A first quarter blow-out sent Manchester Giants crashing to a third successive defeat, at local rivals Cheshire Phoenix.
Phoenix led 41-20 after the opening 10 minutes, with new signing Josh Eaves landing 15 of his personal 21 as the home side boasted a shooting percentage of 77 in the early exchanges.
It left the Giants with far too much to do, and though they won the second quarter, the game was all but done as a contest by half time.
The performance by Yorick Williams’ men was more akin to the dismal early season run of seven straight losses, as opposed to the recent run of three wins which lifted them off the foot of the table in November.
Missing the impressive Richard Bell through injury, and with fellow big man Barry Webster struggling with his problematic back, the Giants failed to impose themselves on Phoenix.
A former Cheshire favourite in Stephen Gayle played for the Giants off the bench, though he was fouled out in the third quarter as the visitors grew frustrated at a number of calls against them.
In fact, Gayle’s last action was putting his head in to his vest, which earned him a technical, his fifth personal foul of the game.
He said: “I got a bit frustrated with a few early calls and I didn’t really get in to my game.
“I put my head in to my shirt, to stop myself reacting to another bad call, and got the technical!
“The guys are still getting used to me and I’m getting used to them. It’s probably a good game to look back and work on, as they are a team we should be beating.
“We’ve got a lot of holes in defence we need to look at. Even if we had the big guys available, they would get in to foul trouble if we keep defending as we are.”
By the end of the third quarter, the Giants trailed 83-57, by which time Williams had already given minutes to regular bench players Dean Wanliss and Sam Lane.
It was the performance of Lane that was perhaps the only positive of the night, scoring 13 points in just under 17 minutes on the floor.
Jerelle Okoro top-scored with 17 for the Giants, but once again turnovers proved costly, Phoenix scoring a quarter of their points off slack Giants play.
Phoenix, who themselves are struggling at near the bottom of the table, had one of those nights in offence, and were 91% from the free throw line with 22/24.
Back-to-back defeats to local rivals Leeds and Cheshire has virtually undone the progress the Giants had made in November, and they must now regroup ahead of next Sunday’s home game against Glasgow Rocks.