Basketball: Sharks are ready for tough start to the new year

Sharks captain Mike Tuck looks for a way through against London Lions in the club's last match of 2013. Pic: Dean Woolley.
Sharks captain Mike Tuck looks for a way through against London Lions in the club's last match of 2013. Pic: Dean Woolley.
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It’s not make or break but tomorrow’s match at Leicester Riders will have a big impact on Sharks chances of winning their first league title since 2003.

Sheffield and their hosts have started the campaign well. However, Leicester won their first clash 60-40 in October and another victory for the Riders would give them the season head-to-head.

This could prove crucial if the teams end the season level on points.

The third match of the series in Sheffield has yet to be arranged.

The Sharks spent New Year’s Eve together as a team but trained on New Year’s Day and yesterday to prepare for a difficult start to 2014.

Captain Mike Tuck said: “Leicester is always a tough place to go and play.

“They have great support and the atmosphere is always really good.

“They’re really solid at every position; they’re a very balanced team.

“And they’re well coached by Rob Paternostro too.

“It’s an important game for us - not just because of wanting to beat Leicester and keep alive the head-to-head but also to show we can do it on the road.

“Our home form has been good all season but to get a result on the road would be huge for us.”

Sharks have lost just once at the EIS all season - on December 20 a 77-72 defeat against Glasgow Rocks.

Apart from the reverse at Leicester in October, Sheffield’s other away league defeat was at London Lions.

That particular loss was avenged in Sharks last match of 2013, which Tuck believes sets his team up well for their encounter with the reigning BBL champions.

He said: “We’d been in a bit of a slump and maybe we thought we were better than we are so we got together and said we’ve not done anything yet.

“The London match showed we can beat a tough team. All the guys are in good spirits and are looking forward to playing Leicester.”