It’s first versus third at the John Sandford Sports Centre this evening as Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders host the Rocks in a key BBL Championship fixture.
Two of the Riders’ 23 wins this season have come at Rocks’ impressive new Emirates Arena, winning 85-73 in December before shading a close game 76-72 last month. The two sides have both won five of the last ten games between them, but it is Rocks who lead the all-time series 37-20.
Riders’ coach Rob Paternostro rates the Rocks highly: “I have always admired the way Sterling Davis teams play, he has them playing well. I always felt they would be a team that has success this season.”
Rocks’ player-coach Sterling Davis knows the size of the task facing his side this evening: “Riders are having a fantastic season. What impresses me right now is how they are finding ways to win the ugly ones. They are marked men right now throughout the league but are still getting the job done in spite of teams throwing their best punches.
“They are too balanced a team to key on one guy. They all have the potential to produce big on the night all the way down to their seventh or eighth guy on the bench.
“I thought we were aggressive on both ends of the floor for most of the game when we last played them. What we need to focus on this time around is being able to close things out.”
Davis goes into the game needing six more defensive rebounds to hit the 1500 mark while team-mate Gareth Murray needs just one steal to chalk up his 250th.
With six games remaining, Davis believes that his side may have to win them all to take third place in the final BBL Championship table: “Yes I think we may have to win-out and have been saying that to the guys for a couple of weeks now. We cannot forecast what other teams will do so we have to look at where we are and focus on winning every game we can.”
Riders’ centre Anthony Rowe expects a difficult game against the Rocks: “They’re another top team, and we’ve played a lot of them recently as it’s a tough stretch for us.
“But we’re at home having won twice there, so it’s winnable. I think they’re one of the better organised teams in the league and will give us a game. Donald Robinson been fantastic for them, he’s a been an offensive spark and has had a lot of big games for them.
“I’m a big fan of Sterling and full credit to him as he combines coaching and playing. He’s having a great season both on and off the court. He’s really rallied his guys despite having to make changes. He’s got them playing the way he wants, and he’s also one to watch on the court, and his three point shot gets better every year.”
Rocks’ guard/forward Andrew Wedemire also expects a tough test in the midlands: “They are the first place team in the league and have been a very strong team all season long. We did a good job of executing on offence last time and getting stops when we needed them in crucial times in the game. It really only can down to a few missed opportunities late in the game that was the difference. Zaire Taylor is probably their key players.”
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