Magic bounce back to beat Mets in Patrons Cup
Magic were scheduled to open their campaign at home two weeks earlier against the London PAWS, but were awarded victory as a result of the PAWS' failure to register a team on time.
On the road, Paul Middleton's men won their first round National Cup fixture with Oldham before suffering a disappointing 87-84 loss to the Derbyshire Arrows, who recovered from an 11-point deficit at the half.
On Saturday, the young Magic outfit got off to a fast start against the Mets. Looking to run the floor early, the home side took a 5-1 lead through their transition offence, with Joshua Houghton and Connor Murtagh making uncontested lay-ups.
The Mets’ struggling half-court offence was often bailed out by soft fouls. Yet they failed to capitalise on their 39 attempts at the free throw line (18 more than the Magic), shooting a paltry 54 percent.
Houghton was a constant thorn to the Mets and led the Magic in points (19), rebounds (8), and free throws made/attempted (8/11). The Mets had no answer for the former Leeds Carnegie guard, who made three of six from three-point range amongst his penetrative cuts into the paint.
Tom Devitt was energetic and industrious, as were the two centres Usman Baba and Luke Sharland-Wong. The latter made an emphatic block at 23-14, which was his first of four block shots on the night, whilst Baba claimed five offensive rebounds on his way to 13 points on six from eight shooting.
Murtagh and Baba had three steals apiece, although it was a combined team effort that was flourishing through coach Middleton’s rotation.
Alex Fortnam added 10 points, seven rebounds and two block shots in his efficient 17-and-a-half minutes. The Magic were up 41-31, as the half drew to a close, courtesy of a deep Houghton three-pointer with two seconds on the clock.
After squandering an 11-point lead in their recent outing against the Arrows, the Manchester outfit were keen to close this game out.
Coach Middleton continued to rotate his players throughout the second half and kept his line-up fresh. As the Mets tired, the Magic bench had run the lead up from 55-47 to 70-56.
The fitness and enthusiasm was apparent throughout and demonstrated by Loick Pouale’s spectacular chase-down block, which was harshly adjudged to be a foul.
As the Magic closed the game out, one eye was already looking ahead at Sunday’s fixture against the Rossendale Raptors in the National Cup.Raptors’ veteran guard Steve Gayle will face his former team Manchester Magic where he once starred in the EBL1, as a Division 4 champion.
Coach Middleton expects a tough test in this second round match-up and is wary of the threat the Raptors provide.
Tip-off at 5pm, at the Amaechi Basketball Centre, Sunday 7th October 2012.
By Jackie-James Coyle at the Amaechi Basketball Centre
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