The DBL Sharks Sheffield climbed one place in the BBL table by virtue of an extremely hard-fought win over their lowly Lancastrian neighbours Manchester Giants. An on-paper walkover was far from it as the Giants overcame fifteen point deficits on several occasions before the Sharks secured a third consecutive victory and a ninth league win overall.
Sharks: Wroblicky, Tuck, Alexander, Williams, McKnight
Giants: Kadiri, Rettig, Okoro, Bankevics, Jones.
The Sharks dominated the opening ten minutes. Alexander and Wroblicky ensured an early 11-4 lead and McKnight capitalised with another drive at 13-4. Wroblicky and Mitchell, with his first points in Sharks colours extended the lead out to 16-4 but Rettig and Kadiri on the alley-oop ensured Manchester were not forgotten at 21-8. Chris Alexander’s free throws ended the quarter at 23-10 in the Sharks favour.
A disasterous second period followed for the Sharks. They returned just eight points as Jones (6), Kadiri (7) and Bankevics (5) went to work for the Lancastrians. The 8-20 run saw Manchester poised at 31-30 at half time and few in the Sharks camp could be confident in their display up until that point.
With the words of Atiba Lyons ringing in their ears at half time, the Sharks came out up-tempo for the second half. Wroblicky, Williams and Alexander poured in scores before Bankevics replied with a corner trey at 39-35.
Manchester hit penalty with 4.58 left of the third quarter, allowing Sol Rolls-Tyson to make his Sharks debut but Jones and one play, which went unconverted, gave the Giants a shrinking deficit by 46-42.
Rettig kept Manchester in the contest but a huge Dirk Williams three at 51-45 signalled a change of gear from the South Yorkshire men. Williams poured in his twelfth point a row to make it 53-47 and Alexander and Tuck concluded the quarter with the score at 58-47.
The tempo remained high at the top of the fourth. A McKnight ‘and one’ saw the Sharks maintaining a 65-53 lead. A long two and a three from Bankevics signalled yet another Manchester fightback and Kadiri’s bucket at 69-66 once again had the Sharks looking over their shoulder. McKnight came up clutch for the Sharks, driving into the paint at 72-66 and as the Giants went into penalty, he and Chris Alexander iced the free throws that saw the Sharks hold on for a 77-72 victory.
Not the greatest display from the Sharks as a whole but undoubtedly they will be happy with another notch in the win column. Tony Wroblicky out-rebounded the league leader, David Kadiri, with his 14 grabs off the glass. Chris Alexander was again Mr Consistency with his 20 points and nerves of steel from the line at the end. Ditto Mackey McKnight. As the Manchester bandwagon began to roll again late in the fourth, he too iced the necessary points from the line as well coming up with some key drives to the hoop to ensure the win went the Sharks way. However, it wasn’t difficult to choose the standout player once again. Proving it’s not all about the dunks, Dirk Williams kept the board rolling with his 26 points and did his bit on the defensive end with 9 rebounds, a block and a steal. His scoring, especially in the third quarter was sublime and key to a Sharks win that was much tougher than expected.
Tony Wroblicky spoke of a welcome but inconsistent win after the game and had some sympathy for the fans who were on the edge of their seats for a second home match in a row!
Cheshire Phoenix at DBL Sharks Sheffield, Friday 2nd February, EIS Sheffield, 7.30pm Tip Off