Champs are riding into town

Hemel Storm's Bode Adeluola led the scoring for Hemel against Riders. (file picture by Lin Titmuss).
Hemel Storm's Bode Adeluola led the scoring for Hemel against Riders. (file picture by Lin Titmuss).

There’s a real treat for basketball fans this weekend as the reigning champions of Britain, the Leicester Riders, are making the trip to town to take on Hemel Storm .

This Saturday, the 2016/17 British Basketball League champions Riders will be at Sportspace in Hemel for a challenge match against Storm that tips-off at 6pm –an hour earlier than Storm’s usual starting time for home fixtures.

The game is the last of three challenge matches before the National League, cup and championship play-off race starts in earnest.

The Riders, led by coach Robert Paternostro, are 
the oldest professional club 
in British basketball after 
being founded in 1967.

They were founder members of the National Basketball League in 1972 and the BBL in 1987.

They won the BBL Cup and play-offs after beating the Newcastle Eagles 84-63 in May at The O2 Arena.

The Riders have won eight major trophies in their history, including the BBL Cup in 2012 and the cup and play-off finals in 2001.

Hemel’s new head coach Robert Youngblood played for the Riders in 2010 and 2011.

Storm will be hoping to use the match to get back on track after they exited the National Trophy at the quarter-finals stage on Saturday when they lost 78–88 at Loughborough in a high-paced, evenly-matched contest.

The home team edged each of the four quarters and with both sides playing at a similar level, the result came down to which team would make the fewer mistakes with the ball.

Youngblood was unhappy with the result and his team’s performance and especially with how his players seemed to approach the game:

He said: “We took them too lightly.

“They might be a young team, but they were still able to force us into 17 turnovers.

“That’s unacceptable from an experienced squad like ours.”

And Youngblood left no doubt about what has to happen in future games: “We have to play smarter and harder,” he said. “We were not physical enough – that will definitely change.”

For tickets and any further information, visit the website