Eagles 92 - 97 Giants
The Manchester Giants maintained their perfect record this season against the most decorated club in BBL history, as they made it three wins from three against the Newcastle Eagles in a confident 92-97 showing on the road.
Rahmon Fletcher returned once more to the North East club where he spent seven years and became a legend of British basketball – and for a second time this season left the Toon with the spoils.
In front of a sellout crowd of the Vertu Motors Arena, Vince Macaulay’s men put together an assured offensive performance, led by the 27-point, eight-rebound performance of William Lee on 84% field goal percentage.
However, it was the Tyneside outfit who started the brighter of the two teams, closing the first quarter with a twelve-point lead as the Giants struggled to find a consistent offensive rhythm.
Marc Steutel’s men kept the BBL’s most prolific offence mostly in check in the early exchanges, despite Dirk Williams draining a trio of triples in the opening ten minutes.But a slick Callum Jones dime to William Lee to flush the basketball home in the opening minute of the second, followed by a perfect pair of free throws for paint protector Lee indicated a change in fortunes for the visitors.
A fast-break layup for Fletcher against his former team cut the Eagles’ lead to just two as coach Steutel called timeout with 6:21 to play in the second.And the Giants - playing in their yellow outfits tonight - continued to heat up through an Anthony Roberson triple that gave them their first lead of the game at 32-33.
There were a further four lead changes before half-time as the two sides showcased their range of offensive talent, with Eagles starters Hasahn French and Justin Gordon adding 15 and 14 points respectively by the break.At the half-time buzzer, Giants were just in front at 48-50 on the back of 15 points from Lee - who had a perfect record of six-from-six field goals at the interval.
A breathless third quarter was to follow as the Giants offence grew wings and took off with Lee and Williams letting it fly from all parts of the court – the latter adding another three threes on his way to a 28-point performance and a total of six three-pointers made from just nine attempts.
And an emphatic dunk on the fast-break by Tajh Green – who had a comparatively quiet night with just ten points – put the exclamation point on a blowout win for coach Macaulay’s men.
Four missed threes in a row by the Eagles were indicative of the frustration Coach Steutel will have felt at his side’s performance, as despite a monstrous all-around performance by French, who ended the game with 19 points and 18 rebounds alongside three blocks, they could not get the job done in front of their home crowd.A fourth-quarter fightback by the hosts narrowed the final score to 92-97 with the Eagles having been down by 20 with seven and a half minutes to play – but it was not enough to overturn an assertive Giants lead.
The Giants victory sees them head into Sunday’s North-West derby against the Cheshire Phoenix in the best possible way – and they will be rearing to put right their narrow four-point loss to their local rivals last time out.
Head Coach Vince Macaulay said: " Delighted to get another road win as that’s something we’ve targeted, if we can pick that up it’ll help our standings". "I was so happy that our bench came through and actually increased the lead and laid the foundations for that win, Will with an incredible efficiency and when Dirk goes off like that, it’s frightening".