The Manchester Giants produced an upset on the opening night of the basketball season to beat the Sheffield Sharks 92-87.
This season’s curtain-raiser saw the Sharks compete in their 25th BBL campaign and it was the first time they had fallen to back-to-back defeats to the Giants, with the Manchester side edging a 87-83 win back in April.
The Sharks were very much the favourites to win, with a 19-3 record over the Giants before the match.
Despite the Sharks leading for most of the match, the opposition were not faced by their travel delays, which had delayed tip-off, to snatch a win in the final quarter.
The Sheffield Sharks started the game poorly in front of their home crowd, going 0-6 down inside two minutes. Despite this, debutant Rene Castro-Caneddy was able to drag his side into a 9-8 lead with a lay-up and a well-taken three pointer.
The Giants proved they had plenty of pace on the turnover but wasted free-throws from Vlakto Granic saw the Yorkshire side ahead 20-16 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was a much cagier affair. Sedale Hanson-Young sank two three pointers as the Sharks built up their biggest lead of the game of 32-20.
Sheffield gave away far too many fouls, in what was the story of the match, to allow the Giants to equalise at 37-37 with three minutes to go. A Dirk Williams three pointer at the death gave breathing space at half-time with the Sharks leading 45-41.
After the break, Chris Alexander was the star for the home side; putting away several three-pointers and drawing the fouls for his team. The quarter saw some free-flowing basketball with the Giants Willie Clayton showing his passion by diving furiously for a loose ball.
Alexander remained composed once again to put away both his free-throws to put the Sharks ahead 70-65 with one quarter to go.
The Sharks lost the control of the game they had before the final quarter. Captain Mike Tuck was caught off guard by looking at the timer, as Butler converted for two.
The home crowd were screaming defence at their team, but this message didn’t seem to get through as the Giants took the lead for the first time since the first quarter. They didn’t squander their opportunity, scrappily escalating their lead through a handful of free-throws, cleverly using time-outs to break up play.
A big miss from debutant Matthew Don all but sealed the victory for the travelling side. Dirk Williams brought down Mike McCall to confirm that the first two points of the season would be travelling home to Manchester
The Sheffield Sharks will look to bounce back next Friday at home to the Surrey Scorchers.