Manchester Giants 88 – 99 Plymouth Raiders

Plymouth Raiders travelled to Manchester Giants on Sunday looking to claim the head to head over them in what could prove crucial as the regular season comes down to the last few games.

Coach Paul James was forced to make a change to the starting line up with Zak Wells injured following his collision last weekend so Joonas Järveläinen started in his place. Rashad Hassan won the tip for the Raiders, knocking it towards Donte Nicholas who scored within five seconds of the game starting. Eight points from Granic for the home side saw the host’s race into a 15 – 4 lead after three minutes. The gap remained at 11 half way through the quarter before a 15 – 3 run for the Raiders to close out the quarter saw them lead 22 – 24 after ten minutes.

Three pointers from Josh Wilcher and Devontavius Payne opened the second quarter for the Raiders to extend the lead to eight. Giants put a 17 – 8 run together to take the lead mid-way through the second period and then both teams traded baskets before Jawad Adekoya hit a three to give Raiders a four point lead forcing Plymouth born Giants coach Danny Byrne to call a time out. The home side pulled it back to one point game, before a Nicholas basket closed the half with Raiders leading 47 – 50.

Raiders started stronger in the second half, opening up a 59 – 69 lead with 5:02 remaining in the quarter. That lead stretched to 14 before Manchester put together a 9 – 0 run to reduce the gap. A three from Payne and two from Hassan was split by a Giants basket as Raiders held an eight point 72 – 80 lead with ten minutes remaining.

Raiders made early baskets in the fourth to go ahead by 11 and held the double digit lead with 4:53 remaining. A two minute dry period for the Raiders saw the hosts reduce the lead to seven and after a couple of traded baskets a three from Payne, his sixth of the night, forced the Giants to call a time out with the score at 85 – 95. The gap was reduced to seven again but four free throws from Adekoya saw Raiders run out 89 – 99 winners.

Payne top scored for the Raiders on 22, making 60% of his three point attempts whilst Hassan had 21, Nicholas 20, Wilcher 19 and Adekoya 13.

Raiders have a week’s rest before they face Manchester again at the Pavilions next Sunday. Tickets for the game can be bought online from https://www.theticketstore.co.uk.

Paul Smith