Washington shines bright as Riders stay in the hunt

Conner Washington is in excellent form for the Leicester Riders
Conner Washington is in excellent form for the Leicester Riders

Bedford-born basketball star Conner Washington continues to impress for Leicester Riders as they remain on course for a tight climax to the British Basketball League.

The Riders beat Cheshire Phoenix on Saturday, before point-guard Washington scored 22 points in a victory against Durham Wildcats on Sunday to keep up the pressure on league leaders Newcastle Eagles who were beaten on Friday night.

The Bedford ace is widely regarded as one of Britain’s hottest talents, having trained with the Great Britain side for the first time last summer.

The 22 points on Sunday were his season-high as the Riders ran out 101-67 winners on the road.

“It was a great defensive performance by us,” explained Washington. “Especially after playing the night before but that’s what is so great about our team.

“Every single player is ready and can step up whenever they are called upon. It was very enjoyable game for me to play in, scoring a season high of 22.

“The most enjoyable part for me is when we play full out team defence; everything else just flows such much more, everyone gets a touch of the ball and we zip the ball around picking defences apart.”

Riders are in the middle of their season run-in, with 10 games in 21 days before the playoffs – largely due to reaching the British Basketball League Trophy final last month.

Washington knows these games are vital and is relishing the busy schedule.

“The reason we have so many games in a short space of time is because we have worked hard performed well,” he said.

“The way Rob (Paternostro) gets us fired up, and our general character as a team, revels in the danger of having a lot of games in quick succession to close out the season.”

“There has been sell-out crowds through the season at home and British basketball is buzzing at the moment.”

Washington rew up in Bedford and was spotted playing street basketball as a youth. He joined Milton Keynes Lions before going to America to play in the NCAA Div 2 in Missouri.

He joined the Leicester Riders in 2012, where he has won four major trophies.