Basketball: Hassan sparkles as Sharks suffer narrow Riders loss

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A Jekyll and Hyde Sheffield Sharks side suffered a heart-breaking 89-86 overtime defeat against Championship-challenging Leicester Riders last night.

Rashad Hassan was the Sharks tormentor with 35 points as the Sharks fought back from 20-42 down in the second quarter to tie the game 75 all at the end of regulation. However, Hassan and fellow American Neil Watson steered the Riders to success in the added five minutes.

The game couldn’t have started any worse for Atiba Lyons’ side as Leicester raced into a 10-0 lead inside the first three minutes. Hassan was dynamite in the paint, laying in basket after basket to give Leicester a 27-13 advantage.

The second quarter was equally as difficult for the Sharks as a further eight8 points from Hassan and a 3 from Harrison Gamble took the Riders out to 42-20. It was the unsung Zac Gachette who led the Sheffield fightback with several good moves on the baseline in an 11-0 run. A halftime score of 46-32 still looked a mountain for the Sharks to climb despite the revival.

Gachette and Sharks skipper Mike Tuck inspired a phenomenal second half; Tuck’s triple opening the half. London-born Gachette slammed home the basket that drew the Sharks to within seven at 60-53 with 10 minutes to play.

The drama continued in the fourth period as a Nick Lewis fadeaway drew the teams level at 62 all and the young Canadian capped a 15-2 run for the home side with a huge three to put the Sharks in front by 68-62. Leicester showed why they are in the hunt for honours however as Hassan again put them in front at 75-73 and it took two free throws from BJ Holmes to tie the game for Sheffield and send it into overtime.

Bernadini and Watson produced three point scores that put the Riders up by 81-77 and despite a three point score for Olu Babalola on the buzzer, Sharks fell to defeat.