The DBL Sharks Sheffield follow up one tough road trip with…yet another tough road trip. This time they head to leaders Newcastle Eagles, who have made an unbeaten start to league play. The Eagles have lost just once against Cheshire Phoenix in the Cup but have built a formidable roster that is 7-0 in the Championship.
Eagles Coach Fab Flournoy has virtually ripped up the team sheet from last season but has put together a side that many rate as one of his best ever. That Phoenix loss shows that they are not infallible but already they are showing they have players who might be MVP candidates.
First off the ranks is October player of the month, Jaysean Paige. The guard has begun his Newcastle career with 25.5 points per game, 6 assists and 2.25 steals on 46% three point shooting and has quickly become one to watch. Not far behind him is diminutive ball handler, Saah Nimley. He is contributing 20.71 points per game based on a fast break ethos with a high percentage of field goal attempts and clearly, it is method that is working. Further additions to the Eagles come in the form of Zarko Jukic, Terry Martin, Amarjit Basi and Jure Gunjina. Jukic, Martin and Gunjina form a solid front court and they are aided and abetted by the evergreen Darius Defoe, who is putting up 17.71 points per game with 6.43 rebounds thus far. Two players with vast BBL experience are Drew Lasker and Kai Williams. The Eagles are now further buoyed by the announcement that Williams’ brother Jamal has now joined the Newcastle ranks.
The Eagles have gone past the one hundred point mark in five of their seven wins although their last success was revenge over Cheshire for the Cup loss by 76-87 on the road. Unsurprisingly, Paige led the way with 24 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists, backed-up by Nimley (16) and Defoe (14) on the night.
Newcastle Coach Fab Flournoy is peerless in British basketball when it comes to silverware and success. Their current hot start shows that his desire hasn’t diminished. He also has the support of the Sport Central faithful, which hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the Sharks in recent years. Like the Sharks last week however, these streaks are there to be broken and a win over the leaders is always a feather in the cap.
Again without Mackey McKnight, the Sharks were slow to get going against Leicester last Friday. That McKnight took part in the warm-up was a sign that maybe he isn’t too far away and his return would be a boost to the Sharks rotation. A 23-12 final quarter was more characteristic of the Sharks current form and there were still very healthy performances from Chris Alexander (25 points) and Dirk Williams (17 points 13 rebounds). 35 points to 2 off the bench was also a telling factor and these are undoubtedly areas that will have been worked on throughout the week. One defeat to a team of Leicester’s pedigree isn’t the time for mass hysteria and it will be interesting to see how they respond in a season where they still remain challengers in all competitions.
Unable to make it to Newcastle on Friday? Fear not! The game will be broadcast on Facebook through the Unilad pages. Go to www.facebook.com/uniladfootball and remember that tip-off is at 7.30pm.
Our BBL Trophy game against Manchester Magic is now our next home fixture. The game takes place on Friday 15th December at the EIS. Use the following link for tickets:
Send your best wishes to the guys via social media as the road trip continues. Wherever you are watching the game, let’s make the SharkNation’s presence felt and make sure that everybody will #FearTheFin !
Image: Andy Chubb