Basketball: Sharks 75 Plymouth Raiders 69

Jeremie Simmons makes the match safe for the Sharks. Pic: MPhotography.

Jeremie Simmons makes the match safe for the Sharks. Pic: MPhotography.

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The Sharks were made to work by Plymouth Raiders to maintain their unbeaten start to the season last night.

But in doing so they demonstrated they can win ugly and grind through a performance that allowed the visitors to keep the match interesting into the final moments.

It was only when Jeremie Simmons calmly made two free throws in the last minute did the Sharks feel safe.

They had led by 15(59-44) early in the third quarter before the Raiders went on a 12-2 burst to pull it back to 61-56.

And although Sharks headed into the final quarter 65-58 on top they never looked totally comfortable.

However, coach Atiba Lyons has preached about the strength of his team’s defence all summer and it came good when he needed it.

Limiting Raiders to just 11 points in the final period kept them below Lyons target of conceding 70 per game.

In the end it was just enough to secure a third straight win to open the season and go top of the BBL.

Lyons had opted to start again with Zach Gachette and Colin Sing, which meant he had the experienced Olu Babalola, new signing Patrick Horstmann and young point guard Nick Lewis as threats from the bench.

Sharks shot out to an early 11-3 lead and looked as though they could pull away from the Raiders but the visitors quickly changed into a zone defence to stifle the home team.

A three from Louis Sayers brought Plymouth back to 15-10 but five points from Lewis ensured Sharks led 20-12 at the first break.

Raiders continued to find success from the three-point line as Trevor Setty and Matthew Pressey both connected to keep Sharks close.

Simmons replied in kind for Sheffield but Sharks still only led by one score at 41-38 before a 5-1 run to close the first half - including a two on the buzzer by Horstmann off Simmons missed free throw - gave Lyons’ side a 46-39 advantage.

* Sharks scorers: Tuck 18, Simmons 18, Lewis 16, Horstmann 11, Babalola 8, Sing 4.

* Tonight the Sharks travel to last season’s treble winners Leicester Riders. The only piece of silverware Leicester didn’t win last year was the BBL Trophy, which the Sharks picked up with a victory over them.

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