Trophy by Numbers: Breaking down the stats for the Riders Final Four clash

Leicester Riders are set to take on the Cheshire Phoenix in the British Basketball League Trophy Final Four on Saturday.

Here, we take a look at the numbers behind the matchup…

Locking off the paint

The Riders have invested in the defensive side of the ball, making the paint their own over the Trophy campaign. 

They lead the competition in blocks, sending away 6.3 shots per game, with four Riders averaging at least a block per outing. They’re led by Canadian forward TJ Lall, who has denied opponents on six different occasions through the four group games. 

Riders captain, Kimbal Mackenzie, said his CEBL teammate over the summer has been an integral factor in the defensive effort:

“TJ is a high-level, all-around threat. He can score the ball to a great standard, he is an underrated passer, and his defence, length and athleticism are special. I’ve gone against him many times in practice, and he can be tough to shake.”

READ MORE: Kimbal Mackenzie previews the Final Four

This rim protection will be vital against the Phoenix, who lead the Trophy in points in the paint with 47 per game. 

Battle on the boards

No defensive possession is complete until the rebound is pulled down, and the Riders have been closing the possessions to a high standard in recent weeks. They pull down the second-most defensive boards in the Trophy with 30 per game, just 0.5 per game away from the highest-ranked London Lions. 

The battle on the boards will be key in this matchup. Cheshire crashes the offensive glass to grab the second most offensive rebounds in the competition with 13.5 per game. 

However, their leading offensive rebounder, Ethan Chargois, will be sidelined for the game after suffering a dislocated finger last time out against the Sheffield Sharks. 

For the Riders, Lall, again, has been a beast on the boards, grabbing 4.8 defensive rebounds per outing. But it’s big man Samuel Idowu who has rebounded at the highest rate in total, with 7.5 per game, including 2.8 on the offensive glass. 

Idowu, who has been recovering from a season-ending knee injury for the previous two seasons, is back to his bruising best. He feels back to 100% fitness and can play with full confidence and athleticism. 

“My body has been feeling good,” said Idowu. “It’s finally feeling normal after recovering from an injury for two seasons. I’m not overthinking any decisions on the court and playing how I used to play. 

“I feel 100% because I have confidence in my knee again. It doesn’t hold me back from doing what I want to be doing out there when jumping or running, as it did at the start of the season. I’m where I wanted to be when I started my rehab.”

READ MORE: Samuel Idowu previews the Final Four

Idowu has ranked second on the team in scoring during the Trophy group, scoring 13.8 points per game after his 17-point explosion against the Newcastle Eagles to help send the Riders to the Final Four. 

Track meet in transition 

A key to the Phoenix’s success this season has been their ability to get out and run. They lead all teams in points off turnovers (24.75 per game) and fastbreak points (23.5 per game) and take the ball from the other team at the highest rate (21.11 turnover %), leading to the breakaway buckets. 

American guard Laquincy Rideau has been a key factor in this, leading the team in steals, and ranking third among all players in that statistical category.

The Riders will have to play clean basketball, which they have done throughout January, turning the ball over the second-least with 11.75 turnovers per game. 

Head Coach Rob Paternostro emphasised the importance of winning in transition:

“We can’t allow easy baskets. We have to take away easy runouts and layups, offensive rebounds and second-chance opportunities. We have to make it tough for them to get good looks. 

“In these types of games, it’s important to limit offensive opportunities, and if you do that, you put yourself in a good position to win.

“They’re really good in the open floor- they’ve scored the most in transition of any team season. They’ve done a good job of getting second-chance opportunities. That’s going to be vital to stop. 

“When we’ve been able to limit those against anyone, we’ve been successful this year.”

READ MORE: Rob Paternostro previews the Final Four


Want to see the Riders go for gold this weekend? You can join the Sea of Red and get behind the team! 

Get tickets here!

5 things we learned from Giants win

The Riders improved to 2-1 in the British Basketball League Trophy Group B last night with a 104-88 win against the Manchester Giants.

The victory puts them in the driving seat as Leicester looks to advance to the semi-finals in the Utilita Arena, Birmingham.

Here’s what we can take from the game…

TJ explodes with efficiency

The ever-reliable TJ Lall showed his ability to explode for big points last night and proved pivotal down the stretch. 

The Canadian wing put 19 points and 5 rebounds on the Giants in 19 minutes of action, shooting 7-8 from the field and 5-6 from deep.

Lall drained two clutch threes when the game was tight in the fourth, building a platform for the Riders to see the game out from. 

His size and strength down low provided much-needed resistance at the rim and on the glass, and his game-leading index rating of 27 demonstrates his impact on the game. 

“I was getting open shots at the beginning, saw a couple of shots go down and kept shooting,” said Lall post-game. 

“TJ is an excellent player,” added Head Coach Paternostro.

“He can play multiple positions and fill multiple roles. He doesn’t have to score. It doesn’t have to be about that for him. He can play defence, pass and rebound, so he’s a really valuable player for this team.”

Riders show their strength in depth

The Riders, having made two additions to their roster in a month with the arrival of Teddy Allen and Duke Shelton, flexed their strength in depth last night as they achieved a century of points. 

Ten Riders saw court time, five of which scored in double-digits led by Allen’s 21, Lall’s 19 and Miryne Thomas’ 16 points. 

Every Riders player finished with a positive +/- in the win, the most effective being Thomas, who finished with a +/- of 19 in a near-triple double performance. 

This proved a significant advantage over a short-handed Giants team, who in the absence of leading scorer and GB international Jamell Anderson, fielded seven players for significant minutes. 

Being able to transition seamlessly between the first and second unit is a strength of this Riders roster as the games progress.  


Want to see your Riders at the British Basketball League All-Star game?

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Duke impresses on debut 

New Riders signing Duke Shelton impressed on his first Riders outing after joining the team only the day before. 

In six minutes, the American forward put up 6 points and 6 rebounds, 3 on the offensive end. His energy saw him all over the offensive glass, making an impact where he could during his limited court time. 

“I thought he was great today,” said Paternostro following Shelton’s performance. “He only practised with us for the first time yesterday, so he came into the game not knowing a lot of our stuff, but with his effort, he deserved more minutes than I gave him tonight. 

“He’s something we haven’t had with his athleticism and ability to run from the centre spot. He did a good job tonight.”

Allen’s infectious impact 

The Riders are 5-2 in all competitions since the arrival of CEBL Teddy Allen, who has led the team in scoring in every appearance so far this season. 

This time, it was 21 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals, which led all scorers in the game. 

He has sparked life into the team, who are playing with confidence as they look to attack the month of January and lift the Trophy in Birmingham. 

Lall, who played against Allen in the CEBL this summer as he suited up for the Niagara River Lions, complimented an overlooked aspect of Allen’s game: his defence. 

“He’s helped us a lot defensively and takes the pressure off our defence on the other end with his scoring,” said Lall.  “He makes our team way better.”

Win, and we’re in

The Riders’ 2-1 record in Group B means a win next week in Newcastle will most likely be enough to see Leicester through to the semi-finals in Birmingham. 

The Newcastle Eagles take on the Bristol Flyers on Friday evening, and a win would also give them a 2-1 record entering the faceoff against the Riders. 

This would mean a win would see both teams through, creating a knockout environment in the clash between the two long-standing rivals. 

For Leicester, regardless of permutations elsewhere, the focus is on the win on the road. With nine days between the Giants and Eagles games, they can rest up and prepare for the showdown. 


Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Plymouth City Patriots on Febuary 9!

Riders abroad: Mackenzie and Lall make CEBL Conference Finals

Leicester Riders duo TJ Lall and Kimbal Mackenzie are headed to the CEBL Championship weekend!

The Canadian pair have spent the summer with the Niagara River Lions, who booked their place in the Eastern Conference final with a game to spare. 

Four CEBL teams will compete for the coveted CEBL Championship Trophy at the Langley Events Centre, the River Lions’ Conference Final taking place on August 11. 

Mackenzie and Lall showed out in the River Lions’ final game of the regular season. 

Lall had an impactful outing with a game-high 18 points to go along with six rebounds, four assists and a block. Mackenzie scored 17 points and dished seven assists to direct the Niagara offence as the starting point guard.

“I feel like we’re all together all the time,” Lall said after the game. “Our defence picked up throughout the season, and we’re gaining trust with each other.”


Want to see Lall and Mackenzie in action?

Get tickets to our home preseason opener against USA Select!


Quote credit: Niagara River Lions

Watch: TJ Lall leads the biggest upset in TBT history

TJ Lall led the biggest upset in “The Basketball Tournament” history, as India Rising knocked off number one seed Red Scare 77-67.

Lall hit the game-winning dagger to send the Brown Ballers into the second round.

It was his game-leading 26th points of the night, which he combined with five rebounds and five assists in a stat-sheet-stuffing display.

He caught fire from deep, going 4-9 from three.

India Rising will take on 2019 champions Carmens Crew in the second round, moving one step closer to the $1 million prize money.

Watch the highlights below


Want to see Lall in action?

Get tickets to our home preseason opener against USA Select!

TJ Lall to compete for $1 million in ESPN’s “The Basketball Tournament”

Riders’ recent signing TJ Lall is set to suit up to compete for $1 million in The Basketball Tournament (TBT)!

TBT is a 64-team, single-elimination open tournament where the winning team takes home a prize of $1 million.

Teams will play through six rounds of knockout basketball until an eventual winner is crowned.

TJ will compete for India Rising, his first game tipping off on the 26th of July. All the games are available to watch on the ESPN player.

“It’s a great opportunity to be able to play for India Rising in TBT,” said Lall.

“I’m looking forward to the experience. Thank you to Gautam and the Brown Ballers for making this happen!”


Want to watch TJ live in action?

Get tickets to the Riders’ preseason home opener against USA Select!

5 things you may not know about TJ Lall

Canadian/British forward TJ Lall has become the sixth member of our 2022/23 roster.

To help you get to know more, here are some things you may not know about our new man:

He ended a 30-year championship drought 

In his final college season, Lall led Brock University to their first OUA title since 1992. 

In front of a sold-out crowd, Lall put up a game-high 27 points, eight rebounds and five assists on the Badgers’ way to a 95-75 blowout against Queens University.

He dominated, going 11-16 from the field 4-7 from three, getting it done in all aspects of the game to bring long-awaited silverware back to his university. 

He was named MVP in college 

Lall dominated the OUA in his final college year. His 22 points and 7.9 rebounds per game earned him the honours of First Team All-Canadian, OUA West MVP and OUA West First Team All-Star. 

Not only did he lead the Badgers to their first title in three decades, Brock University also made an appearance at the U SPORTS Final 8 Tournament. 

They posted a regular-season record of 14-1 in the OUA West and won three straight playoff games to make their first appearance at the national championships since 2017-18.

He was the number one pick in the 2020 CEBL Draft

As a 23-year-old, following his college career at Carleton University, Lall was selected number one overall by the newly established Ottawa BlackJacks in the 2020 CEBL draft. 

The three-round draft saw 21 players selected from 10 universities across Canada, and Lall was deemed the best prospect of all for a bran new franchise. 

Ottawa Head Coach Taffe Charles told the Waterloo Region Record described him as “athletic”, “a really good two-way player” and ,” a very good rebounder” after their selection. 

He was a national champion boxer

Sport runs in the Lall family, as TJ’s dad was a kickboxer.

Lall took up the sport competitively until the age of 15, even winning a national championship!

Lall ultimately settled on hoops over the ring, but remains a huge boxing fan.

His favourite player was Allen Iverson

During the early 2000s, Allen Iverson made waves across the basketball landscape.

His flashy handles and elite scoring captured the imagination of Lall, who greatly admired “AI”.

Along with Tracey MacGrady and Kevin Garnett, he was one of the first to get him into the sport, kickstarting what would become his professional career.


Want to see Lall in action? Buy tickets to the Riders’ preseason home opener against USA Select!