The Leicester Riders face yet another double header weekend this week as they face BBL Trophy Champions the London City Royals at the Morningside Arena on Friday night before Travelling to Cheshire to face the Phoenix on Sunday Evening.
The Riders are currently 18-8 on the season and will be looking for 2 wins to re-find their winning form heading into the final weeks of the season.
Leicester Riders vs London City Royals – Friday, 5th April 2019; 7:30pm
BBL Championship – Morningside Arena
About the Royals
The Royals are the new boys in the BBL, having joined in the summer, replacing defunct Leeds Force.
They have ambitions to move soon to a much bigger venue than their current arena at Crystal Palace, and to play in European competition.
To realise those dreams, they have focussed in enticing back London born, British players who have been playing in higher level leagues across Europe.
The key components were GB internationals Ashley Hamilton and Matthew Bryan-Amaning.
Bryan-Amaning is a 30 years old centre, and has played at the University of Washington, and since then his pro career has spanned the world, with stops including in Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Japan, Serbia, Germany, France and Turkey.
Hamilton is also 30 years old, and played at Loyola Marymount University in the US, before his professional career took him to numerous clubs, including in Spain, Greece, Italy, Ukraine and Lebanon.
BBL experience comes from Londoner Orlan Jackman, British forward Will Neighbour, Albanian point guard Elvisi Dusha. Forward A J Roberts joined from Hemel Storm.
GB guard Jules Dang Akodo, British guard Samuel Toluwase, Angolan shooting guard Ed Lucas, as well as American point guard Wes Washpun given the Royals a very strong squad.
The Royals won the BBL Trophy at the first attempt, but have lost three of the last four, since beating Riders 77-74 in late March. That sole victory was though over table topping London Lions.
Riders are struggling having lost a pair of games last weekend.
The teams have spilt their two match-ups so far this season, each winning at home.
Players to Watch
Royal’s Hamilton is averaging over 15 points and 6 rebounds per game, while shooting 57% from the floor.
Riders J R Holder has been struggling in recent weeks, but is still averaging 14.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting at 53%.
Leicester Riders at Cheshire Phoenix – Sunday, 7th April 2019; 5:30pm
BBL Championship – Cheshire Oaks Arena
About the Phoenix
Cheshire Phoenix’s glory days were in the early 2000s, but they are showing steady signs of improvement in the last few seasons, coinciding with their move into the new Cheshire Oaks Arena, including a piece of silverware in the Cup last season.
They have a young head coach in Ben Thomas, but he is backed up by Mike Burton, one of the wise old men of British basketball, who was responsible for their earlier success, and who is still actively involved in junior basketball.
They have a host of players who can hit the three point shot, including ex-Raider and British guard, Louis Sayers, ex-Lion and Serbian marksmen, Momcilo Latinovic, British guard Disraeli Lufadeju, American point guard Daniel Norl, and American forward Jalen Hayes.
The middle is anchored by ex-Ivy Leaguer, 7 foot centre C J Gettys and American forward Dii’jon Allen-Jordan.
Cheshire are in a desperate battle for a play-off spot, sitting in seventh spot in the BBL Championship going into the weekend with Manchester, Plymouth and Bristol within 4 points of them in the table. They have won three of their last five, with their scalps being London City Royals, Sheffield Sharks and Riders. Surprisingly, they were beaten handily by the Flyers at home last Sunday.
After a hot start to 2019, Riders are in a funk, having lost 4 of their last five games, and have dropped to third place in the Championship going into the weekend.
The teams have split a pair of games so far this season with Rider winning 76-69 in early February, before the Phoenix bounced back to manhandle Riders 79-64 last weekend.
Players to Watch
American Jalen Hayes has added extra punch to the Cheshire forward line since his arrival in mid-season, chipping in over 14 points per game, and he leads the BBL in three-point shooting, at 60% efficiency.
Riders are increasingly looking to American guard Brandon Clark for offence, and his average is now up to over 11 points per game, while shooting 46% and dishing out over 4 assists per game.
Tickets are still available for Fridays game against the London City Royals, CLICK HERE to buy your tickets and join us for what promises to be another exciting game at the Morningside Arena!