SHEFFIELD Sharks will be comfortable not complacent heading into Friday’s BBL Trophy second leg after securing a healthy advantage over Cheshire Phoenix last night.
The Sharks 14 point lead could easily have been 17 but for a buzzer-beating three from Cheshire’s Gabriele Haskins.
It left Sheffield coach Atiba Lyons bemoaning his team’s lack of concentration during the final second of the match in Chester, but praising their contribution for the other 39 minutes and 59 seconds.
He said: “The three left a bit of a taste because we’d totally switched off. If he’d have made it while we were defending hard then fair enough but to concede it when we weren’t even looking is frustrating.
“I was happy how we played overall. We made some shots, which we haven’t been doing for a while and we defended very well.”
After a tight first quarter that ended 16-16 the Sharks edged ahead 32-31 at half time thanks to two free throws from Mike Tuck.
However, it was the third quarter when Sheffield did the damage. Three-point shots from Micah Williams, Olu Babalola and two each from BJ Holmes and Tuck allowed them to gradually extend their lead throughout the period.
A 10-0 burst, which had started at the end of the second quarter and continued into the third, made it 39-31 and by the time the match was poised to head into the final period Sheffield were 58-43 on top.
At worst Sheffield wanted parity in the fourth quarter and it looked as though they’d achieve slightly more than that before Haskins three gave Phoenix a glimmer of hope ahead of Friday’s second leg at the English Institute of Sport.
Lyons said: “Leads can go quickly in basketball so we’re not safe at 14 (points). When you’re behind you have to chase the game so being on top should make it easier to coach the game.”
* SHARKS: Tuck 16, Williams 16, Holmes 13, Babalola 13, Jemison 8, Gachette 4, Lewis 2, Bridge 2.
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