In the final game of week one in the 2023/24 British Basketball League season, Caledonia’s bench scored 53 points with Patrick Whelan leading from the front with 23 to propel them to a 97-79 win at the National Basketball Performance Centre on Sunday.
Manchester Giants starting five: Jalen Harris, Neil Stampley, Jamell Anderson, Austin Lawton and Evan Walshe.
Caledonia Gladiators starting five: Trent Buttrick, Patrick Whelan, Mihailo Jovičić, Lukas Palyza and Fahro Alihodzic
“The depth of our roster was one of the big things we wanted to work on this year,” Gladiators coach Gareth Murray said.
“We got a lot of games in the British Basketball League but also in Europe as well, so the depth of our bench was a key thing for me over the summer. So if guys are injured or if guys are needing subs, we got somebody who can step on and play the same amount of minutes.”
Ian Dubose claimed game-night MVP honours with a solid all-around masterpiece of 15 points off 7/10 shooting, eight rebounds and six assists in the road win.
“It was a great way to start off the season for the team,” Dubose commented.
“I’m really excited to be part of the league and it was a really good win tonight.”
The duo of Jamell Anderson and Evan Walshe paced Manchester with 17 points each.
From the opening tip, Manchester were in Caledonia’s face, attacking the basket at will while defensively clamping down on the Gladiators, who missed their first seven field goal attempts.
It was an exhilarating start from the Giants, outworking their Scottish counterparts at both ends.
That was until Fraser Malcolm came off the bench to ignite Caledonia to life.
Malcolm hit eight points in the final four minutes, turning a 12-1 deficit to a 23-21 lead until Darius McNeill drilled a three at the top to snatch the lead back for the hosts.
It took a while for the Gladiators to find their groove, but in the early stages of the second, they found it through Whelan, as he hit six quick points in 30 seconds for a four-point lead with 5:01 left in the half.
From that point, Manchester trailed for the majority but recovered in the nick of time to knot the game at 45-45 at the break.
Caledonia bounced back from Manchester’s strong finish to the second to balloon their lead up to nine with 3:36 to go in the third but were pegged back to 71-65 heading into the final quarter.
After a slow start, last season’s Trophy winners were in command, largely thanks to their bench, but despite pressure from the Giants, the question was could the packed home crowd at the NBPC lift their heroes in the fourth?
The answer was no.
Manchester failed to score in the first six minutes in the final period and by the time they registered a point from the foul line through Jalen Harris, the Gladiators had pulled clear.
With the new season here, you can still get your British Basketball fix by following the League on social media or heading to our YouTube channel to relive all of the best moments from last year!