WORCESTER Wolves came agonisingly close to pulling off a rare win after a rip-roaring marathon thriller at Manchester Giants last night.

A back-and-forth encounter saw the combatants tied up at 99-99 at the end of the regulation 40 minutes.

With just five seconds left in the first period of overtime Wolves led 111-108 before Giants’ Mike McCall missed a chance to level matters again.

But the Manchester man secured a second-chance hurl at the basket that sent a boisterous home crowd into raptures and extended the afternoon by a further five minutes.

The second period of added time was similarly suspenseful.

With his side 124-123 in front with 11 seconds remaining Manchester’s Willie Clayton spurned consecutive free throws that could have sealed victory.

However, he was able to atone for his misses by then swatting away Darell Combs’ last-gasp shot attempt that would have snatched a welcome success for Wolves.

It was a three-point party in the early going.

Lester Prosper was the first to connect followed by two more for Adam Thoseby and one for Robert Crawford to nudge Wolves 18-16 ahead.

After falling 28-21 behind by the close of the first quarter Wolves regained a 36-34 lead at midway through the second quarter on the back of a 14-point burst of scoring from Combs.

Neither side could gain a decisive advantage as the game progressed.

Combs impressed with dashes to the hoop and Thoseby continued to pulse from long distance.

Worcester entered the final quarter 72-69 to the good.

But each time they threatened to pull away McCall provided a response.

Ten points in the last three minutes had his team 99-96 in front with a half-minute to play.

Prosper produced a powerful drive to the hoop and displayed ice in his veins to slot in a bonus foul shot to cause overtime.

The slugfest continued throughout the remainder of a sizzling match until Giants were finally able to raise their arms in victory.

Combs top-scored for Wolves with 35 points followed by 26 from Thoseby.

Prosper toughed out a 20-point and 12-rebound double-double performance.

McCall put forward a stunning 47 points for Manchester.

Wolves’ assistant coach Felix Hallam praised his players’ efforts, saying: “That’s a tough defeat to swallow. We had a chance right there at the end but it just didn’t drop for us.

“But what a great game of basketball. I can’t fault the guys’ efforts.”

Referring to McCall’s impact for Giants, Hallam added: “He’s a great player.

"Towards the end we slowed him down a little but just couldn’t get an answer for him.

"He missed a three but then hits a three when he’s on the floor to put us into double-overtime ­— it was a heck of a play.”

McCall himself was modest about his performance, saying: “Worcester played well and played hard.

"My team trusted me to make plays down the stretch. I was hot and my team kept telling me to shoot the ball if I was open.”

Fans will have a quick opportunity to see what could be more breath-taking action when Wolves face Giants again in their next fixture on Friday, February 15 (7.30pm), at the University of Worcester Arena.