Having enjoyed a rare break from the hectic game schedule of the British Basketball League, Leicester Riders return to action this weekend with a double header of Cup and Championship games.
On Friday evening, the Riders make the long trip to the Pavillions to take on Plymouth Raiders in the first leg of the BBL Cup semi-final, before returning to the John Sandford Sports Centre on Saturday night for an eagerly-anticipated BBL Championship clash against 3-7 Manchester Giants (7:30pm tip-off).
“We’re really excited (about Friday’s Cup game against Plymouth),” said head coach Rob Paternostro ahead of the weekend’s games.
“We’re excited that we have advanced to this position, following our good win over Worcester on the road. We understand how well we will have to play and we understand that we have to be totally committed to playing good basketball in order to get an opportunity to reach this year’s final.
“I think it’s given us a chance, as a club, to continue to play in big games and I know that we’re all looking forward to. I’ve been impressed with Plymouth’s personnel so far this season. I think they’re different to a lot of teams in the league. They have a solid ability to put the ball in the basket and they’re a team that is growing. Plymouth will be a difficult team to play against.
“It’s important that, over the 80 minutes – and we’ve seen it before in the past – we don’t peak too high or too low early in the 80 minutes. It’s important that we stay consistent. Especially on the defensive end, we want to make things difficult and put ourselves in a good position once we come to the second leg.”
“It’s given us a chance, as a club, to continue to play in big games and I know that we’re all looking forward to.” – Paternostro
On Saturday, Riders’ game against Manchester Giants will be the first time that the two teams have come up against each other this season, whilst the Riders won all three games against Manchester last season.
Whilst the Giants’ record may not provide welcome viewing for their fans, the stats averaged by some of the teams’ players this season presents an indication of the test that awaits the Riders. Guard James Jones (son of Giants coach Jeff and brother of Loughborough Riders Women’s Georgia) leads the BBL in assists this far this season, averaging 6 per-game, with David Aliu averaging 20 points-per-game. Stefan Gill is among the top-five players in the league for steals.
“Manchester have had some ups and downs,” said Paternostro ahead of Saturday’s home game.
“Over the last couple of weeks, they have started to play much better and I think that they will be a team where it will be important that we don’t allow them to get comfortable. When they have been comfortable on the offensive end, they have been very dangerous.”
Tickets for Saturday’s game against Manchester Giants are on sale NOW. CLICK HERE or call 0116 255 8635 to purchase, or visit the Riders offices on Rutland Street in Leicester city centre.