Manchester Giants were pipped at the death after mounting a fine fightback to push Sheffield Sharks all the way at EIS Sheffield.

The writing looked on the wall for the visitors following a dismal first quarter that left them trailing 23-10.

But a fine second quarter display, in which they restricted the hosts to just eight points, got them back within one at half time.

Sheffield gradually opened up a lead before taking control either side of the third quarter break, but the Giants fought back once more to take the game to the wire.

It was only after Chris Alexander’s two free throws 14 seconds from time, which edged Sheffield four points ahead, that you felt the game was beyond Danny Byrne’s men.

The Giants entered the game, their third of the New Year, following the announcement that hometown centre Jack Crook has signed, though he wasn’t present for this one.

But after a 4-4 opening, the Sharks went on a 15-0 run to open a lead and threaten a blow out.

Instead Manchester put in an encouraging display that puts them in good stead for the remainder of the campaign.

There were significant contributions from David Kadiri, Ingus Bankevics, Austin Rettig and Callum Jones on the stats sheet.

Kadiri secured his now customary double double with a team high 19 points and 13 rebounds, while captain Jones earned the Challenger Insight MVP with 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

Bankevics chipped in with 15 points, including all three of the Giants three-pointers, as they finished with 3/20 from beyond the arc.

Rettig had 15 points and seven rebounds, while there were plenty of minutes too for Anastasios Traianos off the bench.

Giants are next in action on Saturday February 3 away at Leicester Riders.

BBL Summary

DBL Sharks Sheffield held on to overcome Manchester Giants in a tight battle on Friday night.

The visitors closed to within a single score inside the final minute, but drop to 2-14 as the Sharks survived for their ninth league win.

Leading scorers – Williams 26, Alexander 20, McKnight 14 (Sharks) – Kadiri 19, Jones 18, Bankevics/Rettig 15 (Giants)

Turning point – The signs were ominous early on for the Giants after an early 15-0 Sharks run, but they held the hosts to eight points in the second to close the gap. Sheffield pulled away in the third only to endure a nervy finish with clutch free throws from Chris Alexander sealing the win.

Key stat – It was far from pretty from the Sharks, shooting 25% at the half, but they managed to increase their offensive output in the second half and capitalised at the line with 20 free throws in total.

Game hero – Dirk Williams scored 14 points in a pivotal third quarter to help the Sharks pull away before finishing with a game-high 26 points.

Box score.