Avengers Assemble! The DBL Sharks Sheffield will be looking to avenge the 78-81 defeat inflicted on them by the Surrey Scorchers on the opening day of the season. The Scorchers stand in the way of the Sharks and a BBL Cup Semi-Final place and victory would represent a sixth successive win on the bounce. Surrey reached the Quarter Final stage with a 74-71 success over Plymouth Raiders, making them 4-3 for the season overall.
Since the opening day win, Surrey have beaten Worcester (84-80) at home and Leeds (79-86) on the road as well as the Plymouth Cup success. Conversely, they have also lost to London (93-78), Cheshire (82-80) and Glasgow (97-78).
The Scorchers continue to run with the same nine man rotation that defeated the Sharks back in September. They are captained by BBL vet Tayo Ogedengbe, who led from the front in the recent Glasgow defeat with 24 points and 4 rebounds. Another with BBL experience in Cheshire and Plymouth is Gerald Robinson. He compiled 18 points and 8 rebounds in the cup win over Plymouth as well as 20 points against Worcester in the league win prior to that. He forms a solid core with Elias Desport, Darryl Palmer and Ogedengbe himself.
Coach Lyons has also spoken of his admiration for Surrey’s guards. Pulling the strings is Tony Hicks out of Louisville, who has poured in 15.33 points per game so far with 5.17 assists. Alex Owumi needs no introduction to BBL followers and comes with his famed three point shot that has been the Sharks undoing on many occasions. They also have Brit-talent in Levi Noel, the enigmatic Josh Steel and Caylin Raftopoulas, son of Surrey playcaller Creon.
Surrey have proved they can beat the Sharks and are obviously no pushover. Much has changed between late September and now. The Sharks continue to evolve and are now in the midst of that five game winning streak, which deservedly earned Coach Lyons the first Coach of the Month award of the new campaign. It was felt that the visit of London last week was their biggest test yet and it was one they passed with flying colours. The ten point winning margin flattered London somewhat in yet another eye-catching display. The Sharks have been mostly reliant on their seven man rotation so far but returns to fitness for Marko Backovic and Eddy Brownell as well as the addition of Jacob Cauthorn now gives them a fall-back position.
The Surrey encounter sees the final game in a six match opening spell at home and also the first chance of the campaign to focus on some silverware. Victory over the Scorchers would see the Sharks just 80 minutes away from a showpiece event in Birmingham that would lay down a huge marker in this fledgling BBL season. The team ethic remains strong with different players stepping up when needed. There is athleticism and there is solidity. Coach Lyons still insists there is more work to be done to achieve the finished article. But at present it is enjoyable to see a side playing with freedom and still gaining the results. Long may it continue!
It could be your last chance to see the five-game-streak Sharks for a few weeks. We’re hitting the silverware trail with Friday’s BBL Cup Quarter Final tipping off at 7.30pm at the EIS. For tickets go to:
Will we make it six on the trot? Will we book our place in the Semi-Finals? How can you afford to miss out? It’s time to #FearTheFin!
Image: Andy Chubb