‘Big three’ lead Ipswich basketball club to win at Mansfield Giants
- Credit: Archant
National League 2 Mansfield Giants 70 Ipswich 76 Ipswich travelled 160 miles to Mansfield still in search of that first away win in the league.
Mansfield were coming off a big six-point win at championship contenders Derby Trailblazers last week so coach Nick Drane and his team knew they would need to be in top form to get the result.
Ipswich handed a debut to 7-foot tall Zimbabwean Tendai Simbai, a player brought in by Drane to give the team cover at the centre position as well as a much needed presence both in the locker room and on the bench.
The first quarter saw the two teams very much feeling each other out, with both looking like they had another gear to go to. The period ended 20-18 to Mansfield.
The second quarter was where Ipswich first took control of the game, although not in especially dominant fashion. Both teams went back and forth.
For Ipswich, Josh Johnson had it going as did big Leigh Greenan while for the Giants it was the combination of 6ft 10ins Mark Woodhouse and American Charles Gamble who were doing damage for the home side.
Ipswich held a tight 33-31 lead going into the interval.
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The third started with Mansfield taking over the game going on a 7-0 run to go up, before Ipswich took a time out.
Ipswich, who despite the presence of Greenan, the league’s biggest physical presence, were losing the battle of the boards so for the first time this season Drane opted to use three big men together.
The sheer size and physical dominance of Greenan, Tom Sadler and Colin Dockrell sparked a 14-0 run, highlighted by a monstrous dunk from Greenan on the Mansfield big man.
Aaron Moseley netted seven straight points in the run as Ipswich took a 60-52 lead into the final period.
The fourth quarter saw Ipswich use the giant Zimbabwean Tendai to great effect as the big man collected three rebounds and a blocked shot in a five-minute spell in which Mansfield didn’t score in open play.
Simbai’s contribution allowed the visitors to give short periods of rest to the ‘big three’ while elsewhere, Johnson and Moseley continued to dominate the scoring, with Greenan also getting in on the act.
Dockrell played a key role in the run, while enjoying his best game of the season.
However, Mansfield are a spirited team with some excellent shooters and they wouldn’t go down lightly.
A series of three-point shots from Gamble and Dan Richards, as well as a long two from Woodhouse, brought the game within six in the dying seconds but Ipswich held on for a massive win.
Moseley and Johnson led the scoring with 21 points, while Greenan added 16.
Drane said: “We needed that. A road win, a close win and a game that needed all the guys to step up.
“Our role players were massive today - Colin and Aaron in particular, who sparked that big run in the third.”