Riders 104- 84 Giants
Friday night saw the Manchester Giants faced off against current BBL Champions Leicester Riders for the third time in the league this season, suffering a bruising 104-84 loss at the Morningside Arena.
Led by the unplayable Marc Loving, who put up 25 points, seven rebounds and one assist, the Riders cruised to a comfortable 20-point victory over a Giants side who fell short in the second half.
Despite the continued fine form of Nick Lewis, who added 16 points alongside three steals and two assists, the visitors could not take the win back to the North West.It was the hosts who shot out to an early lead, as a string of second-chance buckets and defensive miscommunications allowed them to build a healthy advantage.With four minutes on the clock in the first quarter and the scoreboard at 19-8, Coach Vince Macaulay called a timeout hoping to stop the leak.
But a further defensive breakdown and a put-back dunk by Riders big man Aaron Menzies kept the visitors, sporting their yellow jerseys, at arms’ length on the scoreboard.As the second quarter got underway, Lewis made himself a nuisance on defence, as well as canning a triple to bring the Riders offensive system grinding to a halt.
The British-Canadian guard would add a further triple, before winning an offensive foul against Kimbal Mackenzie near half-court as the Giants brought the deficit down to just seven points.Rahmon Fletcher found yet more ways to score the basketball, reacting to intense perimeter pressure by the hosts by attacking the basket with a string of driving layups on his way to a team-high ten points at the interval.
Giants kept themselves in the fight, showing grit and determination on every play, and by the final possession of the half they had brought themselves to within just five of the reigning champions.With the clock winding down, Macaulay’s men seemed to have forced the hosts into a bad shot – but a final extra pass to the free-scoring Marc Loving for a corner three to beat the buzzer gave Leicester a seven-point lead at the interval.
Loving led the game’s scoring with 21 points at the break.Into the third, and Giants struggled to find answers for the depth and offensive options of a confident Riders outfit who seemed to have scorers in all parts of the floor.It was the turn of Riders wing Zach Jackson to heat up in the penultimate quarter, as he added nine of his 18 points in the game.
And by the time the final quarter started, the Riders were already out of reach, with the score at 84-61.The Giants’ struggles were compounded when Dirk Williams went down clutching his knee early in the fourth – but he later returned to the court for the final minutes.
However, there were to be no further saving graces in this one, as the game ended 104-84 to the Riders.
Head Coach Vince Macaulay said: “There were good bits and bad bits in the game, I thought we started dreadfully but rectified that in the 2nd Qtr”. “I thought we lost our way in the second half instead of building in the good work to get back in the game. We move on and regroup for Sunday”.