After the relative luxury of a single game outing, the DBL Sharks Sheffield enter week four of the BBL season facing yet another challenging double-header. On Friday, Creon Raftopoulos’ Surrey Scorchers are the visitors to the EIS, in search of a first league win but with many giving praise for their performances so far. On Saturday, the Sharks make the journey down to the South West to take on Bristol Flyers, who currently have a split record but have the potential to break out in this their third BBL campaign.
Sitting at the foot of the table with an 0-5 record wouldn’t usually indicate a promising start to a season. The Scorchers were possibly the latest roster to come together and despite still being in a gelling process, have already managed to send title-challengers Leicester to overtime. It is a decent team that Coach Raftopoulos has managed to assemble too. Point Guard Quincy Taylor garnered 14.4 points per game in his time at Cheshire last season and is primed to marshal the Scorchers this time around. Big man Will Neighbour has already shown why he is coveted by the GB international programme and currently is contributing 16.4 points per game, ably supported by fellow big Mike Ochereobia. Brit quartet Albert Margai, Tayo Ogedengbe, Kalil Irving and Jordan Williams form a solid spine to the team and the overseas influence comes in the form of Chaz Rollins and Jay Bowie. Surrey’s last outing was a swift rematch with Leicester, which ended in an 88-70 defeat. Bowie posted a team-high 17 points closely followed by Neighbour, who put up 16 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. The Scorchers pushed the stacked Riders side to an 79-88 loss in overtime at the end of September, when Taylor (22) and Ogedengbe (25) showed their class to worry the reigning champions, who came up big in the extra five minutes. Surrey appear to be on the verge of that breakout league win and the Sharks need to do all they can to ensure that it doesn’t occur on Friday.
Saturday’s opponents Bristol currently have a 1-1 league record but have also exited the BBL Cup at the first stage. Their WISE Arena is something of a fortress and they present tough road opponents for the Sharks this weekend. They opened with an 85-80 win over the free-scoring Plymouth but went down by 86-66 in the Copperbox against London Lions. In between they dipped by 71-79 to Surrey in the BBL Cup but have a roster that appears capable of much better things. Yet to quite find his range is Lovell Cook, who enjoyed a productive season with London two years ago. The 6’ 7” forward is an adept 3 point shooter and able to soon pile up the points. Another player with past BBL experience is Mike Vigor, who excelled for Plymouth last year but again hasn’t quite yet hit the heights. Of the new imports, Leslee Smith is already impressing with 15.5 ppg and 8 rpg and not far behind is Brandon Boggs, who is currently hitting 11.5 ppg with 4.5 rpg. Newcomer Hameed Ali shows his all-round game with 13 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 3.5 apg and the Brit-core of Chris Bourne, Daniel Edozie, Greg Streete, Jordan Ranklin and Roy Owen form the bulk of the rest of the roster. Flyers Coach Andreas Kapoulas is widely respected as one of the most astute playcallers around and the tight atmosphere of their home gym makes it a very intimidating place to visit.
The mood lightened around the DBL Sharks Sheffield last weekend following their 80-67 win over Manchester Giants. That success was achieved being two players short on the roster and it remains to be seen whether the Sharks will have time to introduce anyone else to the squad before this weekend’s double header or whether they will retain the services of Sheffield Hallam’s Aaron Williams. What is clear is that performances such as the 21 point, 9 rebound, 6 assist effort of forward Tony Wroblicky and the 20 points shot from Kyle Odister cannot be isolated events and need to become regular occurrences. The whole side came out with much better energy against the Giants and will need to add to the scoring jamboree if they are to compete with two up and coming sides this weekend.
The SharkNation were in fine voice last Friday and we need a big effort once again from our 6th Man this coming Friday. Surrey Scorchers are our visitors for a 7.30pm tip off and we are looking for a big noise from the bleachers. Visit the link on the home page of www.sharksbasketball.org for tickets and don’t forget to bring your friends for another night of top flight British basketball. The Sharks are on their way back and we need your support to help us get there! It’s the only way to kick-start your weekend. Miss it and miss out!
Image: Sharks Team Photographers