by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix’s record in the BBL Championship worsened to 0-4 following a 28-point defeat against the Manchester Giants at the National Basketball Performance Centre.
The Manchester Giants secured their fourth win of the season over the Nix and improved their BBL Championship record to 3-2. Manchester’s American guard Tyrik Armstrong impressed with his 13-point, seven-assist performance, which also included 10 steals, the most for a BBL player in over a decade. The Giants were efficient form all areas of the court as they made 58% of their attempts from the field, 45% from deep and 81% from the foul line. Cheshire shot 47% from the field, 30% from three-point range and 82% from the line. They were out-rebounded 26-to-35 and also committed a season-high 24 turnovers.
The Nix started the North West Derby well as they scored the first bucket of the night through Kyle Carey at the 9:16 mark and eventually worked themselves a six-point lead at the half-way point of the opening quarter. The two sides couldn’t be separated at the end of the first, as they’d both scored 18 points apiece in what was shaping up to be an ultra-competitive fixture.
The Giants benefitted from Cheshire’s carelessness in possession and lack of communication on the defensive end as they opened the second frame with a 21-to-2 run. Levi Bradley stopped the bleeding at the 4:46 with a turn around jumper however the hosts kept their foot on the pedal and initiated a 7-0 run which stretched their lead to 24 points, with two and half minutes remaining in the first half. Ben Thomas’ men went into the locker room down 29-53 after Josh McSwiggan managed to beat the buzzer with his only made basket of the night.
The Giants did not let up and eventually found themselves ahead by 34 points, with just under three minutes left in the third quarter, however the Nix managed to keep their opponents scoreless in the last two minutes, whilst adding 11 points themselves to reduce the deficit to 23 heading into the final frame. Cheshire won the third quarter by 29-to-28 but the Giants still found themselves comfortably ahead, 81-to-58.
Manchester looked set to obtain their second 30-point win over Cheshire, as Martaveous McKnight knocked down a pair of free-throws with 15 seconds left on the clock before Robbie Graham drilled the final shot of the night to decrease the losing margin to 28 points (81-109 final score).
Graham played just under 16 minutes and made all three of his attempts from the field as he totalled nine points, one rebound, one assist and a couple of steals.
Namon Wright top scored for the Nix with 28 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor, including 4-of-7 from deep and a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe. Carey was the only other Phoenix player which finished in double-digit scoring, as he tallied 14 points, six rebounds and two steals in just under 27 minutes.
The Giants accumulated 24 assists and had seven players in double-digit scoring. Cheshire’s bench was outscored by Manchester’s 19-to-53.