Leicester Riders played their last game before Christmas, and last home game for over a month, in front of a good crowd at JSSC in Leicester. Coach Paternostro wanted to make sure his team was ready for the game, and had the players warming up earlier than usual.
As the game started the Riders were ready to go from the tip-off, but so were the Wildcats who in their previous game started well and the same pattern was followed today. Early buckets for the visitors gave them an early lead, before the home team stepped up a gear to take control of the game.
Brett Royster, who is getting more and more comfortable playing in the BBL, was a solid under both baskets – blocking the Wildcats’ way to the basket and muscling his way to ten points in the first half. Including couple of basket moving slam-dunks. Riders big-guy seemed to have shaken of the little niggles he had been carrying in the last games and with his energetic game he was feeding his team-mates to perform better.
For Wildcats it was the familiar duo of Mike Capocci and Ralph Bucci who were trying to keep them at the game, credit to the team for once again pushing their fast paced game. And you could not tell that they had played 24 hours earlier – and Riders hadn’t.
With a comfortable lead in the game, Riders coach Rob Paternostro was once again able to use his whole rotation and thus giving on-court time for all of the ten players which showed the depth of the squad that the Riders possess at the moment. Ayron Hardy played once again well, and didn’t miss a single shot during the game 7 out of 7 from the pain and 3 out of 3 from the charity stripe. John Griffin is also getting better every game he plays, and the little injury that kept him sidelined early on in the season seems to only have fed his appetite for playing.
The second half was played with the Riders keeping a good lead through out the spell, taking their lead up to 33 points at best. Paul Elderkin of the Wildcats hit couple of long range three pointers, but the home team were always in total control of the game. But with Riders able to keep on throwing fresh legs on to the game all the time, they kept the pace up and never allowed the visitors a sniff of getting back into the game, with more careful finishing the Riders could have scored even more.
Riders top scorer was Cameron Rundles with 18 points, to go with his five assists, Brett Royster assisted well with 13 points and working the boards for seven rebounds. For the Wildcats, Paul Elderkin and Mike Capocci both finished with 15 points with Mario Flaherty also reaching double digits at 10. For Leicester, each player on the team sheet got their name on the ‘points’, and all but one also gave an assist.
Game never reached the excitement that was experienced in the Trophy game against Newcastle – but the home fans would have left the stands feeling positive ahead of the Christmas break. Win over Wildcats lifts the Riders to the third place in the BBL Championship table with a 5 to 1 record, and their next game being against second placed Worcester Wolves on the 28th of December.