Tightly contested, action packed and a Giants win. The ideal result came Manchester’s way as they bounced back from Friday’s game to win 88 – 79 against the Plymouth Raiders at the National Basketball Performance Centre. The win sees Giants move to a record of 3-3, leap-frogging Plymouth – the side against whom they have the best record since returning to the BBL in 2012 – in the early BBL Championship table.
It was a tightly contested first quarter, with a muscular block from Breaon Brady in the opening minute setting the tone, although the big man only managed 15 minutes after picking up four first half fouls. Soon enough the points started to flow as Ashley Hamilton opened the scoring but the Giants quickly answered back when Lyle Hexom scored his first of 6 three point shots courtesy of a Sam Cassell Jr. assist.
Giants started to pull away in the second quarter, particularly when a 10-5 run up to half time was started and ended with Lyle Hexom three-pointers for a score of 48-40 at the break, as Jordan Whelan also scored 14 of his 25 points in the second stanza.
Giants maintained their margin, despite Plymouth temporarily taking the lead in the third period, prompting a timeout from Head Coach Danny Byrne. That sparked the desired response from his charges, as they allowed Plymouth just one score in five minutes with the defence led by Donovan Johnson, who added four points in what became an 11-2 burst and a 64-58 lead heading into the decisive fourth quarter.
Giants kept their visitors at arm’s length in the fourth, Hexom adding another pair of triples on his way to a game high 29 points, and the lead peaked at 85-68 when Cassell Jr. hit a three and Whelan made back-to-back scores.
Plymouth came into the game as the best defensive team in the BBL, so Giants’ tally of 88 points will have pleased Coach Byrne. It was a balanced scoring effort, with Hexom hitting six of his 13 three-point attempts, while Johnson shot 5-6 inside and Whelan was 7-10 going to the hoop and 5-6 at the line. Cassell Jr. added six assists to his 11 points.
‘’It was a tough matchup and Plymouth were really tough. They had some quality players out there and we matched up well with them. We just wanted it that little bit more’’ Said head coach Danny Byrne.
The win against the Raiders will be gladly accepted by the team – as the final game in a run of five in ten days – after breaking a three game losing streak in the league. Next up to face the Giants are the Cheshire Phoenix who are coming off the back of a narrow loss to the Newcastle Eagles. The Giants will be looking to make it back to back wins when the two teams face off on 27th December.
Words – Michael Blain
Photo – All Sports photography