British_Basketball_League_(emblem)Manchester Giants haven’t had a lot to cheer about this season, but they managed to serve up a treat to their fans on Sunday with their 64-62 victory over Bristol Flyers.
Defeat for the Giants would have mathematically eliminated them from Play-Off contention, but behind a 23-point haul from Stefan Gill and a late game-winner from Callum Jones, the Giants were able to stave off elimination for another week.
“Jerelle Okoro did a great job on the defensive end to tip away one of their passes so we had the ball with about 20 seconds [left],” said Jones of the game-winning play.
“I’d actually been having a really tough night offensively, missing a few shots that I would usually make so I was a little bit frustrated with myself.
“I just thought, ‘I’m taking this shot and I’m going to make it’. I wanted to leave no time on the clock.
“[Cardell] McFarland did a great job defending me for the entire game so I had to shoot a little bit higher, but luckily it went in.”
The victory moved the Giants out of last place and above Surrey Scorchers in the standings, but it could have been so different after the Guildford-based side came close to upsetting Esh Group Eagles Newcastle.
The Eagles were able to prevail, 80-69, but had to fight back from five points down in the final quarter to get the win, Rahmon Fletcher leading the way with
21 points.
It was the second success of the weekend for Fab Flournoy’s side after Friday’s narrow 81-75 victory over Worcester Wolves.
Behind a game-high 27 points from Perris Blackwell the Wolves kept it close all the way but led by Joe Chapman’s 21 points, the Eagles were able to close it out.
Leicester Riders also picked up two wins at the weekend as they kept up their pursuit of the league leaders.
Neil Watson had an impressive 24-point haul as the Riders defeated the Manchester Giants 91-69 on Friday and then on Sunday he went one better, 25 points this time as the Riders won 89-82 at Cheshire Phoenix.
That defeat for Cheshire means they are down to eighth in the standings following Plymouth University Raiders’ 73-69 success over Glasgow Rocks, Adrien Sturt leading the way with an impressive 24 points and 16 rebounds.
The weekend wasn’t a total write-off for the Rocks, who did pick up a 75-67 victory at Bristol Flyers the previous evening, Kieron Achara putting in a big 30-point 11-rebound performance for the Scottish side.
Finally, London Lions will no doubt want to forget their weekend in Yorkshire after they suffered defeats at the hands of both Sheffield Sharks and Leeds Force.
Brandon Hogg had 24 points for the Sharks as they kept up their bid for a place in the top three with a 73-63 victory on Friday and then on Sunday, Leeds came back from a five-point half-time deficit to inflict a 73-65 defeat on the Lions.
 “We weren’t happy with our first-half performance, we didn’t defend terrifically well and the [score] reflected that,” said Force coach Matt Newby.
“We held them to a really low-scoring second half and I think that’s testimony to the lads buying into the defence and showing a little bit more composure on offence.”