Fab predicts well-known Sharks will scrap

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the most successful coach in British basketball says he sympathises with Sharks player-coach Atiba Lyons.

Fab Flournoy, who will lead Newcastle Eagles at the EIS tomorrow in the first leg of the BBL Trophy semi-final, thinks Sharks’ injury and visa issues mirror what his team went through last season.

He said: “Sheffield have had the kind of year we had last year. They have struggled with on court and off court setbacks, injuries and visa delays. I know exactly how difficult it is in those circumstances to get everyone on the right page and moving forwards.

“Now, just as Jimmy Langhurst comes back they lose Nate [Reinking] to a freak injury.

“But they responded really well last week with a win over a good Worcester team and there is no way in the world we can sleep on them.

“The young guys will now have to step up - particularly Zach Gachette at the guard spot - and Olu Babalola will be playing as hard as ever against us.”

Newcastle have already replaced the Sharks as BBL Cup holders this year and sit at the top of the BBL Championship as they look to add to their haul of 14 trophies in eight seasons.

Despite beating the Sharks three times this season Flournoy thinks it will be a tight first leg in Sheffield.

He said: “We have played a couple of scrappy games against Sheffield this year as both teams know a lot about each other. Defence will again be critical.”