Manchester Giants snuff Surrey Scorchers flame as they emerge victorious 95-92 and advance to the BBL cup semi finals. 

Creon Raftopolous and his Surrey Scorchers took the long trip to the National Basketball Performance Centre to face Lloyd Gardner and his Manchester Giants in the quarter finals of the BBL cup. 

The Giants and Scorchers opened tonight’s cup tie with a mid range jumper from Scorchers guard Martell McLemore which was answered right back by a 3 pointer courtesy of GB captain Dan Clark. Both sides were within touching distance of each other throughout the opening stages of the quarter, only a single possession separating the two. A dunk from Dan Clark followed by an and one play from Stanley Davis Jr brought the teams closer once again. A Tayo Ogedengbe three pointer put Surrey ahead by one. Surrey managed to extend their lead towards the end of the first quarter, despite an impressive scoring display from Martaveous McKnight as he managed to grab himself 10 points scoring from all 3 levels. 

Surrey entered the second quarter up by 3. Josh Steel opened the second quarter floodgates and brought the Giants level and in the next play gave Manchester the lead after converting the and one. Geno Artison followed Steel’s lead as a steal from Francois Lewis gave Artison an open lane to take flight and throw down a one handed slam. The floodgates never closed as Tyrik “The Magic Man” Armstrong, Jamell Anderson and Dan Clark extended the Giants lead to 7. Great ball movement and selfless basketball have kept Manchester’s noses in front of this affair as they head off into the locker room up 52-47 after a buzzer beater three from Martvaeous McKnight. 

Second chance points from Francois Lewis get the Giants underway in the third quarter. An intense quarter of play from a defensive aspect in the early stages with both teams making little in terms of baskets. Big plays on both sides of the ball from Tyrik Armstrong and Martaveous McKnight swing momentum back into the Giants favour followed by another block, this time from Francois Lewis as he halts the scorchers in their tracks. The ball movement continued throughout the quarter, helping the Giants gain easy baskets and open looks as a pick and roll play from Tyrik Armstrong and Jamell Anderson gained enough defensive attention to give Geno Artison an open look for a two handed dunk. Giants also take the 3rd quarter heading into the break up by 3 with the score 68-65. 

Back to back fast break 3 from GB international Will Saunders sets us underway in the final quarter of action. Saunders looked to have the hot hand in this quarter as he made 3 from beyond the arc. Manchester proved they can score from inside the paint and beyond the arc tonight with Will Saunders from beyond the arc having an electric quarter and Geno Artison in the paint with a monstrous put back slam, being a consistently solid scorer. The bench duo combined for 26 points in a stunning display of depth in this Giants team, Surrey’s problems only seemed to continue as Lemar Hamrick fouled out late in the 4th quarter. Free throws from Martaveous McKnight capped off tonight’s game as the Giants were the victors 95-92. 

 Special Mention goes to Scorchers guard Stanley Davis Jr who checked out of the game early with an injury at the end of the second quarter.  

Tyrik “The Magic Man” Armstrong was everywhere tonight as he finished with an impressive stat line of 10 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals, leading the Giants in assists, steals and tying Francois Lewis in rebounds. Martaveous McKnight led the team in scoring tonight with an impressive 18 points. 

Head Coach Lloyd Gardner said: “I thought we played okay offensively first half, felt a little flat today. Delighted to get through it. I think that’s on us as much as it is on a good performance from Surrey and a team that mixed it up and made it difficult for us” 

Manchester booked their place in the BBL Cup semi finals, three cup semi finals in four seasons making up for last year’s heartbreak of having to forfeit the semi finals due to Covid-19 protocols. The Giants are back in action in the BBL championship on Wednesday 14th November as they face the Plymouth City Patriots away in the Plymouth Pavilions, the game will be streamed live on BBL player. 

Words – Michael Blain

Photo – Surrey Scorchers