RIDERS HAVE CHAMPION FEELING

Leicester Riders have clinched their second British Basketball League title in four years.

Rob Paternostro’s men beat¬†Newcastle Eagles on Friday with an 84-73 win over the now-dethroned champions to build an unassailable cushion at the top of the standings with just one game remaining for both.

The hosts, paced by 18 points from Jamell Anderson, were as much as ten clear before Newcastle reduced the deficit to 47-45 at half-time.

And although the Eagles scrapped mightily to maintain their supremacy as they took a 62-60 lead with 8:49 left, a 17-3 run ensured they would end up christening their new arena with the second league crown in their history.

“It’s amazing,” said Riders coach Rob Paternostro. “When you win the league, you know that you deserve it because it’s a long, long journey with a lot of games.

“For our guys, with the schedule we had, it’s an incredible job by them. It’s an incredible night tonight, in a new arena to win the league in the first year is amazing.

“We ran really well. Our conditioning was excellent. I don’t think anybody would have been able to handle what we just handled with the schedule we had. Our conditioning has been strong all year and tonight we proved that.”

It caps a remarkable campaign for Paternostro’s men, who have lost only four times so far, responding to a defeat to the Eagles in January’s BBL Cup final by taking revenge in February’s Trophy climax.

And they can now pursue a treble in the Playoffs next month.

“One thing we said all season long is that this arena isn’t going to be home until we start making memories,” said Drew Sullivan.

“We knew that whoever won this game was going to be the team that won the league and the effort the guys came out with tonight was amazing. We’ve worked so hard for this.”

Pic: Mansoor Ahmed

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