Basketball: It’s all about chemistry for Trophy chasing Sharks

BJ Holmes in action for Sheffield Sharks against Cheshire Phoenix
BJ Holmes in action for Sheffield Sharks against Cheshire Phoenix

SHEFFIELD Sharks have the chance to win the BBL Trophy for the first time since 1998 on Saturday (3pm) when they take on Leicester Riders at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.

After a difficult start to the campaign the Sharks have found form at exactly the right time, and while any hope of winning the league title went long ago they are now just 40 minutes away from making it a memorable season.

Sharks coach Atiba Lyons said his team’s improvement was straightforward: “It’s down to chemistry. We were able to get some guys in and it improved our chemistry.

“It has been a tough road to the final. We had to beat Glasgow (Rocks) and Manchester (Giants) in overtime then Cheshire Phoenix over two legs. The Trophy comes at a time mid-way through the season when it rewards a team that is coming into form.”

Sharks made light work of the Phoenix in the second leg at the English Institute of Sport last Friday night.

Taking a 14 point lead into the match it was important that they didn’t allow a strong Phoenix offence to dictate the early stages.

Cheshire briefly led at 14-13 but two threes in quick succession by BJ Holmes allowed Sharks advantage on the night to grow to 28-18 early in the second quarter and from there they cruised home with a 102-74 win - 176-134 on aggregate.

If Sharks were in party mood after making the final then they were brought swiftly down to earth on Sunday evening at play-off rivals London Lions.

Currently in eight place in the BBL Championship the Sharks were hoping to close the gap on seventh placed Lions.

However, they never really got into their stride against a team who are strong on their home court.

Sharks eventually went down 86-78, which left Lyons disappointed but believing his team could benefit from the loss.

“Sometimes a defeat can help highlight holes in your play that need reinforcing to the team,” he said.

“This will help us for Saturday - we need to be confident that we can beat the Riders.”