Sport

Surrey feel the ‘Heat’ as sensational Manchester Giants kick-start BBL play-off bid with best performance

By Phil Jones

Manchester Giants put on a show with their best performance of the season in beating Surrey Heat in the BBL, according to coach Jeff Jones.

The Giants let an early 15-point lead slip to just six at half time, but a combination of strong defence and breath-taking offence took them to an 85-68 win.

Jones stressed the importance of defence to his team at half time and hopes the performance will prove a point and give his players confidence.

“Tenth against third and we win? It has to be our best performance of the season – but we’ve been close all the way through,” said the American.

“The best thing was challenging the players at half time and our defence in the third quarter was very good.

“It was probably the best we’ve been, for the longest.

“I’m hoping it convinces our guys that we are good, and that if we play the way we play, then we’ll be ok.”

David Watts scored a game high 21 points while James Jones dished out ten assists, and father Jeff was happy to see everyone contributing.

“We had guys tonight that played their best basketball for us,” he added.

“If you have theoretically your best player, playing harder than anyone else, not being afraid to be emotional and put his body on the line it’s contagious.

“I’m so strong on team basketball, both ends of the floor and sometimes we lose sight of that.

“It’s not that they don’t want to win, it’s just they want to be the guy that does it all, instead of thinking ‘if I do this, we as a team are going to get that’.”

With a tough road fixture against Plymouth Raiders tonight, Jones hopes the standard set against Surrey will be maintained in a push for the play-offs.

“They’ve set a standard and the thing that can be consistent night after night in this game is effort and defensive intensity,” said the veteran coach.

“If you can get that consistently then the other stuff will surprisingly take care of itself and maybe we lost sight of that.

“I’ve focused an awful lot on offense, maybe to the detriment of defence and also conditioning, but it came good tonight.

“We’ve got a tough one going to Plymouth but we’ll see what happens.”

The win bumps the Giants up to ninth in the BBL table, with the top eight qualifying for the end of season play-offs.

Image courtesy of Jack Hinds Photography, with thanks.

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