The Leicester Riders are through to the BBL Championship semi-finals after securing a victory in their quarter final match against Cheshire Phoenix. The game was cut short 7 minutes and 32 seconds from the end due to Cheshire forward Victor Moses falling victim to a broken ankle that was so serious the players and crowd could see the extend of the damage.
The match was delayed by half an hour as paramedics were called to the court at Loughborough University which led to both teams deciding that they did not want to carry on with the match after witnessing the agony Moses was in. This led to the final result of the Riders winning 77-56 with a 33-point aggregate victory by 165-132.
Cheshire got off to a flying start by scoring the first six points of the match which resulted in the Rider’s aggregate lead being halved. However, Anthony Downing helped bring Cheshire’s six point lead down to just a mere point by the midpoint of the first quarter, and although Rashad Hassan encountered an early foul, Barry Lamble and Jay Couisnard helped ensure that the Riders began moving ahead with the points.
By the end of the second half Cheshire were behind by 15 after Cousinard secured 10 rebounds and gave out six assists before half time was called. However, during the second half Cheshire came back into the match with a new gusto which must have been sparked by the realisation that their place in the semi-finals was slipping away as they secured 15 of the first 19 points scored in the third quarter which dramatically reduced the gap between them and Leicester.
However, Cousinard responded to the pressure and snatched the game away from Cheshire with a three point play and two three-pointers in just a minute which made the score 61-46.
Couisnard, though, took the game away from them with a three-point play and two three-pointers in the space of a minute to make it 61-46.
Leicester continued pulling away from Cheshire with the result being 73-50 before Moses sustained his injury which saw him receive a standing ovation from the crowd as he left the court on a stretcher.
Speaking to Pukaar News after the match, the Leicester Riders Head Coach Rob Paternostro said of Moses’ injury that ‘’You don’t see too many of those, that was tough. It’s always real depressing, not just for his team mates, for any of the players on the court to see a player go down like that in that kind of pain, especially such a good kid and good player as Victor’’. When asked about the decision to end the match following Moses’ injury the head coach said ‘’They definitely didn’t want to play and we respect that decision’’.
However, the Leicester coach believed, despite Moses’ injury that it was a good match saying ‘’Sometimes when you come in with a 12 point lead you get a little concerned about the intensity but I thought the intensity was there from start to finish. I really enjoyed the way we competed’’
Now, the Leicester Riders look ahead to Thursday where they play against Newcastle at Loughborough University in the semi-finals of the BBL, and Mr Paternostro recognises that ‘’it will be a tough match up, and we know that if we want to advance we’re going to have to play really well’’.