Basketball: Sharks must stop medal magnet Drew

Andrew Sullivan in action for Great Britain against China at the London Olympic Games in 2012.
Andrew Sullivan in action for Great Britain against China at the London Olympic Games in 2012.
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Should the Sharks beat Leicester Riders tonight the chances are they will have kept Great Britain captain Andrew Sullivan quiet.

The 33-year-old Londoner is in his third season with the Riders and is a proven winner wherever he has played in the British Basketball League as well as being a key part of the national squad.

Having been a member of numerous Newcastle Eagles successes between 2004 and 2010 , Sullivan was denied a grand slam of trophies by the Sharks in 2011 when he played with Mersey Tigers.

On that occasion Sheffield beat the Tigers in the BBL Cup final and they again stopped his current club from the grand slam last season when winning the BBL Trophy against the Riders.

More often than not, though, Sullivan has been the common denominator between a club winning silverware or not. Sharks coach Atiba Lyons rates him highly.

He said: “Andrew Sullivan has to take a lot of credit for being successful. He’s played at a high level and brings that leadership to a club. He’s definitely in the top three or four players in the league.”

Sullivan captained Great Britain at the 2012 Olympic Games under former Sharks coach Chris Finch.

He’s also played for clubs in Spain, Belgium, Russia and Cyprus before settling back in England to hoover up more medals and trophies.

Sheffield captain Mike Tuck says Sullivan poses a problem to whoever he plays against.

“They like to put him in a guard position where he has a height advantage,” said Tuck.

“Sullivan is six foot six so can take his opponent, who is usually a smaller guy, into the post.”

A Sharks victory in the East Midlands will equal the season series between the clubs at 1-1 and also put them level in the losses column at three each. However, a Leicester triumph would leave Sharks relying on others take points off their rivals.

Sharks haven’t won the league title since 2003 - the year before Sullivan signed for Newcastle.

Last March Sharks weren’t expected to beat Riders in the Trophy final before executing their game plan to perfection. Lyons says they have to do the same again.

“Leicester like to play a zone defence so it’s important you make your shots,” he said.

“You have to get them out of that zone, which is easier said than done.

“They defend well so can get by offensively with keeping teams to 70 points.”