Manchester Giants came up just short in one of the best games anywhere across the BBL so far this season, narrowly losing 116-109 to the Leicester Riders in overtime on the road.

It was always going to be a tough task against a high-flying Riders team – especially after the departure of minutes leader Lyle Hexom, announced earlier in the day – but the Giants more than held their own as both sides came out firing offensively – sharing 115 points between them in just the first half, as Leicester went in up by 58-57.

The momentum appeared to swing in Leicester’s favour in the third quarter, and Giants were in a 10 point hole with five minutes to play. But Giants showed great resilience as captain Jack Hudson responded with five straight points, before Jordan Whelan cut the gap to one with an ‘and-one’ play. Sam Cassell Jr. eventually tied the game at 100 with a big three, but it still took Breaon Brady’s last-gasp offensive board and bucket to force the game into overtime.

Despite their fight and determination, it just wasn’t to be for Danny Byrne’s side as a late OT scoring run from Geno Crandall and the Riders saw them snatch the victory, meaning Giants remain winless in Leicester since returning to the BBL in 2012.

It was a real offensive masterclass with both sides shooting over 50% overall and over 45% from 3-point range. It was poor free throw shooting, however, that cost the Giants dearly, as they only shot 10/19 (52%) from the stripe.

Jordan Whelan made his return after missing last week’s double header and he didn’t miss a step with a sensational performance, getting a BBL career high 30 points to lead the game in scoring. There were also some huge contributions from the double-double machine that is Breaon Brady (29pts, 14 rebs), Sam Cassell Jr (17pts, 10 assists) and Donovan Johnson (15pts, 7 rebs) – the latter two playing the entire 45 minutes. The game also saw a welcome return for captain Jack Hudson, and his influence out on the floor was on full display, as the playmaker finished with 8 assists to go with his 7 points.

‘’I’ve told the guys what a great job they’ve done tonight. I thought the energy was fantastic, the way we conducted ourselves was brilliant. If we get those little fine line margins right we will win a lot more games.’’  Said Head Coach Danny Byrne

After a third successive loss, the Giants will be looking to get back on track this Sunday as they take on Sheffield, before next Wednesday’s BBL Trophy fixture against Worcester.

 

Words – Jordan Morris

Photo – FiveorSix