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Riders rise to the top on opening weekend

Leicester Riders claimed the top spot in the opening weekend of the BBL Championship with an 80-59 victory over the Jets on Sunday.

Leicester Riders claimed the top spot in the opening weekend of the BBL Championship with an 80-59 victory over the Jets on Sunday. They gained that achievement on the back of their 104-78 trophy triumph over the London Leopards on Saturday.

Brad Wierzbicki was the top scorer with 19 points followed closely by GB international Drew Sullivan who collected 16 points along with 12 rebounds.

Sullivan made his debut on Saturday and says he feels settled at his new club. He said: ‘It’s going well, we are 2 and 0 so I’m happy with that. I’m going to try and help the team the best I can each game and I think I have done well over this weekend.’

The first quarter was very tight as both teams battled to get in front. Bill Cole hit two three pointers to edge the Cheshire Jets ahead by 9-7. The lead changed on a number of occasions but another big 3 pointer from Adam Brown put the Jets in front 17-15 at the end of the first period.

The Jets started the second quarter well with Matt Schneck scoring off Brown’s brilliant feed. Schneck went on to lead all Jets scorers with 18 points marked next to his name at the end of the game.

But poor offensive execution saw the Cheshire side fall apart as the riders went on a 16-3 streak to go into the break with a 29-38 advantage.

Into the second half, the Jets deterioration continued as the Riders capitalized on some poor marking to thrive on an 18-6 burst. They stretched their lead beyond 20 points heading into the final period with the scores at 43-65.

Impressive shooting and defensive pressure from the Riders in the last ten allowed them to hang on for the table-topping 80-59 victory. Drew Sullivan drove to the basket for an easy lay-up to finish the game.

The Jets poor shooting display cost them dearly especially from the free-throw line only hitting 8/24 and a shocking 23/74 shots in total. Coach John Lavery believes the team are still finding their form but they simply have to be better than today’s performance.

He said: ‘I don’t think were playing well at the moment. You will have highs and lows during the season but we just need that first win to get us off the mark. But in fairness, we do have a lot of new players out there. We are looking for some chiefs to lead us but at the moment, we have a lot of young Indians.’

Elsewhere in the Championship, the Sheffield Sharks continued their strong start to the season with an 86-75 win over the Guildford Heat in Surrey. Great Britain international sharp shooter Nate Reinking had the hot hand with 35 points.
The Heat have had a woeful start to their campaign as they suffered an 85-64 defeat at the hands of the Newcastle Eagles on Friday night. But you know what they say about championship campaigns, it’s a marathon not a sprint.


Friday: Group 2- Sheffield Sharks (Dobbins 28, Langhurst 15, Tuck 12) 84-81 Mersey Tigers after Overtime (Bailey and Hesson 16)

Saturday: Group 1- Durham Wildcats 86 (Flaherty 20, Capocci 18)- 91 Glasgow Rocks (Harrison 25, Green 22, Murray 11)
Group 3- Leicester Riders (Sullivan 30, Hardy 17, Rundles 16) 104- 78 London Leopards (Krubally 24, Teel 24, Lister 11)

Sunday: Group 1- Glasgow Rocks (Harrison 22, Green 14) 76-70 Newcastle Eagles (Smith 18, Gause 15, Defoe 13)
Group 3- MK Lions (Bolds 36, Crawford 17, Sturt 15) 113- 72 London Leopards ( Teel 41, Lister 11)
Group 4- Plymouth Raiders 85 (Smith 25, Rowe 20, Williams 12)- 96 Worcester Wolves ( Gordon 22, Freeman 21, Prezzie-Blue 19)

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