Basketball: Giants hit by Irish solo run

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The Independent Online
Manchester Giants, Sheffield Sharks and Thames Valley Tigers increased the tempo at the top of the Budweiser League, while Hemel Royals increased the pressure on Derby Bucks at the foot of the table.

The Giants had to survive a solo onslaught from Colin Irish before escaping with an 88-85 win at Worthing Bears.

A 10-0 surge in the second quarter pushed Manchester towards a 21-point lead and they still led 83-71 with three minutes to play. Danny Craven's free throws kept Manchester ahead at 87-76, but Irish was already cutting loose to score 12 of Worthing's last 14 points.

The Giants coach, Mike Hanks, said: 'We got tentative, they had nothing to lose and everything to go for and Irish hit some very big baskets.'

Irish's three-pointer with 16 seconds to go cut Manchester's lead to 87-85, took his total for the game to 37 and his haul in Worthing's last three games to 103.

Hanks relaxed only when the ball was in American Mark Robinson's hands for a free throw 13 seconds from time, and the former Indiana University player took his total to 37 to seal Manchester's fifth win out of six in the league.

Giants hope to intensify the pressure on Tigers and Sheffield this week if they receive work permit clearance to sign a second American to partner Robinson. Tigers ended Leicester's recent revival with a 88-75 win at Bracknell, where George Branch was disqualified among a flood of technical fouls against the visitors. Roger Huggins scored 26 points to lead Sheffield to a 74-69 win at Birmingham Bullets. Last season's Wembley semi-finalists, Derby Bucks, slumped to their seventh defeat in nine games with a 102-95 loss at Hemel Royals.