Plymouth Raiders 104 – 78 Manchester Giants 

The Plymouth Raiders impressive home form kept its momentum Sunday, as the side pummelled the Manchester Giants 104-78 to move back to a .500 record in the BBL Championship.

After his squads fourth win in the BBL, head coach Paul James was pleased with the performance shown on court. He said:

“I keep saying we’re trying to make the Pavilions a tough place to come and play, and that’s what we’re doing.

“Manchester have been playing with a lot of confidence playing in some really close games, but we did our homework this week and the guys responded well, and we came away with a comfortable win in the end.

“We needed this, far too many games we’ve dug ourselves a hole and we’ve had to really fight back hard.

“One of the things we’ve really focused on is playing good defence right from the word go, getting a lead then trying to sustain that.

“Man for man the whole team contributed well to what was an exciting win.”

Foul trouble did plague the Raiders through the game, with key members of the starting rotation finding themselves in foul trouble early. James then leant on his bench a lot to secure the win, and was happy to see the entire depth chart get time on the court, saying:

“I thought the guys who came off the bench are now growing in confidence, they know they’re going to get court time so long as they go out there and play the defence first and foremost.

“We can go eight through nine, everybody has an opportunity to do something, and tonight it all came off.”  

Coming into the Pavilions, the Raiders sat two spots above the travelling Giants, and  the mid table matchup was a game favoured towards the Raiders after their strong run of form through the last month against teams at the sharp end of the country.

Furthermore, the Plymouth outfit also held the physiological advantage as the side looked to win their fourth game in a row against their opponent.

The Giants started out with precision court-wide, scoring on their first three drives including a three.

Still, the Raiders immediately matched the momentum with strong finishes of their own, and control on the rebound game.

The Raiders then took their first lead with a perfectly executed three from Donte Nicholas. With the next Raider drive, the Giants dared Nicholas to shoot from range again, but this time the attempt proved fruitless.

The score would see-saw a couple of times before beginning to lean the Raiders way, with eight unanswered points leaving the Giants guessing. With momentum clearly in the hosts favour, the Giants began making inexcusable mistakes, gifting more possessions the other way. 

The opening quarter would end with the Raiders ahead by five points, a difference that was quickly negated a minute into the second, as eight fast strike Giant points drew the game back.

Fighting hard to not allow the visitors to get away, Devontavius Payne seized the lead back as the Raider guard hit two consecutive threes of his own.

Raiders newest signing Rashad Hassan, continued his strong outing for the city team, dominating the paint in rebounds and scoring, further adding value to his stock after his 27 point haul at Glasgow. 

After slowly working themselves a slim five-point lead again, the Raiders began to hammer home the lead with unchecked threes finding net, often as a result of the strong defensive game under home glass. 

Continued pressure from the Raiders caused the Giants to keel over as the defensive front stifled the visitors. At the other end, the offence struggled to miss, nailing layups and punching three pointers to rattle off ten un answered to settle the halftime budget ahead, 55-38. 

The only blemish on the first half performance was the nagging foul issue brought on by over eager marking. Out of the starting five, Nicholas and Zak Wells would find themselves under pressure with three fouls apiece. 

The Raiders hot hand would over the break as Payne added to his 17-point first half with a clever three from the corner. 

Unfortunately, that same foul trouble also followed the Raiders and soon the squads skipper Wells was benched after his fourth personal foul. 

Losing some of their early defensive edge, the Raiders surrendered points regularly through the third, but the big first half effort kept the home side clean ahead by around 10.

Now was the time for James’ bench to step up and make their mark, covering big holes left in the starting five and Denzel Ubiaro was quick to prove himself, energising the court with a long ranged three, supported by a couple of Shelton hoops.

The Giants flaky resolve reared its head again in the closing minutes of the third, and the Raiders took full advantage, flying through big lanes like open doors to pile on more points, and with a successful shot at the third buzzer, the Raiders held a twenty-point lead. 

Needing a steep climb to pull themselves anywhere near their hosts, the Giants came at the Raiders with speed in the fourth, but the odd two pointers were a luxury the home side could give, avoiding any more foul trouble whilst adding to their own tally.

Proving himself to be a work horse for the squad, Josh Wilcher, who played 36 minutes before getting a rest, continued to play his trademark style, darting inside for two’s whilst drawing fouls. The Aussie worked on the Raiders score line, scoring seven in a row to end his game level in team scoring at 24 with Payne.

The visitors would lose two of their own to foul-outs in pursuit of points, but ultimately the Raiders maintained their vice like group on all phases, cruising through the century marker to win by 26.

Rob Tunley