Report: Riders finish Championship season with a win in Surrey

Leicester Riders concluded their British Basketball League Championship season with an 94-88 road win against the Surrey Scorchers. 

Teddy Allen led the game with a red hot 30 point performance, going 11-22 from the field. Allen was cooking from deep, going 6-11 from behind the line, and draining back-to-back triples from deep three point range to get the Riders out of a deficit in the second quarter. 

But it was Sesan Russell who got Leicester over the line, logging a season-high 20 points with 17 in the second half. His free throws sealed the game late, capping off an impressive display. 

The win sees the Riders lock up the fifth seed for the postseason, ensuring they will face the Sheffield Sharks in the opening round of the Playoffs. 

Scorchers survive sharpshooting Allen 

Allen wasted no time in taking it to the Scorchers. A four point play, drawing contact from Abdul Mohamed, gave him 9 points in three minutes as the Riders took an 8-12 lead. He was into double figures quickly after with his third three of the game. 

The highlights kept coming in a high-scoring first quarter. Next it was Jaren Holmes on the break, throwing it up for Miryne Thomas who threw it down with authority. 

Despite the big plays, they couldn’t shake the hosts who had a hot hand of their own: Quin Cooper. He drained three triples early in a back-and-forth start. He stayed hot in the second, hitting from the corner to make it 27-28 with 11 minutes played. 

Scorchers take initiative 

An 8-0 Surrey run, highlighted by a breakaway jam from Tayo Ogendengbe, gave them their first separation of the afternoon. 

The Riders responded with an and-one at the hoop from Russell, before Thomas connected on a tough fadeaway on the buzzer for his 12th points. 

But a corner three from Mohamed took momentum back, and Cameron Copeland made a layup inside to give the hosts a nine point lead. He then went back up the floor and nailed a contested triple over Holmes, making it a double-digit advantage. 

Teddy takeover 

The Riders, whose high-level scoring to start the game cooled off in the Scorchers run, re-found their rhythm through Allen, who took over once again. 

He drove to the rim for two, then drew contact for an and-one to pull the deficit down to eight. Testing his range, Allen went back-to-back from deep emphatically, pulling up from the car park and finding nothing but string. 

He cut the game to a single possession as the half came to a close, but Dijiani Parkinson ended the quarter from three to make it 54-48 going into the locker rooms. 

On fire out of the half

12 points in two and a half minutes gave the Riders the lead quickly after halftime. Allen got them going by driving inside and dishing to Russell, Thomas followed with an and-one play (his sixth make in as many shots), and Russell then tied the game at 56.

After a Cooper miss, Allen pulled up from the elbow and found the bottom of the bucket to force a Surrey timeout. He then made his tally 27 with a steal and score after the break. 

Gooden stopped the Riders’ run with a three, but Leicester were back in it. 

Riders win out in the clutch

With Russell shouldering the scoring load with buckets to end the third, Blake Bowman gave the Riders a four point lead with one to play, finishing on the fastbreak, plus the foul. 

Leicester started fourth on a run to make it a seven point advantage, Russell staying hot to snatch the ball from Cooper and add another two to his now 13 point tally. 

Surrey came storming back after stemming the Leicester momentum, however, and Mohamed’s three cut it to a one possession game with 4:52 left. 

The Riders seized control, building off the interior defence of Sam Idowu. He sent away Gooden’s attempted layup, and on the other end Russell and Allen hit threes to put Leicester up nine. 

Mohamed made an and-one to breathe life into the Surrey cause, but Holmes hit back with a finish inside. 

Copeland had a chance to cut the game to four, but dribbled off his knee, and Russell sank his foul shots next time up for his 20th points, sealing the win. 

A series with the Sharks

Game one against the Sheffield Sharks will take place on Sunday April 28 at 4 pm, and will be played at the Canon Medical Arena. 

Game two, at the Mattioli Arena, will be played at 6 pm on May 4. 

Stay tuned for information on game three, if necessary. 

Key Matchups: Riders at Scorchers

Leicester Riders are set to take on Surrey Scorchers on the road in their final game of the 2023-24 British Basketball League Championship.

Here’s some of the key head-to-heads in tomorrow’s action…

Saiquan Jamison vs Duke Shelton 

Making a forceful impact in the paint this season for the Scorchers is Saiquan Jamison, who has established himself as one of British basketball’s elite big men.

He ranks second among all players in rebounds per game with 9.9, and has logged 13 double-doubles over the course of the season. 

Jamison is a weapon in the pick and roll, and is near unstoppable when he receive the ball in motion to the rim. He finishes explosively in close, but can also take defenders off the dribble from the centre position to drive inside, and keep defenders honest from distance with his shooting ability. 

Jamison is Surrey’s third leading scorer with 10.5 points per game to his name, and is able to generate his own offence at the rim by consistently pulling down missed shots for offensive rebounds. 

Looking to keep him off the glass is Riders centre Duke Shelton. Shelton has stepped into a starting role seamlessly in recent weeks, proving energy and hustle from the centre position. 

Three double digit performances in his last five outings has seen the 6’10” American become a reliable source of points, and his 14 points, 16 rebounds double double against the Plymouth City Patriots in late March showed his ability to get on the glass for big numbers.

The Riders will need a similar night on the boards from Shelton against the electric Jamison to control the paint in the final game of the Championship season. 

Cameron Gooden vs Jaren Holmes

The Scorchers leading scorer this season, high-flying guard Padiet Wang, is set to miss tomorrow’s game through injury. Therefore, they will once again rely on the services of rookie Cameron Gooden, who went off for Surrey last time out.

The American led his team with 21 points and 5 assists against the League champions, going 5-13 from three as he tried to shoot his team back into the game.

Gooden is averaging 9.4 points in 20 minutes per game, but thrived in an increased role against the Lions.

The shifty guard has elite handles to beat defenders off the dribble, getting to the hole or stepping back and taking midrange jump shots consistently.

Looking to slow down Gooden will be rookie guard Jaren Holmes, who is lighting up the League in his first professional season. 

Holmes is the Riders’ second leading scorer this season with 13.2 points per game, and leads the team in steals with an average of 1.2. 

He led the Riders last time out against the Giants with 20 points, his late three point shooting giving Leicester a chance late.

His work on the defensive end has impressed throughout the year, and he will be faced with the challenge of Gooden in the backcourt in this one. But Holmes’ ability to lock down opponents on defence will put him in good stead to stay in front of his opponent one-on-one.

He has the size to contest Gooden inside when he drives to the hoop, and the offensive skillset to keep him honest on the defensive side of the ball whenever he is in the game. Get ready for a hard-fought head-to-head in this one.

Justin Robinson vs Sesan Russell 

To overcome the Scorchers, the Riders will have to contend with a two-time British Basketball League MVP in Justin Robinson from the backcourt. 

Robinson won the award back-to-back in 2018 and 2019 for the London Lions, averaging 19.2 points per game in his second MVP season to earn the award. 

This year, Robinson has provided valuable experience to the Scorchers roster while putting up 10.8 points per game and shooting 39% from behind the three point arc. He has been a consistent threat from deep over the court of his 12-year professional career, and now is no different. 

Faced with the tall task of slowing the experience veteran down is Sesan Russell, who made his first start from the point last time out against the Giants.

Russell’s playmaking has been a key asset for the Riders in recent weeks, and it was no different after his insertion into the starting line-up. He put up 10 points and 6 assists, leading the team through the opening stages of the game.

Two games ago, Russell once again pulled the strings to dish 9 assists against the Bristol Flyers. His court vision has found open cutters to the rim consistently, as he runs the pick and roll from the point effectively with the Riders big men.

Keeping Robinson active in defending the pick-and-roll will go a long way in making his life difficult in the Riders’ last game of the Championship season.

Key Storylines: The final weekend of Championship action

Leicester Riders are fast approaching their final weekend in the 2023-24 British Basketball League Championship.

They face pivotal fixtures in determining their seeding for the postseason, with home court advantage hanging in the balance.

Here are the key storylines for the Riders going into their final two games…

Home court in our hands

The Riders hold pole position for home court advantage in the postseason with two games to go. Wins against the Manchester Giants and Surrey Scorchers would secure fourth place, as the Riders possess the tiebreaker against the Newcastle Eagles and Sheffield Sharks. 

This scenario would see Leicester finish the season in fourth with a 19-17 record, and could potentially see all three contenders for home court advantage finish on the same number of wins. 

The Sharks hold the season series against the Eagles, meaning if all three teams win out it would be Riders vs Sharks in round one of the 2024 Playoffs. 

But above anything, the Riders need to handle business in their final two games, and secure home court with two momentous wins. 

Riders look to build late form

Wins are not a given for the Riders in the two games, who enter this weekend having lost two on the bounce. 

The first was a 91-96 loss to the Eagles in a game where Leicester could have essentially locked up home court after beating the Sharks two games prior. The narrow loss, however, did mean Leicester secured the tiebreaker against their North Eastern rivals. 

Most recently, the Riders fell to the Bristol Flyers 77-89, a big result for Bristol in their mission to secure the seventh seed. 

After a weekend off, and a chance to recover, the Riders will look to lock in, bounce back and build their form going into the postseason. 

Healthy Holmes

The week away from action was significant for the Riders, who can heal any bumps and bruises and get fresh ahead of an important Playoff campaign. 

Head Coach Rob Paternostro echoed that sentiment while looking to the remaining two games of the Championship season. 

“These last couple of weeks are really significant,” he commented. “We want to make sure we’re healthy, and that we understand what our strengths are going into the playoffs. When we have everyone available we have a lot of weapons that can cause huge problems.”

Jaren Holmes, in particular, will benefit from the added recovery time, having spent a number of weeks away from action through injury. 

He returned to the roster in limited minutes last time out, and will look to build back into game shape in the final two games before attacking his first postseason campaign of his professional career. 

Having Holmes back is a major boost, and Leicester will look to maintain a healthy roster in their final two fixtures. 

“In any sport, the healthiest do well in the postseason,” added Paternsotro. “We’re happy to be able to spend some time recovering.”

The last few tickets remain for our final home game of the Championship season against Manchester Giants.

This game will not be broadcast, so get your tickets here to watch the action!

Report: Riders dominate in Surrey

Leicester Riders recorded a dominant win on the road, beating the Surrey Scorchers 104-84.

The British Basketball League’s leading scorer Teddy Allen came up with another 20-point game, logging 6 rebounds and 3 assists while leading the game’s scoring. 

He was backed by his captain Kimbal Mackenzie, who put up 15 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds in the wake of his nomination for January’s Player of the Month. 

Surrey shoots the most three-point shots in the League, but the Riders hit at a 51% rate from deep in the game to win the battle from behind the arc. In a team display, every Rider scored at least two baskets, and five scored in double digits.  

The win sees the Riders get back to a .500 record at 11-11 as they look to climb the Championship standings in the back half of the year. 

The Scorchers made three triples to start the game to take an early lead. Two-time League MVP Justin Robinson took the lid off the basket with back-to-back triples, followed by Padiet Wang who made it 11-9. 

Wang made the highlight of the first quarter, cutting back the door before taking off to throw down Robinson’s lob pass emphatically. 

The Riders came back to take the lead by the media timeout, Allen faded away for a tough bucket to make it 16-13. 

With a minute to go in the first, both sides flexed their shot-blocking ability. Wang kickstarted a block party by spiking Blake Bowman’s layup before Sam Idowu returned the favour next time up the floor by pinning Elliot Bailey’s shot. 

Bailey hit back and finished a succession of blocks with a denial on TJ Lall. But it was the Riders who carried a narrow advantage after a quarter, as Washington hit a corner three to put them up 30-25. 

Leicester blew the game open to start the third with back-to-back threes from Idowu. 

Surrey’s GB guard Andrew Lawrence then picked up two quick technical fouls as tensions ran high midway through the second. Leicester took advantage, and Idowu’s finish inside put Leicester up 18. 

Scorchers Head Coach Lloyd Gardner was the next to pick up a technical, putting Mackenzie to the line for his 9th point of the matchup. 

Miryne Thomas exploded to close the half, draining a contested three with a minute left, and ending the quarter with a monster putback off Allen’s missed layup. They entered the locker rooms up 62-40. 

It was the Riders’ first 60-point half of the season, as their offence clicked into gear upon its return to Championship action. 

Leicester extended their lead in the second half, playing physical ball on both ends and running the break consistently. Jaren Holmes attacked relentlessly, bringing his game tally to 10 with 6:06 left in the period and making the score 72-45. 

The Riders threatened to make the lead 30 throughout the third quarter, but Surrey kept plugging away to keep their side of the scoreboard ticking over. Wang led the game with 15 points with three minutes left, running the pick-and-roll with Saiquan Jamison effectively. 

Allen and Conner Washington combined for triples to quash any Scorchers momentum, finding open looks against Surrey’s aggressive defensive approach. Their threes made it 87-61 with one to play. 

Lall got the fourth underway for Leicester with his second three of the game. But the Scorchers came flying out in the fourth to cut the Riders’ lead back to 20, finding joy in attacking the hoop. 

The Riders hit back with a 6-0 run, capped off by a second chance make from Holmes, to take any life left from Surrey’s comeback hopes. 

Leicester returns to action next Friday, hosting the Plymouth City Patriots at the Morningside Arena, Leicester. 

Get tickets here!

Championship Preview: Riders at Scorchers

Leicester Riders are set to resume their British Basketball League Championship campaign on the road against the Surrey Scorchers. 

Here’s how the sides shape up…

Fixture information 

Leicester Riders vs Surrey Scorchers 

Surrey Sports Park

Saturday, February 3, 5:00 pm 

Watch Live!

Leicester Riders

Falling short in the Final Four

Last time out, the Riders bowed out of the British Basketball League Trophy in dramatic fashion to the Cheshire Phoenix. 

Leicester were down 12 with 2:55 remaining in the game, before mounting a spirited comeback and take the lead with 20 seconds remaining. 

But Cheshire’s Laquincy Rideau’s finish at the rim saw the Phoenix take back the lead with four seconds left, and Miryne Thomas’ Hail Mary three came off the rim to send the Riders home. 

“That was a heartbreaker,” said Head Coach Rob Paternostro postgame. 

“I’m proud of how we hung in there and put ourselves in a position to win. It was a heck of a comeback but a disappointing way to go out.”

Trending up

Despite Saturday’s loss, Leicester have gone 7-3 in their last 10 games in all competitions, seeing them capture some midseason form. 

A 3-1 record in the Trophy group phase saw their play rewarded with a trip to the Utilita Arena Birmingham, where they were seconds from toppling the eventual champions. 

The Riders currently possess a 10-11 record in the Championship following a 4-1 end to 2023. Their defence and rebounding, which were areas in need of improvement to start the season, became a strength during January. 

“We’re taking defence personally,” said Riders forward Samuel Idowu before the Final Four. 

“That’s from practice to in the games. We’re prideful in our efforts to get stops, so we’re happy to see it translate to the games. If we stay competitive, we’ll get results.

“Our rebounding especially has improved throughout the year, and we know how much that can control the game.”

Surrey Scorchers

Positive steps

Surrey looked set to progress to the Final Four after winning their opening two group games, but after suffering key injuries and running into two of the League’s inform teams in the Caledonia Gladiators and the Phoenix, they finished third in the group with a 2-2 record and failed to progress. 

They now turn their attention to the League, where their 7-14 record leaves them in the final playoff place, with two games in hand from the ninth-placed Giants on the same amount of wins. 

Surrey started the season 0-5, but responded with a 3-1 run and have picked up important wins throughout the year, including back-to-back victories against the Bristol Flyers in November. 

They’ll look to continue to add to their wins collum on the back stretch and make their first postseason appearance since 2018. 

Living by the three 

Surrey live and die by the three-point line this season, jacking up the most attempts in the League this season with 30.9 per game. 

While they don’t connect on the attempts at the most efficient rate, shooting 33.5%, when their shots are falling, the Scorchers become a difficult team to slow down. 

The Riders can compete from three, and connect on their deep shots at the highest percentage in the League at 37.8%, so expect the trading of three-point bombs in this one. 

Key matchup

Surrey’s three-point philosophy is led by two-time British Basketball MVP Justin Robinson, who takes a team-high 6.3 threes per game. 

The 17-year pro enjoyed his best years in British basketball with the London Lions, winning League MVP in 2018 and 2019. He signed with the Scorchers this summer, and leads the teams scoring with 12.2 points per game. 

The British point guard has been a lights-out three-point shooter throughout his career, averaging over 40% shooting in the last two seasons. 

Meeting him in the backcourt will be Riders captain Kimbal Mackenzie, who comes into this game off the back of two lights-out performances. 

In a win-or-go-home game against the Newcastle Eagles in the final round of the group, he led the team with 22 points in an important win. 

He followed up with a monster fourth quarter against Cheshire, where he took a charge, hit a three and made a go-ahead and-one play with seconds on the clock to lead the comeback. 

The back-and-forth between two of the League’s best point guards will be a can’t-miss action! 

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Plymouth City Patriots!

3 things we learned from the doubleheader

The Riders come off the back of a doubleheader week, which they split 1-1 against the Surrey Scorchers and the Caledonia Gladiators.

Here’s what we learned from the matchups…

Bowman steps up

The Riders pushed the Gladiators all the way on Sunday night, and they can credit a large part of that to Blake Bowman. The young star led Leicester’s charge back into the game in the third quarter, putting up a career-high 15 points. 

Bowman scored eight points in the final two minutes of the third and the start of the fourth, throwing down an electric breakaway jam to get the final period underway. 

The Derby native missed only one of his seven shots in the game, earning our Player of the Game with a stat line of 15 points, three rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes of action. 

Washington heating up

Riders veteran Conner Washington is building form as the season progresses. He built on his third-quarter performance, which sparked the Riders’ historic comeback against the Surrey Scorchers with two season highs in the same weekend.

Washington scored eight in as many minutes against the Scorchers, not missing a shot and draining two crucial threes as the Riders began their comeback. He followed this up with 10 points in 13 minutes against Caledonia, pulling the strings to dish six assists. 

Head Coach Rob Paternostro said that Washington’s effect on the team transcends his scoring ability:

“He gets up to the ball with incredible energy to play denying defence, and he’s part of a second unit that’s having a real impact on games. That’s the great thing about having veterans like him on the bench.

“They can see when the starting unit doesn’t have it, and they’re always ready to go. I think Conner turned the game around in a lot of ways against Surrey.”

Offensive consistency is key

The Riders have possessed the second-best offence in the League for much of the season, and this weekend was no different on that end of the ball. They averaged 88.5 points over the two games, making their season average 88.4. 

It comes from all over the court, with seven different players scoring in double-digits across the fixtures, and every Rider contributing to the points tally against the Caledonia Gladiators. 

They get it done efficiently, scoring at a 47.8% clip on the season and 47.4% over the doubleheader. The offensive consistency Leicester has shown in the opening stages of the season puts them in good stead going into any game. 

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to the Riders’ next home fixture against the Newcastle Eagles!

Report: Riders come back to beat Scorchers

The Riders took a comeback win against the Surrey Scorchers to improve to 5-3 in the British Basketball League Championship.

They were down by as much as 23 early, before a fightback starting at the end of the first half saw them come back and win the game. 

Miryne Thomas led the team’s scoring for the second straight game, going off for 20 points and 11 rebounds and coming up with momentum-building plays throughout. As did his teammate Jaren Holmes, who scored seven straight to start the final quarter and steal the late momentum. 

Surrey, led by Padiet Wang’s 18 points, six rebounds and five assists, started hot, forcing Leicester to dig themselves out of a hole and earn the win the hard way. Their last three fixtures will give them confidence going into the rest of the year, beating the Giants before playing the top two from last season close. 

They came storming out the gate, getting out to a 9-1 lead after just two minutes. They found success in close, and Wang’s putback layup forced an early timeout from Head Coach Rob Paternostro. 

The Scorchers’ hot shooting continued for the entirety of the first. Wang scored seven, digging the Riders a 28-12 hole to climb out of early. 

They struggled to make inroads for much of the second quarter. Scorchers big man Saiquan Jamison dominated the paint through the first 20 to put up 13 points and three rebounds. 

The Riders then fought back from 23 points down as the half came to a close, bringing it to within single digits after Kimbal Mackenzie’s free throws. Veteran guard Conner Washington lit the spark, consistently hitting tough shots to get Leicester back in it. 

The score was 45-36 to the visitors, a manageable position for Leicester to mount a second-half comeback.  

Coming out of the locker rooms, the Riders took the game by the reins and stormed back into the tie. They attacked the rim relentlessly, the surge led by Xavier Pinson, who cut the game to one score at the free throw line. 

A pair of Thomas threes followed up Pinson’s play, taking the first Riders lead since their first score of the game. The Scorchers responded, and the sides engaged in a back-and-forth throughout the rest of the third. 

Caleb Asberry heated up from three, making three in the quarter to lead the team in scoring going into the fourth. Two Riders scores in the final seconds saw them take the lead at the end of the quarter.

Leicester blew the game open in a strong final period. Jaren Holmes scored seven straight points to earn the Riders an advantage, the Riders making it a nine-point lead with five minutes remaining. 

The Scorchers hit back with a pair of triples, making it a tense finish, but the hosts had enough to seal the win, making shots consistently at the free-throw line. Sam Idowu hit the final free throw to end the tie. 

The Riders return to action on Sunday, taking on the Caledonia Gladiators on the road for the second game of a weekend doubleheader.

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home fixture against Newcastle Eagles!

Championship Preview: Riders vs Scorchers

The Riders’ British Basketball League Championship game on Thursday night pits Rob Paternostro’s squad against the 1-6 Surrey Scorchers.

The Morningside Arena will host the Scorchers for the second time this season and Riders’ fans won’t need to cast their minds too far back to remember a 91-74 home victory on October 13.

Round seven brings a double-header for Leicester, who follow Thursday’s tilt with a trip to the home of the Caledonia Gladiators on October 29.

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders vs Surrey Scorchers

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Thursday, October 26, 7:45pm

Get tickets here!

Keeping Pace at the Top

The Riders currently occupy fifth place in a BBL Championship table that is tight throughout.

Coach Paternostro’s young squad sit just above .500 with a 4-3 record after tough northern road trips to Manchester and Newcastle.

In last Friday’s outing versus the Eagles, the Riders fell 95-90 in a hotly contested game.

Despite matching the Northeasterners on the boards and putting up solid offensive numbers, a sharpshooting performance by guard Rickey McGill (31 points including six three-pointers) proved to be the difference.

The Riders didn’t go down quietly, though, with Miryne Thomas and Xavier Pinson dropping 22 and 19 points respectively.

Thomas, capable of multiple spectacular plays per game, had his best statistical game in a Rider jersey, complementing his effective scoring with 10 rebounds to claim a well-earned double-double.

The 6’8” Ohio native has been a focal point for Leicester’s offense so far this season, whether that’s through slipping into space in the paint for a monster jam or fading out wide for the corner three. 

The long power forward’s offensive production could prove the difference on Thursday night, especially against a Scorchers team that could struggle to go bucket-for-bucket with him if he hits at a high percentage.

Building on the First Win

The first chapter of the 2023/2024 season has been a difficult one for the Scorchers, but Lloyd Gardner’s squad now have a victory from which to build.

October 21 saw Surrey delight their home faithful with a comfortable 98-72 victory over a Manchester Giants team coming off two games in three days.

The Scorchers cooked from beyond the arc, hitting an impressive 20 three-pointers at a 50% clip.

Surrey pull the trigger more than any other team in the BBL, firing an average of 72 shots per game. If they can breach the net as often as they managed against Manchester, their 78.6 PPG will take a huge leap.

Accuracy and efficiency have been stumbling blocks all season, though. The Scorchers sit bottom of the league in FG% and second bottom in 3PT%. 

They rebound the ball well, largely thanks to star centre Saiquan Jamison who tops the BBL with 11.4 RPG.

Riders’ fans should expect the Scorchers to manufacture plenty of chances to score. If they can score at an efficient rate, they could cause some problems.

Key Matchup

Thursday night’s box office battle will be one that comes off the bench, as experienced guards Justin Robinson and Riders’ Kimbal Mackenzie tussle for second-unit dominance.

Crafty veteran Robinson was a key factor in Surrey’s sole win, dropping a smooth 23 points on the Giants through efficiency all over the court.

Robinson held a masterclass in taking what the defence gives you, hitting 72% of his field goals including five buckets from downtown.

The long-time London Lion is currently averaging 11.6 PPG on 42% shooting from the bench.

Attempting to match Robinson’s impact on court will be Round five BBL ‘Team of the Week’ member, Mackenzie. 

The Riders’ team leader has been as influential as ever this season, often hitting difficult shots around the rim and coming up clutch when the team needs him most.

An industrious 16-point game against the Eagles typified the qualities Mackenzie is bringing in his third year as a Rider, as he combines ruthless scoring with an eye for a pass.

The Canadian is second on the Riders in assists this season, dishing 4.7 assists per outing, which could give him the advantage in the matchup against Robinson.

The streak

The Riders currently possess a 39-game winning streak against the Scorchers, the longest active streak in the British Basketball League.

The streak dates back to November 11 2021. They have an opportunity to make it a round 40 in this one.

Riders react to win against Scorchers

Leicester Riders improved to 4-1 with a 92-74 win against the Surrey Scorchers. 

Here’s how the team reacted to the win… 

Rob Paternostro 

The Riders blew the game open in the third quarter, holding the Scorchers to five points over an eight-minute stretch. Head Coach Rob Paternostro credited the defensive success to the team’s work on the glass. 

“Defensively, we were solid when we started rebounding. We had trouble on the boards early, and they had 15 offensive rebounds in the first half. Once that picked up, it was a solid night for us.

“I don’t think we played particularly well offensively at times, there was some sloppy play, but all in all it was a really good game with contributions from a lot of players on the bench tonight.”

The Riders got 47 of their points off the bench, led by Player of the Game Kimbal Mackenzie who put up 22. 

“Kimbal of course played well with those numbers, and I think the rest of the unit did a really good job on defence. TJ Lall and Conner gave us some really good minutes, and it’s nice to have a bench you have confidence in.

“That becomes especially relevant when you play back-to-back games. Nobody played more than 26 minutes tonight, so it was a total team effort.”

The team returns to action tonight on the road against the Manchester Giants. Paternostro spoke on how he plans to prepare the team for the clash. 

“Ice baths for the guys! But overall, we’ve got to be focused. When you play a back-to-back, you don’t have an opportunity to talk about that team until the day of the game, so tomorrow we’ll have a meeting to go over them. 

“They’re a talented team that played London close last week, so it’s going to be really important to utilise the bench.”

Kimbal Mackenzie 

Mackenize led the game with 22 points, six rebounds and six assists, his best statistical performance of the season to date. 

He saw the positives of the victory, while recognising the team did not execute a perfect game. 

“It was a good win. Any time you can get one in the win column it’s a good thing in this league.”

“We were a little better on the glass than we had been the rest of the game. Today, we were good in stretches and not so good in other stretches, but that’s the nature of the early season. We need to keep getting better.”

The newly formed group have hit the ground running, winning four games on the bounce. 

“I’m proud of the guys. Everyone is coming into their own and starting to find themselves as a team. We have a lot of room to grow, and everyone on the team will tell you that, but we’re definitely glad to get four in a row.”

Sam Idowu

After the Riders’ opening night loss to the Cheshire Phoenix, the Riders have bounced back emphatically, putting themselves in a positive position going into the rest of the year. 

Riders forward Sam Idowu said the loss made it clear to the team that they needed to lock in. 

“The opening game set the tone for us to turn things around quickly, so I’m glad we reacted positively, and that’s led to a four-game winning streak. It feels good to have done that, and we all want to keep the ball rolling and build momentum.”

Idowu matched up against Scorchers big man Saiquan Jamison, who battled on the boards all evening. He finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, but had more joy in the first half than the second. 

“Stopping him was something we prioritised. We recognised we needed to keep him off the glass, so it was about boxing him out and being the first to react to the ball coming off the rim.

“We wanted to make sure they didn’t build any momentum from offensive rebounds. We didn’t do a good job of that early, but in the second half, we controlled the glass.”

Idowu had nine points and nine rebounds in the game, making his presence known on the inside. He also drained a three to extend the Riders’ lead in the third. 

“It felt good to step outside and hit a three. Being versatile really helps open up different parts of my game, so that’s something I’ll keep working on.”

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Report: Riders beat Scorchers

The Riders added another win to a four-game streak tonight after a 91-74 victory over the winless Surrey Scorchers. 

In a game that saw the Riders limit their opponents to just 32% from the floor, solid defence and hustle on the boards built the foundations for victory. 

Rob Paternostro’s team also kept up their efficient play, hitting at a 44% clip, including 38% from three-point range. 

Riders’ captain Kimbal Mackenzie was the catalyst for success, scoring 22 points from the bench whilst also collecting six rebounds and dishing six assists. 

Physical guard Jaren Holmes also lit up the scoreboard, dropping 18 points on the night, including a deadeye four of five from downtown. 

Andrew Lawrence top-scored for the Scorchers with 12 points, and key-man Saiquan Jamison put up 11 points and nine rebounds, but they never recovered from a low-scoring third quarter. 

Immediately after the first tip, the game became a clash of contrasting styles, with the Riders cutting through lanes and attacking the basket and the Scorchers preferring to pull back and hit the three ball. 

As he has done consistently this season, Miryne Thomas opened the Riders’ account with a simple layup after getting free inside. 

Seconds later, Braelen Bridges slammed down a dunk following a clean pick n’ roll with Xavier Pinson and, with Holmes knocking down seven early points, Leicester’s offense looked good. 

The Scorchers didn’t let the home side escape though, keeping parity on the scoreboard through effective rebounding and accuracy from deep. As predicted, Jamison was proving to be a handful on the boards. 

The first quarter buzzer sounded with the score at 24-21 Riders, Holmes knocking down a big three to break the tie. 

The second stanza was all about Mackenzie. 

The Riders’ captain brought an immediate impact from the bench, pulling up and popping off a long two, before willing the Riders to crash the glass harder and create open looks from deep. 

Samuel Idowu was also providing quality off the bench, battling Jamison for every rebound and contributing with seven points. 

Leicester’s second unit quickly built an eight-point lead, but Surrey’s 6’8″ centre was a consistent problem inside, leading the visitors at the half with 11 points and four boards. 

A cold snap for both teams towards the end of the half was broken by Thomas with a neat move in the paint, before Mackenzie and Holmes drove the Riders to a useful nine-point lead at the half. 

The second half began in low-scoring fashion with both teams struggling to find a bucket.  

The visitors hit on a couple of free throws, but it wasn’t until Holmes drained a corner three – three minutes into the half – that there was a score from the field. 

Strong hustle on defence – led by Caleb Asberry – limited the Scorchers to contested shots, and once the Riders’ shooters warmed up, the lead grew. 

Once Holmes hit his fourth deep ball, the scoreline sat at 61-47, Riders ahead. 

A couple of quickfire Scorchers buckets on the fast break teased a fightback, but a pair of successful trips to the line by Mackenzie maintained the lead. 

The final quarter saw Paternostro’s squad aiming to put the game beyond doubt helped by the experienced Conner Washington hitting a pinpoint three.  

It soon became ‘heat check’ time for the Riders, entertaining the home crowd with back-to-back threes from Thomas and Lall. 

The contest wound down towards the final buzzer in competitive fashion, but Leicester’s defence never let the Scorchers get close enough to cause concern. 

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Preview: Riders vs Scorchers

Friday night sees the Riders host the Surrey Scorchers in the British Basketball League Championship – the first of back-to-back games this weekend.

Rob Paternostro’s team will be in a buoyant mood after a huge 92-85 win on the road against the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles, part of a three-game winning streak for the Riders.

Leicester Riders vs Surrey Scorchers

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Friday, October 13, 7:30 pm

Get tickets here! 

Victory on the Road

Last week’s defeat of the Eagles completed an excellent road trip for the Riders, who also took an impressive 92-74 win in Bristol.

‘BBL Team of the Week’ member Miryne Thomas played a crucial role in both games, averaging 17.5 points and 4.5 rebounds on the trip.

Thomas’ quickness and eye for space inside is proving to be a real handful for opposing defences and has resulted in several highlight-reel plays.

The backcourt trio of captain Kimbal Mackenzie, Xavier Pinson and Jaren Holmes is also running hot – the all-action three added 40.5 points per game across the two victories whilst also dishing nearly 70% of the Riders’ assists.

The Riders are currently second in the league in FG% at 50%, fourth in efficiency from deep at 37% and third in FT%, hitting on 75% of their trips to the line.

Maintaining this level of shooting will be crucial against a Surrey team that are aggressive on offense and sit second in shots taken per game.

Leicester’s rebounding has also improved in recent games, largely thanks to the introduction of Caleb Asberry into the lineup (he bagged nine against the Flyers).

With the Scorchers firing off 70-plus shots per game, denying second-chance points through solid defensive rebounding will be key to keeping the opposition score in check.

Scorchers Close to First Win

The Scorchers travel to the Morningside Arena winless with a 0-4 record but have come close to victory on a couple of occasions this season.

Their closest finish came against the Cheshire Phoenix in a thriller, 101-103. Following a spirited fourth-quarter comeback, the Scorchers had a couple of chances to push the game to overtime but couldn’t quite drop the clutch bucket.

The returning duo of Padiet Wang and Josh Steel led the way, dropping 14 and 20 points respectively, with Steel knocking down an impressive four of six from deep.

Surrey hit on 46% of their shots against the Phoenix, an improvement in an area of the game they have struggled with.

The Scorchers sit bottom of the BBL in FG%, and despite having guard Andrew Lawrence providing some of the best service in the league, are scoring on just 37.1% of their attempts.

The Southerners are one of the better squads in the league on the offensive glass – averaging 10.8 per game – but unless their efficiency improves, they will find it tough to match an accurate Riders team through four quarters.

Key Matchup

The Scorchers’ solid rebounding can largely be attributed to one man – Saiquan Jamison.

Standing at 6’8”, the power forward isn’t the tallest big man in the league, but he certainly knows how to use his size to crash the glass.

Jamison, returning for a second stint in Surrey after a move to Europe, is dominating the BBL with 12.8 rebounds per game, including 4.5 on the offensive boards. 

Jamison is a second-chance getter for the Scorchers. Tasked with limiting his effectiveness will be Riders’ young centre, Braelen Bridges.

The 6’10” Bridges, who can play anywhere in the front court, is more of a scoring big man than a pure rebounder but may have to adapt his game slightly to win the battle inside.

The former Georgia Bulldog is averaging more points per game than Jamison despite less minutes, and if he can combine those solid offensive skills with sturdiness under the rim, the Scorchers should see their scoring chances suffer.

The free-running guards may make the flashier plays on Friday, but the most important contest may be the one inside the paint.

Played for both- Evan Walshe

Evan Walshe, a Rider last season, suited up for Surrey during the 2020/21 season, scoring 7.9 points on 49% shooting from the field. Walshe helped the Scorchers to a 10-18 record, before departing to Spain. 

Walshe returned to British Basketball in 2021, signing with the Riders and winning the treble that season. He remained the following year, leading the team to victory with 15 points against the Caledonia Gladiators with 15 points and three rebounds. 

Walshe signed with the Manchester Giants this season, starting the year with 10.5 points per game. He hit the ground running with a 17-point game, and will look to make a further impression on the league this season.