New Year begins with televised Trophy clash

The DBL Sharks Sheffield go into the New Year on a five game unbeaten streak as the BBL Trophy gets underway. A televised visit to Worcester Wolves awaits this coming Friday as the opportunity to strive towards another avenue of silverware opens up. The Wolves have already put up one entertaining show in front of the BBC cameras and it will take a performance of a similar magnitude for the Sharks to overturn the home team in their University Arena.

Worcester head into the game having lost their two matches over the festive period. A 74-81 dip to Bristol Flyers at home was soon followed by a much-closer 84-87 defeat at the hands of Plymouth. The Flyers defeat was somewhat unusual given the magnitude of Worcester’s 88-56 win over them in the inaugural BBC televised game but the Wolves are never a team to be written off. Most impressive of late has been new recruit Maurice Walker. He racked up a 25 point 11 rebound double double against the Raiders and his presence under the hoop will be one of the keys to the Trophy game. Another key player is assist-friendly point guard Marek Klassen. He impressed in his stint with Leeds Force last season and is already stacking up 7.1 assists per game for the Wolves. Danny Huffor lends a great deal of experience at the BBL level to the Wolves with 11.6 ppg and 5.9 rpg and the shooting pedigree of Trevor Setty (13.2 ppg 5.2 rpg) is well known from his spells in Plymouth and Surrey. The distinctive pony tail of Andrew Bachman (12.5 ppg) has become a feature in Worcester this season and returnee Ashton Khan provides a useful outlet at the point when required. Wolves Coach Paul James is a canny operator and will be well aware that like the Sharks, the Trophy represents a good shot at silverware and will instil that in his roster ahead of Friday’s encounter.

The Sharks now sit on a five game winning streak but one game at a time remains the mantra. The present roster has gelled well, the smiles have returned and it is clear that the team is prepared to do what is needed to tough-out the wins. This was never more apparent than against London Lions prior to New Year when the team held out for nearly four minutes as London reduced a 77-66 deficit down to just a single point as the Sharks held on to the win. In a rich vein of form is Malcolm Riley. The guard / forward earned his berth in the first BBL All Star Five of the New Year thanks to 21 points and 6 rebounds in the Lions game. Prior to that he reeled in a 17 point 10 rebound double double in the pre-Christmas Cheshire game. As mentioned previously though, this version of the Sharks roster has ‘team’ running right through it and one may point to hauls of 14/7 for Rashawn Rembert or 12/6 for Mike Tuck or 11/5 for Zach Gachette or 9/7 for Jordan Davis in the London game equally as importantly. The ‘round of 16’ of the BBL Trophy is a slightly different kettle of fish where passage to the next stage is paramount. The Sharks are aware that the BBL Cup has passed them by already and the chance to return to the Emirates Arena in Glasgow to compete for the final that they took so successfully in 2013 should be spur enough. As it stands now, 2017 represents a realm of opportunity and Atiba Lyons will be motivating his team to go out and grab it.

The Sharks go live across the nation again this Friday as they travel down to Worcester to take on the Wolves in the BBL Trophy. The game is being screened by the BBC Sport website at the following link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/live/basketball/37911555.

Make sure you tune in to follow Atiba and the guys as they look to make progress to the next round of the competition!

We return to home live basketball action on Friday 13th January when Leicester Riders are the visitors to the EIS. Go to the home page link on www.sharksbasketball.org to secure your seats.

2017 – It’s the Year of the Shark!