There is a great buzz around the Riders, says Rowe of new home
ANTHONY ROWE says he has been welcomed with open arms by new club Leicester Riders.
Rowe, 27, stunningly left Marjon Plymouth Raiders on Friday and joined BBL title rivals and early leaders Riders.
The paperwork is still to formally go through on the deal, which meant Rowe was unable to make his Riders debut at the weekend.
But he is effectively now a Riders player, essentially ending an association with his hometown Raiders, which really began when he first broke out the then EBL club's junior ranks and onto the senior roster nine years ago in 2003/04.
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Rowe is set to return to Raiders in the league on Sunday, December 16 in what is sure to be a big and difficult day for him.
Rowe, who was essentially asked by Raiders to take a pay cut because of a knee injury which has kept him out for the last six months, said: "I am extremely excited to be playing at Leicester. The combination of a fresh start and joining a successful team is a fantastic opportunity for me."
Rowe, who could make his Riders debut at home to Durham Wildcats this Saturday, added: "I've only spent a few days with my new team-mates but you get a true sense that they are in it together. There seems to be a great buzz around the club and everyone has made me feel very welcome."
Riders coach Rob Paternostro said: "Anyone who has been around the BBL a while knows Anthony is a very well respected player, who brings a consistent game every night. He is a guy who has won a lot of games.
"I am really pleased with the variety in his game. I think Anthony can be a big addition to the Riders."
Rowe's bad luck in injuring left knee cartilage at the back end of last season has been tempered, cruelly, by his good fortune in Riders having a vacancy on their roster at the time he was in dispute with Raiders over his new contract.
The deal Rowe agreed with Raiders for 2012/13 became 'null and void' when he failed to regain full fitness by August 13.
Riders' rookie starting centre John Fraley, 24, flew home to the USA on November 8 to have season-ending surgery and repair a partially torn ACL in his knee suffered on October 21.
Rowe's addition makes Riders' core rotation 10-deep again.
"No one wishes injury on another player," said Rowe. "I hope John recovers speedily. I have heard great things about him on and off court."
Paternostro said: "When we heard Anthony might becoming available, we did not waste any time and got him up to train.
"In his brief time with us, we were impressed – both in terms of what he can do on the court and the other intangibles he can bring to this team."
Rowe, who can play power-forward or centre, added: "It's always difficult coming into a new team during the season, but the players and coach have made my transition smooth so far.
"I am more excited than nervous to be honest. I just have to establish a role on the team that best serves everyone."
Rowe, who became a married man for the first time this summer, will hope his transfer to Riders draws a line under what must have been an uncomfortable few weeks.
He said: "My mum always says things happen for a reason and after these events this season, I'm starting to be a firm believer of that."
Raiders chairman Bob Widdecombe could have shirked the issue in his programme notes at the weekend, but did not and explained: "We are sorry to see Anthony leave.
"After having paid for his (knee) operation this summer and having done everything we possibly could to help him with his recovery, we offered him a contract he turned down. We wish him well."
Riders general manager Russell Levenston, who hoped to tie up the deal at the weekend, said: "We have signed Anthony, but Plymouth raised an objection and have not released him. We will have to resolve that with the BBL and England Basketball this week. It is disappointing the objection was raised so late, but these things happen."