It is a big weekend for the Leicester Riders who face the Surrey Scorchers at home on Friday night before travelling to London to face the Lions on Sunday afternoon.
If the Newcastle Eagles beat the Lions on Friday, and the Riders secure victory at home then the Lions and Riders will face off for the BBL Championship on Sunday.
Leicester Riders vs Surrey Scorchers
Friday 26th April 2019 – 7:30pm
BBL Championship – Morningside Arena
About the Scorchers
The Scorchers have been searching for their best form all season, after their upset win in the Matchroom All Stars event in October, when they beat Leicester in the final.
They have had continuity under Head Coach Creon Raftopoulos, one of the most respected in the BBL.
And after solid results last season, they kept faith with experienced captain Tayo Ogedengbe and back court dynamo Caylin Raftopoulos.
American guard Quincy Taylor is one of the best penetrating guards in the BBL, and the front line is solid with 7 foot British centre Morakinyo Williams, Dutch power forward Chaed Wellian, and American forward Anthony Elechi. British guard Joe Mvuezolo is an up and coming talent.
The Scorchers have struggled for results all season, and they are currently on a seven game losing streak. But two of those defeats were only in overtime, including at Newcastle Eagles last weekend, 105-97. Their last game was an 84-72 home loss to Glasgow Rocks, who had to come from behind to seal the victory.
After a rocky finish to March, Riders are on a 5 game win streak, to keep their hopes of retaining their BBL Championship title alive, the last win on Sunday night 73-66 at Manchester Giants.
In their previous games, Riders won away at Surrey twice, but both games were close; Riders winning 84-79 and 84-80.
Players to Watch
Quincy Taylor has been the star man for the Scorchers all season. He is currently seventh best in the BBL in scoring, averaging 18.3 points per game, and he is fourth best in assists, at 6 per game.
For Leicester, Josh Ward-Hibbert is having a break-out season, and he has moved to fifth best in the BBL in three-point shooting, at 46%. Overall he shoots an impressive 56% from the floor.
Leicester Riders at London Lions
Sunday, 28th April 2019; 4pm
BBL Championship – Copper Box
About the Lions
The Lions finished in second place in the BBL Championship last season, and were beaten by Riders in BBL Playoff Finals.
Determined to go one better, Head Coach Vince Macaulay’s retained a core of players, including guard Justin Robinson, the league MVP, all-purpose American forward Brandon Peel, averaging 13 points and 8 rebounds per game, former Riders forward Dzaflo Larkai, former Loughborough Rider Jerelle Okoro, and their British captain, Joe Ikhinmwin, as well as experienced guard Andre Lockhart.
New American Ladarius Tabb is one of the most athletic forwards in the BBL, and is averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds per game, and centre Kervin Bristol one of the premier big men. GB guard Jordan Spencer, averaging 11 points and nearly 6 assists per game, gives the Lions a formidable back court. GB guard Paul Guede adds valuable experience.
The Lions have been the team to beat all season. They won the BBL Cup over Glasgow Rocks in January, and were narrowly beaten in overtime in the BBL Trophy Final by cross-town rivals London City Royals in March. They need just one win, or one Riders loss, on the final weekend of the regular season to add their first BBL Championship.
Going into the weekend the Riders rediscovered their form, to close the gap on London at the top of the table, with a 5 game winning streak.
The teams have met twice this season, each winning away from home, the Lions 76-73 at the Morningside Arena, and the Riders 65-63 at the Copper Box.
Players to Watch
The Lions’ Justin Robinson is in the running for MVP of the season, and is 8th best in the BBL in scoring at 18.3 points per game, is 7th best in free throw shooting at 86%, and 9th best in assists, at 4.9 per game, while averaging over 32 minutes per game.
His opposite number for Leicester, Conner Washington is averaging nearly 27 minutes per game, and shooting 44% from the three point line, as well as dishing out just under 4 assists per game.
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