Sheffield Sharks will come back stronger after BBL Trophy final loss to Leicester Riders

Mike Tuck lays up'Sheffield Sharks v Leicester Raiders. Pic: Andy Chubb
Mike Tuck lays up'Sheffield Sharks v Leicester Raiders. Pic: Andy Chubb

Despite a British Basketball League Trophy final loss last Sunday, Sheffield Sharks boss Atiba Lyons is proud at the way his side fought back from a big deficit – and will treat the Glasgow heartbreak as part of the learning curve as the club continues to develop.

After an heroic fightback – something that’s fast becoming the Sharks’ trademark – from as many as 17 points down on Sunday – Lyons has insisted that while the disappointment remains, the overriding emotion is satisfaction at the ‘heart’ his side showed when down and apparently out against the Riders.

“I think we’re still disappointed a little bit - we did leave it a little bit too late to get it together [on Sunday],” said Lyons.

“It was great that we showed that fight. We had a chance - and we’ve got to take our chances, especially in finals.”

Understandably, Leicester currently represent a benchmark for Lyons’ side – and the rest of the BBL, for that matter – in more ways than one.

Not least the silverware-winning experience the Riders boast in their ranks.

Atiba Lyons. Picture by Andy Chubb

Atiba Lyons. Picture by Andy Chubb

“It took us a few minutes to settle and to adjust to the final,” said Lyons.

“Leicester as a team have won numerous titles and I think over half their guys had played in those kind of games. So they had that in their favour - but you can’t really do anything about that.

“Hopefully we learn from that. We hope we can keep these guys together - this is what we need to go through to become a consistent team.

“You have to live those moments, you have to learn from your mistakes and become better – that’s how you get experience.

“But, saying that, we had a chance to win, we made a great effort and I’m very proud of the guys.

“They [Leicester] played ten players and we had a shorter bench. All that just shows that we’ve got a lot of heart. We tried to play positive but we just fell a little bit short.

“We have to get over the loss, we have to use it as motivation and we have to understand that we were playing the team to beat - the measuring stick.”

Indeed, many sides would aspire to achieve the success Riders have enjoyed in recent years.

Indeed, last season’s BBL Championship, Play-Off and Trophy winners have reaped the benefits since moving into the purpose-built £4.8m Leicester Arena in 2016 – a space they can call their own.

Since that move, the Riders have won six trophies – and the Sharks will hope to follow Leicester’s example.

As Lyons said recently, progress on the new Park Community Arena on the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park is moving at ‘a snail’s pace’ – but when the Sharks’ day does eventually come, the club chief feels his players will benefit hugely.

“I think [having your own space] creates a lot of strength in the club.

“It gives guys more court time, more time together and it’s more flexible.

“I think having a place that’s theirs and is their home would be important. Leicester in particular have that home, and it just gives that little bit more of a home feel.

“It’s not really conspicuous, and you can put our stuff up on the wall and you can have your own home. Mentally it’s a nice thing to have and professionally it makes the club much stronger for it.”