Magic advance to Trophy semi-finals

  Saturday, October 1, 2016

Manchester Magic booked their place in the semi-finals of the National Trophy with a hard-fought 75-67 win over Team Northumbria to complete a perfect three wins out of three in pool play.

Paul Middleton’s side had to dig deep to overcome an impressive performance from Northumbria’s Siman Stewart, who posted a big double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds.

Magic trailed 14-18 following some wayward shooting in the first quarter, with Stefan Gill providing the bulk of Magic’s offense. Help was at hand in the form of Michael Anumba, who sparked his team into life early in the second period with a mid-range jumper followed by a smart assist on the break to Kayiem Cleary.

Northumbria rallied through Stewart and guard Lewis Champion, but Magic splashed home a flurry of three-pointers to close out the first half and take a narrow 39-36 into the locker room.

Having struggled on the boards in the opening 20 minutes, Magic needed to show greater energy and desire. They got this through Simon Anumba, who stepped up big in the second half on the offensive glass and scored all 14 of his points after the interval.

Northumbria’s height and well-executed plays continued to pose problems, but Magic’s Lee Goldsbrough was instrumental inside on both ends, finishing with 13 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and four assists while playing all 40 minutes.

Magic’s lead hit as many as 10 points midway through the fourth quarter and their superior depth made a difference in the final stages. Magic’s bench contributed 21 points in the contest, while their opponents’ reserves managed just three.

Middleton commented: “I thought we showed good character. They’ve got some good players and they played tough. They’re missing one good player in Jack Preston who makes a big difference, but I’m really pleased that we were able to get through that.

“If we can keep everybody together I think we’re going to improve a lot. If we can keep ticking over and compete now, then by the time playoffs come I think we can be a force.

“I think we’re going to have some ups and downs, and I have to accept that, but we’re finding our feet. The most important this is that we’ve got a fantastic group of guys that want to work hard and work for each other, so hopefully that’s got to count for something before the end of the year.”

With the next round of the National Trophy not until January, Magic’s focus now turns to defending their NBL Division One crown, starting with a home fixture against Westminster Warriors on 8th October.

Report by Graeme Roberts

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