Leicester Riders return to the John Sandford Sports Centre on Saturday evening (18th January, 7:30pm tip-off), following last weekend’s BBL Cup triumph over Newcastle Eagles at Birmingham’s NIA.
London Lions make the journey from the capital to take on the Riders, in what will be the second meeting between the two teams this season. The last Championship meeting against Vince Macaulay’s Lions took place at the John Sandford Sports Centre last December, where Anthony Downing’s 24 points and five assists helped guide Riders to a 91-78 win.
“Their (Lions) athleticism and their depth has been very important to their success…” Rob Paternostro
“I’ve been very impressed with the Lions this season,” said Leicester Riders head coach Rob Paternostro ahead of Saturday’s game.
“Their athleticism and their depth has been very important to their success. They are a team that has been able to play well for long periods. Last time we played them, we were able to come out with a victory, but we understand that this will be a very tough game.”
Already buoyed by last weekend’s BBL Cup victory, Riders will be able to call upon new acquisition, guard Mike Black (below), who was drafted in following the season-ending injury to Anthony Downing.
Black, who was ineligible to play for Riders in the BBL Cup Final, has practiced with his new team-mates this week, having arrived in Leicester shortly before Riders’ 75-69 win over Sheffield Sharks, in what was the last home game.
Meanwhile, Paternostro has stressed that the players’ feet will remain firmly on the ground, following last weekend’s trophy-winning high.
“Mike has been with us now for just over a week and this week of practice will be very important for him,” the head coach said.
“He will be able to get a feel for the guys and start to understand the nuances of what we do. With a double-header weekend on the way, it’s always nice to have another player to add to the mix.
“What we have and what we continue to try and build here is a competitive group who, whenever they take the floor, whether it be a big win or a tough loss, all they try to do is compete and win the game,” Rob added.
“It’s important that, after the final, we give the guys a little time to recover. I’m sure, once we get back to practice, everybody will be focused on trying to improve and looking forward to what is a busy second-half schedule.”
CLICK HERE to secure your ticket and see the BBL Cup winners in action against London Lions on Saturday 18th January (7:30pm).