D1: Derby produce Magic performance to silence Manchester 19/03/17


Derby Trailblazers 85 (17, 37, 61)
Manchester Magic 73 (14, 41, 56)
NBL Men’s Division One

This will probably go down as one of Derby Trailblazers best performances of the season. They somehow overcame the absence of Oli Stanley (personal reasons) and Matt Ward-Hibbert (back injury), to record only their fifth ever league win over Manchester, thereby damaging the Magic’s hopes of clinching the runners up spot in NBL division one.

Going into the weekend, Manchester still had an outside chance of winning the league, but back-to-back wins for Team Northumbria were enough to give the North-East side their first ever title. Now, Magic will need to beat Reading by at least fourteen points next Saturday if they’re to finish as runners up.

As for Derby, the win sealed a huge weekend for the club, coming as it did off the back of a tough road win over Loughborough Student Riders:

“What a great weekend it's been for us,” declared the Trailblazers Head Coach Matt Shaw.

“I'm so proud of the way the guys stepped up. On Saturday, I thought it was the best we've played for a long time, but then on Sunday we played ever better still.

“Defensively the guys played with a lot of energy as always, but we also played with more discipline and we're more tuned in to the small details. We also looked after the ball better than in recent games and that was huge for us,” he said.

Chris Taylor led Derby with twenty-four points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals in another eye-catching performance. Brian Amabilino Perez had twenty points and nine rebounds, Max Morrison had eighteen and seven, while Adria Amabilino Perez had sixteen and four.

Despite losing the opening tip, Derby had the better of the opening exchanges, with scores from the Amabilino Perez twins, Max Morrison and a three-pointer from Taylor opening up a 9-3 lead. Then, after consecutive scores for the visitors, Taylor added a second triple as the Blazers edged towards a 17-14 advantage at the first break.

The second quarter began with a single free-throw for Taylor and after Stefan Gill missed a three-pointer for Manchester, Morrison produced a dramatic fast break dunk to rub salt into their wounds.

Jack Minister then struck from downtown for the Magic, before Taylor added another dunk and followed it up with a triple and after a jump-shot from Minister, he converted another inside shot.

That put Derby 27-19 ahead, but consecutive triples from former Trailblazer Ryan Lewis and Gill quickly reduced the gap to just two points. A Blazers time-out helped refocus the team and Derby were able to keep their noses ahead until a 6-nil burst put the visitors 37-38 up.

Derby took a time-out with 24 seconds of the first half remaining. Seventeen of those seconds had elapsed before the ball went out of bounds on the baseline, but it was still a Blazers possession. However, as Kayne King in-bounded the ball, Taylor was called for an offensive foul, prompting a Manchester time out with six seconds left.

The play they devised was executed superbly. An in-bound pass covered half the court before finding Kaiyem Cleary on the side line. He launched the ball up court to waiting Gill who was poised to launch a shot from beyond the arc. It was never going anywhere but through the hoop to give the visitors a 37-41 half-time lead.

Derby needed a strong start to the third and they found it, as Adria Amabilino Perez scored all the points in a 7-2 burst to put the Blazers back in front. Max Morrison then scored six of Derby’s next eight points, including a sweet hook shot over the head of Lee Goldsbrough, to make it 52-47.

The former Derby centre then stepped up for Manchester, scoring all six of their points in a 6-4 run, with Brian Amabilino Perez keeping the Blazers score ticking along.

A jump shot from Morrison extended Derby’s advantage to 58-53, before Minister converted a huge three-pointer to beat the shock clock. Fortunately for the Blazers, Adria Amabilino Perez responded in kind to make it 63-58 going into the final break.

Wesselingh stretched the lead to seven points with the opening score of the fourth, before five straight points for Magic had it back to a two-point game. The gap then alternated from two to four points on each of the next six possessions, until such times as Adria Amabilino Perez struck from downtown, to make it 72-67 with 6’16” remaining.

Manchester then committed a travelling violation and both sides missed multiple shots before Lewis converted back to back baskets either side of a missed attempt from Morrison. That made it a one point game at 72-71 with 4’23” on the clock.

With the fans nerves beginning to jangle, Derby’s players stayed calm and King found Taylor for triple. Manchester responded with a jump shot from Cleary but King was back to dish off another assist, this time for Brian Amabilino Perez to convert from long range to make it 78-73.

With 3’06” remaining, Magic called time-out, but it didn’t help their cause. Gill missed a three-point attempt and King set up yet another triple for Taylor at the other end to stretch the Blazers lead to eight points.

Both sides then missed shots, but after turning the ball over, Minister needlessly fouled Morrison, who sank one of two at the line. Taylor then stole the ball from Lewis and this time it was Gill who fouled, sending Morrison back to the line, where he made both shots.

Manchester’s final throw of the dice saw them calling time-out with 53 seconds left, but a three-point attempt which followed from Gill was short and Lewis fouled to send Adria Amabilino Perez to the line.

While he could only convert one shot, it was more than enough for Derby to seal a memorable victory over the Magic.

Summing up, Coach Shaw said he thought his players had produced a phenomenal weekend:

“We played incredibly hard and made a lot of big plays whilst producing some great team basketball at both ends.

“Everyone played their part, but recently the twins [Adrian and Brian Amabilino Perez] have been performing at scary levels for eighteen year olds and today was no different. They caused a good Manchester team a lot of headaches, making such a wide variety of plays.

“Chris [Taylor] was outstanding too. He filled the stats line again and hit some big shots at critical moments. When he's at the top of his game he's such a handful.

“Two focus points for us were rebounds and transition defence. The lads really worked hard to ensure we delivered on those two factors and that really helped us pull off a massive win.

“Defensively Kayne [King] had another outstanding game, really imposing himself and not allowing them to settle into a rhythm. To be honest I thought everyone was very good on defence. Even Paul Bowen came on again for limited minutes to give Max a breather and did well in both games.

“It was great to see Callum [Singleton] step up to the challenge and make such strong contributions in both games. He's come through the junior system and now on our academy so it's another example of our young players coming through and getting a chance at this level.

Derby round off the regular season with yet another double-header. They travel to Hemel Storm on Saturday (7pm) before returning home to face Loughborough Student Riders on Sunday (4.15pm).

Derby: Taylor 24, B. Amabilino Perez 20, Morrison 18, A. Amabilino Perez 16, Wesselingh 5, King 2, Bowen 0, Singleton 0, Smith DNP, Ward-Hibbert DNP, Wroe DNP.

Magic: Lewis 19, Goldsbrough 13, Minister 13, Gill 8, Ali 6, Morgan 6, Anumba 4, Cleary 4, Darbey 0, Regent-Bascombe 0, Hickey DNP.

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Sunday’s results are summarised below:

D1 Men: Derby Trailblazers 85 – 73 Manchester Magic
U18 Men (Conf): Birmingham Mets 86 – 74 Derby Trailblazers