Giants extinguish Cheshire Phoenix’s flame as they run out winners in an entertaining fixture 91-92.
Manchester Giants travelled to Ellesmere Port Sports Village for a north west derby clash against Cheshire Phoenix where they ran out as victors in a heated affair.
The opening 10 minutes was a high scoring ordeal finishing 19-22 in the Giants favour. Ball movement and selfless play was key to the Giants offense. Whether it was key ball movement around the arc or if it involved a drive to the inside and then kicked back out to the three point line, Manchester finished with 8 assists by the end of the first quarter as Cheshire did not have an answer for the offensive strategy.
The second quarter gave us some offensive variety with Cheshire adopting the drive and kick out technique whilst Manchester were deadly off of the pick and roll offense, continually sharing the ball around and doubling their assist numbers from the first quarter and looking after possession of the ball throughout the first half with only 4 turnovers. The Giants went into the half up by 4.
After the break it was a cagey affair as both teams were neck and neck with very little breathing room separating the two of them. As the quarter progressed Lloyd Gardner’s men started to gain a hold on the game as they extended their lead to 7, the highest of the game. The ball movement has been constant throughout the three quarters as they managed to rack up a staggering 21 assists in only 30 minutes of play. Cheshire managed to cut the lead down slightly and go into the break down by 5.
Quarter 4 was arguably the most intense of this chapter in the North West Derby story as Cheshire pulled the lead back to single possessions bringing this game to the wire. Both teams could not separate themselves from the other as the quarter became a combination of a shootout and a defensive clinic with Jamell Anderson producing a decisive steal in the dying embers of the game to keep Manchester of the front foot and then was capped off by a Martaveous McKnight free throw to pip the Giants ahead and seal the victory.
American guard duo Martaveous McKnight and Tyrik Armstrong had impressive displays tonight with the former leading the Giants in scoring with 24 points on 9-15 from the field, the latter capped off his performance with 12 points and 10 assists, earning a double double.
British duo Josh Steel and Jamell Anderson also had spectacular scoring nights finishing on 16 and 14 points respectively. Both players also had impressive efficiency from the field, hitting 63% and 62% of their attempts.
Head Coach Lloyd Gardner said ”It’s a tough place to come as we proved twice now and 1 in overtime, we won by one. I’m pleased with the grit, the determination that I thought we showed. I thought we responded well in that aspect from what we put on the floor on Friday. There’s still alot for us wanting to get better and its pleasing for us to win”.
Words – Michael Blain
Photo – Harry Collins