BBL LOGO 568Surrey United claimed their first win of the season with a thrilling final quarter performance to the delight of coach Jack Majewski and his players.

Despite trailing by 21 points at the end of the third, they showed fight and belief, spurred on by a rousing home crowd to outscore Manchester Giants 40-12 in the final quarter to win 94-87. A spirited 19-0 run hauled Surrey back into contention and they took the lead on a Brandon McGill three before closing out the game with the final nine points.

Majewski said: “I’m obviously delighted about the win. I know how much the guys wanted this and how much they enjoy being together.

“We’ve been getting closer but some bad minutes have cost us and even today we started poorly but we always believe. The guys have worked very hard, they practice every day.

“This is the start for us. The arrival of Shawntez (Patterson) will make us stronger. He’s only 22, we don’t need veterans and it was important for us to prove we can win in this league.”

Surrey proved that age is no barrier in the league, showing great character to keep believing in their cause despite facing widespread criticism.

The visitors looked to be in cruise control in the first half and produced some spectacular plays with a buzzer-beating putback dunk from David Watts and an inbound three from James Jones with one second on the shotclock.

One play in particular stood out from a thrilling game, epitomising the sheer determination and belief of this young side. At a crucial stage, under high pressure, Joel Henry missed both free throw attempts but his reaction was key. He didn’t let his head drop. Instead, chased down the ball, got the steal and fed McGill for the easy slam.

The 21 year-old matched his season-high 18 points after finding his range from downtown to spark United into life and he was understandably ‘over the moon’ with the win.

Henry said: “I’m happy to get the win, it was a good performance from us. We have to carry this on and get back to training well.

“I wanted to prove to myself I can do well at this level and we’ve shown that young players can do it too in this league, not just the veterans.”

It was a full team effort: ‘Big Ces’ fought hard against relentless double-teams to earn his 17 points and 15 rebounds; young Korry Callum had the game of his life with a valuable 19 points through graft under the basket; McGill showed his composure with some important shots on his way to 25 points and their captain, Elvisi Dusha led by example for his team.

The GB under-20 hopeful battled away all game, displaying some flashy drives and a calm head down the stretch and he was appreciative of the influence of the home support.

“The crowd won that game for us. Just incredible. I’m lost for words right now, it’s a great feeling to win. We’ve always believed we can and this win is long overdue. We want to keep on winning now and we have the chance to do that Thursday in the Trophy,” said Dusha.

McGill added: “The crowd were amazing. I had no energy from playing yesterday but they were my motivation. Every time I looked up they were clapping and cheering us on, even when we were down. I’m just glad I finally helped this team get our first win.”

It was the visitors who started out on top as David Aliu continued his impressive form this season with 11 points in the opening quarter. Fellow England international Rob Marsden was making light work inside helping himself to seven points to help the Giants into a 27-12 lead after the first.

Stefan Gill was allowed to drive to the basket for consecutive scores as the lead increased beyond twenty points at the start of the second. Surrey were scoreless for almost five minutes until an 8-0 burst was sparked by two triples from Henry. Kucinskas finally opened his account for the night then kept finding the hoop with nine quick points to end the half with his side down 47-31.

The Giants seemed to be in cruise control with Aliu and Marsden combining to dominate in the paint allowing Jeff Jones to hand out rare minutes to Spaniard Iker Amuchastegui and youth prospect Connor Tuxford with the lead at a commanding 23 points. McGill ended the quarter with a respondent three as Surrey headed to their huddle trailing by twenty-one points.

Not many would have predicted the events that were to happen next. But Surrey believed and that proved to be key.

Henry and James Jones traded 3-pointers at the start of the fourth then McGill netted his third of the night and the confidence began to show. All of a sudden, Surrey were fighting for everything. They wanted it more and Manchester began to look laboured as if they thought the game was already up.

Turnover after turnover and the home side were punishing their opponents. Callum added eight points in a pivotal run while Kucinskas stepped back to drain a three and Henry went to 18 points with another fearless shot from downtown.  Surrey were now within just a single score with just under five minutes to go.

Manchester had plenty of experience on the court to know not to panic and Gill fired in a three to silence the crowd and make it 82-77 in the process. Dusha has been a strong advocate of Surrey’s cause and his five points in quick succession tied the game after nonchalantly making a three from deep.

Watts made a big shot from beyond the arc but Surrey remained undeterred and Callum intentionally dribbled out to the 3-point line, made the shot and levelled the game at 85. A brief lapse in concentration enabled an easy score under the basket for Marsden, albeit at the second attempt after missing the uncontested lay-in first time round.

The situation called for a cool head and McGill stepped up to give his side an 88-87 lead with their seventh triple of the quarter. The visitors were buckling under the pressure of United’s high-intensity and couldn’t get a shot away without turning the ball over and Surrey sensed blood, battling for every loose ball. Callum’s lay-in made it 90-87 and Manchester were forced to foul after another careless possesion.

Henry and McGill both missed two at the line but the recovery from both was essential, resulting in the aforementioned dunk for McGill and then more free throws to seal the win. Emotions ran high after the game and there was an altercation between a fan and opposing player but apologies were eventually made leaving Surrey United to bask in the glory of their first victory of the season.

1-17 still isn’t great. For United, it was a fight for what they believed in.

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