The DBL Sharks Sheffield returned to action with a win over potential banana-skin Manchester Giants. Some outstanding outside shooting was key to the win against a plucky Manchester side who put up a robust defensive display. The win sees the Sharks into joint-fourth place with London and just two points behind third-placed Glasgow, albeit with three games in hand.
Giants: Okoro, Bankevics, Rettig, Jones, Harris.
Sharks: Alexander, McKnight, Williams, Tuck, Wroblicky.
Jerelle Okoro opened the scoring for Manchester but that was about as good as the first period got for the Lancastrians. Dirk Williams went to work with four triples, the last of which saw the Sharks into an 8-21 lead. Mackey McKnight and Chris Alexander joined the three-fest at 17-31 but an answer from Richard Bell at the end of the stanza saw the opening ten close at 24-35.
Bell’s buckets were the spark to a Manchester revival as Ingus Bankevics poured in two more and a furious Atiba Lyons called for time at 34-47, unhappy with lapses on the defensive end for his side. Bankevics hit three from the line after being fouled by Chris Alexander, whose court-time subsequently needed very careful management. McKnight hit another trey and the deficit remained at thirteen come the end of the half; the Sharks on the high side by 43-56.
Again Manchester refused to lie down and Bankevics contributed six early points in the third quarter as the Giants drew within seven at 49-56. McKnight hit his third triple and a return to action for Tony Wroblicky, who had been sat for two early fouls, signalled an improved spell for the Sharks. Williams moved to 22 points on yet another three but the Sharks hit penalty trouble with 3.18 remaining in the period as Bell (4) and Traianos (2) took advantage. Bell’s solitary point from the line saw the third period close at 66-75, a deficit of just nine.
The Sharks moved up the gears in the final ten minutes to ensure they came away with the win. A nasty two handed dunk from Williams opened the stanza, followed shortly by a nonchalant three from Alexander that used every nanosecond of the shot clock. Alexander continue to plough his furrow in typical fashion and a three from Zach Gachette saw the Sharks open up a sizeable gap once more at 70-89. The final minute saw court-time for Jacob Cauthorn and the Silverdale School product laid-in the final score for the Sharks as they ran out comfortable winners by 81-98.
Another night where all the suited Sharks bar one made the scoresheet. Manchester’s robust defence meant that points in the paint were hard to come by as shown by the 50-38 end of game totals. Therefore, it was from beyond the arc where success was found. Chris Alexander was successful on two occasions as well as gleaning 23 points overall to go with 3 rebounds and a productive 7 assists. Mackey McKnight’s three triples mounted up a statline of 13 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists. The MVP award belonged to Dirk Williams however. He began the three-fest just 1.09 into the game and connected on five in total on his way to 28 points off 55% shooting and a healthy 6 rebounds to boot.
Coach Atiba Lyons spoke of his relief at the win against a robust Manchester Giants and the start of a big December that includes a two-legged BBL Cup Semi-Final and the start of the BBL Trophy campaign.
DBL Sharks Sheffield at Worcester Wolves, BBL Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg, Worcester Arena, Friday 8th December 2017, 7.30pm Tip Off.