They’re back: Manchester Giants face London Lions in British Basketball League after 11-year absence

By Phil Jones

The Manchester Giants return to competitive basketball action tonight for the first time since 2001, taking on the London Lions at Wright Robinson College in Gorton.

The Giants – the last Manchester British Basketball League side when they folded 11 years ago – will embark on what former player Jeff Jones hopes will be a journey to the top of the British basketball ladder.

Jones headed up a consortium of Manchester basketball enthusiasts that brought the franchise back to life in 2011, and will also coach the side in the coming season.

“I am delighted to be back coaching the Manchester Giants – it has been a long term ambition to bring a professional franchise back to Manchester,” he said.

“We’re aiming to hit the ground running and introduce a competitive team into the league with a good balance of home grown talent with more experienced players.”

The coach will be orchestrating plays from the side-line and knows he has lots of hard work ahead of him to please the loyal basketball fans in Manchester.

Crowds of over 10,000 were a regular occurrence for the Giants in their previous incarnation and Jones hopes the fans that have stayed with the team can find some new heroes in the 2012 vintage.

“We won’t really be ready and have a complete roster for a couple of weeks yet,” Jones told the BBL website.

“Having said that, the players have been working hard and the fact most of them have played together before has certainly helped, but patience is the key word for them as well as the fans.”

“As for the roster we are probably three or four players from where we need to be as far as personnel.

“But we will make an assessment after a couple weeks and see what is available player-wise and if they fit our needs and budget we will add them to our roster.”

Tonight’s opponents the London Lions have also been through a process of transition during the summer, moving from their home in Milton Keynes to their temporary base at Crystal Palace’s National Sports Centre.

From 2013 onwards the Lions will then play in the Copper Box arena at the Olympic Park that hosted handball and goalball during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.

Tip-off is at 7.30pm.

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