Manchester Giants continued their winning return to the BBL while the Newcastle Eagles made it three wins out of three to remain top.
The Giants collected their second win in front of their home fans with James Jones top scoring again with 27 points in the 99-82 victory. Newcastle survived a late surge from the visiting Worcester Wolves to win 83-71 and maintain their winning start to the season.
Once again, the heroics of Gage Daye (30pts/9rbs/6as) were in vain for the Sharks although they were boosted by the debut of Micah Williams, who had received clearance to play earlier in the week. Forming a partnership for the first time, the American duo made an immediate impact with a combined 21 points in the opening ten minutes to give Sheffield an early 30-20 advantage.
Williams netted a third three pointer at the start of the second as the lead was extended to 15 points. Manchester began their fight back with an 11-2 run and soon closed to within five points. Daye had the final say in the half with a late triple to keep the Giants at bay as the visitors led 50-42 heading into the interval.
Mike Tuck had restored the eight point advantage with just under six minutes to play in the third when the game was turned on its head. The home side compiled a pivotal 16-0 run to take control with James Jones contributing nine points during the spell. A three from Williams stopped the rot for Sheffield but they now trailed by seven heading into the final quarter at 72-65.
The Sharks came within three points but that was the closest they would get as Jones added another five points to his tally in quick succession; instigating a 13-2 burst to take Manchester clear. Jones later nailed consecutive scores from beyond the arc as the home side narrowly missed out on the century as they secured another impressive two points.
Only Newcastle boast a better record, courtesy of having played an extra game. Fab Flournoy’s men were made to work hard for the two points following Worcester’s final quarter resistance.
The Eagles opened up a comfortable lead at the end of the first at 27-15 with Damon Huffman adding nine points. The home side threatened to break away in the second but for successive three pointers from Arnas Kazlauskas and Stanley Ocitti. Joe Chapman’s basket made it 43-31 with just under two minutes left in the half and the score would remain that way as the teams headed into the locker rooms.
The game looked safe for Newcastle as they opened up a seventeen point advantage with 2:30 to play in the third at 58-41. However, Worcester gave themselves hope with a strong finish to cut the deicit to just ten points with ten minutes remaining- 60-50.
Darius Defoe opened the final quarter with four points before a remarkable comeback from the Wolves with a run of 15 unanswered points helped them take the lead for the first time. Stuart Thomson, Alex Owumi and Ocitti all connected from long range during the run.
Newcastle were quick to regain the lead and the visitors were dealt a blow when Ocitti and Arturas Masiulis both fouled out in short succession. Charles Smith and Huffman compounded their woes with three pointers to help the Eagles close out the game with an 81-73 victory.
Defoe top scored for the defending champions with a game high 26 points with 17 points coming from Chapman and Huffman. Ocitti led the Worcester resistance with 19 points and 12 rebounds but the Wolves slipped to a second loss without Sherrad Prezzie-Blue.
Worcester have a chance to win their first game tomorrow as they host the high-flying Giants while the Cheshire Jets get their campaign underway as they travel to face the Leicester Riders.