Giants 79-97 Gladiators
It was that time once again as the National Basketball Performance Centre welcomed back Giants fans and foes for another season of British Basketball League action. The Giants kicked off their campaign with some new faces up and down the roster like Jalen Harris, Nick Stampley, Austin Lawton and Darius McNeill. Giants fans would have also noticed a few returning faces too in the form of Nick Lewis and Legend Robertin as well as former adversaries Jamell Anderson and Evan Walshe.
Manchester started hot out of the gate, fast transition play caught Caledonia off guard early on which let the Giants break away with an early lead. Evan Walshe made the first basket of the new season and subsequently opened his account for the season as well. Jalen Harris followed suit and got his first points in the professional game from up close. Jamell Anderson picked up from where he left off when he last played for Manchester.
As the teams headed into the commercial break, the Giants were firmly in the driving seat. However, this was subject to change as a few fruitless possessions on offence allowed the Gladiators to bounce back and make up ground through the outside scoring on Fraser Malcolm and Prince Onwas as well as the interior makes from Ian Dubose and Fahro Alihodzic.
With the scores in Caledonia’s favour, Darius McNeill hit from the top of the key, beating the buzzer and also giving the Giants a 24-23 lead at the end of the first.
Jamell Anderson produced a step back three ball from the left wing hitting nothing but net to take the Giants lead from 1 to 4. Back to back makes from Patrick Whelan tied the game up at 29 a piece and from there both teams began to trade baskets back and forth. Despite the deadlock, Evan Walshe and Austin Lawton connected with the former lobbing it up to the latter who had to reach all the way back in a showcase of sheer athleticism to finish at the rim.
Gareth Murray’s men started to pull away as they stretched their lead to 6. This was met by a second quick release three ball from Darius McNeill who brought the Caledonia lead back to a single possession. Nick Lewis followed up with a three ball of his own, pulling up from deep.
Both teams headed into the locker rooms still inseparable as both teams were tied up at 45 apiece.
Quarter number 3 tipped off with a quick barrage from Caledonia to go up by 5. Jamell Anderson, Nick Stampley and Evan Walshe stamped out any possibility of a larger lead forming. Caledonia began to create multiple big leads throughout the 3rd quarter and even extended one of their runs to the biggest lead they had all night at 9 points.
Legend Robertin sent the National Basketball Performance Centre into a frenzy after catching a lob from Nick Lewis and baptising his opposite number. Despite this, the Gladiators did outscore the Giants by 6 in the quarter giving them the advantage late on in the bout.
The lead only grew for Caledonia in the 4th quarter. The Giants went scoreless for the first 5 minutes of the quarter whilst the Gladiators went on an unanswered 11-0 scoring run. Despite effort and hustle from the Giants nothing they were doing play call wise on the offensive end was getting through the Caledonia defence. The Giants finally addressed their scoring problems this quarter with a free throw from Jalen Harris followed up by back to back makes from Evan Walshe. Manchester began to put points on the board in the latter stages of the 4th however it would prove to be too little too late as Caledonia went from their biggest lead being 9 point to ending with an 18 point lead.
Patrick Whelan led all scorers tonight with 23 points followed up by Evan Walshe and Jamell Anderson with 17 each.
Head Coach Brian Semonian said: “ Disappointing outcome tonight, especially with the fast start we had. Going into halftime I thought we were right where we needed to be to win the game so I am disappointed with the outcome".
Next game sees the Manchester Giants take on the London Lions on Saturday 23rd September. Tickets are available on the website. Tip off is at 8pm.
Highlights of tonight's fixture are below: