There may be ‘owls’ of derision but to be perfectly ‘blunt’ the big game in town on Friday evening sees the DBL Sharks Sheffield play host to visitors Surrey Scorchers. A season head-to-head is at stake with the Scorchers having recently leap-frogged the Sharks after their televised win over Leeds Force. For the Sharks, it represents the opportunity to draw a line under a three game losing streak and steal a march over one of the sides who could be positional rivals come the end of the season.
The two sides have seen a lot of each other already. The opening game of the season saw Surrey claim a narrow 78-81 win at the EIS. Early December saw the Sharks take an 84-89 road win after a six hour nightmare journey and very little in the way of a warm-up. So 1-1 in the league and a slight advantage to the Sharks in that they won out by 93-64 in the BBL Cup quarter final at the beginning of November.
So which Surrey side will turn up on Friday night? They currently sit in fifth place in the BBL table with an 8-9 record which points to their only failing being a lack of consistency. They were belligerent and determined in that opening night game and few could argue with their three point win. The BBL Cup win saw the Sharks triumphant at a canter, albeit in the middle of a hot streak where they were beating all-comers. The game at Surrey Sports Park had the Sharks coming out to a rapid start before the Scorchers almost clawed themselves back into it at the end. The Scorchers last two games have seen them beat London by 82-80 and Leeds by 92-65 in front of the BBC cameras.
Influential in those latter games has been Jordan Williams. He corralled 19 points and 11 rebounds against Leeds to go with the 15 and 12 he claimed against London and is clearly a man in form. Williams joins Josh Steel and Levi Noel as a nucleus of hot Brit talent to go alongside established BBL campaigners such as Tayo Ogedengbe, Alex Owumi and Gerald Robinson. Tony Hicks has been pulling all the strings from the point (21 points against London) and it is a solid, workmanlike roster that Coach Creon Raftopoulos has pulled together. The Scorchers recently dispensed with the services of Darryl Palmer but retain a core that few teams will relish playing against.
A confidence-boosting win is needed by the Sharks. Defeats to Worcester (65-71), Newcastle (77-81) and London (81-73) have been contrary to the free-scoring, up-tempo performances exhibited earlier in the campaign. There is clearly no lack of ability and the losses have all come in under a ten point margin. All it will take is another notch in the ‘W’ column to restore belief. And what an ideal time to do it! Surrey have stealthily crept up the BBL table and a head-to-head series win over them would be most welcomed should it be needed in the end of season shake-up. A match with great intrigue – a definite not-to-be-missed!
The first home game of 2018 sees Surrey Scorchers visit the EIS with a season head-to-head at stake! No mid-table mediocrity here, this game has something big riding on it!
It is the BIG game in town this Friday 12th January! Join us and make everyone #FearTheFin !
Image: Andy Chubb