Gi­ants must learn to close

Salford Advertiser - - MOTORS - BAS­KET­BALL AN­THONY JEP­SON

MANCH­ESTER Gi­ants need to find a way of clos­ing out tight games – and fast.

The good work of the early part of the sea­son is be­ing threat­ened by Jeff Jones’ team’s re­cent in­abil­ity to grab vic­tory when things are close.

The Gi­ants have now won only one in seven fol­low­ing the nar­row loss at high-fly­ing Worces­ter, with all bar one of their de­feats com­ing by less than 10 points.

It is a co­nun­drum for Jones, with his team com­pet­ing with­out pick­ing up points.

They came from be­hind to tie their clash with the high-fly­ing Wolves twice – at 49 and 67 – only to fall at the fi­nal hur­dle with the home team hold­ing them at bay when they got within three again in the last minute.

“It is frus­trat­ing,” said Jones. “We did a good job, played hard and did well de­fen­sively.

“But we just didn’t get over the hump.

“Whether it is rushed shots at the wrong mo­ment or bad de­ci­sions, it didn’t quite click.

“It is a re­ally tough place to come but we need to find a way to win.”

The Gi­ants, who lost Con­nor Murtagh to a sprained an­kle in train­ing this week, have slipped from the top four into the bot­tom half of the BBL ta­ble with a 6-9 record.

It is a predica­ment that has left Jones on the verge of mak­ing per­son­nel changes.

There were, how­ever, pos­i­tives from a game that saw his men 25-15 down after a quar­ter, 39-38 be­hind at the half and 63-55 down go­ing into the fourth pe­riod.

In­gus Banke­vics and Ste­fan Gill re­turned 23 points apiece and the gritty Lat­vian grabbed nine re­bounds and made five as­sists as well.

Callum Jones had 10 and Mike Bernard nine and, while Wolves’ big man Robert Thur­man had an en­er­getic dou­ble-dou­ble of 27 points and 14 re­bounds, Gi­ants were not bet­tered in the bat­tle of the boards.

“We were not out­gunned,” said Jones. “It’s just the lit­tle things. But I need to do some­thing.”

It doesn’t get any eas­ier. A trip to ta­ble-top­ping cham­pi­ons New­cas­tle awaits them next week.

Email the Ad­ver­tiser sports desk at sport­news@men­media.co.uk

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