Plymouth Raiders visited Leicester Riders on Friday night with a shorthanded squad looking to bounce back from their two home defeats last weekend to Glasgow and Sheffield.
Forward Joonas Järveläinen, currently averaging 19.5 points per game in the BBL Championship this season, starting point guard Josh Wilcher, and backup point guard Declan Soukup all missed the game through injury, resulting in the visitors only having eight active players against the current champions.
The game started slow and after three minutes, Raiders held the lead 4 – 6. Riders went on a 12 – 0 run to open up a double digit lead but a basket from Donte Nicholas and two from Shawn Shelton kept Raiders in touching distance before Riders scored another two points to close the quarter in front, 18 – 12.
Riders started the second period as the stronger team, regaining their double digit lead before three pointers from Devontavius Payne and Tola Okiki brought the score back to 26 – 22. Both teams traded baskets, and following six points in five minutes from guard Denzel Ubiaro, Raiders edged in front with a minute to play and led 38 – 40 after 20 minutes taking the quarter 20 – 28.
The second half started with Rashad Hassan scoring four points to stretch the lead to six, however Leicester pulled the game back and tied the score with six and a half minutes to go in the quarter. A 20 – 13 stint in favour of the home side, saw Leicester lead, 67 – 60 with ten minutes to play.
Raiders struggled in the final period, scoring just six points in the first six minutes whilst the home side notched up 17 points in the same time. In no time at all, the Riders lead had ballooned to 20 points, 86 – 66 with three minutes remaining. Six points from Hassan and five from Payne closed out the game for the Raiders, but the home side ran out winners with a final score of 86 – 77.
Hassan top scored for the Raiders with 24, whilst Nicholas had 20 and Payne 13. All players got on the scoresheet for the Raiders with Ubiaro scoring six, captain Zak Wells had four as did Shelton and Okiki and Josh Palmer had three apiece.
Raiders have a two week break now before they return to the Plymouth Pavilions on Sunday 9th December for the start of a five game streak of home games. Cheshire Phoenix will be first to visit (9th, 15:00 tip) before new to the league London City Royals (16th, 15:00 tip), Surrey Scorchers (28th, 19:30 tip), Bristol Flyers in the Trophy (30th, 15:00 tip) and Newcastle Eagles in the New Year (6th January, 15:00 tip). Tickets for the games can be bought online from https://www.theticketstore.co.uk