A unique showcase of Sheffield basketball awaits fans of the DBL Sharks Sheffield this coming Friday. Not only do the SharkNation get to witness an intriguing third versus fourth place clash between the home side and Glasgow Rocks, the game is preceded by the region’s premier women’s team, the City of Sheffield Hatters taking on the WBBL leaders, Nottingham Wildcats. And to top it all off, both games are to be screened live via the BBC Sport website.
The evening begins at 5pm when Vanessa Ellis’ Hatters take on league leaders Nottingham. Both sides will be out to avenge defeats from the previous week. The Hatters went down to a 79-78 defeat north of the border against Caledonia Pride despite 22 points and 15 rebounds from Brittany Winborne. For the Wildcats, it was a narrow 66-63 dip on the road at Leicester Riders again despite a huge performance from Ashley Harris, who poured in 24 points and claimed 17 rebounds. Despite the loss, it is the Wildcats who will be the happier as they still head the table with an 11-2 record and five games remaining to play, looking to add to their league title of last year. It has been an unusually circumspect year for the Hatters after sweeping the board in the league’s first year and claiming the Trophy last year. They currently hold fourth place with a 9-5 record and while a league title isn’t mathematically impossible, they will also be targeting a big run of form prior to the Playoffs, which seem a more likely ambition. Key figures for the Hatters are GB trio Steph Gandy (20.08 ppg 6.08 rpg), Helen Naylor (17 ppg) and Georgia Gayle (16.62 ppg) alongside the aforementioned Winborne (14.14 ppg 13.29 rpg). Ashley Harris (26.77 ppg 11.38 rpg) is pivotal to all the Wildcats do best but it is very much a team-affair with Siobhan Prior, Melissa Mendes, Joana Ferreira, Lauren Hebert and Tina Benic all weighing in with vital contributions.
If the 7.30pm game between the DBL Sharks Sheffield and Glasgow Rocks is anything like the one served up three weeks ago at the EIS, then the watching public are in for a treat. Both sides went toe-to-toe in terrific encounter that saw the Sharks claim a 98-90 success behind 23 points from Tony Wroblicky, 21 points from Malcolm Riley and 20 points from Jordan Davis. Gareth Murray matched Wroblicky’s score on the night and there were also solid contributions from Neil Watson and Kieron Achara with 18 apiece as the Rocks more than played their part in an entertaining affair. Since then, Glasgow have gone on to lose 68-76 at home to Bristol and dip 93-84 away at Leicester. The Sharks went down 100-83 to a Mike DiNunno-inspired Cheshire Phoenix but fought back to beat Newcastle (95-84) and Surrey (78-86) and as a result, leapfrogged the Scots into third place with a 17-10 record. The Rocks have been without the services of Anthony Elechi for the last few games, the Sharks have been minus Jordan Davis and it remains to be seen whether either of these two recover to strengthen either roster. Encounters with the Rocks always have an added frisson of excitement due to Glasgow Coach Sterling Davis being a former Sharks player and Davis’ will-to-win was all too obvious in the last game behind the exciting team he has assembled. To add to the intrigue, the current head-to-head is level at one each so this deciding game could be crucial in the hunt to finish as high up the table as possible and gain the best Playoff seedings. Atiba Lyons has made it clear that his side will take one game at a time and emphasised that he wants to eradicate some of the slow starts the Sharks have made, attributable to the youth of his team. Big final quarters have gotten them through the Newcastle and Surrey wins and it will be down to the wise old head of skipper Mike Tuck to ensure that his young charges extend this to the whole forty minutes. A terrific game lies in store and puts down a huge marker as to who the form teams will be as we approach the end of regular season and move into post-season.
The best of Sheffield basketball on one evening for the bargain price of £9! Two games at the pinnacle of British basketball featuring Sheffield teams – can you afford to miss out? Call 0114 2573180 before close of play on Thursday 30th March to see #SheffieldHoopsCity live and up close this Friday. We go at 5pm with the Hatters against the Wildcats and follow that with your DBL Sharks Sheffield taking on the Glasgow Rocks from 7.30pm. Come and support the best that Sheffield has to offer in two crucial matches. Out of town? On the go? Then don’t forget both games will be live streamed at www.bbc.co.uk/sport/basketball so there is no excuse to miss out! It’s #SheffieldHoopsOnTheBBC. Let’s go Hatters, Let’s go Sharks – it’s time to make some noise!
Image: BBL Official