The Manchester Giants take the spoils from the first of four north west derbies as they extinguish Phoenix flame 104-82. 

 

The first sky sports game of the season at the National Basketball Performance Centre fell on this past Friday which saw Ben Thomas and his revamped Cheshire Phoenix team go toe to toe with Vince Macaulay and his new look Manchester Giants. Eagle eyed Giants fans might also see a few familiar faces in the form of former Giants Jamell Anderson and David Ulph as well as former Giants head coach Danny Bryne. 

Giants drew first blood in an opening quarter that had all the intensity and physicality a derby should have, both teams were not messing around keeping it close throughout the whole quarter, a single possession being the only thing to separate for most of the duration. Defence was a constant factor as both teams held each other to minimal points with suffocating press which even included a full court press at times. The level of intensity you’d expect from the first derby of the new BBL Season. Manchester began a dominant scoring run heading towards the end of the first quarter, points from up and down the roster resulting in a 18-7 scoring run in favour of the mancunian outfit. After a single Nick Lewis free throw, that was the First quarter in the books, the Giants led 29-22. 

A mixed start for the Giants on offence for the second quarter, some moments of individual brilliance coupled with moments of miscommunication with 4 turnovers in 4 minutes. The Cohesion issues began to subside though as the team began to work as a unit again in order to quell the Cheshire onslaught. Manchester’s neighbours began to close the gap between their rivals some cleverly executed plays coupled with suffocating defence -especially around the rim- solidified the Giants maintained a lead headed into the locker room, the Giants were up by 12 at the half time interval, leading 50-38. 

Tajh Green hits Cheshire with a sucker punch early on with 5 points on back to back possessions, Dirk Williams follows him up with a three of his own. Both rosters laid it all out on the floor this evening as they battled for every bit of possession, every rebound and every point. Cheshire kept trying to reduce the gap but must’ve felt like they were running on the spot as the Giants kept their lead and at points even began to extend it, Tajh Green scoring 11 points in the entirety of the quarter. Giants kept their lead and extended it to 18 overall. 

The Tajh Green masterclass continues as the NCAA starlet oozes class with his silky smooth play opening the quarter. His game was personified as the rookie found an open lane and with enough time to throw it off the backboard to himself, take off and hammer it home. Vince Macaulay’s team continued to bring the toughness on the defensive end as William Lee and Anthony Roberson both denied a phoenix at the rim. An 18 point lead soon became a 23 point lead which became insurmountable for the Phoenix despite showing heart throughout.  

A 30 point double double for high flying Giant Tajh Green, 31 points, 10 rebounds and a pair of steals shooting 78% from the field and 100% from three. Four more Giants got into double digit scoring with William Lee on 19 points, Anthony Roberson on 17 points, Dirk Williams on 16 points and Rahmon Fletcher on 12 points.

Head Coach Vince Macaulay said: ” Once we calm down and continue to execute, we’re able to spread the ball. When everybody gets a touch and everybody is scoring we’re very very tough to guard”.

Next up on the Giants calendar is the current BBL Championship, playoff and cup holders the Leicester Riders. The giants are at the Morningside Arena in Leicester for that one. Tip off is at 8:00PM and will be available to view on BBL Player 15 minutes before tip off on October 21st. 

Photo: Harry Collins