21st Apr, 2019

'Tough defeat to swallow’ after Giants snatch thriller

Rob George 7th Feb, 2019

WORCESTER Wolves came agonisingly close to pulling off a rare BBL win after a rip-roaring 124-123 marathon thriller at Manchester Giants in the first game at the Giants’ new venue, the George Carnall Sports Centre in Urmston.

After a disappointing 103-92 reverse at home to Newcastle Eagles on Friday, a back-and-forth encounter left the two sides tied at 99-99 at the end of the regulation 40 minutes.

With just five seconds left in the first period of overtime, Wolves led 111-108 before Giants’ Mike McCall missed a chance to level matters again. But the Manchester man secured a second-chance hurl at the basket that sent a boisterous home crowd into raptures and extended the afternoon by a further five minutes.

With his side 124-123 in front with 11 seconds remaining, Manchester’s Willie Clayton spurned consecutive free throws that could have sealed victory. However, he was able to atone for his misses by then swatting away Darell

Combs’ last-gasp shot attempt that would have snatched a welcome success for Wolves.

It was a three-point party in the early stages. Lester Prosper was the first to connect, followed by two more for Adam Thoseby and one for Robert Crawford to nudge Wolves 18-16 ahead.

After falling 21-28 behind by the close of the first quarter, Wolves regained a 36-34 lead at midway through the second quarter on the back of a 14-point burst of scoring from Combs.

Neither side could gain a decisive advantage as the game progressed. Combs impressed with dashes to the hoop and Thoseby continued to score from long-distance.

Worcester entered the final quarter 72-69 to the good. But each time they threatened to pull away, McCall provided a response. Ten points in the last three minutes meant his team led 99-96 with a half a minute to play.

Prosper produced a powerful drive to the hoop and displayed ice in his veins to slot in a bonus foul shot to cause overtime.

The slugfest continued throughout the remainder of a sizzling match until Giants were finally able to raise their arms in victory.

Combs top-scored for Wolves with 35 points, followed by 26 from Thoseby. Prosper toughed out a 20 point and 12 rebound double-double performance. McCall put forward a stunning 47 points for Manchester.

Wolves’ assistant coach Felix Hallam praised his players’ efforts and said: “That’s a tough defeat to swallow.

“We had a chance right there at the end but it just didn’t drop for us.

“But what a great game of basketball. I can’t fault the guys’ efforts today.”

Referring to McCall’s impact for Giants, Hallam added: “He’s a great player. Towards the end we slowed him down a little but just couldn’t get an answer for him.

“He missed a three but then hits a three when he’s on the floor to put us into double-overtime – it was a heck of a play.”

Wolves host the Giants next Friday (February 15) at the University of Worcester Arena.

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