By Jamie Thomas
In case you missed it – although we don’t know how you could! – after 14 epic years with the Leicester Riders and surely many more to come, Rob Paternostro has been awarded a testimonial by the club this weekend (Saturday, 6pm) at the Morningside Arena.
One of the most successful head coaches in BBL history, Paternostro has guided the Riders to 16 titles during his time at the club and is on a historic streak of Championship success, having won five of the last six. securities. We caught up with the legendary play-caller ahead of this weekend’s show.
“I can’t wait for so many reasons. It will be a great night to hang out with the fans who have been so loyal over the years and it will be fantastic to see the friends and the talent that we have in what will be definitely a great game.
“This weekend is really going to be special because this work is about the relationships you build and in a game like this you can really celebrate and reflect on those relationships and enjoy it.
“To have been told all those years ago when I started here that I would be given an evening like this would have been a surprise to me. I never thought something like this would happen to me and it’s still kind of surreal to see all these names coming back from all over the world to be a part of this and I’m so lucky to have this experience to come to an end week.”
“Saturday provides an opportunity to celebrate it all.”
Paternostro certainly had his fair share of highlights while in the Riders’ hot seat, and the day before his testimony provided the perfect opportunity to reflect on those memories and moments.
“That first year, being around all of our fans on and off the pitch, was when I realized how special this adventure could be if we got the train moving in the right direction like we’ve done it since, and there have been so many amazing memories and moments since then.
“Moving into our own arena was a hugely emotional night for so many people as we were all so proud to be able to bring this type of facility to the UK basketball community, but the first title we won in 2013 at Birmingham was probably the most emotionally overwhelming day.
“It was an opportunity for us to make people look at us and realize that we’re here and we’re a threat and we tried so hard to do everything we could to stay here. There was so many wonderful times, but the camaraderie with our team over the years is a favorite part of my job, and Saturday provides an opportunity to celebrate it all.
“There might be a few surprises to come.”
Star rosters have been announced for both Riders Legends teams, who will be coached by Paternostro – who says he’s 99.9% sure he won’t lace himself! – and the BBL All-Stars, who will be coached by B. Braun’s Sheffield Sharks boss Atiba Lyons.
While many testimonies are understandably seen as exhibition-type friendlies – given the lack of points or titles to play for – Paternostro is adamant that this match will be highly competitive between two teams laden with talent.
“It will be great to see so many friendly faces from years here at the Riders and some of our biggest opponents as well! I’ve stayed in touch with all of our former players, they’re all friends and I can’t wait to meet them. come back and soak up the experience.
“I wanted to have a great game, though, and with the opposition we’ve fielded, it’s definitely going to be a game everyone wants to see. It’ll be great for the nostalgia to see the Riders, but to be able to add spice to the game with current players, I think it will be a great game to watch!
“I’m sure the guys are going to bring it, there’s going to be a big crowd here and everyone will be pumped up by it. It’s going to be a great basketball game for the fans to take part in and there might be a few surprises before tomorrow. !”
“Going to Europe would be very special.”
Beyond the weekend, Paternostro and the Riders are still looking to evolve and we asked the head coach about his aspirations for next season after winning three titles in the 2021/22 campaign, in particular whether Leicester would do or not another foray into European competition. .
“We are still in the planning stages, but it certainly sounds positive, no doubt. We are waiting to see how things develop, but Russell Levenston and Kevin Routledge are doing a great job behind the scenes to see if we can make it happen and look to compete in Europe next season.
“In terms of the evolution of the club, of course, going to Europe would be very special, but my main objective is to make sure that we continue to put the best possible product on the pitch, whether we play at national level or in Europe. and that we bring players that people want to come and see.
“We want people to want to come and see Leicester Riders basketball and that’s our number one goal every summer, to do our best to build a team that can give the fans what they want.”