Up until last weekend, 25th February 2012 was a date firmly etched into the minds of Leicester Riders fans.
That evening’s 79-89 loss to Glasgow Rocks preceded an incredible 21-month run, which would see the Riders go on undefeated in the BBL Championship at the John Sandford Sports Centre, making British basketball history in the process.
However, that run came to an end last Saturday evening as Worcester Wolves capitalised on a disappointing performance from Leicester on offense, mixed with a high number of turnovers, to condemn the Riders to a 62-69 defeat.
Unsurprisingly, there were number of despondent faces departing the John Sandford Sports Centre following the game’s final buzzer.
Despite sharing the disappointment of his players, Riders head coach Rob Paternostro, speaking after the game on Saturday, was pleased with his side’s defensive performance against a Worcester team that he fully gives credit to following their win.
“Tip your hat to them. They made the shots with tough pressure defence all over them. Alex Owumi, Zaire Taylor, Will Creekmore – they all made shots and our guys didn’t,” he said following the game.
“You look up at the scoreboard and they got 69 points and to be able to hold teams to under 60 points isn’t going to happen all the time in this league. I thought we played good enough defence tonight to get the win. We had the foul at the end which gave them a few buckets, but it was a strong defensive performance from our team. Offensively, our guys couldn’t make plays.
“We competed, but it is hard to take positives from this one,” Paternostro admitted.
“The 16 turnovers were killers. We turned the ball over 16 times against a team that really wasn’t pressuring us, so a lot of them were unforced. When you turn the ball over that amount of times and shoot a low field-goal percentage, you’re going to end up with 62 points.”
Following such an incredible run of results, it’s impossible not to acknowledge the end of Riders’ 21-month home winning streak in the league and, whilst disappointed, Paternostro is keen to highlight the record achieved in the first instance, as opposed to its conclusion.
“Nobody really ever talked about winning streaks or anything like that, but when you look back it is pretty remarkable to go that long and not lose a game in the league at home,” he said. “The way that the league is set up though, it’s going to happen and it’s unfortunate because usually we’re able to walk out of here with a little smile on our face. Tonight is a little different.
“Give Worcester credit, they’ve got a good team, a team that’s won here and in Newcastle now, so I think that the league is set up very nicely for some really good games as the season progresses and I think it’s going to be fun for fans up and down the country, because there are a lot of teams in the mix,” Paternostro concluded.