Durham Wildcats 70

Manchester Giants 67

RALPH BUCCI’S three-pointer at the buzzer halted Durham Wildcats’ three-game slide with a dramatic victory against Manchester Giants at Newton Aycliffe on Sunday.

The hosts looked like edging a game that had swung one way then the other, until Stefan Gill tied things up at 67 with a triple of his own inside the final 45 seconds to tee up an enthralling finale.

A Bucci turnover then allowed Callum Jones a shot at the win for the visitors with five seconds to play.

But he was unable to connect and Bucci snatched his chance to steal the show, and the win, as Wildcats ended Giants’ three-game winning run.

That crucial triple was Bucci’s fourth of the night as he finished with 16 points, as well as 13 rebounds, while team-mate Fran Urli led all scorers with 18 and 10 boards.

Jones and Gill scored 15 points each for the Manchester club, who also lost at Worcester Wolves on Friday.

Meanwhile, Esh Group Eagles Newcastle continued their sizzling form and started the weekend by maintaining the pressure on their pursuers at the top of the BBL Championship, beating old foes Glasgow Rocks 103-93. The Eagles made it eight league wins in a row, and went through the century mark for the second consecutive home game.

Charles Smith, who so often haunts the Rocks, led the way with 23 points on the night as he became the fifth highest all-time scorer in the BBL. He was backed up by British big man Darius Defoe on 17 points, while the Rocks were led by his compatriot Kieran Achara on 22.

The Rocks, coming into the game on the back of consecutive wins, took an early lead on a massive 19-2 first quarter surge, having trailed 9-0, and still led after the first ten minutes.

But that didn't last long as the Eagles tied the game at 28 in the second before, aptly, Smith's three-pointer gave them the lead and simultaneously saw him reach his personal landmark. He shot 100% in the first half as the Eagles led 53-51 behind his 13 points.

And the Eagles asserted themselves as they came out strong after the break: a 9-3 start pushed them into a double-digit lead at 67-57, and they maintained that margin for the remainder. The lead peaked at 84-67 heading into the fourth quarter, and the hosts were comfortable from there on in as player/coach Fab Flournoy sent them through the 100 mark late in the game.