The 2022/23 BBL Season is in full swing this past Friday night as the Bristol Flyers hosted the new look Manchester Giants in an action packed, high intensity end to end game that had fans on the edge of their seats and set precedent for the BBL Championship fixtures to come.
Straight from the opening tip, the new look Manchester Giants were not messing about as Rahmon Fletcher gets on the end of a tip that Bristol intended for their own. Instead the 2x BBL MVP intercepted and finished at the rim to get tonight’s proceedings underway. The defensive displays were also on full display as William Lee soared high at the three point line to swat down the shot of Bristol’s Tevin Olison. A back and forth quarter ensued with little to separate the two teams as both teams traded basket after basket. The Giants led by as much as 4 points in the opening quarter. The Giants headed into the second quarter with a single point lead after a Tajh Green put back at the buzzer.
Nick Lewis regained the Giants lead after hitting a stepback three over the outstretched hand of his defender hitting nothing but net. William Lee provided the defensive solidity for the Giants with notching his third block of the game in the early moments of the second quarter as Vince Macaulay’s Giants went out for a 10-0 lead in the first few minutes of the quarter. William Lee becomes the first Giant to hit double digits points in the 2022/23 season after a putback slam as Tajh Green lays it up off the backboard. A 14 point lead gets downsized to 5 as the Giants lead the Flyers heading into the halftime break.
The Giants started as they meant to go on during the third quarter as Anthony Roberson opened up scoring as the former OKC Blue player stretched the Giants lead to 7. As the quarter progressed, the lead began miniscule once more as Manchester seemingly struggled to shake Bristol during the quarter as Bristol began a salvo of threes to reduce the lead and take their first lead of the game with little left in the quarter. With 41 seconds left, Bristol’s Watson-Gayle gave the southern BBL outfit their first lead which was furthered by Watson Gayle yet again seconds before the buzzer to give Bristol a two point lead.
Anthony Roberson quickly tied up the matchup as William Lee shook the SGS Sports Arena with a thunderous block. It became a mental game as the quarter progressed with end to end high octane action so late in the game with the prospect of victory the driving force to keep these teams going. The lead changed hands again midway through the quarter in favour of the Giants via a pair of free throws courtesy of William Lee. In typical fashion, the games between Manchester and Bristol went down to the wire and were only separated by a single point when all was said and done. Free throws from Delpeche and Miller of the Flyers were enough the stretch their lead beyond the Giants grasp.
Despite the surface level result tonight, there were a lot of standout performances from players. Four Giants finished in double digit scoring. William Lee led the way with 21 followed by Dirk Williams, Tajh Green and Rahmon Fletcher on 17,15 and 11 respectively. Lee also finished with 13 rebounds as well as 5 blocks. A monstrous performance. Rahmon Fletcher also started off the season with a double double as he managed to provide for his teammates on 11 separate occasions. The 2x BBL MVP also displayed his defensive prowess as he picked the pocket of Bristol players 4 times as well.
Head Coach Vince Macaulay said:
“I liked a lot of what we did, but we tired a little bit in the end and maybe didn’t rebound as well as we should have done. There were a couple of things that we could have fixed but I thought that we were unlucky with a few blocks that were called against us and that jump ball at the end completely ruined the game for us but I’m happy with the effort we gave, one point last year on the road we can build on that”.
Manchester Giants basketball doesn’t stop here as the Giants are at home for their next game on Sunday 25th September as they face their Trans-Pennine rivals the Sheffield Sharks. Tip off is at 7:30PM at the National Basketball Performance Centre.
Photo: Julia Summers