- National Teams
The Oklahoma City Thunder fought their way to a 103-99 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers during the first NBA pre-season game to be hosted in Manchester’s Phones 4 U Arena, as Kevin Durant shone with a 21 point, 12 assist and 8 rebound effort.
Both teams have made trips across Europe through the pre-season, with Manchester the final stop before heading back to the States to continue their work heading into the regular season. Neither team failed to disappoint the 13,000 fans who made their way to the North-West.
Kevin Durant was happy with the performance and was thrilled with the experience of playing in Manchester for the first time:
“We scored 35 points in the third quarter and that’s pretty good for us, we just moved the basketball and trusted our offense and we were able to make some shots”.
“it’s a great atmosphere, the fans were unbelievable and they deserve to have basketball over here”.
Oklahoma City Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks also praised the support they’d received in Manchester.
“It’s been a great experience over the past two or three days we’ve been in town. There have been a lot of good times for our players to get around town and bond with one another”.
“They [the crowd] were excited to see NBA players, I think players on both teams did a great job of competing and giving everything they had, I thought the crowd were really good”.
“I thought the atmosphere was fantastic, it was a well presented game, we appreciate the support and professionalism that Manchester has shown the NBA, you’ve done a really great job”.
I’m really proud of the guys, we’ve only been together for a short period of time and for them I think it validates all of the work they’ve put in, and to be able to come overseas and learn a little bit more about each other and then to have the performance we had tonight is a great thing”.
Serge Ibaka was the strong early performer for Oklahoma, quickly showing off his improved shooting range and ever present defensive intensity with two early blocks.
Philadelphia’s rookie point Guard Michael Carter-Williams kept them in touch from beyond the arc though, alongside the hard work of Spencer Hawes and Tony Wroten, in a tight opening quarter which ended 25-22 in favour of the Thunder.
Kevin Durant struggled to connect throughout the first half bar one thunderous dunk, and it was back-up Guard Reggie Jackson who had to pick up the slack, but the 76ers continued to hang around and took the lead late in the half after a Tony Wroten three pointer.
The third quarter proved to be decisive, as KD exploded for 14 points of the Thunders 35 in the period. Philadelphia struggled to keep a hold of the free scoring Thunder and saw themselves down 83-74 at the buzzer.
Oklahoma refused to back down in the final quarter and despite a strong effort from the 76ers would not give up their lead, leaning again on top scorer Reggie Jackson down the stretch to come out 103-99 victors.
The next game to be hosted on British shores is the regular season match-up between the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks, set to be held at the O2 Arena in January.
Did you attend the game? Thoughts?