D1: Derby come up short against Manchester yet again
Manchester Magic 97 (17, 43, 72)
Derby Trailblazers 83 (26, 44, 67)
NBL Men’s Division One
Not for the first time this season, Derby Trailblazers showed they were capable of competing with Manchester Magic for long spells, but over the full forty minutes, it was Manchester who once again came out on top.
Former Trailblazers centre Lee Goldsbrough combined with Spanish guard Franc Garcia Garrido and American Ellis Cooper were the architects of Derby’s demise, with Goldsbrough converting over 73% of his shots, going 11 of 15 from the field as he finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds.
For his part, Garcia Garrido punished Derby from downtown, making four of six three-point attempts on his way to a game high 29 points and Cooper finished with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Derby were led by David TinTin Watts, whose 27 points and 10 rebound double-double suggested he was keen to impress against his former side. Debutant Chris Taylor added twelve points, as did Sydney Donaldson, while Oliver Stanley bagged 11 points and 10 boards and Dan Watts finished with nine points and six assists.
As in the previous two games against Magic this season, the Trailblazers were in control throughout much of the first half, leading by as many as ten points on three occasions. However, a poor spell immediately prior to the half time break allowed Manchester to significantly close the gap and left Performance Analyst Michael Hanson-Morris rueing missed opportunities:
"When you’re up against the top teams and Manchester in particular, you have to play for the full forty minutes and ultimately two brief spells cost us the game. If we had found a way to take at least a seven point more lead into half time, I think we would have been looking at a different outcome to the game.
“To be leading by ten points with three minutes left in the half and then to only come in with a one point advantage was very disappointing, particularly as we had played some of our best basketball of the season during the first half.
"Unfortunately, in the two minutes immediately before the break, we got away from our game plan by forcing a couple of shots and having some sloppy turnovers and suddenly we had dug ourselves an eight point hole which we never came back from,” he said.
Although Manchester were first to score, Derby quickly had their noses in front, after a basket from Donaldson and a tip-in from David Watts. Back-to-back triples from TinTin quickly stretched the lead to 10-4 and it wasn’t long before David Watts was back in the limelight, grabbing an offensive rebound and dunking the ball with serious attitude, to make it 14-9 after six minutes.
It didn’t take Chris Taylor long to make an impact either. Born in Jordan, the 6’5” wing player produced a three-point play after drawing a foul off Cooper. The biggest lead in the first quarter came with the very last play, as Stanley’s jump shot made it 26-19.
Derby’s lead hovered between five and nine points throughout the opening few minutes of the second, before a Jake Wesselingh three-pointer made it 36-26 and gave the Trailblazers a ten-point advantage for the first time.
Manchester gradually pulled that back to four points, before triples from Taylor and Adria Amabilino Perez made it 44-34 with 3’10” remaining before half time. Unbelievably, Derby were then held scoreless up to the break, as three turnovers, two missed shots and a technical foul on King all made life easier for the Magic, who cut the gap to 44-43 at the interval.
The break in play helped to refocus the Blazers, who began the third with a Donaldson jump shot and a triple from TinTin Watts, either side of a basket from Cooper. Some determined offensive play saw Derby open up a 55-49 lead with 7’59” on the clock, but Magic then started whittling away at the gap once again.
A pair of free throws from Garcia Garrido tied the scores at 56-all four minutes later and although Dan Watts replied in kind from the line, consecutive baskets from Simon Anumba saw Derby fall behind for the first time since the opening minute.
An 8-3 run by the home side saw them take a 72-67 lead into the final quarter and it was clear they were beginning to sense victory was on the cards. Derby continued to fight, but a pair of time-outs failed to prevent Manchester from stretching their lead to a maximum of sixteen points, when Alvaro Alacron Lizaur made it 97-81, with 1’22” remaining.
Aside from a string of missed shots from both sides, the only other action came in the form of a consolation bucket for King, as Derby were left feeling that yet another opportunity to beat their arch rivals had slipped away.
"Disappointing as the final result was, there are a lot of positives we can take away from the game,” said Hanson-Morris.
“We found a number of different ways to score and competed well with them on the glass, despite having Reiss Harwood missing though injury. In particular, Ollie was superb in creating some extra opportunities that we capitalised on very well.
“We also found ways to get TinTin some good looks at the basket, which in certain other games he has been widely deprived of so credit must go to the whole squad for moving off the ball well and playing a good offensive game of basketball.
“We now need to go away and have a look at how we can tighten up on the defensive end as we start to prepare for another very good and big side in Reading, who come to Derby next Saturday,” he said.
Magic: Garcia Garrido 29, Goldsbrough 25, Cooper 17, S. Anumba 10, Lohfink 6, Alarcon Lizaur 4, Minister 4, M. Anumba 2, Cleary 0, Darbey 0, Onifade DNP.
Derby: David Watts 27, Donaldson 12, Taylor 12, Stanley 11, Dan Watts 9, Adria Amabilino Perez 5, King 3, Calvey 1.
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In Saturday’s other games, the U16 Boys were the only Trailblazers side to come up with a win, beating Derbyshire Arrows 74-59. Elsewhere, the D3 Men lost 87-73 away to City of Sheffield Saints and the U18 Men lost 76-69 at home to Manchester Magic.
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