MANCHESTER Giants were left chasing the game as Leeds Force took control, ending in a 71-81 victory to the away side.
Action returned to the Lucozade Powerleague Sportsdome, home of the Manchester Giants basketball team as they took on Leeds Force. After back to back losses against Leicester Raiders, the Giants were looking to end their three run losing streak.
Both teams looked well drilled in the warm ups. A few remaining fans made way to their seats and the match was underway.
At centre court, Leeds Force win possession and move swiftly in to the Giants end. First points go to the Force as their number ten, Isenbarger hits a lay-up.
The Giants hit straight back much to the delight of the crowd as Samuel Toluwase nets the ball. Yet again Leeds Force rush the Giants defence and net to take the lead.
Some gripping end to end action between the two teams early on in the game with a tight score line at 4-4. Excellent play as the ball gets passed out to Leeds number fifteen, Richard Bell who hits a three pointer, Force fans elated.
The Force win back possession, drive down centre court finished with a spin and lay-up to take the lead at a five-point gap.
Giants guard Callum Jones is fouled, draws up for the free throws but hits up short on both, two easy points missed. Leeds Force turn up the heat and net three three pointers taking the score to 6-18.
Giants fans get behind their team including Team Spirit cheerleaders, “let’s go Giants” rings around the sportsdome. Giants find the answer and begin to put points up on the score board, Giants number four Jerelle Okoro hits the team’s first three pointers.
Great effort from the home side to claw back the score at the end of the first quarter, 20-22.
As the second quarter began it’s as if a different Leeds Force team had taken to the court. Force win possession again, run past the Giants defence and score the lay up within seconds of the restart.
Manchester Giants have some sloppy pay, a missed pass and a flurry of inaccurate shots. Leeds Force continue with the pressure, another three pointer hit deep downtown by Jack Isenbarger.
Leeds Force stand out player is their number nine, guard Robert Sandoval. His lightening pace and ball control, dominating the court, accompanied by several strong drives right through the Giants defence.
Another lay up from the Force, Giants failing to get any points on the board and the score is a whopping 22-36.
Finally, the Giants start replying, swift passes and forceful drives to the Force’s defence followed by successful layups sees the score back to 28-36, still some catching up to do for the team in green.
The buzzer sounds for half time with Leeds Force nine points ahead on a score of 30-39.
Team talks over and the third quarter begins. Giants fans on their feet as number eleven Jones gets the points rolling.
The game began to mimic the last quarter as Leeds Force dominated again. Eddie Matthew, Force’s number fifteen makes great play finding the pass out to number five, Aiden Appleyard who hits a looping shot, in off the backboard.
Manchester Giants chasing the game, struggling to find a reply to match Leeds force, as the score line rarely sways from a ten-point deficit.
Still though plenty of end to end action followed by an ambitious effort from Leeds number 10, Isenbarger who shots far past the 3 throw line, almost centre court but sees his shot hit the rim and bounce out of bounds.
Giants fans for a moment where almost silenced.
The final minute in the third quarter and Giants still chasing the game at 34-47. A foul by the force sees the Giants a free throw to acquire two more points. The teams go in at the end of the third quarter for talks, Leeds Force still ten points ahead with the score at 47-54.
— Manchester Giants ? (@McrGiants) February 26, 2017
The Giants really needed a wonder quarter if they were to take anything from this game. At ten points behind, the defence had to be tighter and offensive gave more aggressive.
Two lay-ups from each team began the final quarter, both team’s fans erupting with chance, 10 minutes to play, anything can happen.
Excellent play by Giants number nine, Donatas Visockis who plucks the ball from the air, one step, spins on the turn and loops the ball over the Leeds defence into net for two points, 57-64.
Return play from Leeds number 30, Rob Marsden who makes it look easy with a shot inside the D and in. Isenbarger continues to dominate the score card as the ball finds him on the three throw line to drop one in from far.
Back and forth the play goes, a few fouls bring play to a halt, followed by boos from the crowd and each manager shouting instructions across the court.
In to the final minute and Manchester Giants find themselves still behind with Leeds Force ten points ahead 65-75. A sense of urgency as the clock runs down, but still shots falls short or the Force defence proves strong.
In the dying seconds of the fourth quarter, Leeds see out the clock in possession and the game finishes 71-81. The Giants never really clawed back since the second quarter, always chasing the game.
An admirable performance from both sides but on the day Leeds Force the better of the two teams. This takes the Manchester Giants losing streak to four as they play Surrey Scorchers at home again on the 10th march.