Sport

Manchester Giants cool off Surrey Heat with performance borne out of embarrassment, says coach Jeff Jones

By Phil Jones

Embarrassment and pride spurred Manchester Giants’ remarkable turnaround from demoralising defeat to comfortable BBL victory over Surrey Heat, according to coach Jeff Jones.

After a scrappy opening quarter the Giants established a 10-point half-time lead that never looked in danger as they cruised to an 83-70 win.

The Giants crushed Surrey just three weeks ago but crumbled against Worcester Wolves last week and Jones hopes that performance was a one-off.

“I was embarrassed last week and I’m sure the players were, that performance tonight was about self-pride,” said the American.

“That may have been an aberration last week because we’d made so much progress when we played Surrey before – we were playing good basketball.

“Last week was probably our worst performance of the year in terms of effort but they responded well and were really positive tonight.”

Stefan Gill lead all scorers with 28 points from the bench, draining six of seven attempted three-pointers and shooting 100% from the free-throw line.

And 6ft 10in centre Mike Bernard also impressed from the bench with 11 points and four blocks, bringing the crowd to its feet with one impressive dunk.

“Stef did a great job tonight shooting the ball and Mike played the best he’s played for us, he did a good job,” added Jones.

“He’s been doing that all season, he’s shot the ball well in games where we’ve not played well.

“Tonight he did that and we played pretty well, we actually found him and gave him some easier shots – he didn’t have to create much off the dribble.”

The win over third-placed Surrey keeps the Giants just two points off eighth place and all important play-off qualification.

And Jones hopes the hard work and positive steps his side are taking can be continued with wins against their closest rivals.

“We’re getting better and we’ve now got other teams around us to play so it puts us in good stead for the play-offs,” said Jones.

“We had to be ready to play tonight as they’re a good team, it could have gone one of two ways tonight after last week, but fortunately it went the right way for us.

“I’m as happy as I can be, we’re moving forwards as a club and it bodes well.

“We absolutely won’t reap all the rewards this year but in three to five years down the road I’d bet my life on it.”

Picture courtesy of Jack Hinds Photograph, with thanks.

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