Plymouth Raiders 90 – 98 Manchester Giants

Plymouth Raiders suffered a disappointing defeat at home to Manchester Giants on Sunday, losing 90 – 98. Raiders claimed the head to head over the Giants in Manchester last weekend and following this weekend’s game, that keeps them in the eighth and final playoff spot ahead of the Giants with both teams having six games to play.

In a repeat of last weekend’s game, it was the visitors who started strongest, opening up an early 9 – 18 lead which soon stretched to 15 – 24 following the Giants fourth three pointer in the opening seven minutes. A further three from the visitors followed by two dunks and a layup for the home side closed the quarter with Manchester leading 23 – 27.

7:26 remaining in the second quarter saw the Raiders take their first lead of the game, 30 – 29. Manchester again edged in front by six but three pointers from Devontavius Payne and Tola Okiki tied the game, forcing the Giants to call a time out mid-way through the period. Manchester scored six in reply to the home sides two following the time out, but three free throws from the Raiders made it a one point game 43 – 44 mid way through the game.

A 4 – 15 run from Manchester to open the second half gave them a double digit lead with just over three minutes gone from the clock. Raiders responded to pull it back to two, but Manchester put together a 2 – 10 run to regain the ten point lead. Both sides traded baskets and Manchester added a further point to their lead to stretch it to 11, 64 – 75 with ten minutes to play.

A big fourth quarter was required from the home side, but with just three minutes to play, the Giants looked comfortable holding an 82 – 94 lead. Denzel Ubiaro made a layup whilst getting fouled, converting the bonus before stealing the ball, getting it in the hands of Donte Nicholas who found Josh Wilcher open for the three. Ubiaro then cleaned up on the defensive glass giving an outlet to Wilcher who was fouled, making both from the line making the score 90 – 94 with a little under a minute to play. Manchester called a time out and when they returned to the court, they missed a three point shot but gathered the offensive rebound before Raiders fouled sending them to the line. One free throw was made and as Raiders pushed the ball down court Nicholas spotted Joonas Järveläinen in the corner, but his pass was poor causing it to go out of bounds giving possession back to the Giants. A quick foul sent the Giants back to the line for two, of which both were converted and although this time down the court the Raiders managed to shoot a three, it was unsuccessful and the Giants were fouled again. The first was made giving the giants a 90 – 98 lead with 20 seconds remaining and that was how the game finished.

MVP for the Raiders was point guard Josh Wilcher. A 23 point and 10 assist game in 40 minutes edged him just ahead of Nicholas who had 20 points, ten rebounds and six assists. Rashad Hassan also scored in double figures with 18 and Ubiaro had ten from the bench. Ingus Bankevics game high 29 points lead the way for Giants which included seven of nine from beyond the arc whilst MVP candidate Willie Clayton had another monster game with 20 points and 20 rebounds despite shooting six from 20 from the free throw line.

Raiders travel to sixth placed Sheffield Sharks next Friday before travelling to fifth place London City Royals on Saturday 13 April. The following day, Raiders return home to face bottom of the table Worcester Wolves who they have already lost to twice this year. Tickets for the game can be bought online from https://www.theticketstore.co.uk.

Paul Smith