Manchester Giants suited up against the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks for the second time this season, taking a crucial 83-92 win at the Ponds Forge Arena on their first visit of the league campaign.
Three of tonight’s Giants in Callum Jones, Nick Lewis and Dirk Williams were back to their old stomping ground as they returned to their former club.
The hosts were without point guard Saeed Nelson who was out injured.
Giants defensive anchor William Lee was also inactive as he continued his rehab from a knee injury on the road back to match fitness.
An assist right from the tip from Green to Fletcher for an easy layup set the tone for a confident first quarter from the visitors.
Coach Vince Macaulay will have been pleased with the opening exchanges as the Giants went on an 8-0 run, capitalising on some poor transition defence from the Sharks.
Sharks then started to grow into the game as five straight points from Kipper Nicholls cut the Giants’ lead down to just three points.
A big bucket from former Shark Lewis followed to restore a six-point Giants lead at the end of the first, ending 27-21.
Atiba Lyons’ side quickly pulled the game level at 27-27 as they came out flying in the early exchanges of the second.
After several lead changes between the two sides, it was the Giants who went in at the break with their noses narrowly in front, with the half-time score sat at 45-44.
Bennett Koch and Javion Ogunyemi were imperious in the post and caused the Giants’ inside defence problems as they racked up a combined 18 first half points.
Nicholls was also livewire, leading the scoring for the Sharks with 15 points at the half.
Giants did not hit a single three point field goal until the third quarter, going 0 from 7 in the first half – before Lewis, Green and Williams canned one each in the first five minutes in the third.
But clinical free throw shooting from the Giants – seven from seven at the line before the break – was key to maintaining their lead.
Sharks’ Marcus Delpeche made a big impact of the bench and tied things up on the buzzer at the end of the third at 64-64 to set up a grandstand final quarter.
Early problems protecting the paint were soon resolved as big men Legend Robertin and Tajh Green swatted shot after shot away from the basket in the final quarter.
And back to back threes from Giants’ own long-range sniper Lewis were enough to pull them clear in the dying stages – he ended the night with 22 points and 4 from 9 beyond the arc.
💰 Fastbreak 3 from #3 💰
— Manchester Giants (@McrGiants) December 16, 2022
Green pieced together a confident performance on both ends of the floor with an outstanding 24 points and 10 rebounds in 34 minutes of action.
He was joined in the double-double club by the heartbeat of the Giants’ offence Rahmon Fletcher, who notched 14 points and a team-high 11 assists.
A vital return to winning ways on the road for Macaulay’s side to grab their second win in six games.
Tonight, the Giants swam in the Shark Tank and came out on top.
Head Coach Vince Macaulay said: “In the BBL, our record on the road is not as great as we’d like. Playing the top teams and coming close. But today we just had to stay focused. I thought the guys were really intelligent today, the way they played very smart in the zone”.
Next up for the Manchester Giants sees them return home to the National Basketball Performance Centre to face the Leicester Riders. Tip off is on 23rd December at 7:45PM.
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Words – Nathan Blackwood