Manchester Giants starting five: Legend Robertin, Jalen Harris, William Lee, Jamell Anderson, Nicholas Lewis
Surrey Scorchers starting five: Andrew Lawrence, Saiquan Jamison, Padiet Wang, Justin Robinson, Elliot Bailey
Heading into tonight’s contest between the
Surrey Scorchers and Manchester Giants, both sides found themselves near the bottom
of the table but in differing veins of forms.
Surrey started the night in 8th position, attempting to carry some momentum into the National Basketball Performance Centre, having won their last two games against the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles and Plymouth City Patriots.
The Giants sit one spot behind their opponents, but with a desperate need to kickstart their season, after winning just two of their seven games in November.
Brian Semonian’s side was fresh off a tough defeat at the hands of the Leicester Riders, so needed a positive reaction to keep playoff hopes alive.
The vocal home crowd got exactly what they wanted early into the game, as Manchester came out of the blocks with ferocity.
Four members of the starting lineup had filled the scoring column within the first five minutes, due to tremendous ball movement and aggression.
Evan Walshe then entered the fray, leading the Giants’ second unit with a string of buckets to bring an end to the first quarter, with his side up by seven.
The hot streak continued, with Walshe maximising his limited minutes with a scorching offensive display.
Heading into the break, the British guard led his team in scoring with 14 points in under eight minutes.
Despite the efforts of former MVP Justin Robinson, who had found ways to score consistently and surpassed 2,000 career points in the British Basketball League, the Scorchers had work to do, trailing by nine at the half.
Surrey entered the second half seemingly refreshed. Lloyd Gardner’s side showcased an increase in aggression almost immediately.
After Manchester opened the lead up to 11, a dunk and hook-shot combination from Padiet Wang shrunk the deficit back to single digits.
As on previous occasions, the Giants started to show a lack of composure as the final quarter approached.
A series of turnovers handed the Scorchers multiple opportunities in transition, and when Surrey captain Tayo Ogedengbe drained a three at the end of the third quarter, the teams were tied at 61-a-piece.
Manchester responded at the beginning of the
final period, with Jamell Anderson and Mason Bourcier scoring baskets to
continuously edge their side in front.
Wang stepped up with some impressive makes when called upon, leading the offence while Robinson nursed an injury on the Scorchers’ bench.
When Robinson returned to the court and the teams were level once more, it was all to play for.
Once again, Wang made a difficult three-pointer to take the lead, but Nick Stampley answered back by draining an open shot from beyond the arc.
Walshe then made a pair of enormous plays, scoring a layup, before immediately following that up by stealing the ball from Robinson and scoring again to earn a new career high.
When William Lee missed a pair of free-throws
with two minutes to go, Wang sunk an incredible step-back three to take a one
point lead and record his own personal career scoring high.
Lee redeemed himself with a floater to retake
the lead, before Wang split a pair of shots from the strip to tie the contest.
When Anderson air-balled a turnaround jumper, the lane was clear for Surrey. However, after an ill-advised three from Wang, Walshe punished them in transition to earn a crucial two point lead down the stretch.
Surrey could not execute in the closing seconds and just like that, the Giants had earned the victory.
Following this one, the hosts now sit just one
win behind tonight’s opponents and hope to capitalise on this momentum when
they face the Caledonia Gladiators later this week.
Player of the Game
Tonight’s Player of the Game was Evan Walshe, who offered an incredible offensive spark from the Giants bench, recording 22 points, 4 assists and 2 steals. His crucial plays down the stretch made a massive difference for Manchester.