Manchester Giants 71 (16,31,50) (Aliu 19, Gill 16, Bailey 13)
Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders 82 (24,42,59) (Taylor 23, Sullivan 17, Losonsky13)
Unbeaten all season until they finally lost last weekend at Surrey Heat, Rob Paternostro and his Riders team will be relieved they avoided successive defeats in a decidedly tricky encounter.
Giants started strongly but once pegged back by Riders at 10-10, the visitors began to assert control. They posted a devastating 22-6 run to jump out into a commanding lead, although the home side prevented Riders from running away completely by narrowing the gap to 42-31 at the interval.
It could have been worse for Giants had their opponent been able to convert any of their three-point attempts, but Riders were a stone cold 0 of 7 from the perimeter.
Giants were however being tortured by Zaire Taylor (pictured) who came up with 15 points and five assists in the opening twenty minutes, and his good work continued at the start of the third quarter when he finally drained a triple for the visitors.
It was imperative Giants continued to believe they could launch a fight back and they stopped the bleeding instantly as Devan Bailey also scored a three-pointer. That gave them much needed confidence and entering the final quarter, they managed to whittle the lead down to single digits at 59-50.
Whilst Riders initially pulled away at 68-56, Manchester set up a thrilling finale with nine unanswered points to make it a one-shot game and the margin was still three points inside the last sixty seconds.
However, Riders held their nerve from the free-throw line to take the win, with Taylor claiming 23 points and seven assists whilst Bailey stood out for Giants with 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Story – BBL
Photos – Russell Hart
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