The Manchester Giants suffer a heart-breaking loss after an overtime thriller against the Newcastle Eagles 113-111. 

Lloyd Gardner’s men were back in action tonight as they faced off against Ian McLeod’s Newcastle Eagles in their 5th meeting of the season. Manchester had the upper hand in their meetings this season. 

1st quarter action sees a backdoor cut from Jamell Anderson was seen and found by Dan Clark for an easy basket and both teams were underway. The first quarter was an end to end affair with baskets falling on nearly every possession, more specifically players getting to the basket and making some tough and physical layups. This physical and smash-mouth level of play took its toll however as Jordan Whelan landed awkwardly and had to check out early in the game. The Giants found themselves behind by a sizable margin but managed to claw the lead back from the Eagles through more tough layups and shooting free throws when they ultimately drew the foul from the lay up on the inside. The Newcastle Eagles took the quarter 29-23 with more basketball to play.

Manchester continued their offensive barrage on the inside, consistently getting to the line for free throws to further cut the margin down. A few missed shots and turnovers on multiple possessions led to Newcastle extending their lead by as much as 15 midway through the quarter. An offensive barrage led by The Magic Man Tyrik Armstrong who showed off some razzle dazzle contributing on the offensive and the defensive side of the ball to once again claw the lead to a sizeable within reaching distance. The free throws continued to pile on even into the dying seconds of the quarter as Will Saunders took a three with 1.4 seconds left, got fouled by Darius Defoe and then went and made three from the line. With 107 points scored in the first half, the Eagles lead the Giants 57-50. 

A comfortable midrange jumper from Tyrik Armstrong kicked off the Giants 3rd quarter with them looking to take the lead and assert their presence in this game. Tyrik Armstrong, Jamell Anderson and Dan Clark carried the offensive load for the Giants in this quarter as they combined for 15 points to take the Giants past the Eagles and in the driver’s seat for the first time in this game. It once again became a game of runs and momentum for both teams which saw the Eagles once again regain the lead 79-75. The Giants still well and truly in this game. 

We enter the final quarter with all to play for in this game. With a hopeful look on the quarter the game looked within Manchester’s grasp, a scoreless 4 minutes from Manchester it looked bleak but after some concise and accurate passes, efficient screens for open looks under the basket and two significant threes, the Giants brought the lead back to a single possession with a minute and 30 seconds left. After a well placed timeout, Geno Artison tied the game from close range for Rahmon Fletcher to make two from the line and put the Eagles ahead by 2 once again. Tyrik Armstrong takes it down the throat of the Eagles defence and equalizes the score at 98 a piece with 21 seconds left. After a close miss from Fletcher, both teams head into overtime. 

Overtime tipped off with both teams going blow for blow basket for basket with the lead constantly changing hands and free throws still proved to be a deciding factor in this game alongside mistakes from both teams to keep the scores close to each other. Constant foul calls from the Giants allowed the Eagles to get some more breathing room in the game which proved to ultimately be the downfall of the Giants. 

Head Coach Lloyd Gardner said:I thought the second half we battled, I was pleased with the effort in the second half. Reality is we allowed the opposition to score 57 points in the first half which is always going to make it difficult. We have to look at ourselves for that, were disappointed in that first half performance we dug ourselves a hole.

Tyrik Armstrong had an exceptional scoring night tonight after he scored a jaw dropping 40 points and 8 assists a near double double. Dan Clark on the other hand managed to notch another double double with 19 points and 13 rebounds. The GB captain also had 6 assists to his name tonight.  

Manchester’s next game sees them in the BBL Cup final against the Leicester Riders at the Utilita Arena in Birmingham on January 30th.

Words – Michael Blain

Photo – Abbie Orwin