Just their opening day defeat to Surrey Scorchers separates the DBL Sharks Sheffield from the table-topping Newcastle Eagles as they extended their winning streak out to five games in a row with a win against highly-fancied London Lions. The Lions arrived late at the EIS due to the M1 traffic caused by chart-topping band Little Mix but had little to thanks the X-Factor winners for as the Sharks dominated every quarter to come away with an 83-73 success.
Sharks: Alexander, McKnight, Williams, Tuck, Wroblicky.
Lions: Lanegger, Flannigan, Hall, Latinovic, Robinson.
The motorway delay didn’t seem to affect the men from the capital as they raced into a 5-8 lead on the back of a couple of Latinovic’ threes. GB international Justin Robinson showed his influence with scores at 9-12 but the Sharks muscled their way in at 13-14 on Mike Tuck’s spin and score. Latinovic converted his third trey of the quarter at 17-19 but a Dirk Williams reply in kind and a trip to the line for Tony Wroblicky saw the period end at 22-19.
Latinovic proved to be the thorn in the Sharks side throughout the first half. He drained four easy points at the beginning of the second period at 26-23 which were answered in kind by Rob Marsden. A Robinson trey saw the Sharks taking time at 30-28 and a fast-break two from Guede saw London draw level at 32. Isenbarger attempted to keep London in touch at 36-35 on the three ball but Tuck and Gachette, with a no-look spin and mid-range shot on the buzzer saw the Sharks go in on the high-side at 42-36 after twenty minutes play.
A significant quarter has been a feature of all the Sharks games to date and it was the third this week. Mackey McKnight connected on one of those NBA / five point range efforts at the top of the stanza and soon found Chris Alexander, Momcilo Latinovic and Dirk Williams follow suit at 56-42. A tough Rob Marsden ‘and one’ play followed suit and despite London ending the period strongly, the Sharks still maintained a 66-51 difference.
London’s main way back into the contest was through three point shooting and it was no surprise that Isenbarger and Guede connected early in the fourth. The Sharks managed a burgeoning foul count on Wroblicky, Tuck and Marsden really well and Isenbarger’s trey at 81-65 with 2.30 to play had little impact on the overall outcome. The Sharks afforded time to Eddy Brownell and debutant Jacob Cauthorn with 1.13 to play and Cauthorn’s timely foul saw Ikhinmwin successful from the line at 81-69. Lanegger made two further free throws and a Lockhart bucket ended the contest at 83-73, which possibly did not reflect the dominance of the Sharks over their highly-fancied opponents.
Firstly, fun! This Sharks side has a huge smile over its face when they play basketball of the fashion they played against London. The Lions side often went double-team on players they considered to be a threat and the Sharks beat them down with the sheer athleticism on display tonight. Chris Alexander purports to be 34 years old but has the speed and hops of a guy ten years younger on his way to 16 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists. Skipper Mike Tuck has been a ‘glue guy’ thus far but produced some vintage stuff to run out with 14 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists on a night where a bit of muscle was required. But overall a rookie who is finding his feet game by game took the MVP plaudits. Dirk Williams looked the proverbial rabbit in the headlights in his first couple of games but is now a shining example of consistent BBL pro. He shot 4 out of 7 from downtown in a stunningly-confident third quarter display to go on and record 18 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. His athleticism made the difference as a stacked Lions side now look to climb back from a third defeat on the bounce and the Sharks attempt to wrestle control of top place from the high-flying Newcastle Eagles.
We caught up with influential forward Rob Marsden and rookie Swingman Dirk Williams after an impressive win over a highly-fancied London Lions side.
Surrey Scorchers at DBL Sharks Sheffield, Friday 3rd November, BBL Cup, EIS Sheffield, 7.30pm Tip Off
Image: Andy Chubb