The Sharks let a precious win slip through their hands at Leicester Riders as James Whyte came back to haunt his former club.
Leicester Riders 89
Sheffield Sharks 85
Whyte, on his Leicester debut, was instrumental in a fourth quarter fightback which saw his new team overturn a 12 point deficit to hand Sheffield a tough loss.
Having recommended Whyte to Riders boss Rob Paternostro, Sharks player-coach Atiba Lyons could see the irony in his friend being the one to put a dent in his team’s title hopes. “James was the difference I thought. He’s a great player and he gives Leicester something different. When Rob called me I said he’d be a good fit for them. Unfortunately for us he proved me right.” Whyte began a 21-6 run for Riders turning a 79-68 deficit into an 89-85 victory. He scored seven points in the burst and also handed out an assist to Ryan Zamroz.
Zamroz would later score the go-ahead basket to make it 86-84 and then cap the victory with a free throw.
Lyons said: “The Riders did a very good job on us. We didn’t play terribly. There were things we could do better defensively but the loss won’t affect our confidence.” Sharks weren’t helped by foul trouble to front court pair Paul Williams and Mike Tuck. Williams, so crucial to how the One Health sponsored-Sharks play, scored nine points and pulled in four rebounds in his ten minutes of action.
An 11-7 burst up the end of the first quarter had give Riders a 21-17 lead before a Tom Sherlock three extended the home team’s advantage to 29-21 early in the second period.
Sharks used long range efforts by Steve Dagostino and Ryan Patton to close to 41-39 down at half time and then surged ahead 61-50 after the two guards and Marcus Stout combined for a 9-1 run.
The win seemed assured when Stout made it 79-68, but up stepped Whyte with some excellent play to lead Riders to a deserved victory.
Sharks scorers: Dagostino 31, Stout 14, Tuck 12, Patton 10, Williams 9, Bablola 7,Lyons 2.