Charnwood put on a clinic at both ends of the floor to take their much anticipated match up with rivals Manchester 89-59.
As two evenly matched sides that needed 2 periods of OT to separate them last time they met, Charnwood dominated from the outset. Pouring in the points on offence thanks to eventual MVP Hosana Kitenge, they also limited Manchester’s danger man Michael Anumba to just 14 points to help seal a deserved victory.
Kitenge finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 blocks despite seeing limited action in the latter stages of the game. Teammate Zak-Blue Shagourie added 16 points, and Manchester’s Arinze Emeka-Anyakwo had a team high 18.
With anticipation for the game high, there was little to report in the early going though the initial exchanges were punctuated by a highlight block by Manchester’s Wesley Oba. As the game began to develop, the main catalyst was Kitenge as he consistently provided a source of offence in the paint. He was responsible for 5 of Charnwood’s first 10 points, whilst providing a block on the defensive end as well. Michael Anumba stepped up in the early going to match Kitenge and the pair duelled for most of the opening period. The quarter ended 17-12 to the Riders, with Kitenge and Anumba contributing the bulk of the points.
In the 2nd, Charnwood broke the game open. A huge 17-1 run left Manchester shell shocked as each possession went the Riders way regardless of which end of the court the ball was in. The Magic couldn’t get anything to drop, and Charnwood couldn’t miss with Kitenge growing into the game and feeding off the crowd and his bench with each basket. The powerful forward could do no wrong in the quarter as even when play broke down late in the shot clock, the age-group international spun away from trouble before hitting a deep fade away against the odds. That basket took his tally to 15 points on the day and the damage was done. Anumba finally managed to get something to go for the North West side with 3 minutes left in the period, but Kitenge immediately answered that basket with a 3 of his own to sum up the tone of the quarter. Charnwood still had time for one final dagger, draining a buzzer beater to end the half with the Riders up 43-22.
Any hope of starting the 2nd half positively went by the wayside for Manchester as their opponents scored the first 4 points of the 3rd quarter. Those baskets provided the start of another run that saw the Riders lead pass 30. Manchester showed some heart to battle deep into the 4th quarter despite the contest being over, but winning the final period would have been little consolation.
“That was a great experience. We were prepared and ready to play,” said Kitenge. “I felt a little hesitant to start, a few nerves, but I knew one I got playing my own game and being more confident, good things would come of it.””
Charnwood Riders Head Coach Will Maynard, “We did a great job today, with standout performances from Hosana but also Niall Harris on the defensive end. To hold Anumba to just 14 points was key. We didn’t expect this result, but we had a game plan and stuck to it. It worked and the players bought into what I wanted from them.”
Manchester Head Coach Peter Paraskeva, “All credit to Charnwood, they prepared for us very well. I think our guys were a little complacent after beating them a couple of weeks ago. They were dominant on the boards, nullified our best players and we couldn’t get going. We’ll get back on the court next week and get straight back into it.”