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. 

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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.

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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.