Basketball: Trophy joy turns to hard graft for Sharks

Sheffield Sharks with the BBL Trophy 2013
Sheffield Sharks with the BBL Trophy 2013
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SHEFFIELD Sharks have no time to celebrate their remarkable BBL Trophy triumph against Leicester Riders last Saturday as them embark on a run of 10 games in 26 days to end their league campaign.

Starting last night at the EIS in a re-match against the Riders, Sharks will play a further seven games in March - six of which are at home.

It will be an exciting close to a season that had begun poorly but has suddenly become one the club will remember for a long time.

Sheffield were big underdogs for the final against a Riders team that had already won the BBL Trophy and is leading the Championship.

Maybe there was a sense of over confidence in the Riders, who had already beaten the Sharks four times this season.

But once point-guard BJ Holmes had made three three-pointers in the first quarter to give the Sharks the lead it looked unlikely that Leicester would be able to repeat their earlier victories.

Holmes went on to score two free throws with ten seconds play to give Sharks a 71-69 victory. The 24-year-old from Houston was also named the game’s Most Valuable Player for an excellent all round performance.

After the match, as he spoke to the players, players’ relatives and club sponsors in a suite at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, coach Atiba Lyons mentioned that the end of season play-offs had been his main priority as he rebuilt his team before Christmas with the introduction of Holmes and the quiet, yet super-efficient Demetrius Jemison.

Both have added to the Sharks core of veterans Mike Tuck, Olu Babalola, Andrew Bridge and talented young players Colin Sing, Zach Gachette and Nick Lewis to provide Lyons with plenty of options.

This weekend Sheffield have two more home matches. Tomorrow night (7.30pm) they’ll take on Cheshire Phoenix at the EIS and return to the same venue less than 24 hours later on Saturday to play London Lions.

Then next Wednesday, Plymouth Raiders will make the long journey north for Sharks’ fourth match in eight days.

The Trophy win was welcome but there is more work for the Sharks to do.

* Follow Sheffield Telegraph sports writer Richard Fidler on Twitter @richardfidler and Google+ follow Richard Fidler on Google+.