Basketball: Leicester Riders three games from first-ever title
Leicester Riders are closing in on their first-ever League title in the top flight, with just three wins need from their final seven games to be sure of the BBL Championship.
The Jelson Homes DMU- backed Riders are now eight points clear of the champions, Newcastle Eagles, after their stunning home win over the Eagles on Wednesday night.
That result means Riders' head-to-head between the clubs is better and that would be the decider for the title, if they were to finish tied on points.
So that means Riders are effectively give games clear of Eagles, with each team having seven games left, including a mouth-watering Sky TV game between these two sides on the last day of the regular season - Sunday, April 7, at Loughborough University.
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Therefore, for the Riders to win their first top flight title, they need to win 27 games in total, unless Eagles lose, which means that any combination of three Riders wins or Eagles losses from the 13 games left for the two teams means Riders will be champions.
A title has been a long time coming. Riders were formed at Loughborough University in 1967 by a number of students and lecturers, and were founders members of the National League when it was formed in 1972.
They had two years out of the of the league before re-entering in the Second Division in the 1981/82 season, and winning that undefeated. They have been in the top flight ever since and were founders members of the BBL, when it was formed in 1987. So 38 seasons in the top flight, and honing in on this first league title.
Riders could be champions as soon as Sunday, but that would mean Newcastle losing, which is pretty unlikely because Durham have never beaten the Eagles in eight attempts and Mersey have yet to win a game this season. A much trickier tie for the Eagles is an away game at a resurgent Worcester next Tuesday.
A more likelier scenario is Riders looking to clinch in the last weekend of March.
But Riders coach Rob Paternostro wants the Riders to keep their destiny in their own hands and refuses to write off Newcastle chances.
He said: "It is never over until it is over, and we know from Wednesday night the Eagles remain a top side and will battle to the death.
"We have to take each game as it comes and forget all about them – until April 7. This season has been very tough with the fixture pile-up and we are nursing a few injuries. Zaire Taylor and Pavol Losonsky were magnificent against Newcastle considering the fact both were carrying injuries.
"So we will focus on Glasgow, and know what a great side they are. They pushed us close twice at their place, so we have to be totally focused. But I do like the position we are in – you always do when your destiny is in your own hands."
Riders play Glasgow Rocks this Saturday at the John Sandford Centre (7:30pm), before heading to Manchester Sunday afternoon.