Leeds Force stormed to a memorable first win of the British Basketball League season, edging the winless Manchester Giants 87-82 to snatch a priceless home victory.
A tension-filled opening saw Giants grab the early momentum, before a brilliant bank-shot from Allie Fullah and an Isaac Mourier triple hauled Force level after five minutes.
Both sides ramped up the tempo midway through the first quarter, exchanging blows back-and-forth before consecutive threes from American duo Eric Childress and Tavarion Nix pried opened a slender four-point lead for Leeds.
Sensing an opportunity to pounce on a porous Manchester defence, Force peppered Giants with endless outside shots. Debutant Eric Curth made a crucial impact, sinking a three that stormed Leeds into a double-digit advantage.
Spear-headed by Giants skipper Callum Jones, a determined Manchester rallied back and quickly demolished Force’s lofty lead.
In need of a shining light, Force electrified the Carnegie Sports Arena crowd to end the second period, with captain Samuel Toluwase’s soaring slam and a ferocious alley-oop dunk from Nix edging Leeds ahead.
A vicious throw-down from Manchester’s Austin Rettig separated the sides in a pulsating end-to-end duel to escape the bottom of the BBL standings.
Curth continued to dazzle on his Leeds debut with back-to-back threes to cap a highlight-brimmed opening half for Force.
A forceful dunk from Fullah injected energy into Force to begin the second-half, sparking a sensational run that saw Leeds power into an empathic 11-point lead. Childress’ scintillating spinning lay-up and a back-breaking three from long-range menace Mourier kept Force rolling as Leeds built on their advantage.
Despite spectacular jump shots from Toluwase and Tre Bennett, Manchester chipped away at the Force advantage heading into the final five minutes. Jerelle Okoro’s cold-blooded three scythed Force’s lead to just four, before a vital three from Bennett swung the pendulum in Leeds favour with the game on a knife-edge.
In the face of fervent Giants pressure, Force stood tall and held on to earn a sensational first win of the new BBL campaign.