Basketball: Sharks aim to take big step towards play-offs

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SHEFFIELD Sharks coach Atiba Lyons says tonight’s match at the EIS with Manchester Giants is an excellent chance for his team to lay claim to an end of season play-off spot, writes Richard Fidler.

The Sharks and Giants both have 16 points in the BBL Championship but Sheffield are ranked higher by virtue of having lost two fewer matches. Whoever wins tonight will hold the tie-breaker over the other team with both winning once in the series so far this season.

Lyons said: “It’ll be a tough game but we’ve had the better of it so far (Sharks also beat Giants in the BBL Trophy). They’re playing good basketball right now. Nick George gives them a different dimension that they didn’t have earlier in the season.”

George joined the Giants at the end of 2012 after injury cut short his contract with Lugano Tigers in Luxembourg. The Great Britain international spent time on trial with the Sharks during the summer and Lyons said he’s a player he admires.

“We had Nick on trial and offered him a contract but he decided to play overseas.”

Tonight is the first of 10 home games for Sharks in their final 14 of the season.

Meanwhile Manchester Giants coach Jeff Jones is promising the Sharks a much tougher match than the last time the two teams met at the English Institute of Sport.

Sheffield convincingly beat Manchester 87-68 at home in the Championship on December 30 before winning on the other side of Pennines in their first match of 2013 in the BBL Trophy.

Jones wants an improved performance from his team and highlights two Sharks players to keep an eye on: “BJ Holmes certainly impressed me and Demetrius Jemison was effective.

“He reminded me of a smaller version of Richie Gordon from Worcester last year, a good athlete and very active. For us we had guys who had spurts where they played at a decent level but it wasn’t consistent enough. Our concentration and aggressiveness never really matched theirs.

“Obviously we have to make adjustments and do some things differently this but the main thing will be getting our mental approach right for the game (tonight).”

* Follow The Star sports writer Richard Fidler on Twitter @richardfidler and Google+ follow Richard Fidler on Google+. For breaking news keep checking The Star website or visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sheffieldstar or Twitter at www.twitter.com/sheffieldstar