London Lions are bound for a BBL play-off quarter-final with Leicester next weekend. Manchester Giants first top flight season, however, will end on Sunday after they lost 87-85 to the capital outfit in a thrilling winner-take-all clash on Friday night as Rod Brown broke the deadlock with three seconds left.
Although it looked as if it were effectively game over in the opening quarter at Wright Robinson as the visitors bolted into an early 29-10 lead, the drama continued until the very end.
Having trailed 58-44 at half-time, Manchester rallied with Ben Eaves dunking to close the gap to 66-57 with 4:56 left in the third period to provide a glimmer of hope. It was not to be in the end but the hosts fought as if their lives depended on it.
An 12-2 run pushed the Lions 80-61 in front with nine minutes left but the Giants were not done.
Edging within reach, it all came down to an incredible final minute. Jeff Jones’ side cut the gap to 82-80 when James Jones converted a jumper, and then David Aliu hit a three to slice the deficit to one.
Jordan Spencer went to the line to make 1/2 as tensions peaked and then Stefan Gill levelled at 85-85 with nine seconds to go.
But there was one last twist. Brown bolted up court and put ball through string as London- led by 25 points from Tayo Ogedengbe – escaped by their fingertips to seal eighth place in the standings.
League champions Leicester Riders suffered only their third BBL defeat of the season, losing 86-58 at Worcester Wolves.
As expected, Riders coach Rob Paternostro left all his regular starters out of his line-up and Worcester capitalised, jumping into a 22-5 lead in the opening quarter and pulling as much as 69-37 clear late in the third, despite game-high 20 points from veteran forward Yorick Williams.
Newcastle Eagles completed a 3-0 season sweep of Glasgow Rocks but they needed a late run, and 35 points from Damon Huffman, to pull away for an 93-80 victory.
The Rocks, still not yet certain of sealing third, were ahead early in the fourth but a 22-9 burst from their hosts thwarted their challenge.
Jamie Vanderbeken had 15 points to pace the visitors.
Mersey Tigers now know that if they lose in Glasgow on Sunday, history will be made.
The Liverpool outfit lost for the 35th time in 35 games this season in a 100-87 reverse to Durham Wildcats.
However Tony Walsh’s side – paced by 16 points from Chris Bigley – are going down fighting and they trailed only 61-57 with six minutes left in the third period before Durham stepped up a gear with an 8-1 run.
Marco Baldarelli had a game-hiugh 26 points for Durham who could yet overtake Cheshire for tenth place.
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