Schmidt and Paternostro present Lions-Riders showdown Sky Sports

How lucky are we to have two of the BBL Championship favorites going head-to-head LIVE on Sky Sports in the second weekend of the season!?

The London Lions and Leicester Riders will take the floor at the Copper Box Arena tonight for a tip at 7.45pm, live on Sky Sports Arena and YouTube, in a rematch of the season’s incredible BBL play-off final last at 02 London. Arena.

Ahead of this titanic showdown, we sat down with the two head coaches, London’s Ryan Schmidt and Leicester’s Rob Paternostro, to get their thoughts on the game.

“I have the utmost respect for Rob.” said Schmidt. “To be able to see up close last year how well his team performed both offensively and defensively, he did an incredible job and he made this group play remarkably well as a team.

“Losing Geno (Crandall) is obviously a huge loss for them as an individual, but when you look at them collectively as a unit, their strength and quality is still there in abundance. It’s just a very, very good team. basketball in its simplest terms.

“We know we’re going to have a really, really tough game. They won three trophies last year and beat us in the play-off final, so they’re the team everyone wants to beat, and we know that every time we play them we’re going to fight.

“It will certainly be a real challenge for anyone who comes up against them.”

Paternostro’s Riders became a dynasty of success in the BBL during his time in charge of the Midlands club, but the Lions in their current form pose arguably the biggest threat to that dynasty as London have built up a swarming roster of elite talent everywhere. the world.

Seven-time Coach of the Year Paternostro assessed the challenge the Lions will pose alongside him and everyone else in the BBL this season, and discussed what impressed him about what he saw of the team so far.

“It’s clear they’ve put together a team geared towards top-level European competition. They needed to go out and recruit talent to meet this challenge and they certainly did. It’s an impressive roster, full of size and depth all over the floor and a powerful team.

“It’s still early in the season and you don’t really know how good a team can or will be in September despite who they have, but on paper at least during my time in the BBL I never saw a team that invested nowhere near that on players.

“I watched them in the first game against Sheffield and thought they played a very good professional game. Defensively they were impressive, their depth and stamina were excellent and it will certainly be a real challenge for anyone who will come up against them anytime this season.

“The success we can have depends on us and how we apply ourselves.”

Expectations will be unprecedented for the Lions, given the caliber of talent they have been able to attract to the capital, but Schmidt is delighted to see how his roster meets those expectations and details the work being done behind the scenes. to ensure that the team peaks at the right time.

“The challenge of having this target on our backs is one we face. Our success depends on us and how we apply ourselves, whether in the BBL or in Europe – we have to make sure we meet our standards every night and that we’re playing the right way.

“It’s a league full of talented teams, players and coaches, and if you don’t show up on any given night, you can get beat quite easily. We just have to look out for ourselves and my message to the team is just to make sure we play to our standards every time we step onto the pitch.

“I don’t know if I can determine when I expect to see the best of us, but it’s going to take time. These guys all came to the club from different situations, so they’re going to need time to adapt. We have to do it quickly, but we can’t move so fast that we miss or rush really important milestones in our development that are going to cost us in the end.

“I’m happy with the way we competed in pre-season and the form we’re in.”

On the eve of the game itself, the Riders made even more headlines by announcing further changes to their roster with CJ Jackson – Geno Crandall’s original replacement – moving on, being replaced by the former Duke and USC Guard Derryck Thornton.

Preparations for the new season may not have gone as smoothly as the Riders would have liked, but Paternostro discusses the elements of his team’s performance that pleased him as they head into their season opener at the Copper Box tonight.

“With everything that’s happened over the summer, I’m happy with how we competed in pre-season and the form we’re in. Defensively, we have been very good in every game. Even in the Basketball Champions League, we played a very good defense against a very good team.

“Offensively, we haven’t really participated in the races yet and we know it will take time. Missing Patrick Whelan throughout pre-season was tough and then CJ Jackson arrived with an injury and was out for most of pre-season (and has since left the club) so we’ll take a some time to get that side of the game where we want it.

“We had chances against Voluntari, for example, and we should have scored a lot more than we did – the ball was moving well, but we should have produced a better finished product. It’s early though, we we have time and it’s a long season.

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