New-look Mansfield Giants bounced back from a heavy defeat on the opening day of the new season to win their second match in Division Three of the National Basketball League.
And the 87-72 success against struggling Sefton Stars gave freshly-appointed player/coach Gary Collins hope that his side can overcome the tough challenge ahead of them.
“Bar a couple of familiar faces from last year, we have a whole new squad this season,” said Collins. “It is made up of senior players and also a selection of junior players who are currently enrolled in the basketball academy at West Notts College.
“From day one, I’ve tried to instil into my guys the style of play I’m looking for -- being together as a team and playing hard -- and that really showed in what we did against Sefton.
“This year is a new challenge for the team and for me. Originally, I thought that playing as well as coaching would be tough, but with the staff and players around me, it’s making things a lot easier.”
Giants faced quite a task to regroup after the 90-50 loss against Stoke-on-Trent Knights the previous week, particularly against a well-estabnlished, hard-working Sefton outfit. And there was little to choose between the teams in the first quarter, which finished all-square at 15-15, with big man James Rowe posing a threat for the hosts.
Howeer, the second quarter was a different story as Giants came out with all guns blazing, playing hard defence all over the court and not allowing the visitors any easy looks at the basket. With a bench full of fresh guards, they pressured Sefton and caused turnover after turnover, which led to a big, wide open dunk from Louie Coe. By the end of the half, Giants were 43-28 in front.
Sefton crept back into contention in the third quarter, which finished 64-54 in the Mansfield side’s favour. But Giants were energised again in the final quarter, covering all areas of the court and building up the score again. Rowe ended up top points scorer with 21, but JoJo Owusu-Ansah showed terrific leadership to score 17, supporting coach Collins, who racked up 13 points. Liam Burton scored 12, Coe ten and Ashley Rice seven.
This Saturday (7 pm), Giants are away to Worcester Wolves 2nd.