Despite finishing the game with a second double-double of the season, it was Leicester Riders’ determination to win that was the key focus for Rashad Hassan, following last weekend’s win over Cheshire Phoenix.
Riders’ American rookie ended the game with 20 points and 11 rebounds in the 82-71 win over an impressive Phoenix team, but felt that Riders could have put the game away earlier than they eventually did.
“I felt that we had some mental lapses at times on the defensive end, because we went on runs but weren’t able to put them (Cheshire) away,” said Hassan.
“That’s credit to Cheshire for having a great spirit and the ability to keep fighting. In the end, we found a way to win and that’s something that we’ve been doing all season. I’m happy with that.
“Coming into this team, I love the effort that these guys put in every single night,” Rashad added with a smile.
“It’s something that I wanted to contribute to when coming here and so far we’ve done that. I’m happy that we were able to get off to a good start in the game against Cheshire; because the two games before that we were finding ourselves down 8-0. Against Cheshire, we showed a lot of energy and played together very well.
“I love the effort that these guys put in every single night.” – Rashad Hassan
“At times, we’ve come out of games kind of flat, but on Saturday night we had a sense of urgency and we got at it, on both ends of the floor. I’m pleased with the way that we pulled together and how we didn’t get too down when they went on a run. When it got down to two or three points, it was pretty frustrating. It was a close game, but we found a way to win. We pulled down some good rebounds, we boxed out and we ran the floor and we came out with the win on Saturday night.”
This season is Hassan’s first in professional basketball and the first time that he has played outside of the United States of America. Despite a sizable move in terms of distance, the 6’8’’ Savannah State University graduate is pleased with the way that things are going in the UK and admits that he has adjusted quickly to the demands of basketball in the BBL.
“It’s been a smooth transition,” he said.
“This is my first year playing pro basketball and the first time that I have been outside of America, but everything has been smooth. I’m very happy with my decision to come out here and hopefully we can win some silverware. I’m not getting ahead of myself, but everything is going well so far and I’m just trying to get better every week.
“Pro ball anywhere is better than college basketball. In my first game, I was surprised by the physicality and what they let you get away with, but I think I’ve adjusted to it well,” Hassan added.
“The main thing about the transition between playing college basketball becoming a professional athlete is adjusting to different things. I think I’m getting more comfortable with this game and I’m really starting to like it.”
Rashad has quickly become a favourite of the Riders fans, renowned for their vociferous backing in games at the John Sandford Sports Centre.
“Leicester is a great city to play for,” stated Hassan.
“The fans are great and they pack out the house every night. They’re loud, they cheer for us, they’re very supportive – and that makes us play harder. It makes us want to put on a show and win every night. The fans are great and they have been showing me great love since I arrived here.”
Back the Riders again this weekend, as Worcester Wolves head to the JSSC (Saturday 16th, 7:30pm tip-off) for another exciting BBL Championship match-up.
Tickets are available online by CLICKING HERE or by calling 0116 255 8635.