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Manchester Giants 75 Worcester Wolves 88
11:43am Monday 4th February 2013 in Worcester Wolves
A PERFORMANCE that was described by their coach Paul James as their most clinical of the season so far was enough for Worcester Wolves to see off Manchester Giants.
The Giants had overwhelmed Surrey Heat in their last game at the Wright Robinson College a fortnight ago, while Wolves had lost in overtime to the same opponents last week.
However, after pulling ahead in the second quarter, a focused and well-drilled Worcester side made sure that the Giants had no inkling of consecutive home victories.
With Sherrad Prezzie-Blue still watching from the side lines while rehabilitating a knee injury, Carlos Fernandez once more took over playmaker duties.
It was the Spaniard who opened the scoring and a moment later laid on a score for power forward Stan Ocitti.
A further five points from Ocitti helped the Wolves to edge to an 18-15 first quarter advantage.
A couple of free throws from Giants’ veteran David Aliu, followed by a triple from David Watts quickly reversed the lead.
Callum Jones, was then whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul when impeding Arnas Kazlauskas underneath the basket.
Kazlauskas sunk both of the resultant foul shots and Fernandez hit a three-pointer with Wolves’ next possession.
When Kazlauskas also made a shot from distance his side suddenly led 31-26 after four minutes of the second period.
A Watts’ shot attempt was swatted away by Wolves’ hulking centre Arturas Masiulis, who then threw down his own score.
Another Masiulis block preceded a further conversion and the visitor’s advantage had swelled to 41-30 with two minutes of the half remaining.
A triple from Ocitti rounded off a 23-8 burst that put Worcester firmly in control at 46-34 as the teams went into the interval.
Wolves’ front-court tandem of Masiulis and Ocitti were by now dominating play around both baskets, nabbing 10 points between them and forcing exasperated Giants’ coach Jeff Jones to request timeout as his team trailed 56-38 after four minutes had elapsed.
While Giants now battled harder for offensive rebounds, they left themselves open for quick breaks. This flaw was exploited on successive occasions by full-court assists from guard Alex Owumi to forward Kai Williams, who nailed his first six points of the night to extend Wolves’ lead yet further.
A double of scores from Ocitti capped off a devastating third quarter for Worcester that all but sealed victory.
At 72-46 the Wolves were left to stroll to the win. A brief burst of scoring from Giants’ Great Britain international Nick George helped give some respectability to the score-line, but the damage had already been done.
James said: “I’m proud of the way the guys applied themselves after the Surrey result. We put on our most clinical performance of the season.”
Ocitti and Owumi top scored for Wolves with 20 points apiece, followed by Kazlauskas and Masiulis with 15 and 13 points respectively.