Manchester Giants closed their first home double-header of 2023 with a loss, unable to make it a clean sweep weekend as they went down to a strong Bristol Flyers side 95-103 on Sunday afternoon.

 

The Flyers arrived at the National Basketball Performance Centre off the back of a huge victory against reigning BBL champions Leicester Riders on Friday night, and pre-game body language indicated this was a quietly confident opponent for Vince Macaulay’s men.

Tajh Green slammed it home off an inbound pass to get the show underway for the Giants in front of an expectant Belle Vue crowd.

Team captain Rahmon Fletcher was fired up in the opening exchanges, shooting lights out with a pair of triples within the opening three minutes and ending the first quarter with ten points to his name.

In a repeat of Friday night’s game against the Caledonia Gladiators, it was the visitors who had the lead at the end of the first, through good shot selection and free throw shooting from their stars Vincent King and Leslee Smith, who ended the first half with 13 and ten points respectively.

Nick Lewis was at his crafty best, creating his own shots including a long range effort after losing his man off the screen, cutting the Flyers’ lead to just three midway through the second.

But classy offence and a series of defensive stops from Andreas Kapoulas’ men – who moved up to second in the BBL table with today’s win – kept the Flyers narrowly ahead in a high quality first half of basketball.

A go-ahead three from Friday’s game-leading scorer Dirk Williams was the last successful make of the first-half as the teams headed for the locker rooms with the Flyers’ holding onto a slender lead at 49-51.

And it was another emphatic Tajh Green dunk that gave the Giants their first lead of the second half as the temperature rose inside the NBPC.

The visitors refused to back down though, with the South West club showing their playoff credentials to build their lead back up to fifteen points ahead of the final quarter with the scores at 69-84.

It seemed that the Giants had a mountain to climb with ten minutes to play, and despite the continued scoring tear of Williams – who ended the night with an incredible 36 points – the home side were unable to close the gap on the Flyers.

King ended the night with a monster stat-line of 27 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, helped by ten-point contributions from Malcolm Delpeche and team captain Mike Miller.

The full-time buzzer sounded with the scoreboard at 95-103 in favour of the visitors – an eight-point loss against a sure-fire BBL Championship contender who have sent a message to the league with a double victory this weekend against the Riders and the Giants.

Allowing the Flyers to pull in 17 offensive rebounds, as well as only scoring four second-chance points, will no doubt be high on the practice agenda for coaches Macaulay, Nigel Lloyd and Paul Cantwell in the upcoming week.

Head Coach Vince Macaulay said: ” We’ve gone down to a very good Bristol team, they were every bit as athletic as we are, they shoot the ball every bit as well as we do” 

“Down the stretch I felt they were a little bit tougher in the moments that mattered and credit to them because it delivered them the win”. 

The Manchester Giants return for a third straight home game next weekend as they face British heavyweights the Leicester Riders in the BBL Trophy on Sunday 15th January.

Tickets are available for our next home game. A BBL Trophy tie against the Leicester Riders on March 15th: https://manchestergiants.com/tickets/

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Words – Nathan Blackwood