Basketball: Barber returns to give Sharks a cutting edge

Sheffield Sharks' John Barber scores the lay up against Leeds Force. Picture: Andrew Roe

Sheffield Sharks' John Barber scores the lay up against Leeds Force. Picture: Andrew Roe

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John Barber will return for Sheffield Sharks in time to start the new season.

The 6’7 power forward will re-join the club on an initial short term basis until such time as negotiations can be finalised.

Although Barber played as an American last season, his status has been adjusted in line with his wife’s military position with the US Airforce based in the UK.

His leave to remain entitles Barber to play as a non-national non-work permitted player.

This position was confirmed late in the summer with the Sharks keen to get Barber back in uniform to pick up on his previous season’s solid performance.

Sharks face last year’s quadruple winners Newcastle Eagles in their first fixture of the new campaign on Friday night at the EIS (7.30pm).

And there is no doubt that Barber’s return gives the club a boost.

Head coach Atiba Lyons said: “It’s really good to see John back at the Sharks, even better that he is over and above our American roster, he brings a lot of diversity he has a great shooting range and he got us a lot of steals last season.

“Above all he is a great guy and he really gained a lot of respect from the team last year which I am sure he will do again.”

The Sharks, however, are still doubtful about the return of shooting guard Mike Cook who had to fly home following a sudden bereavement.

Although the pending return of Cook breeds excitement, his absence for the first game of the season against the league favourites has given some cause for concern.

“It is a terrible situation for Mike and we support whatever decision he makes in terms of the time he needs at home, but he is essential to our team and we will miss him,” said Lyons.

”However, we have to focus and execute our plan and look to do our best without a key man.”

Sharks v Newcastle doors open at 6.30pm tip off at 7.30pm on Friday at the EiSS Sheffield, tickets are available at Tickets.com