North West sides Manchester Giants and Cheshire Phoenix claimed wins in very different circumstances but with three games still to play in the group, progress still eminently possible. Newcastle Eagles, astonishingly bottom of the group at present, are the visitors to Ponds Forge this Friday for the next game in the competition.
Manchester Giants came to Ponds Forge last Friday, appearing to be very much an upgrade on the Giants sides of recent seasons. For instance, they laid down a big statement of intent by acquiring the services of Great Britain captain and leading points scorer, Dan Clark as well as quality British talent in the shape of Jamell Anderson and Josh Steel. Add in four solid import players and we were well aware of the size of the task in front us.
The game was evenly matched for the first half; Manchester just shading a 38-39 lead but led by Clark, who flirted with a triple double on 20 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists, the Giants pulled away in the third quarter to take a 68-85 win. Our execution wasn’t quite at the levels we’d hope during that second half but there was another excellent performance from our point guard Aaron Anderson, who showed all his experience to record 21 points, 6 rebounds and 10 assists.
Much closer was Sunday’s game on the road at Cheshire Phoenix, although sadly the outcome was the same. We were dominant in the first half, leading by as many as twelve points at one stage, but a late Cheshire rally saw them close the deficit to 6 at 28-34. The game became mired in controversy in the second half as the refereeing crew saw fit to call the foul count 20 to 31 in Cheshire’s favour. As a result, Marcus Delpeche, Mike Tuck and Kipper Nichols all sat having reached their maximum allowable as Cheshire saw out an 85-78 win with a series of trips to the free throw line.
Three games remain in the group stage and despite currently being on a 2-3 record, qualification for the quarter finals is still very much in our sights. The first takes place on Friday when we welcome Newcastle Eagles to Ponds Forge. And on Tuesday, we get an immediate chance of revenge as we travel over to Manchester to tackle our Roses rivals. As ever, we’d love your support!