It was a successful weekend for the Leicester Riders who bounced back from last weekends woes to claim wins over the London City Royals and Cheshire Phoenix to move them back into second place in the BBL Championship.
Leicester Riders v London City Royals
BBL Championship – Friday 5 April
Leicester Riders bounced back to winning ways with an 86-78 victory over London City Royals at the Morningside Arena.
Just like the previous meeting a couple of weeks ago, Riders built up a big lead only for the Royals to rally late on, but this time Leicester were able to see it home.
Having struggled on the offensive end at times in recent weeks, Riders had no such problems in the opening stages with Jamell Anderson particularly aggressive at the offensive end as they opened out a 13-4 lead.
Riders kept the Royals to only six points in seven minutes as their advantage reached thirteen points, but whilst they were struggling to break down Leicester’s defence, London were able to collect fouls and get to the free throw line.
This helped them narrow the deficit to 24-18 early in the second quarter, but a flurry of three-pointers from Brandon Clark, Josh Ward-Hibbert and Pierre Hampton saw Riders post 13 unanswered points to move 37-18 in front.
Three minutes from half-time Riders were 21-points clear and probably could have taken a bigger lead into the break than the 43-27 advantage they held.
Royals started the third quarter well, but a three-point play from Tim Williams and a triple from Conner Washington saw Leicester into their biggest lead of the game at 58-36.
But Ed Lucas then started to catch fire and with great support from Wes Washpun the pair set about dragging the visitors back into the game. Early in the fourth they had the deficit down to 11 and then a spell of eight quick points put the result right back in the balance at 69-64.
Washington, Williams and Holder all came up with timely scores to keep a small cushion for the Riders, but the Royals were starting to turn up the pressure. A sloppy pass on an inbound gifted AJ Roberts two points to cut the lead to 82-78 with 40 seconds remaining, but Clark and Williams were able to seal the win from the line.
Head Coach Rob Paternostro was pleased with his teams performance against a tough Royals team. “Our big first half meant that we never trailed in the game, I thought we came out and played really well on both ends of the floor.I was a little disappointed we weren’t up by more at the half, I thought we missed a few easy ones which gave them the opportunity to get back into the game. We held on well and did just enough, it wasn’t pretty but it definitely feels good to get the W.”
Riders: Holder 16, Anderson 15, Williams 14, Thomson 12, Washington 9, Clark 8, Hampton 7, Ward-Hibbert 3, Lascelles 2, Gamble, Douse.
Eagles: Lucas 19, Roberts 13, Washpun 12, Jackman 11, Bryan-Amaning 6, Neighbour 6, Dang Akodo 5, Ohuaregbe 5, Toluwase 1, Rogers.
Cheshire Phoenix v Leicester Riders
BBL Championship – Sunday 7 April
Leicester Riders moved back into second place in BBL Championship and gained a little revenge for their defeat of last weekend. Riders ran out 94-88 victors at Cheshire Phoenix, which coupled with Newcastle’s defeat in London, moved them back ahead of the Eagles.
There was very little to choose between the sides for most of the game and even when Riders looked like maybe pulling away late on, Cheshire came back to push it to the final few seconds.
JR Holder and Jamell Anderson hit three-pointers to start the game, as Riders set their stall out early from behind the arc.
Anderson netted another four points to push Riders 19-14 in front, but the ‘Nix bagged the next ten points to lead 24-19. Threes either side of the first break, followed by five points from Andy Thomson had Riders back ahead at 32-30.
Riders kept their noses in front, but with the teams going basically score for score, there was never more than two shots between them and at the interval the home side led by a point thanks to Cilo Latinovic on the buzzer.
That pattern continued into the third quarter, but a 9-2 run by the Riders saw them 72-64 in front with 90 seconds left in the third quarter. Two Josh Ward-Hibbert scores saw Riders ten points clear just before the third quarter buzzer, but Daniel Norl hit a shot from inside his own half to make it 76-69 heading into the final ten minutes.
Riders could have put a significant double figure lead on the board early in the fourth quarter, but a string of missed free throws meant they only led 82-73. Cheshire took their chance to cut the gap to 85-84 with an 11-3 run.
JR Holder hit two key three-pointers, including one with 77 seconds remaining to put Leicester 91-88 ahead and they kept the Nix out from there.
Riders made 14 of their 27 three-point attempts, the key difference from their defeat to Phoenix last weekend.
Head Coach Rob Paternostro was delighted with his team’s performance. “An outstanding win to cap off an excellent weekend. Coming off 2 losses last weekend we really wanted to play better this weekend, and we did. It was another hard fought game, I thought defensively in the first half we could’ve played better but in the second half we really dug in. We made a couple of adjustments at half time and that was the difference in the game”.
Phoenix: Hayes 23, Latinovic 19, Allen-Jordan 14, Gettys 14, Norl 14, Sayers 2, Rolls-Tyson 2, Murtagh, Jones, Lufadeju.
Riders: Holder 22, Washington 17, Anderson 14, Hampton 9, Ward-Hibbert 9, Williams 8, Thomson 6, Clark 6, Lascelles 3, Gamble, Douse.