Basketball: Sheffield Sharks 96 Manchester Giants 87

BJ Holmes scored 18 points for the Sharks against Manchester. Pic: Glenn Ashley.
BJ Holmes scored 18 points for the Sharks against Manchester. Pic: Glenn Ashley.

Sheffield Sharks’ final home of the regular season showed they’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the play-offs as they eased past Manchester Giants on Friday night.

A sluggish opening quarter was shrugged aside by a devastating burst to open the second half with American guard Mike Cook demonstrating showing his class.

Cook, who was the BBL’s Most Valuable Player in 2010 during his first spell with the Sharks, has played himself into form and fitness since reuniting with the club earlier this year.

He scored 13 of his 25 points during a 17-2 Sharks run which took the score from a 39-34 deficit to a 51-41 lead midway through the third quarter.

Giants couldn’t get within touching distance the rest of the way as Sharks turned on the style in the fourth quarter.

Sharks captain Mike Tuck joked that Cook is in good form but it would be impossible to hit the highs of his first season in Sheffield: “I don’t think he’ll be 2009/2010 Mike Cook but he’s really picked it up!

“It took a while for him to get in shape but he’s hitting his stride right now and it’s perfect timing.

“We got off to a little bit of a slow start but in the second half we really picked it up.

“Despite the slow start I’m proud of the guys. We really showed up for the second half and we’re clicking right now at the right time of the season.”

Sharks travel to Cheshire Phoenix tomorrow, who could be a potential first round play-off opponent.

Tuck said: “It’s a whole new season when the play-offs begin and that’s what we’re looking towards now.

“We want to finish strong at Cheshire and then go strong into the play-offs.”

* Sharks scorers: Cook 25. Holmes 18, Lewis 16, Tuck 11, Gachette 7, Horstmann 7, Babalola 7, Barber 3, Backovic 2.