BASKETBALL: Sharks fightback in vain as Phoenix rise again

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Cheshire Phoenix 80

Sheffield Sharks 79

ATIBA Lyons’ patience with his fellow Americans is running thin after Sheffield Sharks lost a nail-biter on the road at Cheshire Phoenix last night.

The Sharks had been full of confidence coming into the match after their excellent victory against Glasgow Rocks on Friday evening at the EIS but they allowed a very winnable game to be taken away from them in Chester.

And Lyons said it was the inability of his key players to perform to their best which cost his team.

“We’ve been consistently poor on the road this season. For some reason our American players dont step up.

“And that has been the situation again (last night). Only so much I can do. A player has to make plays. There should be no pep talk needed. You come out and do your job, that’s what you’re paid to do.”

Sharks had allowed an early five point lead to be overturned in the first quarter as Cheshire led 19-15 after 10 minutes.

A 5-0 run by the Sharks had them 28-23 up midway through the second quarter, but the Phoenix gradually chipped away at their lead and by half time trailed by just one at 30-29.

The third quarter is where it got away from the Sharks as Cheshire opened up a 49-38 lead.

Sheffield didn’t panic, though and good play from Demetrius Jemison and Mike Tuck helped reduce arrears to 53-47 heading into the final period.

Sharks again went down by 11 (60-49) early in the fourth quarter. And they still were 69-60 behind with 90 seconds to play.

But seven points from BJ Holmes and a two from Tuck made it 75-73 and then, after Phoenix had stretched out to 79-73 Holmes his back-to-back three pointers to tie the match with 1.9 seconds to play.

It seemed as though the point-guard had sent the match into overtime but the referees called a foul on Andrew Bridge as Cheshire inbounded the ball and Jerome Gumbs made one of two from the free throw line to seal the win for the hosts.

Lyons said: “I wish my players had stepped up in the third and fourth quarters.

“I think if we’d even played a bit better then we’d have been in a better position and sent it to overtime.”

SHARKS: Holmes 24, Tuck 11, Jemison 11, Williams 11, Bridge 8, Babalola 6, Gachette 2.