Manchester Giants coach Jeff Jones was pleased with his side’s fighting spirit despite a mixed start to the new season, which opened with a double-header.
They were bested on Saturday by a talented Leicester Riders side, before christening their new Trafford Sportsdome home with a 76-72 victory over Sheffield Sharks on Sunday.
After the second game Jones told MM he was pleased with how his side bounced back after their 22-point defeat to Leicester.
He said: “Saturday was tough – Leicester are good and we played about 25 minutes of competitive basketball, but for eight minutes where we just didn’t perform.
“The team responded exceptionally well against Sheffield. I’m really pleased for them because we worked so hard and in the second half we were excellent.”
Jones praised centre Mike Bernard’s performance against Sheffield after what’s been a difficult two seasons for the 36-year-old since returning to the Giants.
He said: “He’s had a tough time with his conditioning recently. In the last two years he hasn’t played much and I would’ve hated him to end his career like that.
“But on Sunday Mike did exactly what he needed to do to get us the win. He was a real defensive presence and he scored a few points too.”
After losing some of their on-court leaders in the off-season, this new crop of Giants were taught some important lessons in Saturday’s loss.
Jones spoke of how his team were left regretting a slow third quarter against Leicester, which swung the match in their opponent’s favour.
Up by two at the half, Manchester were stunned as the Riders went on a 24-6 run, which saw guard Neil Watson score four three-point shots.
Jones said: “In Saturday night’s third quarter we just didn’t come out and play. We didn’t quit but we just didn’t shoot well at all.”
Next the Giants take on the Worcester Wolves, one of the best teams in the country. But buoyed by Sunday’s display, Jones is ready for the fight.
“The one thing we’ll always be is extremely competitive. We’re not ever going to quit.
“Next week we could get beat by 50 or it could be a one point game. It’s a long season and whatever happens it won’t stop us getting where we need to be.”
Main image courtesy of Manchester Giants TV via YouTube, with thanks.