The Manchester Giants end the BBL regular season with a loss to the London Lions 80-90 and secure the 5th seed heading into the playoffs. 

The final game of the regular season tipped off at the National Basketball Performance Centre. Both teams were fighting for the third seed in the playoffs but only one would claim it. 

A slower start tonight for Manchester than Friday night, allowing London a 10-2 scoring run in the opening 3 minutes of the quarter. Tyrik Armstrong makes twice in 2 offensive possessions to bring the game closer and bring the game closer they did, Two free throws from Jamell Anderson followed up by a three from Josh Steel and later a hook shot from mid range by David Ulph who brought the game to within one point. A soon as the Giants pulled the game back, London stretched their lead back out to 9 points in the latter stages of the quarter. This lead only grew as the game progressed as Kylor Kelley was fouled and sent to the free throw line as a result, Kelley then proceeded to sink both free throws with the first wiping its feet on the way in. With those free throws, the lead extended to 13 points as the Lions led the Giants 14-27 at the end of the first. 

A backcourt violation in the first 9 seconds was the start to the 2nd quarter. Later on, Martaveous McKnight sinks a tough midrange jumper in double coverage, McKnight started to heat up as he showed off his agility to burst past Will Neighbour and convert the tough layup. The good start to the quarter didn’t stop there as Tyrik Armstrong did what he does best and produced a floater that was nothing but net. Air Artison was cleared for take off in the 2nd quarter as he slammed it down with venom at the midway point of the quarter. Despite being down 10, the Giants are still fighting for that third seed with some great defensive hustle to force turnovers both underneath the basket and at the halfway line. From as big as a 15 point lead to a 4 point lead at the end of the second quarter with the Giants on the Lions’ tails 36-40. 

The Lions went on another scoring run in the game and the first of the third quarter. Jamell Anderson showed off his range as he made from beyond the arc followed up by Geno Artison from close range. Anderson also converted from close and started to pull this game back. The Giants kept making shot after shot as they went on a 12-5 scoring run bringing the game as close as a single possession. London and Manchester traded baskets midway through the third quarter with Isaiah Reece and Jamell Anderson going blow for blow behind the three point line. Jamell wasn’t done from three as he let loose from three again with just under 2 minutes left to bring the game within a single point. After a few costly turnovers from Manchester the lead goes back to 5 through a pair of free throws. In the dying seconds of the third quarter, Martaveous McKnight pulls up, off balance at the buzzer and drains it from the wing to make it a 2 point game heading into the 4th quarter. 

The 4th quarter action got underway via some razzle dazzle from Tyrik Armstrong as he danced around the opposition and produced a floater almost identical to his one from before. The Giants followed this up with a Dan Clark midrange jumper to keep this game close. Just when the game started to slip away, Jamell Anderson produced a hook shot at the buzzer to keep the Giants in this game. It was end to end basketball tonight in the NBPC with Isaiah Reece and Josh Steel trading buckets at the midway point of the final quarter. Despite back to back threes from Dan Clark at the business end of the quarter, London had built up a formidable lead that was too much. 

Despite results, Jamell Anderson was lights out tonight scoring 26 points on 75% shooting, he also managed to grab 4 rebounds too. Dan Clark flirted with a double double tonight as he finished with 8 points and 10 rebounds, Clark was a defensive force as he also tallied a trio of blocks. 

Head Coach Lloyd Gardner said: “We’ve got to remember the positives from the season.It was frustrating but it was a close game. I was pleased with their physical effort but we didn’t quite have the quality at the end to win it out, so overall frustrating but positive”.

With the regular season finished it can only mean one thing. Playoff Basketball. The Giants finishing in the 5th place will see them up against Bristol in the first round on Thursday 28th April. 

Words – Michael Blain

Photo – All Sports Photography