Mansfield Giants senior men started their season with a win over Fourth Division side Calderdale Explorers in the Men’s National Shield.
In what was a very good start for the new look Giants team, they took the first quarter 18-14.
But this soon turned sour in the second quarter as the Explorers change of defence tactics stopped the Giants in their tracks.
After an inability to keep up with the young dynamic and energetic Giants team, the Explorers dropped in to a two-three zone forcing the Giants to miss numerous outside shots and turning the ball over to allow their opponents to take the lead at the half 40-28.
In the second half the Giants finally started to work out the Calderdale defence pulling the score line back to 55-42.
With the Giants now on the front foot and catching up rapidly it wasn’t until the 10th minute in the final quarter that the home side levelled the score at 71 all.
This was achieved as Dan Richards hit England Junior Keagan Allen cutting through the key to score an easy lay up.
The Explorers were shell shocked at the thought of losing such a lead as
And the Giants pressure took the game away from the visitors in the final seconds of the game to win through to the next round with a 74-72 slender victory.
Scorers for the Giants were: J Owusu-Ansah 19, C Morant-Hudson 14, K Allen 14.
Coach Ian Richards said: “This was a fantastic win for us this weekend.
“After going down and trailing for the majority of the game this shows a great character in the players and a want to win games even when it goes down to the wire.
“I am very proud to have a team of young junior players and seasoned older players that are starting to learn to play together. We are by no means the finished article yet, but we have the makings of a very good team this season.
“I was particularly pleased with our performance as we have a number of players missing through injury and work commitments.”
Mansfield Giants continued their team building with the welcomed return of high scoring American guard Mike Buffalo.
Buffalo had a brief spell with the Giants last season, but his time was cut short due to personal circumstances.
Averaging 27.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.9 steals and a career high of 40 points against Leeds Force, Buffalo will inject some real passion and quality into coach Ian Richards team.
In just 10 games Mike gained an honourable mention from Basketball England’s prestigious end of season awards.
Buffalo said: “I am proud to announce that I have returned back to England to play with the Mansfield Giants for the 2015/2016 season in the England Basketball League.
“Leaving early (personal reasons) last season didn’t sit too well. My team mates and I have some unfinished business.”
As well as playing, Buffalo will be involved in delivering basketball in local schools and club sessions.
Head coach Ian Richards added: “We were so impressed with him that we invited him back for the 2015-2016 season.”