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Magic ease past Warriors in NBL opener

  Saturday, October 8, 2016

Manchester Magic made light work of their opening game in the new NBL Division One season, seeing off Westminster Warriors with a comfortable 74-54 win.

The defending champions used a 22-5 second quarter to open up an insurmountable lead, punishing Westminster’s slack defence and wayward offence time and again.

Despite a competitive opening quarter, in which Warriors player-coach Jon Johnson erupted for 15 of his 25 points on the night, Magic never really looked in danger of being run close.

Coach Paul Middleton was able to share out the playing time, with 11 of his squad clocking up double-digit minutes on court, and the scoring load spread across the board.

Lee Goldsbrough did most of his damage in the first half, dominating inside for a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Hamad Ali came off the bench to pour in 13 points in just over 12 minutes.

Captain Stefan Gill, who had 10 points and six assists, attributed Magic’s improvement in the second quarter to increased intensity and tactical tweaks. Gill commented: “We tightened up our rebounding. We adjusted our defence a little bit and we were more aggressive offensively.

“They’re very talented individually but they didn’t move the ball as much as they could have done, which made it easier for us to guard, but there were some talented guys out there.”

Magic had plenty of talented performers of their own, the difference being the cohesion and depth on display, with the likes of Simon Anumba, Kayin Darbey, Tyme Regent-Bascombe and Kaiyem Cleary all making strong contributions on the night, while young addition Arinze Emeka-Anyakwo played 15 minutes.

Gill added: “Consistency is key and these guys have shown it day in, day out. In practice, they show a lot of maturity and it shows in games. Look at Hamad today, look at Arinze today... You’ve got 16 and 17 year-old kids coming out and doing damage.

“Paul has done a very strategic job in who he’s recruited so I wouldn’t say there’s one stand-out person.”

Magic’s next three league fixtures are all on the road, beginning with a trip to Solent Kestrels on 15th October, before games against Essex Leopards and Leicester Warriors on subsequent weekends. Action returns to the Amaechi Basketball Centre on Saturday, 5th November, when Magic welcome London Lituanica.

Report by Graeme Roberts

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