with five seconds left, they’d have had a shot for the win.

Plymouth are 0-2 against the Riders this season, and they remained in both games until late. The first was an 88-81 Leicester win, and the game was within two points with less than two minutes remaining. The Riders saw it out late, led by four points from Mackenzie.

Mackenzie has put the Riders on his back this season and scored six points in the clutch against the Caledonia Gladiators last week to secure an important win.

Should Plymouth keep it close once again, the Riders may look to their captain to get over the line. But the Patriots will expect these close games to bounce their way later in the season, as they look to step it up in the clutch.

TJ Atwood

Plymouth’s leading scorer this season, and a player who has been in hot contention for a place on the British Basketball League starting five, is American TJ Atwood. 

Atwood went off for 17 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists last time he suited up against Leicester, and has been one of the Patriots’ most effective players all season. 

He is putting up 15.26 points per game from an efficient 52% from the field this season, leading the team. His 6.74 rebounds per game is second most on the Patriots roster, and he also leads them in steals with 1.44 per game. 

Atwood doesn’t need much of the ball to do his damage. He ranks eighth on his team in usage rate at just 18.85%, meaning the Riders will have to remain aware through 40 minutes of his presence on the court off the ball. 

If they’re not, he can go off for 30 as he did earlier in the year against the Bristol Flyers. 

Offensive rating

Despite the firepower of Atwood, the Patriots’ offence has struggled for rhythm this season, ranking last in offensive rating with 99.95. They score 78.46 points per game, one more point than bottom-ranked Sheffield Sharks, but rely on their offensive rebounding for second-chance opportunities. 

Their lack of consistent deep threat has been a contributing factor to this, as they shoot the lowest percentage from behind the arc in the League at 28.67%. From two-point range, they rank fifth, finding success attacking the hoop.

In addition to their shooting percentages, the Patriots have struggled to take care of the ball. They rank second in turnover percentage, giving the ball away on 16.04% of their possessions. 

The Riders will need to maintain pressure on the ball to force mistakes while limiting chances within the arc and pulling down defensive rebounds to hold Plymouth to their season trends.

The Riders return to home action on March 1, taking on the Cheshire Phoenix.

Get your tickets here! 

Riders recap: What we can take from a winning weekend

The Riders recorded two wins in a crucial doubleheader weekend, beating the Plymouth City Patriots at home, and the Caledonia Gladiators in the clutch on the road.

Here’s what we can take from the weekend of action…

Multiple scoring threats 

In both games over the weekend, the Riders had three players score over 15 points and two score 20. 

Different games are for different guys, and only two players, Jaren Holmes and leading scorer Teddy Allen, put up double digits in both games, but the Riders showed they can rely on multiple players to step up and put the ball in the basket when their name is called. 

Leicester shot 37% from three in both games and 51% from three across the two fixtures to flex their offensive firepower and efficiency. 

Their 102 points against the Gladiators on Sundays means they now average over 90 points per game on the season, third-most in the League. 

Captain Kimbal in the clutch

For the second straight game on the road in Caledonia, the Riders’ captain stepped up in the clutch for crucial scores. 

Last time, he pulled up from midrange with 10 seconds to go to put the Riders up one, but the Gladiators found a response to win it at the hands of Clifton Moore Jr. 

Two weeks ago, Mackenzie had a clutch outing in the Trophy Final Four, where he drove to the bucket for an and-one score to put the Riders up one with 20 seconds left. 

But this time, he led Leicester to a win with his performance late. The Canadian took over with a minute and a half left and scored six straight points, including two go-ahead buckets to put the scoring load on his back. 

Mackenzie’s play earned him the Player of the Game, and secured an important win for the team in a doubleheader weekend. 

Turning a corner 

Leicester entered the weekend with a .500 record, with an important pair of games awaiting them as they hoped to climb the Championship standings. On Sunday night, they improved to 13-11, and now sit fourth, just a game behind the Gladiators in third. 

The Riders have won four on the bounce in the Championship, a run which started at home against the Sheffield Sharks with a 103-75 win on December 30. They have a chance to make it five with the same fixture on Friday. 

Their game against the Sharks marks the first of another doubleheader, with a trip to the Plymouth City Patriots awaiting them on Sunday. It’s another vital run of games for Rob Paternostro’s side, and they need you behind them. 

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Report: Riders take the win against Plymouth

A superb fourth quarter by the Riders fired them to a 102-81 British Basketball League Championship victory over the Plymouth City Patriots.

The contest was much closer than the final score suggests as Rob Paternostro’s squad were made to work hard by a determined Patriots side, who remain at the foot of the championship standings.

The home side dropped 33 points in the final ten minutes, heating up from three-point range to finish the game with a decent 37% from deep.

Led by captain Kimbal Mackenzie (who had a quiet scoring game with six points but distributed 11 assists), the Riders played excellent team basketball, ending the night boasting 24 dishes.

There were several solid performances, but Teddy ‘Buckets’ Allen and Samuel Idowu stole the show, making 45 points between them with Idowu putting up yet another double-double.

Athletic big man Miryne Thomas also had a good game, especially from beyond the arc, draining a hot four from five on his way to 19 points, scoring 14 in the final quarter.

Paul James’ Patriots side showed plenty of positive flashes throughout the game and won on the offensive glass, pulling down 18 to the Riders’ seven.

Star man Jacob Wiley hit 22 and the speedy TJ Atwood scored 17, but the visitors were crippled by poor accuracy from the free throw line, hitting just 58% from the line.

An aggressive start to the game by the Riders saw a swell of scoring early on, started by Allen with a silky-smooth reverse layup. Mo Walker then hit an ‘and one’ play after a lovely dish from Mackenzie and – following a transition three from ‘Buckets’ – Leicester had seven points in two minutes.

The Riders were working hard to utilize their size inside, but the Patriots did a good job of keeping pace, showing fast hands-on defence and tenacity on the offensive boards, totalling ten offensive rebounds in the first half. 

It wasn’t long before the familiar sight of a scoring run from Idowu had the home supporters cheering, the bench big man dropping an impressive 11 points in seven first-half minutes.

The power forward was dominant on both sides of the arc, hitting turnaround jumpers in close and stretching the floor with pick-and-slide splashes from deep.

The game then entered a somewhat messy period as both sides engaged in numerous scrambles below the rim.

Leicester kept a small lead going into the second quarter, narrowed down to three points following a Wiley fast break dunk.

The opening minutes of the second were dictated by the visitors, who demonstrated excellent team basketball to ride a 13-0 scoring run.

Danger-man Wiley was starting to heat up, showing his skills in close with powerful finishes and accurate jump shots.

The Riders had to stop the bleeding, and a typically impassioned timeout from Paternostro did the trick, prompting Allen to start the mini comeback with an acrobatic, falling layup while under heavy pressure.

TJ Lall followed suit with a tricky finish of his own, and when Jaren Holmes slammed home a breakaway dunk following a nice steal, the Riders were back level.

The teams went bucket-for-bucket as the half drew to a close, but increased defensive pressure exerted by the home side caused Plymouth to cool down, allowing the Riders to edge ahead.

Duke Shelton threw his weight around in the paint to earn multiple trips to the line, and after a clutch corner three by Lall, Leicester found themselves five points in front, a leading margin they maintained to go into the locker rooms 48-43 to the good.

The second 20 couldn’t have started any differently than the first as both teams struggled to get into an offensive rhythm, perpetuated by a rare Mackenzie turnover.

Holmes didn’t get the memo though, hitting a pair of backdoor layups to keep the Riders ahead by five, answered by a buzzer-beating fadeaway by shooting guard Cameron Copeland.

A quiet phase of missed shots and fouling followed, ended by a stop and splash three from Thomas which sparked Idowu into action again.

The big American matched Thomas’ deep ball before finishing a nasty Holmes alley-oop with a one-handed jam.

Back came the Patriots again, Wiley hitting four quick points including a monstrous alley-oop slam. 

Four points from Mackenzie – his first of the night – ended the third quarter, giving his side a 69-64 lead going into the final stanza and with everything to play for.

The Riders began the fourth perfectly, relaxing the Mattioli Arena with four quick points to make it a nine-point ball game.

Atwood’s first trey of the game was matched by Thomas, and Leicester looked in good shape for another home win.

Lall soon put a punctuation mark on the ever-growing lead, dropping a corner three despite being fouled for a spectacular four-point play.

The Riders were now taking over the game, Thomas dropping a heat-check triple which preceded ‘Buckets’ Allen’s 23rd point of the night.

Paternostro’s squad were flowing, and despite some splash plays from the visitors, they rode the double-digit lead for the final two minutes to send the Riders’ faithful home happy.

Preview: Riders vs Patriots

British Basketball League Championship action returns to the Morningside Arena this Friday as the Riders host the 4-18 Plymouth City Patriots.

The home side will certainly be favourites to take victory following impressive winter form, but coach Rob Paternostro will warn his team against complacency after Plymouth ran Leicester close at the start of the season.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs Plymouth City Patriots

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Friday, February 8, 7:30pm

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Ready to Rise

After a turbulent first quarter of the season, which resulted in the Riders revamping the roster and sat on a record below .500, the recent upturn in form sees captain Kimbal Mackenzie and his team poised to take a leap into the upper echelons of the league.

After a promising League Trophy campaign and last week’s 20-point victory in Surrey, the Riders hold a record of 11-11, fifth in the League Championship and only three wins shy of the Caledonia Gladiators in second place.

Mackenzie himself has seen his form improve simultaneously with his squad, taking advantage of the defensive attention dedicated to Teddy Allen to drop double-digit points in five of his last six outings.

The do-it-all point guard has also seen his assist totals spike over the winter, proof that even with Allen and Duke Shelton being relatively new additions, the team is gelling more and more with each passing week.

Allen could certainly be considered the Riders’ catalyst – the league’s top scorer has failed to breach 20 points only twice as a Rider – but speaking to BBC Radio Leicester earlier this week, he stated that the team was prepared for success when he arrived.

“The team were on a skid when I got here, but we had to pieces to compete. There is a lot of talent in every position, all the way down the bench. I was able to inject some energy into the group, and after that, we rediscovered our form and everyone has been playing well.”

Read the full interview here!

Expect the Riders to maintain that energy heading into tomorrow’s clash with Plymouth. The Patriots have the least potent offense in the league (averaging less than 80 points per game) and if Mackenzie and Allen continue on their current trajectory, 80 points could be surpassed before the start of the fourth.

New Year. New Start.

The end of 2023 was tough for the Patriots. Three losses on the bounce leading up to the break in League Championship play consigned Paul James’ men to bottom of the standings with a 3-17 record.

To compound things, top scorer Taylor Johnson had recently departed the club and it was tough to see who Plymouth could look to for an offensive spark.

However, much-improved performances in the League Trophy and the emergence of Jacob Wiley as a true scoring threat has given them cause to believe that a playoff berth is not out of reach.

The solid Trophy campaign carried forward into the Patriots’ return to the Championship as they travelled to Manchester and bested the Giants 93-79.

The trifecta of Wiley, Spencer Levi and Mason Faulkner overcame a superb 26-point showing from the Giants’ William Lee to take the win, Levi particularly impressing with a Miryne Thomas-esque 14-point, 10-rebound double-double.

Wiley once again displayed his offensive prowess with 20 points and Faulkner was instrumental, running the floor during his 26 minutes from the bench.

The Riders will provide a different challenge than the struggling Giants however, and Friday’s clash could prove how ready the Patriots are to make a run at the playoffs.

Key Matchup

Friday’s game is a battle between two teams with in-form, free-scoring, 6’6” wing forwards: Teddy Allen and Jacob Wiley.

Wiley, a veteran who has married his play on the court with his name, has a career that spans at least four continents.

Following college, the 25-year-old suited up for the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA before taking his skills to Europe, Australia and Japan.

His impact in the British Basketball League has been felt in the last couple of months after regular outings of 20 points or more.

Wiley isn’t a threat from beyond the arc, but his ability to use strength and finishing ability inside makes him a problem for defences, and combined with his tenacity on the boards, he will be a standout on the Morningside Arena court.

Allen will now be familiar to every Riders fan and many supporters across British Basketball.

The CEBL MVP has shown innate ability to score from anywhere, whether that’s slicing into the lane for a quick two or executing a nasty step back before splashing on a three-point dagger.

Possibly the least talked about facet of Allen’s game has been his defensive effort, rarely giving up on the cause and seldom getting beaten on the dribble.

Wiley and Allen are currently the primary outlets on offense for their teams, but both provide so much more around the court.

The winner of that battle could decide the winner of this game.

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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