Giants 71-97 Flyers
The Manchester Giants got their BBL Playoff campaign underway on Thursday night at the National Basketball Performance Centre, going down 71-97 in Game 1 to the Bristol Flyers.
14-, 15- and 16-point games respectively for Tajh Green,Rahmon Fletcher and William Lee were not enough to beat a competitive Flyers side who got the better of the hosts in the second half.
Coach Andreas Kapoulas’ men were led by the electric shooting of Tevin Ollison, who drained an outstanding 7-10 from beyond the arcon his way to a game-high and career high 29-points.
Valuable contributions also came from the supporting cast of VJ King and Malcolm Delpeche, who had 15 and 16 points each respectively.
A two-handed jam by Green at one end of the court was immediately backed up with an emphatic block by Lee on the following defensiveset as the Giants laid down the mission statement early doors.
But it was far from one-way traffic – Flyers forward Thomas Bell III added seven quick-fire first quarter points in the opening five minutes before he was called to the bench after picking up his second personal foul.
A powerful and-one layup by King, who converted the resulting free throw with ease to reach seven points of his own, was to be the last score of a scintillating quarter of basketball that ended with the Giants five points to the good at 23-18.
The second was to be a comparatively cagey affair, with both sides rotating their starters and subsequently struggling to build scoring runs.
It took all the playoff experience of former Leicester Riders big Lee to steady the ship for the Giants, and his 16 first-half points on 7-10 shooting were a key factor in the hosts managing to hold onto a narrow two-point lead at the break despite a string of turnovers, with the scores sat at40-38.
Straight out of the interval, the visitors had their moment to heat up and scored ten unanswered points to shoot ahead into an eight-point lead.
Team captain and former BBL MVP Fletcher ended the run with a tough layup driving to the basket - but the Flyers kept running it back at the men in green, and the 16 third-quarter points of Tevin Olison propelled the visitors into a commanding 16 point lead.
The final quarter got underway with makes in the paint from Anthony Roberson and from downtown by Dirk Williams leading the Giants fightback.
With just over three minutes to play, another Olison triple effectively iced the game, putting the Flyers 19 points to the good.
It was the Youngstown State University alumnus who would have the final say in the BBL Playoffs opener, draining a three off one leg to beat the full time buzzer to leave the Giants with a mountain to climb when they travel to the South West for Game 2 on Sunday.
Coach Vince Macaulay’s men will have faith they can claim a monumental result on the road, but they will have to improve their free throw and three point percentages if they are to do so – they shot just 46% and 18%respectively on the night.
A tough loss to take, but this is only half time in the tie.
The highlights for the home leg of the playoffs are available to view below: