Giants 70- 65 Sharks
The Manchester Giants returned home to the National Basketball Performance Centre in victorious fashion on Sunday, standing firm for a 70-65 win against the Sheffield Sharks to make it one win and one loss for the weekend.
Led by the double-digit scoring of all five starters - and mammoth defensive performances by William Lee and Anthony Roberson, who had five and four blocks respectively - the Giants improved their BBL Championship record to 12 wins and 11 losses on the season.
Lee also top-scored for the Giants with 17 points, closely followed by Rahmon Fletcher who had 16 points alongside nine assists.The first quarter was a frantic display from both teams, with a few stray passes meaning neither side was able to firmly establish themselves as the favourite for victory.The visitors from across the Pennines were aided by the high-effort offensive play of Marcus Delpeche, who grabbed a couple of offensive rebounds and an and-one layup in the first quarter on his way to a 12-point, eight-rebound performance.
And as the game moved into the second, it was the turn of William Lee to show his mastery on the offensive end, adding a couple of easy layups and a thunderous dunk off an Anthony Roberson assist.
The scores remained tight though, and despite the consistent sharpshooting of Dirk Williams, who hit three of his six attempts from outside the arc in the first half, the Giants were unable to pull away from Coach Atiba Lyons’ side until the closing minutes before the interval.
A layup from floor general Fletcher with under ten seconds on the clock would be the final points of the half, as Vince Macaulay’s men headed for the locker room with the scores at 44-39.It was the Giants’ team captain who would come out firing in the opening exchanges of the second half, using his wealth of experience to drive to the basket for a pair of tough layups including an and-one play.
But after the men in green shot out to a ten-point lead after just two and a half minutes of play in the third, the visitors clawed themselves back to within just six points at the start of the final quarter.Saeed Nelson was at the forefront of all things Sharks in the second half, refusing to allow the Giants a moment’s peace in defence and facilitating his team’s attack with eight assists on the night.
Giants had their own weapons to play with though, and a bullet pass from Lee to Roberson would put the hosts back up by two as the expectation of the Belle Vue crowd intensified - before Lee drained another triple to create some breathing room for the hosts.By the final three minutes of the game, the atmosphere was simmering inside the NBPC with the fans cheering every Giants make and Sharks miss.
And with just 11 seconds on the clock, the Sharks had a baseline inbound knowing a three-point play would bring them level, but the resulting layup was blocked by defensive enforcer Lee for his fifth rejection of the game!
The Giants raced down the other side of the court and a tip-pass from Green to Roberson, who dunked the ball emphatically, placed the seal on a gritty victory that put matters to right after a tough loss against the Riders on Friday.
The home fans rose to their feat in elation as their side secured another win at home, and marched on in their fight for play-off basketball come the end of the BBL season
.Head Coach Vince Macaulay said: " We had to grind that one out. we weren't very good on Friday night we were pretty horrible. Probably one of our worst displays of the season".
"So coming back home it was important that we showed up our home fans that we can get it done. I'm just glad of how hard we persevered. We stayed the whole way and that was important against a very tough and resilient Sharks team".