Will they get my ‘best’ side? There is no rest for the DBL Sharks Sheffield as this Friday sees the BBC cameras come to town for a double-header of Sheffield’s premier basketball teams. The opponents in the Tank this time are Cheshire Phoenix, loaded out with talent but strangely just off the Playoff positions in ninth with a 9-11 record. As a prelude to the 7.30pm start, the Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters play Oaklands Wolves, looking to edge ever nearer to second-placed Leicester Riders after a stunning 93-62 win over Manchester Mystics last Sunday.
The ‘Nix will still be fresh in the Sharks minds having already met twice in the month of February. Early in the month, the Sharks claimed an 83-79 win on the back of Chris Alexander’s 27 points, shortly after Cheshire had triumphed over Worcester in the BBL Cup Final. Two weeks later at the Cheshire Oaks Arena, the Sharks were successful again by 77-82, toughing it out down the stretch again buoyed by another twenty point haul for Alexander. Since then, the Nix have beaten Manchester by 100-88 but lost to Surrey (111-94) and Bristol (96-93). Clearly, Cheshire don’t have a problem putting the ball in the hoop. Sandoval (16), May-Thompson (15), Jackman (14) and Gettys (13) contributed to a team-affair against Bristol. Ditto against Surrey where May-Thompson (19), Riley (15), Jackman (15), Gettys (13) and Sandoval (12) were the main contributors. The BBL Cup win was an outstanding achievement for Coach Ben Thomas and for the team he supported as a boy. However, they currently sit four points off the Playoff places and this is something that requires rectification immediately. Cheshire have talent in abundance; the giant Gettys has already claimed two player of the month gongs, the likes of Jackman, Bailey, May-Thompson are among the best home-grown players around and no-one at the Sharks needs reminding what Malcolm Riley is capable of. The last two encounters between the sides have been extremely close and the side from the North West will be looking to prove to a TV audience that the Cup Final win was no flash in the pan.
Despite their last quarter heroics, the Sharks couldn’t quite bring the BBL Trophy back to Sheffield. Leicester may be 4-0 on the Sharks for the season but it must rank as the hardest 160 plus minutes of basketball they have played in the campaign. Typifying the effort was the sweat-soaked Rob Marsden, who possibly had his best game in the yellow jersey with 16 points and 9 rebounds. Watching back the video of Chris Alexander’s three point attempt at the death, it still seems impossible that it didn’t drop through the hoop. Plaudits all round for an excellent game to showcase British basketball and a taste of the big time for the team and their loyal fans alike. But now they’ve had a taste, can they go one step further? The league is seemingly sewn up by the Riders so it is those all-vital two to eight positions that the Sharks are now looking at. They currently match up against Surrey for a quarter final place but with thirteen regular season games still to go, huge amounts can change in that time. No point moping and wondering what might have been, the season is still very much alive and as Captain Mike Tuck re-iterated this week, there is still a long way to go. Friday night in front of the cameras would be a good place to start.
- Prior to the Sharks 7.30pm tip-off against Cheshire, the Hatters take on Oaklands Wolves in a WBBL game at 5pm. The Hatters go into the game following an astonishing 93-62 home win over a fancied Manchester Mystics team. Helen Naylor (26) was again the leading light for the Hatters coupled with an all-round statline for Jen Ashton with 16 points, 8 assists and 6 steals. Mystics were led by GB’s Georgia Jones (22) but it was the margin of victory that raised eyebrows. Oaklands went down by 75-66 against last year’s champions, Nottingham Wildcats. Morris (14), Freeman (12) and Harrison (10) were the Wolves leading scorers. A win for the Hatters would put them on a 13-4 record, two points closer to second-placed Leicester Riders. Oaklands are currently 5-11 in mid-table, a creditable return for such a young franchise.
We’re showing the best that Sheffield can offer in the Tank this Friday evening. Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters take on Oaklands Wolves at 5pm followed by your DBL Sharks Sheffield against Cheshire Phoenix at 7.30pm. To become a TV star and welcome the guys home after their efforts in Glasgow, go to:
We’re now on the march for a place at the Playoff Final at the O2 Arena in London. No-one in the Yellow Army can afford to miss out! It’s time to #FearTheFin !
Image: Andy Chubb