Match Report

Gladiators 106-97 Giants

Gladiators 106-97 Giants

The Manchester Giants traveled northwards to face the Caledonia Gladiators on Sunday afternoon, falling to a 106-97 defeat in a high-scoring affair at the Emirates Arena.

Despite the 26-point, 13-rebound performance of Rahmon Fletcher - as well as 41 combined points for Dirk Williams and Tajh Green - Vince Macaulay's men could not claim a win against their closest competitors for the fourth spot in the BBL table.

The game also saw the return of William Lee to the starting line-up, and the 6-foot-9 forward once again reminded fans of his quality with 10 points in just 19 minutes on the court.

Newly-crowned BBL Cup champions Caledonia showed no signs of rustiness early on in front of an enthusiastic Glaswegian crowd, with center Fahro Alihodzic’s dominance in the paint making for compelling viewing.

The Bosnian-born big man was a menace below the basket and poured in 18 points in the first half to lead his team’s scoring.

The hosts showcased the wealth of offensive talent that last weekend won them silverware for the first time in 20 years, with sharpshooter Princeton Onwas shooting an impressive 5/7 from beyond the arc.

But the Giants had come to play - and led by the 24 first-half points of former  BBL MVP and team captain Fletcher, they were just two points behind at half time with the scores at 54-52.

Fresh off a 25-point night on Friday against the Plymouth City Patriots, the Missouri-born guard poured in buckets from all parts of the court in what was a clinic from a player at the top of his game.

He went for an exceptional 10-13 from the field in the first half to keep Giants within close quarters of their opponents.

In an extremely fast-paced match-up and a fantastic advert for the quality of basketball in the British game, Fletcher had his double-double wrapped up midway through the third.

The Giants narrowly trailed the hosts in the penultimate quarter, keeping the scoring gap small through some key buckets from Anthony Roberson and Kofi Josephs, who had ten and six points on the night respectively.

But despite Dirk Williams catching fire in the fourth, finishing the night with 20 points off a healthy 50% field goal percentage, the visitors fell just short of the mark and could not halt the powerful inside play of Alihodzic.

He ended the game 29 points and 6 rebounds, leading the charge for the Scottish franchise in a victory that clinched the regular season series between the two sides 2-1.

Coach Macaulay’s team must now regroup and look ahead to their North West derby with Cheshire Phoenix, who visit the National Basketball Performance Centre on Friday 7 April.

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