05 Apr 2013: Giants v Lions
Venue: Wright Robinson College (map)
Tip: Friday 5 April, 7:30PM
Tickets: Click here
Statcast: Click here
Arguably the biggest game of the season for Manchester Giants and London Lions takes place at Wright Robinson College on Friday as both teams look to clinch the eighth - and final - place in the BBL Championship play-offs.
Lions's loss against champions Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders on Wednesday leaves them in eighth place with a 12-20 record which Giants are ninth with 11 wins from 31 games. The winning team will progress to the BBL Playoffs as the eighth seed, facing Riders in the first round.
Home court advantage has proved key in the two games between the sides this season, with Giants edging a thriller 85-84 on their BBL debut in September while a traffic-delayed match-up at Crystal Palace in February saw Lions run out comfortable 81-64 winners.
The game will see two teams packed with British talent taking to the floor in Manchester, with both sides fielding starting line-ups containing five players eligible for the GB team.
Giants' coach Jeff Jones views the addition of point guard Rod Brown as being crucial to the Lions: "With the addition of Brown they have added an experienced and talented player which is a very good player. They also have great athletes on the wing which they exploit well in transition.
"Brown is obviously key to them but Adrien Sturt really hurt us last time and that is what they are able to do if you focus too much on one player they have others that are capable of having big nights.
"We really didn't do very much well last time at their place we had a nightmare of a journey and pretty much a night mare of a game.
"Looking at the current league table you would say that they have to play Leicester on Wednesday and depending on that result our game Friday could be even more important."
Giants made it two wins from their last three games with a 93-67 victory against basement side Mersey Tigers on Friday, and Jones was satisfied with the performance: "The Tigers' game was a pretty scrappy game which really is the only way they have to play and we got caught up in that for about 30 minutes but we finally played some basketball the last 10 minutes and fortunately it was enough.
"For us James [Jones, pictured] stepped and scored well for us and Ben [Eaves] had a very good ten minutes. Everyone helped as we had several players injured or ill with a virus so it really was a team effort."
Lions' coach Vince Macaulay is clearly looking forward to Friday's big game: "Giants have been thrown a lifeline with some great wins over the last few weeks. They like to run and shoot so we expect this game to be played at a high speed.
"I think the back court of Stefan Gill and James Jones is the key for the Giants, when these two play well good things happen for the Giants."
Macaulay isn't reading anything into the last game between the teams: "We were just a lot more intense than them the last time, but they had a horrid journey down, this is their home court and I expect the kitchen sink to be thrown at us.
"I'm not sure it's our biggest game of the season but we certainly need to win to guarantee post-season play."
Giants' former England international David Watts goes into the weekend needing 19 points to reach the 1000 mark in regular season games.