It’s now back-to-back wins for the Manchester Giants – the first time that’s happened since January – after they won an all out defensive battle with the Sheffield Sharks 77-58 at the National Basketball Performance Centre. 

Right from the tip it was clear that we wouldn’t see the usual scorefest the Giants have so often been a part of this season, as both sides played aggressive defence from the get go. The Giants were the only team to score 20 points in a quarter all game (doing so in the 1st and 4th) as rebounds and steals were the flavour of the day instead of 3-pointers and dunks. The Sharks did their best to hang around all game by getting buckets at just the right time, but after giving up an 8-2 lead in the opening minutes, the visitors never led again. 

It was Sheffield’s ball handling throughout that really took the game away from them, as they recorded a massive 17 which led to 15 Manchester points as a result, as well as the Giants forcing 6 important steals that helped massively in securing a huge victory in the race for the 8th seed. 

After his season-high 36 points last weekend, Justin Satchell yet again showed out at home with 18pts and a huge 13 rebounds on 60% shooting. David Ulph gave it his all as per usual with 13pts and 12 rebs, with he and Satchell combining for over half of the Giants 42 rebounds on their own. Jordan Whelan and Donovan Johnson joined Satchell on 18pts as the three led the game in scoring, with the latter two hitting some important shots in the final quarter to help wrestle control of the game away from the Sharks. 

The Sharks had an off night from 3pt range – a usual strength of their game – as they hit just 25% of their shots (7/28) from beyond the arc. That unusually poor form led to just two players scoring double-digit points totals, with Bennett Koch getting 16pts and 10rebs from the bench and Jordan Ratinho scoring 15. It’s a testament to the Giants’ defensive game plan that Ratinho was limited to just 4pts in the final 3 quarters after scoring 11 in the first.

‘’No surprises for us. If we play on the defensive end we’re gonna be competitive. I thought for patches against Newcastle we did the same thing and it capped off a good weekend for us. We took some momentum from the Newcastle game. Hopefully, we can keep improving game by game.’’ Said Head Coach Lloyd Gardner 

After the best double header for a long time, the Giants have renewed hope of sneaking into that last postseason spot, and with their next 3 fixtures being against Glasgow, Surrey and Bristol, they may have finally found form at exactly the right time. 

 

Words- Jordan Morris

Photo – Harry Collins