The Manchester Met Mystics took on the Nottingham Wildcats for the third time this season at the weekend, but couldn’t come away with the win that would have taken them through to the WBBL Trophy Final. Instead, it will be Nottingham who face Barking Abbey London Lions for the silverware in Worcester on Sunday March 21st.
The Mystics started strong with Rheanne Bailey hitting a 3 pointer to open the scoring on their first possession followed by back to back threes from Sophia Song to put the Mystics up 7 early. Led by Simone Costa, scoring 10 of her 19 points in the first quarter, Nottingham pulled back to take a 23-18 lead at the end of the period.
Manchester held off the Wildcats, leading 51-47 going into half-time. A 33 point quarter for the Mystics came off the back of an outstanding performance from Georgia Jones who had 17 points in the quarter alone, and saw her hit 4 from beyond the arc in the last five minutes. GB international Jones finished with 26 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals in a season where she is leading the Mystics in all 4 categories. She is having a career season across the board so far: in 3 point shooting percentage (39.2), rebounds (6.0) and steals (2.4) and with 17.1 points per game is second only to her 17.8 in the 2016/17 season.
A tough second half saw the Wildcats hold the home team to 11 points in the third and Siobhan Prior’s three to end the quarter gave Nottingham a 7 point lead.
Wildcats Centre Jasmine Joyner and guard Chelsey Shumpert kept up the pressure in the fourth which saw Nottingham head home with a 90-75 win. Joyner finished with 24 points on 45% from the field, along with 15 rebounds and 4 steals. Shumpert, third in the WBBL in scoring this season had 19 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists
Despite the loss, Manchester can take some positives out of the game as they shift their focus back to league play. A three game home stretch in seven days sees them take on Oaklands Wolves on Wednesday, Cardiff Met Archers on Saturday and Barking Abbey on Tuesday. Speaking after the game, the Brand 161& Bondi Bowls Mystics MVP, Rheanne Bailey (15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) reflected on what went well for the team:
“Nottingham are a really tough team and we played really well for 30,32 minutes and each week we’re just trying to advance on that so its 35… 40. We executed offences really well, moved the ball but it’s just really those 8 minutes that we really take a big dip. So we’ve just got to be much better in those clutch moments that we pull together as a team and don’t try and take the world on our own shoulders.”
“We’ve been beating the teams that on paper we should be beating. I think when it comes to those teams that are finishing top 4, I don’t know what it is, I don’t know whether we’re playing the teams reputation but we just go away from what works for us. So I think everybody really wanted to prove a point today but again it’s unfortunate that we couldn’t keep playing that way for the 40 minutes. We need to trust in the process and we need to stay disciplined, there’s another silverwear up for grabs at the end of the season, we’ve just got to work to be our best when it comes to that time.“
Jones echoed the approach after their league game against Leicester:
Just taking one game at a time because obviously this year is just so unknown…there’s been a lot of stop and starts, as long as we are getting better each game I’m hoping the results will come and we’ll be ready when it matters in playoffs
Bailey looks to the opportunity that familiarity at home provides when asked about going into the week with three home games on the schedule:
“Hopefully we can build some momentum. It’s always nice especially midweek, to not have to travel, it feels abit weird, feels like a Saturday but it’s a Wednesday, so it is nice to be at home and it’s just a familiar setup when you’re playing at home. We train here we shoot on these baskets so I think that familiarity helps us.”
“(Oaklands) are a tough team, this season in the WBBL I think is the most talented across all the teams that we’ve seen. Every team is beatable…so it’s important that we show up and we play our best basketball and not take anything lightly”
Oaklands, led by US Guard Amari Carter and Greeta Uprus in their first WBBL seasons, head to Manchester on Wednesday after a 86-66 loss to Barking Abbey at the weekend. The Wolves have recently added guard Melita Emmanuel-Carr to their roster, who returns to the WBBL after injury last season, and her experience will be a valuable addition to the young team. Back to back wins against Caledonia and Cardiff give Oaklands a 2-7 record, two points behind the 3-4 Mystics who have a few games in hand due to their break from play earlier this year.
Manchester Met Mystics Upcoming Schedule:
Wednesday 17th March – Oaklands Wolves 5pm
Saturday 20th March – Cardiff Met Archers 2pm
Tuesday 23rd March – Barking Abbey London Lions 5pm
Manchester Met Mystics home games are streamed live on the Manchester Mystics YouTube channel and the Mystics MVP award presented by Brand 161 & Bondi Bowls will follow post game.
Manchester Met Mystics v Oaklands Wolves Game Stream:
FIBA Live stats: https://www.fibalivestats.com/u/WBBL/1851215/
Manchester Met Mystics v Cardiff Met Archers Game Stream:
Brand161 are a Basketball apparel and team wear clothing brand from Manchester: Instagram: @brand161mcr / Twitter: @brand161mcr