SHEFFIELD Sharks had another unhappy journey south as title-chasing Surrey Heat snatched a late victory.
In what has been a difficult season so far the Sharks seemed poised for a statement win on the road, but were edged out by the Heat in the final minute.
Leading 82-81 with just 29 seconds to play the Sharks needed just one last stop but Surrey’s Sam Cricelli made his two point shot to put the home side ahead.
On Sharks next possession the Heat forced Micah Williams into an error and Andrew Bridge had to foul Frank Holmes to stop the clock.
Holmes missed both free throws but name-sake Chavis Holmes snared the rebound with Tuck fouling to send him to the line. Chavis Holmes hit one of two from the free throw line to make it 84-82.
After a time-out, called by Sharks coach Atiba Lyons, Bridge had the chance to win the match for Sheffield but his three-point shot missed.
Earlier Sharks had played some of their best basketball away from home all season.
Despite trailing 25-10 with just over three minutes left in the first quarter they closed the opening period on a 13-2 run to make it 27-23.
And there was more to come in the second quarter.
Canadian forward Mike Tuck was in excellent form as he spearheaded a run that tied the match at 29-29.
Sheffield went on to take a 34-29 lead on Tuck’s two before Surrey scored the next six points.
However, Sharks pulled away to 49-40 on a three from Nick Lewis before Heat scored the final four points of the half to pull back to 49-44 behind.
While never holding a double-digit advantage Sheffield dominated the third quarter as a Tuck three made it 57-48 and then Williams maintained the gap at 65-56.
Heat again finished strong with a 6-0 run to close to 65-62 heading into the final period. Sheffield looked as though they’d done enough to hold on before Surrey’s late burst.
SHARKS: Tuck 20, Holmes 13, Jemison 12, Williams 10, Lewis 9, Gachette 8, Bridge 7, Babalola 3.
Sharks final match of 2012 is at the English Institute of Sport on Sunday, December 30 (4pm) against Manchester Giants.