After the razzmatazz of the inaugural All-Stars Championship at the O2, it’s time to get down to business for the DBL Sharks Sheffield as the BBL Championship begins in earnest. Opening night on Friday sees Surrey Scorchers arrive at the EIS, keen to build on a reasonable finish to last season. The traditional double-header opening weekend sees the Sharks head up to Scotland on Sunday to take on Glasgow Rocks, complete with newly-installed Coach, Tony Garbelotto. One thing is for sure, there won’t be a five point shot in sight!
The close season has been one of remarkable change for many BBL clubs. Only Scorchers Captain, Tayo Ogedengbe, remains of their roster from the previous year. They retain a core of BBL experience however. Alex Owumi, late of London Lions, brings his knowledge to the Surrey Sports Park as well as a famed three point shot. Scorchers playcaller Creon Raftopoulos also brings in his son, Caylin, once of Worcester Wolves. Brits Levi Noel and Josh Steel keep the flag flying for hungry home-grown talent and BBL followers will remember 6’ 8” power forward Gerald Robinson from his spells in Plymouth and Cheshire. Pulling the strings this season is former Louisville guard Tony Hicks and height is added through Darryl Palmer (South Carolina State) and Swedish-born Elias Desport (St Peters University). Surrey went down by 18-31 against Leicester and 20-33 against Worcester in their two All-Star games but given the drastic format changes, little should be read into this. Raftopoulos is a canny operator and will be aiming to emulate at very least his playoff berth of ’16-’17.
Vastly-experienced Coach Tony Garbelotto replaces Sterling Davis at the helm of the Rocks. The Rocks remain true to their Scottish roots however and welcome back GB duo Kieron Achara and Gareth Murray. Joining the experienced pair are Alasdair Fraser, on a two year deal after a spell in the German Pro A, and long-serving guard Jonny Bunyan. Already making waves is 6’ 6” centre Jalen Billups out of Northern Kentucky although the Rocks have been dealt a blow with injury to guard Dante Holmes in pre-season. Filling point guard duties will be Martez Harrison, who broke school records for the University of Missouri – Kansas City and there are returns for Boris Matrakov and Bantu Burroughs. The Rocks last signing came in the form of former Newcastle Eagle and GB guard Joe Hart. Garbelotto may take some time to stamp his authority on his new charges but you can guarantee the Londoner and GB coach-elect will do just that. The Rocks were disappointing in going down by 10-27 to eventual winners London in the first game at the All Stars Championship and lost by 45-41 to Newcastle in double-overtime in their second game. The Rocks were shorn of key players and again little should be read into that set of results going into the longer format of the game.
Okay so it wasn’t in the purest form of the game but Sharks fans and basketball fans in general must have enjoyed the beyond half-court shot from Mackey McKnight that gave the Yorkshire side a dramatic 37-35 win over Worcester Wolves. The Sharks went on to lose to Leicester by 21-15 and to Newcastle by 43-33 but played their part in an entertaining and innovative start to the season at the O2 Arena. But now for the main event; the BBL season. The Sharks enjoyed wins over Manchester Magic and Manchester Giants in pre-season but lost out to Worcester Wolves in a high-scoring affair. Immediately, there is a sense of team spirit about this bunch and they have already displayed their offensive threat in spades. Coach Lyons is unashamedly a defensive coach and he will be keen to marry defensive solidity to the scoring threat in order to get his team off to a flying start. It is clear all the tools are there and if successful, the loyal SharkNation following are in for a massive treat this season.
It is one of the highlights of the basketball calendar – Opening Night! This Friday we welcome Surrey Scorchers to the EIS for the first game in a six week stretch on home territory. We need those bleachers packed to the rafters so don’t forget to secure your ticket by visiting
It is time to #FearTheFin !!!