The grind never stops! After the adulation of reaching the BBL Trophy Final, the DBL Sharks Sheffield attentions switch firmly back to improving their league standing. On Friday, they attend to the second instalment of the Yorkshire derby by travelling north to meet bottom side Leeds Force. On Sunday, they hit the road once more for a swift re-match with BBL Cup winners, Cheshire Phoenix. The Sharks retain games in hand on the five teams above them in the table and clearly now is the time to make them count.
It has been a rollercoaster season for Yorkshire rivals Leeds Force. A large turnover in personnel has resulted in a lack of consistency in their performance and they currently find themselves bottom of the league with a 1-19 record. The Sharks won the first of this season’s three match series by 98-71 back in October but the Leeds side is virtually unrecognisable from then. Their last outing was a 94-62 loss at Manchester in front of the BBC cameras. Adrian Kuyinu and Gazmend Sinani top scored with 13 each, followed by Eric Curth (11). Kuyinu is averaging 17.5 points per game in the six games since he joined the Force and will be a key hope for the West Yorkshire side. There are a couple of Sheffield connections in the Leeds rotation; namely Aidan Appleyard and George Brownell. Brownell is of course very familiar to Sharks fans and averages 5.25 points per game for the Force, having missed a large proportion of the season through injury. One vital statistic about Brownell however is that he shoots 45.8% from three point territory; something the Sharks will be only too aware of. Leeds have used an eye-watering 23 players so far this season and the Sharks will be keen to maintain their record of never having lost the Yorkshire series since Leeds entered the BBL.
You only need to go back as far as February 2nd for the Sharks last encounter with Cheshire Phoenix. The ‘Nix had just won the BBL Cup and were without key point guard Robert Sandoval but played their part in an entertaining game that the Sharks shaded at 83-79. Sandoval returned for Cheshire in last Sunday’s 73-86 home loss to Leicester, albeit on slightly reduced minutes and against a Riders side that now look to be romping the league. The Nix are having a huge say in where the title goes, having beaten Newcastle on the road by 83-100 last Friday. Leading the scoring was Malcolm Riley, who poured in 26 points with 9 rebounds and 4 assists to boot. Riley needs no introduction to Sharks fans, who are well aware of his talented and efficient style, having been a popular player in the 2016-17 season at the club. On paper a much tougher prospect than Leeds on Friday night, the Nix sit in ninth place with an 8-8 record, a game in hand on the Sharks and a hunger to elevate themselves into the playoff positions.
It was an astonishing weekend of basketball last time out for the Sharks but attention must be switched to improving the league standing this time around. The energy and exertion devoted to the double overtime loss against Leicester on Friday led few to believe that the Sharks would be so emphatic against Worcester in the BBL Trophy on Sunday. Yet they were! Veterans were to the fore at the weekend. Chris Alexander continued his rich vein of form with 21 against the Riders and 30 against the Wolves, where at times he proved unguardable. It was a weekend where Mike Tuck showed all his knowledge and experience as he found the net with regularity on the way to 26 against Leicester and 17 against Worcester. But it is a team affair and the Sharks have many components to give them the impetus that they need in another vital weekend of action.
Your DBL Sharks Sheffield are on the road at Leeds Force this Friday 16th February and Cheshire Phoenix this Sunday 18th February. Tip off times are 7.30pm and 5.30pm respectively and you can catch both games on www.livebasketball.tv.
We are going to Glasgow for the BBL Trophy Final on Sunday March 4th! We meet the winners of Leicester Riders and London Lions in the showpiece event. Check the website for details or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for more information.
We return to home action on Friday March 9th when Cheshire Phoenix are our opponents. Tickets for this game can be found at:
There has never been a better time to join the SharkNation. The rest can #FearTheFin !