Basketball: Sheffield Sharks 79 London Lions 63

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IN the end the scoreline made it look like an easy victory for Sheffield Sharks.

But the truth was that Atiba Lyons’ team had to dig deep to secure their second BBL Championship victory inside 24 hours at the English Institute of Sport.

Walking off court at 9.30pm on Friday night after beating Cheshire Phoenix the Sharks were tipping off against London Lions at 4pm on Saturday.

If they looked a bit out of rhythm in the early stages they could be forgiven, particularly with the way they stormed through in a fourth quarter that yielded 34 points.

After a first period to forget for both teams that saw Lions lead 11-10, Sheffield were better before the interval to lead 28-26 at half time.

However, with former Sharks guard Perry Lawson reminding everyone of his prowess from three-point range the visitors looked on course to complete a clean sweep of league wins over Sheffield this season.

Lions took a 47-45 lead into the fourth quarter and stretched that out to 51-45 thanks to two baskets by the dangerous Rod Brown.

The deficit was still six (56-50) before Sharks began their revival.

Celebrating his 30th birthday later on Saturday, Mike Tuck began the party early with eight points in a 13-1 run that put Sharks 63-57 up.

Forward Olu Babalola and point guard BJ Holmes carried on from there as they played a major role in a final 16-6 burst that took the match away from the Lions.

Sheffield are still battling for a top eight place and with it a play-off berth, but the win means they’ll begin next week in eighth with a great chance of chasing London down in seventh.

Lyons said the first job is to make the post season, and then they’d worry about London: “It was a scrappy, physical game. I thought we played defence well for the whole game.

Offensively, at times, we rushed our shots. They do a good job of getting in your face quickly, so you have to make the extra pass or do something different.

“It’d be great if we can (get above London), but at the moment we’re just playing for our spot and if we do that, that’s fine by me.”

* SHARKS: Tuck 27, Holmes 20, Babalola 13, Jemison 10, Lewis 9.

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