Report: Riders fall to Sharks

The Riders fell to the Sheffield Sharks 91-84 on the road. 

It was an intensely fought battle from wire to wire, but the Riders could never grab the lead despite bringing their deficit back to a possession several times. Miryne Thomas led the team’s efforts with 21 points, backed by Jaren Holmes’ 16. 

Devearl Ramsey went off for his season-high of 22 points for Sheffield, taking charge to hit key shots throughout to keep the Sharks narrowly ahead. They shot 52% from the field and 40% from three in a hot shooting night. 

Turnovers ultimately cost the Riders, who gave the ball away 15 times to the Sharks’ 10. They couldn’t get it going from deep either, hitting 23% from three against Sheffield’s sharpshooting clinic. 

Starting for the first time this season, Mo Walker got to work from the tip, playing physically inside to establish the Riders’ offence in the paint. He and Thomas found success down low early, combining for 11 points by the first commercial timeout. 

The Sharks led 21-20 after one, led by seven points from star scorer Jalon Pipkins who had his team up by as much as six in the quarter. But Samuel Idowu hit the Riders’ first three of the night to close the score by the buzzer. 

The Sharks continued to lead from the front in the second, as big man Bennet Koch drew two and-one plays to rebuild the host’s lead. 

Sheffield found success running the floor, as point guard Devearl Ramsey leaked out on the fast break to log 11 halftime points. Kimbal Mackenzie ran the Riders’ show off the bench to keep them in it, scoring eight in the second quarter, and made free throws to cut it to seven to end the half, the Riders still with work to do. 

Thomas put the team on his shoulders out of the half to keep the team in it. He scored eight in five minutes, including two threes, responding to big Sharks plays to start the third. 

The Riders clawed their way back into it, Jaren Holmes finding his range to spearhead the comeback, but the Sharks kept their noses in front by making timely threes throughout the period. Ramsey hit two of them, keeping up with Thomas’ scoring as the game approached its final stanza. 

Representing the theme of the game so far, Leicester looked like they’d be entering the fourth within a possession after Mackenzie’s score inside. But Pipkins’ miraculous full-court heave went through to make it 68-62. 

Sheffield exploded in the fourth, relentlessly hitting their deep ball to build their first double-digit lead of the tie. 

Trailing in the turnover battle 15-7 midway through the period, the Riders found a way to force steals of their own to get back into the game. Holmes and Lall intercepted passes on back-to-back possessions to trigger fastbreaks, resulting in four important points.

But as was the case throughout, Leicester couldn’t get over the hump, Ramsey hitting shots in response to earn Sheffield the win. 

The Riders are back in action next week, taking on the Manchester Giants at home on November 25. 

Get tickets here.

Championship Preview: Riders at Sharks

The Riders will take the short journey up the M1 this Friday as they visit the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks for the first time since defeating them in the first round of playoffs last season.

Victory in this Round 10 matchup will see Rob Paternostro’s squad return to a record above .500 and leapfrog their opponents in the British Basketball League championship standings.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders @ B. Braun Sheffield Sharks

Canon Medical Arena, Sheffield

Friday, November 17, 7:30pm

Returning to Winning Ways

The Riders will be hoping to get back in the winner’s column this Friday after a tough Round Nine of championship action brought with it two narrow defeats.

Losses to the London Lions and Cheshire Phoenix by near-identical margins (102-95 and 102-96) dropped Leicester to 6-6 and sixth spot in the table, but winning back-to-back games against two of the best offenses in the UK was always going to be a tall order.

The Riders played some of their best basketball this season in defeat, especially when in possession of the ball, so many positives can be taken from them.

Determined shooting guard Caleb Asberry shone in both games, dialling up 16 points and nine boards versus the Lions before hitting five shots from deep in a 23-point performance in Cheshire. 

The former Oklahoma State Cowboy also showed quick hands on defence, snatching five steals across the weekend and constantly affecting the play of the opponents’ big men.

Sheffield will present a different challenge for the Riders this week.

The Sharks are averaging 13 PPG less than Paternostro’s squad so far this season and, despite holding a better record than the Riders, have only scored more than 90 points on two occasions.

Leicester currently averages 91.5 PPG and appears to have the advantage when scoring the basketball.

However, the Sharks also play some of the best defensive basketball in the BBL, conceding the lowest number of points per game in the league at 74.4.

Look for Sheffield to try and frustrate the Riders through on-ball tenacity and the forcing of tough shots.

The Riders will need to call on all their offensive weapons to crack open Sheffield’s defence. Expect big games from starters Miryne Thomas, Jaren Holmes and Xavier Pinson.

Defence is the Key

Atiba Lyons’ Sheffield squad have started the season strongly, earning fifth place in the championship standings with a 7-6 record.

On the back of a stingy defence, the Sharks have claimed impressive wins over the Cheshire Phoenix, Caledonia Gladiators and Surrey Scorchers and have only lost once at home – to the league-leading London Lions.

Sheffield combines their excellent perimeter defence with good ball retention and efficient scoring from three-point range.

The Sharks take less deep shots than many teams in the British Basketball League, but hit at a 38.3% clip, third best in the league.

Contributing heavily to the high percentage shooting is wing player Jordan Ratinho and second-unit guard, RJ Eytle-Rock.

The sharpshooters may not be Sheffield’s most prolific scorers but look for them to capitalise on any space the Riders leave at the perimeter.

The Sharks’ most athletic weapon is undoubtedly high-flying guard, Jalon Pipkins.

The third-year professional has speed in the lane, hops near the rim and an ability to perform the spectacular. #5 has upped his offensive output this season, so expect plenty of highlight-reel plays on Friday night.

Key Matchup

Round 10’s key matchup will see youthful exuberance against solid experience as Xavier Pinson faces up to the test of Devearl Ramsey.

Ramsey, a 6’0” guard who spent a season playing NBA G-League ball with the Stockton Kings, is the floor general for the Sharks and their premier playmaker.

Dishing five assists per game, the 26-year-old is adept at finding the right shooter while also avoiding risk of turnovers.

Reliable, mistake-free basketball is Ramsey’s game, and with a points per game average of 11.5, he also contributes to the scoreboard. 

Aiming to best Ramsey will be Riders’ young point guard Pinson.

All season, fans have witnessed Pinson showcase his ball-handling skills and penchant for the flashy play.

A former University of Missouri and LSU player, Pinson has excellent basketball pedigree and his numbers back up his attacking flair. 

11.5 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game and a three-point percentage of 45% display Pinson’s versatile game – all while sharing minutes with Riders’ captain, Kimbal Mackenzie.

The Chicagoan plays a riskier brand of basketball than his seasoned opponent, but the result is a stronger offensive profile.

This game is a tale of the unstoppable force versus the immovable object.

The battle between Pinson and Ramsey could well play out in the same way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three things we learnt last Weekend

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

Depth makes the difference

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

Darien Nelson-Henry continues to produce

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

Win Streak snapped at 6 by Lions

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

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