Report: Riders fall to Giants

Leicester Riders fell to the Manchester Giants 89-94 in their final home game of the British Basketball League Championship season. 

After a quick start, Evan Walshe scored 10 straight in the second quarter to lead the Giants a double-digit lead. The Riders made a run late in the game led by Jaren Holmes, but it wasn’t enough to complete a comeback. 

Holmes led the Riders with 20 points, going 8-13 from the field, 3-7 from three and grabbing 6 rebounds. He was backed by Teddy Allen’s 19 and Miryne Thomas’ 18. 

But leading the game was Walshe for Manchester with 24, sinking the late free throws to end the game. 

Early Leicester lead

Thomas got the action underway in style for the Riders emphatically. The lane opened up for him after Mason Bourcier fell in the paint, and Thomas needed little invitation to drive to the hoop and throw down a two handed jam.

Neither side found an edge in the first five, however. Allen and Russell stringed back-to-back threes, but they were offset by Bouricer and Lee from deep as the sides stayed locked.

But out of the media timeout, the Riders found some separation. Allen got to work to snatch momentum, dancing behind the arc before pulling up for a deep three. Next up, he went to the hole on the drive for a two to put the Riders up 26-16. 

Giants battle back

Manchester fought back into the game in response, taking the lead early in the second quarter. Former Rider Walshe logged 10 points in as many minutes off the bench to lead the visitors to a 30-28 advantage. 

He scored 10 straight to take momentum back, and was followed by Jalen Harris and Callum Jones who connected from within the arc in the midst of the Manchester run. 

Russell stopped the run with an and-one, driving to his right and drawing a foul on Harris for three points the old fashioned way. But the Giants led 38-32 by the media timeout. 

The Riders mustered just 12 points in the second quarter, unable to take the lead back. Bourcier scored 5 points to end the half, and the sides went into the locker rooms with the score 38-49 in the Giants’ favour. 

All even in the third 

Nicholas Lewis found his rhythm in the third, hitting a tough fadeaway and a contested three back-to-back to grow the Manchester lead to 15. 

But in response to Lewis, Holmes got his head down to get two on the board at the hoop, before Allen connected from three to peg the deficit to 10, and force a Giants timeout. 

Homes drew an offensive foul out of the timeout, before Thomas hit from deep- the Riders recapturing their early form. 

Lewis responded to take back the big lead with back-to-back threes, but next time up, Holmes made a four point play by connecting on a three through contact, keeping the Giants within touching distance. 

But the score remained there until the fourth, Manchester leading 63-74 with one to play. 

Giants respond to Riders run

Holmes sparked life into the team to start the final period, driving to the hoop to get it underway, then throwing a lob to Shelton who threw it down two-handed.

The quick scoring brought it to a five point difference quickly in the final period, as TJ Lall added three more points from the foul line. 

But Walshe rebuilt the Manchester lead with a three from the corner and a layup inside, taking away the Riders work to start the quarter. 

It was 72-81 by the media timeout, with 4:49 left to play. 

Riders give themselves a chance late 

A barrage of threes went down for the Riders to give them a late chance. Thomas connected first, before finishing off a fastbreak from a Russell three, then Holmes and Allen caught fire. 

The Giants kept their side of the scoreboard ticking, Walshe, Lewis and Nick Stampley combining for seven points, but Holmes fired away from the corner with 52 seconds left to make it a three point game. 

The Riders got their stops, Walshe then Stampley missing, but the Giants crashed the offensive boards, getting three possessions and forcing Leicester to foul. Walshe made both from the line to make it a five point difference. 

Thomas couldn’t hit from three in response, and the Giants dribbled the game out.

Riders return to action on Sunday, hitting the road to take on the Surrey Scorchers. A win will see them lock up home court advantage for the 2024 postseason.

Stay tuned for playoff ticket information.