Basketball: Sharks are ready to Tuck back into the title race

Sharks captain Mike Tuck. Pic: Dean Woolley.
Sharks captain Mike Tuck. Pic: Dean Woolley.
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Sharks captain Mike Tuck says his team can’t wait to get back into action tonight after nearly a fortnight off since they last played.

Sheffield welcome London Lions to the EIS (7.30pm) hoping to keep the pressure on Worcester Wolves and Leicester Riders at the top of the BBL.

The title appears to be a four team race - Wolves and Riders have lost three matches this season and the Sharks and Newcastle Eagles four with just less than half the season to play.

Sharks last match was an 85-73 victory at Reading Rockets in the BBL Trophy first round on January 19.

Tuck said: “Everyone is looking forward to Friday’s game.

“We’ve had time off so the guys are well-rested and hungry to get back on the court.

“The top of the table is fairly close right now so every game is a must win. London are always a tough competitor and by beating Leicester recently have proved they can play with anybody. For us it will be about slowing them down in transition and matching their physicality.”

If Sharks beat London they’ll win the season series 2-1 and also hand the Lions their eighth league loss of the campaign.

Sharks coach Atiba Lyons said it’s an important match.

“Especially with how it’s shaping up right in the top five right now,” he explained.

“The head-to-heads are going to play a big part when it comes to the end of the season, so we’ve got to get as many as we can.”

The two teams have met three times this season in BBL Cup and Championship action, with the home team winning each time, and Lyons believes the Lions will be fired up for this one.

He said: “London had a great couple of games but then slipped up against Durham, but I know them well and Vince (Macaulay, the Lions coach) will have them ready to go.

“They had our number in their gym; they won’t forget that and will use it for motivation.”

Lyons added, “Chez Marks is playing well for them, since he came along and they have a deep bench, with different guys stepping up every night.

“When we played them down in London, Nick Freer had a big game, and Julius Joseph has experience.

“They have that luxury of a few guys who can step up and make plays, but Marks and Rod Brown are probably the main scorers right now.”

London boss Macaulay said: “The Sharks are a very tough team to play and we’ve both shown we can beat each other. It’s on their floor, so it’s a tough challenge for us, but we look forward to it.”