The DBL Sharks Sheffield went down to an agonising 78-82 defeat against Leicester Riders having produced an outstanding fourth quarter rally that almost saw them steal the game at the death. The Sharks were left to rue a mixed first half but showed they could certainly live in the company of one of the league’s standout teams.
Sharks: Davis, Tuck, Wroblicky, Rembert, Gachette
Riders: Clark, Bernardini, Walker, Hampton, King
Hampton and Bernardini opened for the Riders and it took two Mike Tuck buckets to haul the Sharks back into the contest. A pair of Bernardini triples edged the Riders in front at 8-14 and Andrew Thomson followed suit to extend that to 10-19. Thomson, Washington and King all found the hoop and it took a Jordan Davis three on the buzzer to keep the difference under double figures at 16-25.
The Sharks began the second period in better fashion. Malcolm Riley opened with a trey and his putback as the quarter wore on saw the Sharks narrow the gap at 30-34. Gachette slammed home at 36-38 and a Wroblicky score levelled matters soon after. The remaining two and a half minutes of the period were all about Leicester however as King, Bernardini, Thomson and Clark saw the Midlanders on the high side by 38-49 at the half.
Leicester built on that scoreline in the early stages of the third quarter. Threes from the impressive Bernardini and Washington put the Riders up by 47-59 and a pair from the line by Clark with the Sharks in foul trouble gave an ominous 14 point difference at 47-61. The Sharks were sparked into life by the adversity of the situation and Davis, Rembert, Gachette and Riley all ran in buckets to close the stanza at 55-61.
A Riley trey at the beginning of the fourth signalled the comeback was well and truly on and the frustrations of Riders Coach Rob Paternostro boiled over into a technical at 59-63. Leicester still kept the Sharks at arms length well into the last three minutes of the encounter despite a Rashawn Rembert corner three at 69-74. Momentum swung the home side’s way as the atmosphere reached fever pitch in the EIS as Riley matched Rembert’s effort at 72-78 and a Wroblicky score soon after saw Paternostro calling for time with 1.01 to go. Clark exited the game for Leicester after collecting a couple of fouls in quick succession as Davis drained two from the line. A Davis steal with 32 seconds left saw Coach Lyons calling for time to draw up the decisive final plays. Riley converted two more from the line at 78-80 and a final timeout with 7 seconds left gave the Sharks the opportunity to send the game to overtime or possibly claim an unlikely victory. Sadly they were unsuccessful and a pair of Thomson frees saw Leicester claim an extremely hard fought 78-82 win.
Again without Colin Sing through injury, the nine deep Sharks took their time to build into the game but showed what they could do once they were focused. Five of the seven players used on the night contributed double figure scoring efforts and they also managed to out-rebound the Riders by 39 to 35. The MVP award went to the Sharks most consistent performer of late, Malcolm Riley. The Texas Southern product connected on four of his six three point attempts, shot 60% from the field overall, pulled in 7 boards and contributed 2 assists and a steal on his way to a 20 point haul. Riley was a key player in the Sharks comeback on the night and many more of these performances will be required if the Sharks are to progress as the season wears on.
Sharks Skipper Mike Tuck explained the disappointment of the defeat but took positives from a battling display.
Manchester Giants at Sheffield Sharks, Friday 27th January 2017, EIS, 7.30pm Tip Off.
Image: Sharks Team Photographers