Manchester Giants get back in the win column as they extinguish Scorchers flame 74-81

It was back to business in the BBL Championship for Lloyd Gardner and his Manchester Giants as they faced off against Creon Raftopoulos and his Surrey Scorchers.  

It was a slower start for the Giants in the first quarter with a lovely piece of ball movement capped off with a cut and easy lay up finish from Josh Steel. It wasn’t an easy quarter for Manchester as most of Manchester’s points from the quarter came from in the paint or at the free throw line. The only exception being a Geno Artison 3 ball. Artison was tied in leading the Giants in points alongside Tyrik Armstrong both with 5 points. Whilst Manchester were struggling, Surrey were managing to take chances as the southern outfit went into the lead in double digits at some intervals and overall finished the quarter 26-17. 

A brighter and more energetic start for the Giant in the following quarter with tidier ball movement and precise passes looking to create. This began to irk Surrey however as they managed to rack up 13 fouls in the space of the first quarter and 2 minutes into the second quarter too. Geno Artison and Tyrik Armstrong continued to chip away at the Surrey Scorchers lead with consistently getting to the paint to convert with the help of Jordan Whelan from the free-throw line. Former Scorcher Josh Steel continues to break into the paint off of cuts for tough layups to bring the lead down further and brings it to 33-28. The Giants manage to successfully claw back the lead and go into the lead themselves for the first time in this game 33-38. Going on an unanswered 10-0 run in the middle stages in the quarter. The lead managed to hold through the quarter as the Giants head into the locker room 40-46, leading by an extra two points through a steal from Jordan Whelan and a put back by Tyrik Armstrong who was fouled on the way up by Stanley Davis jr. This sent Armstrong to the line where he converted both free throws. 

A quiet start to the second half for the Giants in the opening couple minutes was surely halted in its tracks by further scoring from Geno Artison and Tyrik Armstrong to take the lead to 53. Surrey started to gain some leigh way and get back into the game. The Giants decided to once again test the waters of the three ball but to no avail as a result, they opted back into their offensive play of swarming the paint and either making the basket or going to the foul line. Both offence and defence are operating on all cylinders as they are making physical layups on the offensive side and blocking shots on the defensive sides capped off by a Callum Jones block halting the Surrey Scorchers and preserving the Giant lead of 11 points. The giants not only preserve the lead but add to it as they take this third quarter 55-68.

Tyrik Armstrong finds a wide open Will Saunders in the corner for a three and gets the Giants off and running in this final quarter of basketball. Will Saunders makes back to back buckets on back to back possessions to make it a 13 point lead for the Giants in these earlier 4th quarter stages. With a 16 point lead just past the midway point of this quarter, Francois Lewis fouled out on 12 points. A Tayo Ogedengbe three brings the Scorchers to 10 points but too little too late with just over a minute left. A second three from Surrey brings it closer to 7 points but with 17 seconds left the Giants run out the clock and emerge victorious. 

Geno Artison had a fantastic night, finishing on a double double with 19 points and 10 rebounds followed closely by The Magic Man Tyrik Armstrong who finished on a near double double with 14 points, 8 rebounds and also 6 assists. Josh Steel had a great night too on his return to Surrey with 15 points and a pair of steals to add to his stat line.

Head Coach Lloyd Gardner said It’s a difficult place, a wounded animal in Surrey and they’re always a team that plays pretty well. Back to the wall they compete and sometimes they’re better when they’re down from that sense I thought it’s a good win for us. We could have played slightly better at times for sure, I think the end game let us down, free throws let us down, but I’m relatively pleased with the overall performance.

 

It is a double header this weekend as right after this win the Giants are back in Manchester and back in the National Basketball Performance Centre to brush shoulders with the London Lions on February 6th. 

Words – Michael Blain

Photo – Rob Sambles