It was announced on Friday that the Manchester Giants have signed Ryan Lewis, a 6’7″ forward who suited up for his hometown Birmingham Knights last season. He played in Friday’s BBL Cup loss to Leeds, registering 6 points.
Prior to last season, Lewis played at Junior College in California, and subsequently for Leicester and Derby in Division 1 of Basketball England’s National League.
Ed McNally spoke to Ryan to find out about his experiences in Birmingham, how he signed for the Giants, and the season ahead.
What did you take away from your first BBL season with Birmingham?
Last season helped me further build my character. Losing time after time can either break you or give you opportunity to learn and improve. Battling through what we suffered united the players, it was just unfortunate we couldn’t represent that in the results.
Who is the toughest individual match-up for you in the league?
My toughest match-up personally would be Emile Hopkins; he is my brother and we have played together for the past 3 years. We shoot and work out together during the summers and have an ongoing 1-on-1 game over the years; he knows all my offensive moves and defensive weaknesses. Fortunately, I know his too.
How did you come to sign with the Giants?
Last season personally left me with little exposure, so I just decided to practise my game and run… a lot. I shed weight and got lighter on my feet which enabled me to run the floor better. This happened to be one of the qualities Jeff Jones picked up on after he entertained my self-edited highlight tape and invited me to scrimmage.
What are your initial impressions of the Giants organisation and fan base?
The organisation has everything on point; the people behind the scenes are very efficient and are as passionate as the fans. The fan base is amazing. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my city, but weirdly enough I feel like I get more love in Manchester. Even though I was merely playing in preseason games and on the sidelines unregistered, they have seemed to embrace me as one of their own and I really do appreciate it.
Do you have any personal goals for your second year in the league?
My first BBL win would be a great start. I’d like to improve my offensive input; I have been working on scoring in different ways depending on match-ups but my main focus is stopping my man.
How far do you think the team can go this year?
This team can go as far as it wants to; the only team that can stop us is us. When everything is clicking and everyone is doing what they should be doing I think this team can be a problem for any team, just because there are so many great scorers. [Stefan] Gill, [Martyn] Gayle, and [David] Watts are lights out, [Ben] Eaves is a beast on the boards and [Callum] Jones finishes really well in traffic. Jeff has installed a great ethos of moving the ball quickly and it opens up the court to get the right shot at any time. We just have to make sure we stay within Jeff’s game plan and play to our strengths.
Who do you see as title favourites for the BBL this season?
I see no favourites. Not many people outside of Bristol thought they would start off how they have and I bet no one outside of Manchester thought we would beat both Worcester and Sheffield. There are no walkovers in this league, any given night a team can win or lose. We are only in week 2/3 and the league has proven this already.
Was it frustrating having to watch last weekend’s thrilling win against Worcester from the sidelines?
Frustrating probably isn’t the best word. I was itching to play but I decided I’d play my part from the bench and keep the energy going. I tweeted after it was one of the best games in the UK I had ever watched live. It was so intense and the atmosphere from the crowd was electric. One of my best friends Martyn had a great game and the whole thing just left me excited to get on court and try to have a similar impact that he did that night.
The team suffered a disappointing defeat in your first game on Friday night; what will you be looking to improve on as you host Bristol tomorrow?
We came out flat, and Leeds were definitely ready to go from the start. Shots just weren’t falling for us and Leeds did well to expose some gaps, but talking in the changing room straight after we highlighted areas that need to be addressed. We know we are a good team so we will shake off the loss and push the ball like we know we can.
Image: Jack Hinds; Ryan Lewis (in white)