The Manchester Giants registered their first win of the BBL campaign with a resounding victory over the Birmingham Knights. David Aliu led the way with a season-high 34 points and Stefan Gill added 28 as the home-side topped the 100-point mark for the first time this season.
Manchester Giants: Gill, J. Jones, Williams, Aliu, Marsden
Birmingham Knights – Michael Gayle, Benson, Rolls-Tyson, Hopkins, Izvbigie
The Knights made a decent start to the game taking an 13-10 lead following a made basket by Emile Hopkins before the Giants scored 14 unanswered points over a three minute span. Aliu, Gill and Marsden all converted from long range as the Knights defense looked all at sea and the Giants picked their opponents apart with some crisp ball movement.
The Giants have struggled from 3-point range so far this season but had no problem dialling in from long-distance in this game as they made a blistering 16 of 33 from behind the arc with eight of them coming in the opening ten minutes
Michael Gayle dropped in a long two as part of a 6-0 run by the Knights but the hosts closed out the quarter strongly with a jumper from James Jones and back-to-back buckets from Mike Bernard to give them a 30-21 lead after 10 minutes of action.
The Giants started out sloppily in the second period misfiring on their first four field goal attempts and turned the ball over twice as the Knights clawed their way back into the game and narrowed the gap to just two points on Benson’s layup with 6:44 remaining in the half. The two sides traded buckets before a 7-0 Giants run re-established their position of strength.
Martyn Gayle provided a tremendous spark of the bench for the Knights with 11 of his 14 points coming in the second period. He drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 45-47 with 1:54 to play in the half but Aliu responded for the hosts with his third 3-pointer of the half and Gill added a layup on the break to put his side up 50-37 with just over a minute remaining in the period.
Despite the Giants hot shooting in the 1st half it was the visitors who closed out the half the strongest with a 7-2 run including another 3-pointer by Martin Gayle right as the half-time buzzer sounded to make it 52-44 in favour of the Giants.
After an impressive opening half the home-side continued to take their cue from Aliu and Gill as the pair combined to score 16 of their 20 points in the third period. Aliu remained hot from the outside as he drained his fourth shot from long range as he scored the Giants first seven points of the second half.
He passed the torch to Gill who knocked down two more shots from behind the arc before Jones threw a perfect outlet pass to Marsden who layed the ball up to give the home-side a 67-54 advantage with 5:54 left in the quarter. It looked as if the Giants would pull away but they soon cooled off and went scoreless for the next four minutes as the Knights scored nine unanswered points to pull themselves back into contention.
Michael Gayle drained a jumper which was quickly followed by a runner in the lane from Benson. Martyn Gayle then pulled up for a triple from the right wing and on their next possession Benson stole the ball and ghosted in for a layup to make it 67-63 with 1:56 left in the period. As the lead dwindled away the Giants looked in need of a spark and they got it on their next possession as David Watts followed up a missed shot from Yorrick Williams with a thunderous putback dunk as the Knights defenders looked on helplessly.
Aliu scored from close range on their next trip down court to give the hosts an 8-point lead but once again it was the visitors who went into the interval with the momentum. They went on a 5-1 run in the final 22 seconds as Benson knocked down a pair from the stripe and buried a 3-pointer right before the horn to leave his side trailing 72-68 with just 10 minutes left to play.
After seeing their sizeable lead reduced to just four points the Giant were determined not to let the game slip away and they saved their best for last outscoring the visitors by 29 points to 15 in the final period using an 18-1 run to put the game to bed.
Aliu and Jones combined to score eight straight for the hosts to put them ahead 86-73 with 6:18 left to play in the game. A free-throw by Birmingham’s Josh Rolls-Tyson stopped the run but the Giants didn’t miss a beat scoring 10 unanswered points as they galloped towards the finish line. Watts scored with a splendid spin-move and two-handed slam-dunk which was soon followed by another bucket from Aliu and back-to-back 3-pointers from Gill to put them up 96-74 with just 3:31 left in the contest and put the result beyond doubt.
Brent Benson led the visitors with 29 points but needed 27 shot attempts to get there as the Giants defense forced him to take contested shots all afternoon.
The Giants now sit in 10th position in the BBL standings and leaves the Knights alongside the Surrey Heat as the only teams in the division yet to register a victory. The Giants next game sees them take on the Glasgow Rocks who currently have an identical 1-4 record and suffered back-to-back defeats this weekend at the hands of the Leicester Riders and the London Lions. They will hope that this victory can be the start of a winning run as they make their charge up the BBL table.
Manchester Giants: Aliu 34, Gill 28, J. Jones 14
Birmingham Knights: Benson 29, Martyn Gayle 14, Michael Gayle 11
David Aliu – 34 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 4/5 3-pointers and 8/11 from the free-throw line.
The Giants power forward got his team off to a quick start with two 3-pointers in the opening two minutes and continued his hot shooting throughout the game on his way to a game-high 34 points. He scored 19 points in the second half as he led his side to their first victory of the season.
Play of the game
David Watts had two highlight plays in the second half which had the fans at Wright Robinson off their feet. The first came after the visitors had gone on a 9-0 run late in the third quarter to cut the lead to four. After a missed 3-pointer from the Giants Yorrick Williams; Watts swooped in unnoticed from the left wing and unleashed a thunderous putback slam dunk over the unsuspecting Knights defenders. The second play triggered a 10-0 run for the Giants midway through the 4th period to put the result beyond doubt. He caught the ball on the right-hand side of the court and recognised that he was matched up against the undersized Martyn Gayle. As Gayle called for help Watts spun baseline, took a dribble and powered home a vicious two-handed jam for his second highlight play of the game.
Manchester Giants away at Glasgow Rocks, Sunday 3rd November, Emirates Arena, 5:00pm tip-off
Birmingham Knights at home to London Lions, Saturday 9th November, North Solihull Sports Centre, 7:30pm tip-off