Sharks face hard title fight

If Sheffield One Health Sharks are to win the BBL Championship for the first time in eight years they’re going to have to do it the hard way.

Fortunately solid graft is something the squad has in abundance as Tuesday night’s 98-84 victory over MK Lions at Ponds Forge demonstrated.

It was Sharks sixth win in a row and it keeps them well in the title picture after Mersey Tigers beat Newcastle Eagles.

A tough road awaits Sheffield, though, with two away matches at Mersey, a return trip to Milton Keynes and Sunday’s long journey to Glasgow Rocks.

Player-coach Atiba Lyons says they’ll head north in good heart, particularly after the play of big men Paul Williams and Mike Tuck in recent matches. “I think that we have to do a better job of getting them going early. Our big guys are our strength.

“Our guards shoot the ball well but we have talented big guys who can pass and score. We need to take advantage of that in the last stretch of the season.”

It’s unlikely that Sharks will be able to overtake both Mersey Tigers and Newcastle Eagles. Even if Sheffield win all their remaining matches, Eagles still have to lose twice more. Three games against Tigers will take care of itself but Lyons is more worried about his own team:“We have to focus on us. We can’t slip up. We play Mersey three times so we have to make sure they count for us. Until then we have to take of the Rocks and hopefully we can get ourselves into a good position.

“They’re one of those teams like us who have had some slip ups. Hopefully we’ll have no more but every team goes through that. We don’t want to be the team that they turn the corner on. They’re well coached and I’m sure they’ll be ready for us.”

Shooting guard Marcus Stout missed his second consecutive match on Tuesday with an ankle problem but is expected to feature in Glasgow.