Land of the Giants.

Land of the Giants.

It was the battle of the bottom of the British Basketball League table on Friday night at Pavilions, as the Plymouth City Patriots took on the Manchester Giants, the team just above them in the table, with a chance to leapfrog them with a win..

Both teams have been desirate to avoid the dreaded last place this season, and both teams have suffered numerous setbacks and very few high points. Neither team has managed any sort of win streak this season either and on paper at least, it seemed as though the game would be a war of attrition.

However, a very different game broke out on Friday night, in front of a sold out crowd in Pavilions as the home fans were treated to a fast paced Patriots that scored at will in the opening exchanges. The home team came flying out of the gates and opened up a double digit lead, a lead they would hold comfortably until the half time interval.

In the third quarter the Giants put together a run that closed the gap to 14 points, with the Patriots managing to trade with the visitors, keeping some distance as the game headed into the fourth quarter. The Giants were good on their first two plays at the start of the quarter, and looked to close the gap even further. The Patriots responded, and after some impressive and clever play from TJ Atwood, distributing to Jules Dang-Akodo, Jacob Wiley and Cameron Copeland the lead was back up to 21.

The Giants rallied once more, and managed to claw back some of the Patriots lead with less than four minutes on the clock, but they would never be able to close the gap, despite knocking down back to back three pointers as the game clock ran out. The Patriots matched their opponents play after play and took the win 77-86.

“We are starting to gel a little bit more, which is unfortunate that it comes around this time, but you know, we have nothing to lose at this point”, said Jules Dang-Akodo, after another solid performance. His teammate and captain Elvisi Dusha also commented, saying “The crowd was awesome tonight. I think in the first half we really took control, and we really relaxed in the second half. We felt like we could get whatever we wanted and were never under pressure.”

Joe Hart was also upbeat after the win, stating quite matter of factly that “I just love to win!” before adding “I think we played really well tonight. It’s seldom that we have a 20 point lead and have the opportunity to relax and enjoy the game.” Head Coach Paul James perhaps didn’t have the same relaxing second half as his team on the floor, saying “I enjoyed the first half. I thought we played some excellent basketball and offensively we moved the ball really well, turning down some good shots for great shots, especially in transition. Defensively we kept them to 25 points in the first half which is a great effort. Second half we got a little bit sloppy, but the damage was done and we’re delighted with the win.”

Jacob Wiley, the Patriots starting forward who’s dramatic two handed put-back dunk early in the game got the crowd fired up and set the ball rolling also made a comment, saying “I try to bring the energy every game and I like to make plays that get the crowd into it. Today it brought the

energy for us and got us going, so it’s what I can do. I feel like we play our best when we’re having fun, playing hard together and bringing that energy. We just have to try to continue that and finish the season strong.”

It was clear on the night from both coaches, players and fans alike that the driving force for the win Friday night was to lift the team off the bottom of the British Basketball League table. Both Joe Hart and Elvisi Dusha stated that they did not wish to finish bottom of the table, and Hart in particular announced that he had “never finished bottom in my professional career and I don’t want to start now.”

Another great game for TJ Atwood, the teams driving force this season, and genuine frontrunner for the British Basketball League's Team of the Season and looking ahead to the upcoming fixtures he ended proceedings with some food for thought, saying “we go into every game thinking we can win, but you can’t go into the game just wishing it will happen, we gotta go make it happen and we gotta give it everything we got.”

Pablo Cheeks

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