We are through to the semi-finals of the BBL Cup, and what a performance from our guys in the quarter-final.
The first half against London Lions showed the downside of our three week break – we looked incredibly rusty. There is nothing like repetitions and competition to keep a team game ready, and unfortunately our injuries over that period meant our training was disrupted and we had only very limited 5 on 5 sessions. Credit to London, they came out with some intensity, but our 9 turnovers in the first quarter was our undoing, and the Lions took full advantage, scoring 15 points off those errors. Our timing was not there, evidenced by us making just 1 three pointer from 14 attempts.
We managed in the second quarter to hang in there and being down just 14 at half-time was a decent effort in the circumstances. Our halftime break was used just to remind the guys we were still in the game, and I had no concern about the effort guys were giving.
The second half reflected that approach, with Namon Wright getting things going with a couple of three pointers. It was great to see him and Josh Ward-Hibbert back in the line-up because they give us a different dimension and once we got going, the crowd at the arena were immense. They really lifted the guys and the only surprise was how quickly we got to parity, and then in front.
Kyron Cartwright was his masterful self, pulling the strings on offence and controlling the tempo of the game, and importantly we cut down the turnovers and tightened the defence. In that regard Jamell Anderson’s efforts on their MVP guard Justin Robinson was immense, as was the shooting from long range of Joe Scott, who hit four three pointers. He has started to find his touch in recent games, and it is no more than we expected from Scott when we signed him in the summer. A word also for our captain Andy Thomson who kept the ship afloat at times – it is games like this when his experience and steady play really come to the fore.
Once again our defence held them to below seventy points,, keeping up with our average of just 67 points per game, while holding teams to just 37% from two point range, and 28% from the three point line. That comes only from guys staying locked-in, no matter what is happening at the other end of the court. It was one of those games to remember, with the wild swing in play, and I cannot say enough about the support we got from our fans. It is really evident on game nights like that why home advantage can be such a big factor.
Now we have drawn Worcester Wolves in the semis. It is over 2 legs which is a completely different dynamic and they looked impressive in their win over Newcastle. They matched the more experienced Eagles toe-to-toe, and so fully deserve to be I this position. They have a nice balance and look very different from the team we played in pre-season.
Before then, we start our BBL Championship campaign against Plymouth Raiders at home this Friday, and hopefully that will be the signal for our injury problems to start to abate. Plymouth have been a little up and down but are capable of putting a lot of points on the board in a hurry, particularly with guard Josh Wilcher, who is a big threat from the three point line, and our former player Rashad Hassan who can fill it up inside and from mid-range. The Cup game will give us a big boost and everyone is looking forward to finally getting the league campaign going.
Hear from Coach Paternostro on tomorrow night’s first @BBLOfficial Championship game against the Raiders!
— Leicester Riders (@RidersBball) December 5, 2019