Added intensity: Manchester Giants eye BBL Trophy as chance for success against struggling Knights

By Alex Rea

Last weekend was a nightmare for the Giants.

In what was supposed to be a routine away victory against winless Surrey United, the Manchester outfit were humbled in embarrassing circumstances.

Despite leading for more than three quarters, United were able to overturn a 21-point deficit in the fourth to stun boss Jeff Jones’ hapless side.

With that loss comes the Giants third successive defeat and with Birmingham Knights in town for the BBL Trophy on Sunday the side must awake from their slumber.

Having already crushed the Knights in their previous two meetings the Giants are favourites for this one but David Watts is calling for cool heads as club aims to bounce back.

“Following our nightmare on Saturday we have to maintain our composure and focus throughout the entire game. Stick to our game plan and execute,” the forward said after the 94-87 defeat.

“To secure a win against the Knights we have to limit them to one, challenged shot per possession and use our defence to create transition baskets.

“The Trophy is another opportunity to win silverware and everyone wants to win that so it can be a little more intense than a regular season game.

“But at this point we really need it to get back on track.”

The Trophy provides a much-needed reprieve from the current grim reading of the league ladder as the Giants sit third from bottom.

But with the increased intensity of knockout competition play, victory will not come easy.

Veteran coach Jeff Jones is adamant the key to success this weekend will come from solid defence and he added: “We relaxed way too much in the fourth quarter (against Surrey) and paid a heavy price.

“That isn’t taking anything away from Surrey’s performance as they stayed focused and took full advantage.

“We need to play solid defence against Birmingham.

“When you play teams with great scorers you can sometimes focus too much on him and then the others can hurt you.”

Great scorers as the American phrases it, is something the Giants themselves have in fruitless supply.

David Aliu continues to impress with a rate of 21.6 points per game, the fourth best in the league, but Knights coach Paul Douglas feels his side can come out with the win come Sunday.

“We will be continuing to focus on executing down the stretch and strengthening our resolve when the opposition make their runs,” he said as his side sit rock bottom of the BBL without a win so far this season.

“We feel that we match-up well with Manchester and we played them well the last time we met, but we also feel that we let theme off the hook and should have closed out the game better.

“David Aliu is the obvious standout and is having a great season but they are more than one player.

“They pose so many threats with their ball movement, inside play and hard work.”

Image courtesy of Jack Hinds, with thanks.

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