Basketball: One more giant leap will put seal on a terrific year for Riders
Leicester Riders stand on the brink of a remarkable record tonight when they host Manchester Giants at John Sandford Sports Centre (7.30).
Riders have not lost at home since February 25 last year and, with no home game next weekend, victory tonight will ensure they complete a calendar year unbeaten in front of their own fans.
Even the invincible Division Two side of 1981-82 did not manage such a long streak.
The current Riders squad, who continued their amazing run last weekend with a 77-54 win against Sheffield Sharks at Loughborough, have already won twice as many consecutive home games (22) as the previous club record.
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"The support that we've had has been tremendous, the atmosphere created at our place is a big factor," said coach Rob Paternostro, whose side are also in action tomorrow when they travel to Cheshire Phoenix.
"We've have a good team during the last two seasons and they have been able to produce some good performances at home.
"It's a good time to be a Riders supporter. To be able go to home games for a year and walk out of there happy every time is pretty remarkably.
"We take it one game at a time and don't get caught up in that, but it would be a nice milestone to reach."
The Giants are in the midst of a five-way battle for two play-off places and, in recent weeks, put a significant dent in Surrey's title charge by beating them home and away.
They also pushed Riders close in their last meeting in November and have since added Great Britain international Nick George.
"They've been a competitive team whose record could look a lot different with a little bit of luck," said Paternostro.
"They've got a lot of talented players and they also have a lot of experience in the BBL. Watching them during the last month or so, they seem to be in their best form of the season.
"They have some depth and different options and ways to play.
"The addition of George helps them with their versatility and it lengthens their rotation."
Jelson Homes DMU-backed Riders travel to Cheshire tomorrow (5.30) to take on a Phoenix side who gave them two tough games early in the season, including one which went to overtime.
"We haven't played them since October, but they were difficult to break down," said Paternostro
"We feel like we're much improved since then, but I'm sure they are as well.
"Sunday night on the road in Cheshire is always a tough game, and you have to be focused and play well to win."
Riders: Okoro, Couisnard, Stewart, Sullivan, Calvo, Hopkins, Taylor, Anderson, Washington, Lamble, Haggith, Gould, Dawes, Maynard, Losonsky, Rowe.
Giants: George, C Jones, Purcell, Gill, Bailey, Schall, Watts, J Jones, Griffiths, Aliu, Bernard, Slater, Eaves.
Phoenix: Thomson, Myers, Lloyd, Thomas, Haskins, Pearce, Marks, Jones, Gumbs, Tahouri, Bland.