Match report: Manchester Giants 76 Sheffield Sharks

BJ Holmes
BJ Holmes
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Sheffield Sharks broke a three game losing streak to secure passage into the next round of the BBL Trophy with a 79-76 win on the road at Manchester Giants.

BJ Holmes signalled a firm return to fitness with 25 points on the night as the Sharks held firm in the final ten seconds of the game to secure a crucial victory.

In sharp contrast to Friday’s defeat against Leicester, the game opened in the best possible way for Sheffield with Holmes immediately to the fore.

A trio of three point scores within 76 seconds forced the Giants to take an early timeout to consider how to stop the lively Texan Guard.

It was veteran big man Mike Bernard, who used all his experience to pull his side back into the fixture.

He narrowed the deficit at 8-12 and saw his colleague David Watts unleash back to back trebles to give Manchester an 18-17 lead.

Nick Lewis’ immediate reply gave the Sharks an 18-20 first quarter lead however.

The distance shooting continued into the second period as Holmes for the Sharks and Gill, on three occasions for the Giants, hit the target.

A monstrous one handed dunk by Bernard saw the Sharks take a timeout at 34-38 but further baskets for Cook and Lewis saw the half end with the score at 39-42 in the Sharks favour.

There was no let up in the pace of the tie in the second half either.

Watts and Bankevics found success from deep for Manchester, matched in kind by recent Sharks acquisition Mike Cook and the ebullient Holmes once again.

A technical foul by Watts saw Cook make the free throw that ended the third quarter with the Sharks in command at 51-59.

A fired up Giants side eventually took the lead at 63-62 on Ben Eaves bucket.

The sides traded baskets for the majority of the period but a noticeable step-up on defence by the Yorkshire visitors allowed a slight difference to open up on Olu Babalola’s two point score at 68-74.

Both sides hit penalty trouble, leading to a series of trips to the line that saw Manchester narrow the gap to 76-79.

However, Stefan Gill’s three point attempt on the buzzer failed and it was the Sharks who gained passage to the next stage of the competition.