Saturday, March 18, 2017
Manchester Magic's first half excellence helped seal 103 - 96 victory over Hemel at the Amaechi Basketball Centre on Saturday evening, to keep the pressure on the top two teams in the NBL Division 1, Team Northumbria and Reading Rockets, who are first and second respectively.
Reading and the Magic are now tied with on 20-4 apiece as the Rockets lost to Team Northumbria this evening, who themselves move to 21-3. Reading currently holds the head-to-head over the Magic, so Magic remains in third.
The home side found their form with a sequence of 3s flying in from Simon Anumba (x2) and Jack Minister followed by a dunk from Duane Morgan early in the game to help settle the team into a rhythm offensively and open a double-digit lead. The Storm managed to narrow the gap slightly to 8 points towards the end of the opening quarter.
Stefan Gill came to life in the second quarter scoring 8 of his 14 points in the period alongside two threes from Ryan Lewis, as the Magic continued to put points on the scoreboard to go into the break 57 - 37 to the good. Three Magic players had hit double figures by the half, Simon who had 10 points in the first quarter and Duane with 14 points and the aforementioned Stefan with 12 points.
The Storm managed to close the gap to 14 by the end of the third quarter, with Duane taking his tally to 25 points he Magic scoring 11 in the quarter while Simon Anumba taking his tally to 17 points helped to keep Hemel at arm's length.
The final quarter saw the Magic hold on to their lead as the Storm tried to close the gap with little success. In the final couple of minutes the visitors resorted to fouling in an attempt to close the gap by not allowing much time to go off the clock, with the home side having their bench on the court it seemed a brave decision by Coach Middleton and it did pay off as Cian Hickey made 5 free-throws in a row to help ensure the victory.
Duane Morgan led the Magic with 32 points and 10 rebounds, Simon Anumba had 19 points and Ryan Lewis and Stefan Gill both had 14 points.
Updated Sunday 19th March: Northumbria have won the League Title after beating Westminster and both Reading and Magic losing their games to Loughborough (66-73) and Derby (73-85) respectively.
Although the Magic can't now win the league, they can still finish second of they beat Reading at home on Saturday 25th March at 6:30pm, in a winner takes second battle.