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Morgan Fires Magic Back to Winning Ways

  Saturday, November 19, 2016

Manchester Magic got back into the winning groove with a comprehensive 95-77 over Worthing Thunder in NBL Division One, with recent American signing Duane Morgan announcing himself to the league with 20 points and nine rebounds in just 17 minutes of action.

Stefan Gill registered 16 points and six assists, Simon Anumba had 12 points and eight rebounds and Lee Goldsbrough added 10 points and five rebounds as Magic improved to a 6-2 record in league play.

Playing their first home game at the Amaechi Basketball Centre in six weeks, Magic began to make amends for back-to-back road losses the previous weekend against Lancashire Spinners and Team Northumbria with an energetic and exciting offensive performance.

Magic set the tone early with no fewer than eight high-flying dunks in the first half as they relentlessly attacked the basket, making 44 of their 48 first-half points in the paint. Despite this improved scoring effort, Worthing were able to exploit a few defensive lapses and ensured Magic’s lead was in single figures going into the interval.

The bulk of Worthing’s offence revolved around one-on-one play and import Lyonell Gaines, who played all 40 minutes for 30 points and 13 rebounds – both game-highs. However, Gaines lacked scoring support from his teammates and struggled defensively to contain Magic’s determined penetration and smart passing.

Once an 11-0 Magic run midway through the third quarter extended their advantage to 20 points, the game was beyond Worthing’s reach. This allowed coach Paul Middleton to rotate his squad and give valuable rest to his key players ahead of tomorrow’s National Cup quarter-final away to Derby Trailblazers, who picked up their first loss of the season today away at London Lituanica in the league.

Middleton commented: “There’s still an awful lot to do. I wouldn’t say we’re overly happy with the performance, but much better than last weekend. I think we just needed to get a win under our belts and share the minutes, which was a good thing, so everybody got plenty of time on the floor.

“We were more aggressive, which is what we wanted. I think when you can score that many points in the paint and still have people who are a threat on the perimeter, then that’s really important. If you’re one-dimensional then defences can try and stop you. I know we didn’t shoot great today, but we didn’t have to.

“I’m confident that the guys are really going to give it everything tomorrow because they know how important it is. They see that Derby were undefeated – I know they’ve lost tonight – but they’re the team to beat for me. If you want to do well this year, you’ve got to beat the best possible team.”

Magic have not lost in the Cup since December 2013, having won the competition for the past two seasons, but needed buzzer-beating three-pointer from Gill to beat Division Three side Team Birmingham in the previous round. They will need to be on their best form to maintain their unbeaten streak against a talented Trailblazers side.

Magic’s attention will then turn back to the league for a home game on Sunday 27th November against Loughborough Student Riders, another team that has made an impressive start to the NBL Division One season.

Report by Graeme Roberts

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