Leicester Riders are BBL champions for the fifth time in nine years.

Rob Paternostro’s men crushed Cheshire Phoenix 97-65 on Sunday to emphatically secure the British Basketball League title in their final game of the campaign, putting it beyond the reach of London Lions, the last challengers standing.

The capital outfit, with two games in hand, had mathematically prolonged the duel for two more hours by edging out Glasgow Rocks 73-68 earlier with a short-handed line-up travelling north.

Yet Leicester betrayed no pressure, racing into a 25-15 lead in the first quarter at the Oaks Arena which they steadily extended throughout.

“It was a great season because the guys hung together all year,” said Paternostro, who drew level with the late Kevin Cadle with five league titles.

“When we got together at the start, the message was that this would be a year like no other and we’d have to deal with stuff no-one had dealt with before.

“And the team that played best through adversity, and was mentally strong, will win out.

“We were able to cope. If we had any losing streak – and we didn’t have more than two games in a row – we bounced back and made corrections.

“And you need that because it’s a difficult league with so many dangerous team. But our guys are smart and they figured things out.”

Attention with now turn to chasing a fourth consecutive BBL Playoff final with the semi-finals and finale to be held on the Riders home court at the Morningside Arena.

But there should be one other title coming to Leicester before then, Paternostro insisted.

“Geno Crandall is the MVP of this league,” he said. “We have guards who can score but he makes everyone better around him.

“He’s not just an offensive threat. He’s an excellent defender as well and he’s a leader at both ends.

“He’s been playing with one injured hand the past month but he’s such a great competitor that he pushed through it. With that attitude and work ethic, everyone else just falls in line.”


Bristol Flyers edged Manchester Giants 83-81 to take the eighth and final BBL Playoff spot after Surrey Scorchers lost 87-82 at Newcastle Eagles.

Image: Ahmedphotos

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