Basketball: Riders determined to banish that strange smell of defeat
Leicester Riders travel to Manchester Giants tonight (7.30) looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season.
The Jelson Homes DMU-backed Riders lost their first match in nine BBL games when they suffered an 81-74 reverse at Surrey Heat last Sunday.
The atmosphere in training this week has certainly changed as a result of that defeat, according to coach Rob Paternostro.
Ahead of tonight's match, which is televised on Sky, he said: "It was definitely different. Since we came together in pre-season, we've not had a defeat, so it was a new feeling this week and not one we much liked.
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"It was always going to come sooner or later, we never thought it would go on forever, but we were disappointed to have lost at Surrey because, when you are undefeated and you go into the fourth quarter with a lead, you expect to be able to get it done.
"We've had a tough schedule, this weekend will be our fourth double-header, so we were a little fatigued, but we still felt we could have won that game.
"That being said, if you'd offered me 8-1 and joint top of the table after nine games, I would have definitely taken it."
Giants are a famous name in British basketball, although the current incarnation has no connection to the old club and it has been more than a decade since the city has had representation at the top table.
Coach Jeff Jones, who as a player and coach has been linked to basketball in Manchester for almost 40 years, has assembled a squad made up largely of local talent who he taught to play the game as young players.
Paternostro believes that adds a different dynamic to that team.
"Normally, when you get a team coming into the league, it can take a while for them to find their feet," he said.
"But they've a lot of players who've played in the BBL for a while and some who've been on very successful teams, so that is definitely a boost for them.
"And they all know Jeff and how he likes to play, so it has really helped them to hit the ground running."
With 237 three-point attempts in their first nine games, only Worcester have attempted more long-range efforts than Manchester, and this reliance on the long-ball is perhaps part of the reason for their inconsistency, which has seen them lose six of their nine games.
Giants: Williams, Gill, Bailey, Schall, Minister, Watts, J Jones, C Jones, Griffiths, Aliu, Bernard, Slater, Eaves.
Riders: Okoro, Couisnard, Stewart, Sullivan, Calvo, Hopkins, Taylor, Anderson, Washington, Lamble, Haggith, Gould, Dawes, Maynard, Losonsky.