Manchester Giants steal a victory in the latest North West Derby as they extinguish the Cheshire Phoenix flame 80-76 in a regular season sweep. 

After the Christmas break, The Manchester Giants were back in action tonight against Ben Thomas and his Cheshire Phoenix in the North West Derby. 

We started tonight off with an astounding defensive effort from Dan Clark as he denies Phoenix forward Noah Dickerson. Defence turns into offense as The Giants go and open the scoring through lovely ball movement to find Jamell Anderson on his return for the opening basket. Offensive output continued at an optimum as the Giants scored 8 unanswered points in the first 2 minutes via a pair of threes, 1 from Dan Clark and 1 from Geno Artison. Namon Wright and Teddy Okereafor answered right back with 6 points of their own (4 from Wright and 2 from Okereafor) to close the gap to two. Those efforts were soon thwarted by an open corner three from Josh Steel. Phoenix did not waste time though as momentum shifted in their favour for the remainder of the quarter as they finished it off up by 4. 

Turnovers proved to be an issue in the latter stages of the first quarter and those issues were rectified in the interim with the Giants managing to make passes count and even produce a spectacular Alley Oop, started by Tyrik “The Magic Man” Armstrong and hammered home by Geno Artison who produces some lovely footwork on the baseline to make the mid range jump shot and close the gap even more. A lovely high pick and roll manoeuvre from Tyrik Armstrong and Dan Clark saw the gap reduced to nothing as he converted the basket and even converted the and one right after. Since Manchester equalised a constant back and forth wrestle for momentum took place with Manchester consistently kept their noses in front of the Phoenix and went into the half with a 43-40 lead. 

After the halftime break we picked up right where we left off with a backdoor cut by Jamell Anderson who converted the baseline layup. Turnover issues seemingly reappeared as those same turnovers allowed Cheshire to close the gap to a singular possession. In order to prevent Cheshire from leading Dan Clark shows off his physical prowess with a pair of thunderous blocks in the space of 20 seconds to keep the Cheshire lead to 3 points. The combination of Tyrik Armstrong and Geno Artison brought the lead to a single point with 33 seconds left as the former found the latter with a pass that could thread the eye of a needle. 

Plenty of basketball left to play as we enter the final quarter with GB captain Dan Clark effortlessly converting from beyond the arc with a pair of back to back threes to put the Giants in the driving seat of this game. In the driving seat they remained as they continuously stayed ahead in today’s game and had the biggest lead of today’s game in the form of an 11 point lead halfway through the final quarter courtesy of Josh Steel. Cheshire managed to cut the lead back down to single figures and a singular digit after an impressive scoring run. That was a short lived affair however, a conversion from Tyrik Armstrong extended the lead back out. Jamell Anderson took to the skies in the next possession and threw down a powerful dunk that saw the National Basketball Performance Centre erupt in euphoria. 

Tyrik Armstrong and Dan Clark put on a masterclass in today’s game as they combined for 38 points. The former flirted with a double double as he finished with 9 assists and the latter produced 7 rebounds and an impressive 4 blocks. 

Head Coach Lloyd Gardner said:We’ve had light practises, with a few players missing at the moment but a pleasing performance. The Christmas break is always difficult, you lose abit of rhythm. I felt like the Glasgow series really got us going we were playing well with that and its pleasing to win today.

The Giants next game will be in 2022 as they face the BBL playoff champions in the Newcastle Eagles. Ian MacLeod’s team travel to the National Basketball Performance Centre on January 2nd, tip off at 5:00pm. 

 

Words – Michael Blain

Photo – Harry Collins