Forward thinking Sharks eye Cup success

The Sharks are hoping they may have found exactly the right formula at the perfect time.

Two days away from their BBL Cup defence against Mersey Tigers at the NIA in Birmingham the Sharks seem to have worked out a line-up that could cause the league leaders problems.

Since the club signed Olu Babalola two months into the season player-coach Atiba Lyons has struggled to juggle the talent at his disposal.

Against Essex Pirates last Friday he moved Mike Tuck to the bench and started with a three-guard backcourt of Marcus Stout, Ryan Patton and Steve Dagostino. Paul Williams and Babalola filled the forward positions.

Tuck was sixth man last season with great success. Lyons says he intends to keep this starting five for Sunday's match: "We've got so much talent it's a case of mixing it up a bit and seeing what works. It's the same line-up we had against Essex so it is something we're looking at.

"Last season, Mike was great off the bench for us. He's mentally tough enough to take that. He knows what I expect of him. He knows if he's playing well enough he'll be there at the end of the game. It's a good position for him and he'll be a big contributor to the team."

The crushing win over Plymouth Raiders on Wednesday - the lead was 31 before Lyons benched his starters midway through the fourth quarter - was a boost before the challenge of the Tigers.

"It's a step in the right direction," said Lyons. "Defensively we stepped it up again from against Essex. The guys are focused and it's much better. After the Newcastle game we had to re-focus and get back to basic principles of working hard and wanting to win, not expecting to win. Defensively we just tried to stick with what we do, there was no gimmicks or anything like that. We rotated really well; guys did break us down a bit but we helped out well. They had some tough shots all night.

"We have quite a few days before the final so we'll have another tough training session in there. We played much better but Mersey are a bit more talented individually than Plymouth."

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