Teamwork and effort won Manchester Giants’ crucial North West derby against play-off rivals Cheshire Phoenix in the BBL last night, according to coach Jeff Jones.
After a shaky opening five minutes the Giants established a 14-point half-time lead and fended off any second-half threat from Cheshire to win 94-78.
Jones was pleased with the selfless nature of his side’s play as six Giants scored double figures – Devan Bailey leading the way on 22.
“We were all on the same page for the first time in a while and we played for each other – everybody busted their backsides,” said the veteran coach.
“It wasn’t busting their backsides for themselves either, they wanted somebody else to do well if they weren’t on the floor – that’s a great step.
“It was a really, really good team performance, everybody contributed, everybody got into it – I was pleased.”
The Giants are in a five-way dogfight with Cheshire, London, Durham and Sheffield for the last two remaining play-off spots.
And after last weekend’s disappointing loss at Sheffield, Jones stressed the significance of wins against their closest rivals.
“Last Friday was the watershed for us, we should’ve won, we only lost by eight and we were bad,” he added.
“It’s the wins against the teams around us, that’s what’s important.
“Tonight the players were challenged and they did a really great job, I can’t complain.”
The win gave Jones’ side the better head-to-head record against Cheshire should they finish the season level on points.
And victory over London Lions on Sunday would again give them the upper hand, with the coach saying he would take a win however came.
“If we win by 20 or win by one, I don’t care as long as we win the game,” said the American.
“It was pleasing that we didn’t get caught up in it and freeze whenever Cheshire made a run tonight.
“I’ll take that on Sunday, if we play like that and cut out a couple of our mistakes we’ll be fine.”
With six of the Giants’ remaining BBL fixtures away from their Wright Robinson College home, the team must add to their solitary road victory this season.
“It would be nice to get another one, I can’t put my finger on why it’s not happened on the road, it just seems to be a bit of a block,” added Jones.
“But there was a great crowd tonight, the best of the season – it’s a shame we only have two home games left as it was a fantastic atmosphere.”
The win sees Manchester jump up to ninth in the BBL, level on points with Sheffield who occupy the all-important eighth spot.