The Giants traveled to the Ellesmere Port Sports Village to start off the new season and their BBL cup campaign with an exciting overtime win against local rivals Cheshire Phoenix 72-78.
3 of Manchester’s 4 American imports took to the floor for the first time tonight as Tyrik Armstrong, Geno Artison, and Martaveous Mcknight helped facilitate and ensure a positive outcome for the Giants in a game that was closely contested all the way through with no team allowing the other a chance to take a chokehold of the game.
The defense was key in the opening stages of this heated battle as both teams struggled for good looks to shoot. This constant back and forth of high-octane defensive displays carried on throughout the opening quarter as both teams scored below 20 with just one possession being the difference-maker.
Both teams carried on this defensive energy and intensity throughout the game with the Giants racking up 10 total steals throughout the entirety of the game and causing double as many turnovers for the Phoenix. These dominant defensive displays coupled with a buzzer-beater by Josh Steel from beyond the arc capped off the second quarter.
Everyone who watched the second half got to witness a masterclass in basketball courtesy of team GB captain Dan Clark as he seemed to be everywhere from beyond the arc to battling for rebounds and even racking up a good few steals too. He finished the game with a double double having 25 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals, and a block too as he led the Giants in everything but assists.
The game carried on into overtime as Jules Dang Akodo tied the game for Phoenix with 22 seconds left with the score being at 65-65.
Overtime began and the Giants took control of the game with Jordan Whelan and Dan Clark combining to put the Giants up by 6 in the opening couple of minutes. This lead only began to extend and was finally capped off by Josh Steel showing nerves of steel to take the shot that would break Phoenix hearts and put the game beyond reach.
Head Coach Lloyd Gardner added I thought it was a close game, I’m pleased with the physical effort of the guys. I just said to them we are drawing a line in the sand for what we want to look like and how we want to play this year. That was a great start for us even though potentially we want to play better and be a little slicker than perhaps we were today.
The Giants look to carry their opening day momentum into next week’s game in round 2 of the BBL cup away to the Glen Luss Glasgow Rocks on Friday 1st October at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.
Words – Michael Blain
Photo – Harry Collins