Report via British Basketball League

Caledonia Gladiators dominated the Manchester Giants with a 101-68 victory, giving them sole possession of second place in the British Basketball League Championship with a 13-7 record.

The win saw the Gladiators bounce back emphatically from Saturday’s 87-80 defeat to the Plymouth City Patriots, as Czech forward Lukas Palyza led the game with 19 points.

The game made it three straight defeats for the 6-15 Giants. They sit outside of the Playoff picture in ninth place, a win behind the eighth-placed Surrey Scorchers.

The Gladiators handed them their second-biggest defeat of the season, making it a Boxing Day to forget for the North Westerners.

Starting Five

Caledonia Gladiators: Ian Dubose, Princeton Onwas, Patrick Whelan, Clifton Moore Jr., Lukas Palyza

Manchester Giants: Legend Robertin, Jalen Harris, William Lee, Jamell Anderson, Nicholas Lewis

First Half

Legend Robertin got the game underway for the Giants. The 7’1” Brit slammed down a thunderous two-handed jam, before laying one in for two to put Manchester up 6-4 to start the game.

However, five minutes in, Manchester’s shot-blocking duo of Robertin and William Lee headed to the bench. As a result, the Gladiators found separation in the game for the first time.

Mike Bothwell got to work in isolation to float in a two and Kyle Johnson showed muscle inside to grab an offensive rebound and connect with a layup to make it 20-15.

Clifton Moore Jr. was the next to take advantage of the absence of rim protection. His one-handed slam after rolling to the rim caused Giants’ Head Coach Brian Semonian to call his first timeout with the score 22-15.

Moore Jr.’s hot start saw him go 4-4 to start the game. He pinned Evan Walshe’s layup to the backboard to start the second quarter, stuffed Robertin’s attempt from the post, and scored 11 points in as many minutes to help his team to a 34-24 lead.

The American made one of the plays of the season for his 13th points. Driving to the hoop, he went straight up with Robertin and put him on a poster with a monstrous throw-down.

Ian Dubose capped off an 8-0 Caledonia run on the next play with an open run to the rim- the score 42-27 in their favour.

It was then GB international Patrick Whelan’s turn to take over the scoring for the Gladiators. His hot hand torched the Giants, scoring 14 points on a 16-4 Caledonia run, draining four threes to make it a 55-33 lead.

Jamell Anderson, who leads the League in minutes and the Giants in scoring, attempted to stop the bleeding with 7 straight points for his team.

Despite this, it was a drop in the ocean against a torrent of Gladiator scoring, and the sides went into the locker rooms with the hosts leading 59-34.

Second Half

Five-time Czech league champion Palyza started the second half with a bang by draining two triples. He was backed by Moore Jr., who put up 4 points at the start of the third as the Gladiators went on a 9-0 run.

The Giants, contrasting their opponent’s red-hot form, turned the ball over five times in four minutes to get the half underway, falling in a 73-36 hole.

Continuing to pile on the points, Palyza pulled up from deep and hit a rainbow three over Anderson to lead the game’s scoring and make it 78-41.

Nick Stampley showed some life in an attempt to get the Giants going with two and-one plays. The second was a finish over Trent Buttrick, who sent him to the line.

In response, Bothwell got to work. He drove to the rim on back-to-back plays, scoring 4 points and making it 82-44 to the hosts.

Johnson followed up by connecting on a wide-open three, and Buttrick sent Austin Lawton’s layup flying with a block to enter the fourth up 41.

With the game’s result in little doubt, the start of the fourth saw the sides exchange buckets. Bothwell scored 4 points at the rim, the second score coming from the Giants’ 17th turnover to make it 91-48.

Frustrations boiled over midway through the quarter. Manchester’s Lawton picked up an unsportsmanlike foul after an altercation with Caledonia’s Kyle Jimenez.

Lawton responded by getting to work inside and throwing down a two-handed slam to decrease the deficit to 91-53.

Playing for pride, the Giants won the fourth quarter 24-16 against the Gladiators’ second unit, led by Jalen Harris’ 8 points.

Player of the Game

17 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists saw Moore Jr. earn Player of the Game honours, his impressive performance highlighted by the American’s explosive poster over 7’1″ Robertin. His performance in the second quarter saw the Gladiators blow the game open, and they never looked back.