The Manchester Giants have progressed to the BBL Cup semi-finals for the second time in three years after a hard-fought 87-84 win over the Surrey Scorchers on Wednesday night.
This was the Giants’ third game in just six days, and the potential fatigue was on show early as they found themselves 13 points down after nine turnovers in the first quarter. But a spirited fightback in the second stanza – led initially by Sam Cassell as he hit a trio of three-pointers in quick succession – set up a memorable victory.
The second half was all about Lyle Hexom, who finished with an amazing statline including 22 points, 16 rebounds, four steals, three assists and three blocks. With Giants down one inside the final minute, Hexom hit a huge three-pointer from the top of the arc, before pinning Tony Hicks’ attempted reply to the backboard and setting up Jordan Whelan for a decisive ‘and-one’ play inside the final 30 seconds.
There was still a nervy finish in store as Giants missed free-throws and turned the ball over once more, but Hexom grabbed a key rebound after a missed Surrey three-pointer to decide it.
There were standout performances, aside from Hexom, as Whelan dropped 19 points from the bench and Sam Cassell Jr. provided 17 points thanks to a great night from three-point range. Meanwhile 21 year-old guard Zack Powell provided a spark once more, scoring six points – including a monster baseline dunk – and adding seven assists.
The win is also a historic one for Giants, as they now boast an 8-4 home record overall against Surrey – their best against any side in the BBL since returning in 2012.
‘’I challenged the guys to get back to the way we play. We’ve got to be aggressive and the team everyone hates to play.’’ Said Head Coach Danny Byrne
The Giants will be looking to progress to the BBL Cup Final for the first time since their revival in 2012, but for now they have a few days rest before taking the long trip down to Plymouth to face the Raiders in league action on Sunday.
Words – Jordan Morris
Photo – All Sports photography