Sheffield Sharks gained an impressive BBL Cup quarter final victory over star-studded Cheshire Phoenix by 91-84 at the EIS last night, writes David Bell.
The ‘Nix were parading their new flagship signing Julius Hodge, ex of the Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA but were no match for Sharks’ American signing Allen Payne who gleaned 23 points on his way to a deserved MVP award.
The Sharks bossed the opening stages; a Mike Tuck score giving them a 12-4 advantage despite Cheshire’s Taylor King opening proceedings with a three point score. Phoenix veteran David Aliu restored their advantage with a three ball at 16-17 but it was the Sharks who finished the livelier at 19-17.
The second period followed a similar pattern. Payne went to work in the early stages with nine points but Cheshire new signings Hodge and Lester Prosper made their debut points and kept the visitors well in touch. Zac Gachette saw that the Sharks claimed a half time lead by 39-34 however with some athletic conversions.
The third stanza was full of drama. A distance shooting contest ensued; King draining five maximums with BJ Holmes following suit to keep Sheffield in touch as the ‘Nix went up by 51-54. Big Nick Lewis plays garnered seven points as the Sharks retained a two point lead with ten minutes to play.
The Sharks were highly impressive as they booked their semi-final berth in the fourth period. The energetic Payne and talented Lewis kept Cheshire at arms length as several trips to the free throw line with Cheshire being forced to foul saw the South Yorkshire side to a memorable 91-84 success.
The Sharks return to league action next weekend with the visit of high-flying Newcastle Eagles.