Caledonia Gladiators opened their 23/24 British Basketball League account with a victory at the National Basketball Performance Centre against the hometown Manchester Giants, winning 97-79 after a strong finish to the game. Patrick Whelan and Ian DuBose stood out, both performing solidly in their league debuts.

The visitors started out slowly with missed shots and turnovers aplenty, whilst the hosts built a 14-1 lead in the opening five minutes, but Gladiators soon came back into the game thanks to solid play from the bench, namely Fraser Malcolm and Ian DuBose who had six and four crucial points respectively. After ten minutes, Gladiators had clawed back their initial deficit, ending the quarter down a single point: 23-24.

It was clear that the Gladiators had to step up the pace after ten, with a first win on the board at stake. Despite the fightback from Giants, Gladiators continued to battle bucket-for-bucket with the hosts. After a pair of free throws from Giants’ Jalen Harris and a missed Patrick Whelan finish, the sides were at a deadlock heading into the locker rooms at 45 points apiece.

As the third quarter approached, pressure was piling on both sides, with the Giants fans getting louder as the game progressed. Despite the game continuing to be end-to-end, Gladiators manage to edge their way forward through solid team basketball and higher volume three-point shooting. Former Rider, Patrick Whelan led the way with 11 points in the third alone, including three 3-pointers. Gladiators extended their lead to 65-71, heading into the fourth quarter up six points.

It was in the final period that the Gladiators truly stepped up their game and showed their potential to dominate fixtures in the British Basketball League this season. In stark comparison to the third, Gladiators this time led 14-26 in the final ten-minute spell, confirming their first win of the campaign in emphatic fashion, 79-97.

The game MVP award was given to Ian DuBose, who stood out in his British debut, putting up a solid 15 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists

Before heading to Antalya, Turkey, for the Basketball Champions League Qualifiers, Gladiators face the massive challenge of last season’s treble winners, London Lions, in another away day in the British Basketball League on Thursday.

The men’s side takes to the PlaySport court for the first time on the 5th of October, whilst the women’s squad need to wait until the end of the month to make their home league debut. Get your tickets HERE!