The newly-crowned BBL Cup winners Cheshire Phoenix provide the opposition for the DBL Sharks Sheffield this coming Friday in the first game of a double-header weekend. Ben Thomas’ side defeated Worcester by 99-88 last week to record a first silverware success under the Phoenix name. The Sharks then face the lengthy journey down to Plymouth on Sunday to take on Gavin Love’s tenth placed squad in a busy weekend of BBL action.
Not only can the ‘Nix boast their new silverware addition, they can also claim the Final MVP in the form of Malcolm Riley, who garnered 26 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists on his way to the honour. Riley is of course well known to Sharks fans and it was reminiscent of many of his displays in the blue and yellow. Not far behind him was CJ Gettys. The 7’ 0” Centre poured in 19 points with 8 rebounds, showing the form that has made him a two times player of the month. Many felt it was an underdog win for the ‘Nix but they have talented performers across the roster. Captain Orlan Jackman has a depth of experience across the BBL and the continent, Raheem May-Thompson is now excelling on good minutes and Robert Sandoval is confirming his status as one of the leading point guards in the league after a solid rookie season with Leeds. The contribution of Alassan Touray, Tevin Falzon and Devan Bailey is also not to be under-estimated. The Final win is sure to come as a boon to Cheshire, who will be keen to prove it was no one-off and build on this success.
It feels like a somewhat transitional season for Plymouth Raiders but again, they are not a side to be under-estimated. They are in tenth with a 4-14 record but with the potential to climb higher. They have recently added to their front court in the form of Great Britain’s Will Neighbour to go with Zak Wells, Kinu Rochford and Joonas Jarvelainen. Neil Watson is playing lots of minutes from point as befits a player of his stature in the British game and averages 16 points with 7.56 assists. Their last outing saw a road loss in Glasgow by 106-86, with Neighbour (24) top-scoring closely followed by Tre Bowman (23). Putting points on the board hasn’t been an issue but securing the wins has. The reverse game against the Rocks saw the Raiders go down by 81-95 and the week prior to that they went down by 86-82 against Surrey. They did however beat Newcastle by 89-73 at the tail end of November so they are most capable of the upset win on their day.
Friday marks the start of an eight game month for the Sharks. They weren’t at their most convincing in beating Manchester by 77-72 last Friday but were happy with a win against a Giants team that is better than its standing suggests. The Sharks completed the victory without Zach Gachette, who has been a constant spark off the bench this season and also have their roster bolstered by the signing of Sol Rolls-Tyson, who will have benefitted from another week of learning the plays. The squad will need to be carefully managed throughout this intense schedule, especially with the BBL Trophy two-leg semi-final coming slap bang in the middle of it. The Sharks will be keen to continue the winning streak as the top 9 in the league are now bundled together and success from their games in hand will become vitally important. They may be making friends with a lot of ice baths but the schedule is what it is and the team have what it takes to get through a pivotal time in the campaign.
The 2018 BBL Cup Final winners, Cheshire Phoenix, are the visitors to the EIS this coming Friday 2nd February. A decent crowd is expected so to secure your seat, go to:
The Sharks are away at Plymouth Raiders on Sunday, tipping off at 4pm. Make sure you catch the action on livebasketball.tv.
It’s a big month for your DBL Sharks! Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for details of our upcoming fixtures. We need you there! Don’t forget, the whole league has to #FearTheFin !!