It’s back to action for the DBL Sharks Sheffield this coming Sunday with a short trip across the Pennines to Lancastrian rivals, Manchester Giants. It’s been another season of struggle so far for the men in green, languishing at the foot of the table with a 1-9 record. They have, however, beaten the much-fancied Cheshire Phoenix and have several tools in their belt, including Ryan Wilson, who of course started the season with the Sharks.
Wilson isn’t the only player of pedigree in the Manchester ranks. The Giants have branched out into the overseas market to acquire Austin Rettig and David Kadiri. Rettig is currently putting up a respectable 11.36 points per game with Kadiri excelling at 17.45 points per game with 9.45 rebounds. Making the jump back across the border into red rose territory is Ingus Bankevics, who started the campaign with Leeds and is now running up 12 points per game for the Giants. Familiar faces continue in the shape of Callum Jones at the point (15.1 points per game, 5 assists per game) and Jerelle Okoro, who again makes it into double-figures with 11.43 points per game.
The Giants even parade a new playcaller this season. Danny Byrne steps into the coaching shoes vacated by BBL legend Yorick Williams, fresh from a highly-successful season in the NBL with the club’s second string. And this isn’t the first time the two teams have met this year. The Giants were visitors to the EIS in pre-season, albeit minus Kadiri. 111-81 was the end result and clearly both sides have made adjustments since then. The Giants took down a fancied Cheshire side at the beginning of November by 79-88 on the road; Kadiri and Rettig pouring in 23 points apiece. The Giants last outing was a home defeat to Bristol Flyers by 74-97, Bankevics heading up the Manchester effort with 17.
The Sharks come into the game on the back of a blank weekend. Mike Tuck, Zach Gachette and Rob Marsden all attended the initial England Commonwealth Games squad camp in Manchester. Unfortunately, Marsden didn’t make the final seventeen but to have three players selected was a measure of how well they have performed this season so far. Thoughts of the Gold Coast in April 2018 must now be banished as the Sharks look to get back to winning ways after defeats by Leicester and Newcastle.
Happily, Mackey McKnight took a relatively full part in the Newcastle game and helped spark a remarkable comeback that almost saw the Sharks nick an unlikely victory. Another notch in the win column would be most welcome with two knockout competition games to come against Worcester Wolves (8th and 20th December – over two legs – BBL Cup Semi Final) and Manchester Magic (15th December – BBL Trophy) sandwiched with a trip to Surrey Scorchers on December 10th. December is rounded off with the visit of Newcastle Eagles on the 29th so a busy Festive period awaits.
Your DBL Sharks Sheffield tip-off at 5pm this Sunday 3rd December at the Trafford Sportsdome (M17 8DD) against Manchester Giants.
The next home game is on Friday 15th December when Manchester Magic of the NBL are the visitors for a BBL Trophy tie. Go to https://sharksbasketball.org/event/dbl-sharks-v-manchester-magic/ for further details and check our social media channels for details of a ‘2 for £20’ offer incorporating the Worcester Wolves match on 20th December.
The Sharks are looking to deliver a whole host of presents this December! Make sure you’ve been good or you too might have to #FearTheFin!
Image: Andy Chubb