Well it may have taken three years and twenty days but when the DBL Sharks Sheffield beat BBL giants Newcastle Eagles boy do they make it a game to remember! A 21-0 run that began with 11 seconds of the third quarter to play and lasted seven minutes into the fourth was key to a scintillating display that sent many raising a glass in cheers on this St Patricks night. Ironically the Sharks achieved the win without Irish passport holder Jordan Davis through injury but again it was the team that was greater than the sum of its parts on their way to a famous 95-84 triumph.
Sharks: Tuck, Wroblicky, Riley, Rembert, Guercy.
Eagles: Parks, Martin, Jackman, Fletcher, Hart.
Not that the Sharks had it all their own way – far from it. Orlan Jackman opened proceedings for the Geordies and sent them into a 2-5 lead with a three after 1.14. The Sharks also had reigning league MVP Rahmon Fletcher to contend with. He fired up eight athletic points at 10-18 and it took a pair of Tony Wroblicky free throws to see the Sharks still in touch at 15-20. The Sharks turned the game about face in the dying seconds. A corner three, an ‘and one’ score and a drive into the paint from Malcolm Riley turned the tables completely as the Sharks ended the first period on the high side by 23-20.
The Newcastle machine got back into drive for the second quarter. The introduction of Zach Gachette and Eddy Brownell seemed to nullify the electric Fletcher at first but Jackman (5), Martin, Lasker and the man himself put the Eagles in front by 25-32. Rashawn Rembert broke the run but Parks and Fletcher extended the lead out to 27-38, forcing Sharks Coach Atiba Lyons into another timeout. Wroblicky and Tuck attempted to wrest back control at 31-38 but a Scott Martin ‘and one’ soon made it 31-43. Riley and Tuck hit back to back three’s and four Max Guercy points kept the game alive at 41-47 by half time.
The Sharks came out with renewed vigour in the third quarter, keen to neutralise the effect of the influential Fletcher. Rashawn Rembert went coast to coast at 45-51 and a Max Guercy trey at 48-51 had the Eagles wobbling. Jackman’s dunk at 52-59 confirmed that Newcastle still had the heart for the fight and Martin confirmed that with a triple at 56-62. The Sharks kept nagging away however; Gachette’s three from the top of the key at 61-64 and scores from Guercy and Tuck meant they were never very far away. An outrageous putback from Riley on a Rembert three attempt and a mesmeric fake and score from Guercy saw the deficit at just one point by the end of the third and that dramatic run had begun.
A further nineteen unanswered points followed at the top of the fourth that saw Newcastle jacking up numerous shots in the hope of staying in the game. To the Sharks credit, nothing dropped as Tuck and Wroblicky crashed the boards, Guercy dished out the assists and Riley ensured the points flowed. Gachette finished a highlights reel alleyoop off Guercy at 77-72 and Riley and Rembert found the target from beyond the arc to take it out to 84-72. A Riley flush and buckets for Gachette and Wroblicky took the run out to 21-0 and 90-72 overall. Fletcher broke the run with three minutes of the contest remaining but another Riley trey out of the corner pocket killed the contest at 95-76 with 1.48 to go. The Sharks emptied the bench with fully a minute remaining and despite a sizeable Jackman triple in the last twenty seconds, it was the Sharks who claimed a famous eleven point success.
There was an overall winner but again this standout result had ‘team’ written right through it. Sharks Captain Mike Tuck has had a relatively lean time of it by his own very high standards recently but celebrated a birthday win with a trademark 18 points and 8 rebounds. Tony Wroblicky fully made up for the absence of Newcastle’s Darius Defoe by cleaning up off the glass with 16 rebounds and a more than useful 14 points. Thrust into a starting Point Guard berth in only his fifth game in a Sharks jersey due to the absence of Jordan Davis, Max Guercy dished out an eye-watering 10 assists to go with 16 points and 6 rebounds in a livewire display that matched his illustrious opposite number Rahmon Fletcher in the Newcastle camp. After all that, the eventual winner went to the team’s own ‘Mr Consistency’ Malcolm Riley. Any game against Newcastle is going to require someone to step up to the plate points-wise and Riley clearly has all the tools to achieve that. A pinpoint accurate three point shot, the ability to slash to the basket, attacking the hoop on the putback, Riley can do it all. Riley even pulled in five boards when his skipper sat and for a superlative 29 points, the award was his.
Sharks Coach Atiba Lyons and Captain (and birthday boy) Mike Tuck gave time after the game to reflect on a memorable night for followers of Sharks basketball.
DBL Sharks Sheffield at Surrey Scorchers, Sunday 26th March 2017, Surrey Sports Park, 2pm Tip Off
Image: Sharks Team Photographers