Durham Wildcats equalled last season’s win tally after a 69-64 comeback victory at home to the Manchester Giants.
Trailing by as many as 18 points at one stage, the Wildcats battled back to leapfrog their opponents in the table. Meanwhile, Glasgow Rocks defeated Worcester Wolves 85-79 and there was joy for the Cheshire Jets at the end of a difficult week; beating the Mersey Tigers 79-73.
In Durham, the Giants got off to the stronger start with James Jones scoring all the points in a 7-0 run to open up a five point lead. Paul Elderkin traded triples with the 29 year-old before Stefan Gill’s free throws ended the first quarter with the score 23-17 in favour of the visitors.
A further four points from Gill took the lead into double digits before the Wildcats hit back with the next five points. Mike Bernard added consecutive baskets to increase the lead to 14 points but Brad Guinane’s basket cut the deficit to 42-30 at the interval.
When play resumed, the visitors opened with a 6-0 start as the lead peaked at 18 points, 48-30. With just over six minutes to go in the quarter, Mike Baldarelli netted two scores from beyond the arc to spark a pivotal 19-2 run as Durham took the lead at 52-51.
Jones responded with Manchester’s first points for over five minutes before Gill added another two points to give the visitors a slender 55-52 advantage to take into the final quarter.
Durham took control in the final quarter; forcing their opponents into another scoreless spell as they opened with a 10-0 run in the first five minutes. Guinane’s three poiner made it a seven point game with three minutes to go as the home side closed in on the win.
The Giants quickly closed the gap and with a minute left on the clock they were only down by two. They were to get no closer as Ralph Bucci made 3/4 from the line to seal an incredible victory for the Wildcats. Baldarelli top scored in the win with 19 points whilst coming up with a block on a three point attempt in the final minute. Manchester – who were led by Gill’s 18 point haul – now slip to seventh with a 3-5 record, having lost 86-83 at home to Plymouth on Friday.
Glasgow and Cheshire both repelled fightbacks to earn their second victories of the season. Sterling Davis led his side with 20 points in the Rocks’ victory at the Emirates Arena. The visiting Wolves were led by Stanley Ocitti’s game high 26 point haul.
The home side made a bright start in front of the TV cameras and moved 23-12 ahead after the first quarter. Ocitti capped a 9-0 run with the final five points as Worcester battled back from a 15 point deficit in the second. No points were scored in the final minute of the half by which point the home side were still ahead at 36-28.
The lead peaked at 16 points following a Donald Robinson dunk but Worcester were quick in reducing their arrears into single digits. Glasgow finished the quarter with the final four points to take a controlling 59-47 lead into the fourth.
A high-scoring final quarter ensued as Worcester threatened to overturn the deficit. Davis netted from long range to make it 66-51 before the Wolves clawed it back to just six in the final minute after a three from Arnas Kazlauskas. Glasgow nailed 7/8 free throws to seal the win in front of their home fans.
In the final game of the weekend, Chez Marks led his Cheshire Jets side to a 79-73 win over the Mersey Tigers with a 21 point haul. Chris Bigley top scored for the visiors along with new signing, Martin Calvo as both men posted 16 points each.
The Jets – who will be run by the BBL on an interim basis – had a strong first half which helped them to a double digit lead at 38-28. The Tigers began to fight back; narrowing the gap to six points at the end of the third before a three pointer from Josh McGinn made it a one point differential in the final minute.
Marks and Kenny Moore scored seven free throws between them to seal the win and end a tough week for the club on a high. The top five remains unchanged but Glasgow overtake the London Lions, who are now joined on a 2-5 record by Cheshire.