The Giants welcomed the USA select A team to the National Basketball Performance Centre, kicking off their pre-season fixtures before the start of the BBL Cup in late September. Today’s game saw the debuts of four team GB internationals as Will Saunders, Dan Clark, Jamell Anderson, and Josh Steel took to the court in a Giants Jersey for the first time. We also saw the return of Bolton native Kingsley Nwagboso after 7 years away in America and Europe. 

It was a tightly contested affair all the way through with no team taking authority over the game and initiating a big lead with only a few possessions separating the two. 

The first quarter saw the most energetic and physical displays as both teams battled back and forth from early supremacy over the game. The Giants ended up the victors as the opening 10 minutes ended 22-18 with Debutant Josh Steel leading the scoring with 9.

The two teams battled on throughout the second and third quarters with USA select taking a 6 point lead halfway through the second. A combination of a Will Saunders three, a Jordan Whelan layup managed to bring the Giants within touching distance, and then a Jamell Anderson dunk re-established the lead and control of the game. 

The Giants lead was further extended throughout the third as the Giants inside play proved to be the main factor as the big men Dan Clark and Kingsley Nwagboso proved to be a decisive factor in the third quarter and throughout the entirety of the second half. Combining for a total of 16 points down low and 20 in total between the two of them who were also pivotal in the rebounding for the Giants both finishing in double digits with 10 and 14 rebounds respectively. 

Head Coach Lloyd Gardner added ”Today was positive,and it’s early season, we’re integrating a lot of new faces and still missing some. We’ve been working hard in practice. The focus was to hold ourselves accountable for what we’ve practiced so far and I thought we did a good job of that. Also offensively I thought we shared the ball well and moved really nicely.” 

Overall the game ended in a Giants win 79-64 with the new recruits taking charge over the whole ordeal. Now we look forward to the start of the BBL competitive season as the Manchester Giants travel to play the Cheshire Phoenix on September 26th at the Cheshire Oaks Arena. 

Words – Michael Blain

Photo – AllSportsPhotography