Basketball: Giants crush Towers

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The Independent Online
Manchester Giants handed their coach Joe Whelton an unexpected birthday present on Saturday night, an astonishing victory by 82-46 over Budweiser League champions London Towers in front of more than 5,000 fans at the Nynex Arena.

The Giants held London to just nine points in the first quarter and eight in the final 10-minute period, when Colin Irish hit 14 points, including four three-pointers. Towers' total was the lowest by any Budweiser League club this season.

Before the game Whelton, who has won championships in Switzerland and here told his players: "I've never lost a game on my birthday and I don't want to start now."

After the Giants followed Saturday's win with 79-63 victory at Crystal Palace last night, the 41-year-old American admitted: "I was lying, but it worked. We've had a lot of injuries, made a lot of changes, but basically the players have had enough of losing and being inconsistent. This time we were ready to play."

Sheffield Sharks, beaten by London in the 7-UP League Trophy semi-final last week, pulled two points clear at the top with an 86-83 win at Newcastle Eagles, where the England international Roger Huggins sealed victory from the free throw line.

Chester Jets, who meet London in next month's Trophy final, stayed focused on their League challenge as 24 points each from Billy Singleton and Hillary Scott steered them to a 97-90 win at Thames Valley Tigers to move into second place above London.