It is a busy penultimate weekend to the BBL Championship season for the Leicester Riders who face the Worcester Wolves on Saturday at the Morningside Arena before travelling to Manchester to face the Giants on Sunday Evening. With the BBL Championship yet to be decided two victories are crucial for the Riders to keep the pressure on the London Lions at the top of the table.
Leicester Riders vs Worcester Wolves – Saturday, 20th April 2019
BBL Championship – Morningside Arena
CLICK HERE to purchase yours and support the Riders in their final push before the playoffs!
About the Wolves
After losing new American Head Coach Ty Shaw to illness in early January the Wolves called up ex-GB and Glasgow Rocks coach Tony Garbelotto to steady the ship. The Londoner has vast experience in the UK and overseas, and looked to turn the tide after Worcester struggled in the first half of the season.
The team invested in England international guard Adam Thoseby, who sparkled in the Commonwealth Games, but that signing failed to work out, and Thoseby recently exited the club.
Experienced guards Robert Crawford and Darell Combs joined up with rookie forward Deshawn Freeman to form a potent American scoring trio. And a pair of experienced Spaniards, in Mika Servera and Alex Navajas, provide some savvy and three point shooting; Navajas tenth best from beyond the arc in the BBL. Extra muscle on the boards comes from Lester Prosper from the British Virgin Islands.
It has been a very difficult season for Worcester, but recent results have shown a modest upturn. They handily beat Manchester Giants 97-78, and prevailed after 4 overtime periods, in the highest scoring game in BBL history, over Surrey Scorchers, 152-150. But since then, they lost away at London City Royals 91-78, and at Plymouth Raiders 106-83 last time out. Both games against the Riders have been close, Wolves losing in Leicester 94-86 and at home 85-80.
After losing 4 of 5, Riders have bounced back to win games three in a row, including a first win over Glasgow Rocks this season 75-71 last time out.
Players to Watch
Wolves Deshawn Freeman remains one of the top offensive forces in the BBL. He is second in the league in scoring, averaging 19.2 points per game, and second in rebounds at 10.9 per game. For good measure he is third in blocks, at 1.3 per game.
Riders’ Jamell Anderson is on fire of late particularly at the defensive end, where his disruptive play has helped turn games in Riders favour. In 20 minutes per game, he is also shooting an impressive 36% from the three point line, as he averages 5.5 points per game.
Leicester Riders at Manchester Giants – Sunday, 21st April 2019; 5:00pm
BBL Championship – George Carnell Sports Centre
About the Giants
Head Coach Danny Byrne is in his second season with the club, and has done an excellent job
recruiting, after Giants had endured a number of lacklustre seasons since their return to the BBL in 2012.
The team is built around two local British brothers captain Callum Jones, and shooting guard James Jones.
Byrne’s new Americans, guard Mike McCall (15.8 points, 5.6 assists per game), forward Willie Clayton (18.5 points, 15.1 rebounds per game) and Torry Butler (12.5 points, 6.25 rebounds per game) have been exceptional.
The Giants small squad includes experienced Latvian 3 point shooter Ingus Bankevics and Croatian forward Vlatko Granic.
The Giants are still in the hunt for a playoff spot, and the last few weeks have been typical of their season, beating London City Royals at home, but losing at Plymouth Raiders, Newcastle Eagles and Bristol Flyers. They have beaten Riders twice in Manchester, 101-94 and 75-73, but suffered a heavy 94-68 defeat in Leicester in January.
Riders are clinging on in the BBL Championship title race, after winning three in a row going into the penultimate weekend of the regular season.
Players to Watch
The Giants Willie Clayton has been a monster on the boards, leading the BBL in that category, but also shooting a very impressive 61% from the floor. He also averages nearly 4 fouls per game.
For Leicester, Conner Washington continues to excel from beyond the three point line, shooting 44%, but also dishes out 4 assists per game.
Tickets are still available for Saturdays game against the Worcester Wolves, CLICK HERE to purchase yours and support the Riders in their final push before the playoffs!