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Report: Bristol Flyers 59-66 Manchester Giants

Bristol Flyers suffered a comeback defeat in their first game of the BBL Championship campaign against the visiting Manchester Giants.

Flyers were led by Teddy Okereafor and Eric Lockett with 11 points apiece in a low-scoring affair.



Flyers built an early lead with Zach Copeland finding his teammates for good looks at the basket. An Okereafor three-pointer followed by a Copeland alley-oop to Lockett gave Flyers the momentum. A defensive stop from Raphell Thomas-Edwards allowed Daniel Edozie to get points in transition and forced a timeout from Giants coach Danny Byrne.

Manchester picked up their defence, but Flyers bench rotated in and got back to work around the basket with the frontcourt pairing of Liam Davis and Marcus Delpeche scoring from strong moves inside. Giants own big men Lyle Hexom and Braeon Brady were also effective in post play and cut into the lead. A late shot clock turnaround jumper from Panos Mayindombe gave Flyers the momentum, but Giants captain Jack Hudson was able to draw a shooting foul as the clock ran down and made it 18-14 to finish the quarter. 

Foul trouble came quickly for the home team in the second, with Giants having multiple players make three point-plays. Josh Rogers gave Bristol more bench production, curling off a screen to knock down an elbow jumper and splashing a three pointer. Rogers also put his body on the line for his team, getting in position and drawing a charging foul from Brady.

Another Okereafor three saw Bristol extend the lead. Giants were again able to finish the quarter strong, with Brady and Hexom linking up around the basket for a two-handed dunk and Hexom getting another trip to the foul line to make it 35-28 heading into half-time.

Copeland was able to strip the ball and release Thomas-Edwards for a transition dunk and feed Marcus Delpeche for a powerful slam, extending the Flyers lead to double figures. British guard Jordan Whelan was effective off the bench for Manchester, with his quick first step troubling the Flyers defence and drawing further fouls.

Quick third fouls for Lockett and Copeland limited their court time. As well as the foul trouble, turnovers started to become an issue for Bristol in the third, losing the ball seven times in the quarter. Lockett checked back in late, showing strength and savvy to draw a shooting foul and score over Whelan for a three-point play. Whelan answered with a buzzer beating 20 foot jumpshot to make it 50-44 at the end of the third quarter.

Flyers started the fourth quarter misfiring and a frustration foul from Lockett forced him back to the bench. A series of turnovers allowed Manchester easy scores in transition. Flyers were unable to contain Hexom and Brady and their scoring drought allowed Manchester to build a six point lead.

Brady finished with 17 point, 12 rebound double-double and created multiple second chance opportunities for the visitors with his offensive rebounding. With time becoming a factor, Coach Kapoulas called a timeout.

Flyers responded well with Lockett finding Delpeche for a lay-up. Fired up, Delpeche made a defensive stop and Okereafor found Copeland open for three points. Lockett put Bristol ahead with a high arcing jump shot off a pass from Copeland with just under two minutes remaining. 

Bristol lost the momentum with fouls a key factor. Copeland caught Whelan on a shot attempt and then crashed into Brady under the basket, forcing him out of the game with five personal fouls.

Hexom was crucial late in the game for the visitors, beating his man off the dribble for a lay-up and then sinking a step back jump shot. With Flyers chasing, they were forced to foul and were unable to get good looks at the other end. Giants extended the lead at the foul line to finish it 59-66.