PLAY-OFFS MAIN GOAL FOR ALIU

Manchester Giants logo 568David Aliu is one of the hottest players in the league right now, producing some impressive individual performances of late but the 32 year-old is only focused on helping Manchester Giants reach the play-offs.

The Liverpool born forward rich vain of form has taken his scoring average to 20ppg for the campaign including a season-high 34 points against Birmingham but Aliu is not concerned with personal stats.

He said: “It doesn’t bother me if I score 1 point or 20 or 30 points. It’s the outcome that matters at the end of the day. As of late, I’ve been able to score a few points and put us in a position to win but, for me, all that’s irrelevant. I’m just all about winning and that’s the most important thing.”

After missing out in cruel fashion at the end of last season, the 6’6″ forward believes the experience serves as added motivation to make the post-season this year. Jeff Jones’ side have been resurgent in recent weeks, improving to a 3-8 record after a poor start to the season and Aliu believes the Giants are making strides each week.

“I can see vast improvements every single week. It’s now about putting the whole game together for us, starting out strong and finishing strong because we usually found ourselves in a hole and have to dig deep.”

He added: “We don’t want to take any steps back so our main goal is to reach the play-offs this season and continue to build as a team every year then things are moving in the right direction. We have to keep fighting together on the court.”

It was that determined spirit that saw the Giants overcome a sixteen-point half-time deficit to defeat the Plymouth Raiders a few weeks ago. And, Manchester nearly did it again at the weekend against Sheffield but eventually fell short in overtime with Aliu admitting it was a difficult loss to take.

“It was hard, a tough loss for us because we got ourselves down at the beginning then showed determination to fight back and it’s a progression of how we’ve played of late.

“We had a few injuries with two key players (Mike Bernard and Keith Page) missing from our rotation leaving us with a rotation of six players. Some people played close to 45 minutes and it was difficult to give anymore.

“I think it showed as we didn’t score in overtime (0-12), we just gassed out.”

Manchester had taken on the Sharks earlier in the season and fell to a 71-57 defeat amidst their early season slump and Aliu feels that Sunday’s game reflects how much the team has come on since then.

“Sheffield are a much better team than when we played them before with the addition of (BJ) Holmes. They’ve gelled together and had some great results so to push them all the way shows lots of progression from our side and we’re heading in the right direction.”

The Giants kept the core of last year’s squad with Devan Bailey, now at Cheshire, the main departure while Yorrick Williams, Keith Page and Spaniard Iker Amuchastegui all signed up to join the likes of Aliu, David Watts and James Jones.

However, they were unable to hit the ground running and suffered five consecutive defeats. It wasn’t until the end of October before Manchester broke their win duck and Aliu attributes the poor start to a lack of pre-season.

“For me, the first few games of the season were like our pre-season as we tried to get a feel of each other and get into that game rythmn. We had a lot of games scheduled but were unable to play them because of cancellations.”

Aliu played in his 150th league game at the weekend having previously had spells with Leicester Riders, Glasgow Rocks and his hometown Everton/Mersey Tigers. Now adding some valuable experience to the Giants squad, he hopes to have a lasting effect on the younger contingent.

He said: “I’m one of the veterans and I feel that my experience is a big-time experience because I’ve been in a lot of situations. I hope I can maybe rub off on the¬†younger guys because just having that knowledge and understanding of the game helps in certain situations.”

And, Manchester will hope to continue their recent improvement this weekend when they face a difficult double-header on the road against Worcester Wolves and Leicester Riders, two teams battling at the top of the table.

It’s the ‘most competitive’ Aliu has seen the BBL but that doesn’t detract from his desire to be playing play-off basketball with the Giants come April/May.

“The league is wide open with four or five teams in with a great shot. It’s exciting and that’s what you want. We can still make the play-offs and we just want improve on last year as a team.”

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