LEICESTER Riders coach Rob Paternostro has praised Sheffield Sharks boss Atiba Lyons after the two teams met for the second time in four days on Wednesday night.
Sharks beat Riders 71-69 in the final of the BBL Trophy on Saturday in Glasgow but the BBL Championship leading Riders gained swift revenge on Wednesday with a 85-63 victory at the EIS to move two points clear of Newcastle Eagles in second place.
Paternostro said although he was disappointed the Trophy final was settled from the free throw line by BJ Holmes with ten seconds to play it didn’t take away his respect for the job that Lyons has done.
He said: “My disappointment Saturday was about the call at the end. It’s tough to take because we feel like it’s still 69-69.
“But as I said to Atiba before the match (Wednesday night) whatever I say about that call at the end shouldn’t take away from the job he did and the job he’s done to get this team where they were playing in the final.
“I know earlier in the season he was taking some heat from some of the fans and I always thought that was ridiculous because he’s done it before in this league and he understands this league.
“Sometimes things don’t go well. It’s all about each individual year; sometimes you get things going and sometimes you don’t.
“I think he’s done a great job to get them in a position to win that game.
“They have a lot of talent. If you look at their starting five especially, they have a lot of guys who have played well at a lot of different levels.
“There was no complacency from us going into the game, we were concerned. We didn’t play well on the day but like I say we still think it’s 69-69.”
Paternostro, who has already led his team to BBL Cup success this season, said he and Lyons get on well: “I’ve had a good relationship with him for a long time and I’ve always thought he understands the league, he understands how to get things done and you can see that from his past successes.
“I don’t think for any of us it is going to be perfect. We’re all dealing with different types of budgets year-in year-out.
“It’s difficult to have a great season every year. There’s no question in my mind that he knows the league and he’s had success in this league.”
The Riders appear favourites to hold off Newcastle for the Championship but a tough run of fixtures in March and early April await them.
Paternostro said: “Our schedule is to put it mildly hectic. We play four in seven days. My main concern is our health.
“It’s important we stay healthy. It’s a little unfortunate that we play a certain way with the schedule and then the last three weeks is a totally different schedule.
“I know teams have had to deal with in the past, and with that been said we’ve been very consistent this season.
“We believe in ourselves. The good thing is that if we do have a bad performance the guys come in the next day and as you can see we improved a lot from Saturday.”