A MAGNIFICENT comeback saw the Canberra Gunners take down the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles in the weekend’s National Basketball League (NBL)1 East action. The men’s Round 8 fixtures kicked off on Saturday with the Gunners heading to Northern Beaches Indoor Sports Centre, in what was a pretty big matchup for both sides. The Gunners were looking to keep their title as one of the most impressive sides this year, while the Sea Eagles were eager on keeping up the pace with the sides above them.
The first half was all one way traffic, with the Sea Eagles making the most of their home crowd advantage and jumping out to an early lead. It looked as if Manly was set to run away with an upset win. However, Canberra rallied in a big way in the second half, producing a serious fightback and managed to slowly but surely chip away at the deficit. It was largely set up in the third term, where the Gunners outscored the opposition 32-13. They carried this momentum into the fourth, where they we able to finish the job and claim an impressive five-point victory.
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (87) def. by Canberra Gunners (92)
Manly got off to a flying start, with a high-scoring first quarter seeing the hosts jump ahead in the first 10 minutes. With a nice balance of inside and outside scoring resulting in a nice 11-point lead at the first change of play (a margin that could have been worse for Canberra if not for a late three to Shaun Mills). Quarter number two was more of the same from the Gunners, with their offence unable to get rolling still, thanks to some immense pressure from the Sea Eagles. Kyle Painter put Manly up by 19 points on the eve of half time, and it was certainly a one-sided affair, and Canberra’s hopes were so close to fading.
Unlike what we saw in the first half, the third term belonged completely to the Gunners, who managed to get their game going on both ends of the court. There was a lot to like about Canberra in the third term; ruthless on the defensive end and deadly with ball in hand. It was a terrific team-oriented style of play, and the Sea Eagles found themselves under the pump for the first time all game. When Max Cooper sank a lay-up in the last 15 seconds of the period, the margin had been erased completely, and it was a tie game heading into the last 10 minutes of play. While each side had small runs throughout the term, neither side could get a true scoreboard advantage for much of the fourth quarter. Glenn Morison‘s dunk gave Canberra its biggest lead at five points with four minutes on the clock, but Manly was not done yet. The home side managed to conjure some baskets to ensure proceedings were once again tied with 30 seconds to go. Canberra got the biggest bucket of the game when Max Cooper nailed a shot from behind the arc, and sealed the game when Dhal Fieg stole the ball on the next possession and threw down an impressive reverse dunk.
For the victors, Morison was the standout, recording a double-double and leading Canberra to a triumph in the second half. He finished the game with 23 points and 11 rebounds, both of which were game-highs. Mills and Fieg both recorded over 15 points, as did Cooper, who produced a spark of energy off the bench. Steven White was the main man for Manly, finishing with an equal game-high 23 points and was terrific in the opening half when the Sea Eagles were dominant.