The 2018 BBL Trophy Final is drawing ever nearer for the DBL Sharks Sheffield. Fancy a dress-rehearsal? You got it! The Sharks head on down to the Leicester Arena this Friday for a televised taster of the showpiece event to come. And if it’s anything like the two previous encounters, then the watching public should be in for a treat. The Riders sit pretty at the top of the BBL standings with a 19-2 record with the Sharks in fourth, 12-7, having won two important league games over the past weekend.
It isn’t a conventional looking Leicester side this season but they have been just as effective and dominant. The title looks to be theirs for the taking, being eight points ahead of second-placed Glasgow and ten ahead of third-placed Newcastle albeit with the miasma of games in hand still to take effect. The slight break with convention appears to be that they don’t have a recognised out-and-out point guard but such is their system and depth of players to call upon, it matters little. A man in serious form is Tyler Bernardini. The last two league games have seen him pour in 31 points in a 73-86 road win over Cheshire and of course, 34 in the double overtime win against the Sharks. His scoring was tempered a little in last weekend’s 182-146 two leg win over London to reach the Trophy final but he appears to be thriving on the responsibility of being captain and ball-handler.
Not that the Riders talent pool ends there. Kiefer Douse contributed 25 in the 92-65 second leg win against the Lions, aided by JR Holder, who added 20. The Riders have had their injury problems but finding their way back are the talented Pierre Hampton and TrayVonn Wright and there may be an imminent return for experienced forward Andrew Thomson. Leicester also bring Eric Robertson off the bench to good effect, being a noted three point threat out of either corner. Their current record speaks for itself and such is the competitive nature of Riders playcaller Rob Paternostro, that he will not allow any slacking even with next weekend’s trip north of the border looming on the horizon.
The Sharks head down to Leicester on the back of a very successful weekend last time out. Led by 26 points from Dirk Williams, the Sharks were efficient in taking another Yorkshire head-to-head against Leeds by 79-107 on the road. Also pleasing was the finishing five of Alexander, Brownell, Cauthorn, Gachette and Rolls-Tyson, all of whom saw at least 12 minutes action and put points on the board. A tougher prospect was the road trip to Cheshire on the Sunday but again the Sharks showed their mettle to defeat the Nix by 77-82. Chris Alexander continued his excellent run of form with another 20 point haul as the Sharks survived a late Cheshire fightback to move to an overall fourth place in the BBL table.
Like Paternostro, Sharks Coach Atiba Lyons is too proud and competitive to allow his player’s minds to wander elsewhere and will demand maximum effort in front of the Freesports cameras on Friday night. The Sharks are arguably the side that have pushed Leicester the closest this season, going down by 80-75 in November after a stupendous comeback and losing 92-98 in that strength-sapping encounter at the EIS just a couple of weeks ago. Form and momentum are vital at this stage of the season and neither coach will want to concede any ground to their rival ahead of such a big fixture.
Your DBL Sharks Sheffield take on the league leaders, Leicester Riders, this Friday 23rd February at the Leicester Arena. The game is being televised live on the Freesports Channel (Freeview, TalkTalk TV, BT Channels 95, Sky Channel 424, Freesat Channel 252) from 7.30pm.
The Sharks take part in the BBL Trophy Final on Sunday 4th March against Leicester Riders at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow. Check the website and our social media channels for details.
The Sharks next home game is on Friday 9th March against Cheshire Phoenix. For advance tickets go to:
We need all the support the Shark Nation can give! Wear your colours and turn up the volume to the max – It’s time to #FearTheFin !!
Image: Andy Chubb