SHEFFIELD Sharks are hoping to make ground on their title rivals with a double-header against Worcester Wolves on Friday at the EIS and at Leicester Riders on Saturday.
Currently fifth in the BBL Championship table, the Sharks have three matches in hand over Mersey Tigers, Glasgow Rocks and Cheshire Jets, and have played one game fewer than Newcastle Eagles.
With only Newcastle playing twice this weekend, it will allow Sheffield the opportunity to get a little bit closer to the main contenders.
It will not be easy, though, with player-coach Atiba Lyons rating their opponents very highly despite relatively low league positions. He said:
“Sometimes the league table doesn’t show the true talent of a team. They have both suffered with injuries and personnel problems.
“We have beaten Worcester once this season but PJ (Wolves coach Paul James) will have them ready for us on Friday. They have really good Americans, with Danny Gilbert and Rob Middleton being both dangerous players.
“Leicester are a team we haven’t seen yet. They brought Phil Missere back in and were building their team around him. He then left so it has caused problems for Rob (Paternostro, Riders coach).”
Back-to-back fixtures are never easy to prepare for, and Lyons says it is important his team do not slip up against non-title-contending teams:
The emphatic BBL Cup final victory in mid-January may be a memory now for Lyons but he says it has re-emphasised to his players what they need to do for success.
“They received a lot of praise for the way they defended in that game. I think it showed them the importance of defending properly and consistently. We may not be the best defensive team in the league but we can certainly be up there.”
Sharks big man Mike Tuck has been named in the BBL team of the week after his performance at Worthing Thunder on Saturday. The Canadian scored 18 points and pulled in 12 rebounds.