Sharks’ cup joy

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Sheffield Sharks 93

Mesrsey Tigers 66

Sheffield Sharks turned in a stunning performance yesterday at the NIA in Birmingham to retain the BBL Cup with a 93-66 win over the heavily fancied Mersey Tigers.

The Sharks were in superb form from tip-to-buzzer as they destroyed the league leading Tigers with a record-breaking effort from point-guard Steve Dagostino.

The diminutive American has been a thorn in the side of BBL opposition all season, and he won’t be forgotten by Mersey in hurry. In his first year with the Sharks, Dagostino scored a BBL Cup final record 35 points and made eight of ten three-point shots.

But it was the Sharks defence where the difference was really made. Player-coach Atiba Lyons had been critical in recent weeks about his players’ intensity.

However, they swarmed all over an ineffective Tigers side, which included Great Britain skipper Drew Sullivan and former Sharks pair Tap Toney and Perry Lawson.

Without the injured Nate Reinking the Tigers were lacklustre during an opening quarter that Sharks dominated.

Back-to-back Dagostino threes and a Mike Tuck two made it 14-6 as Sharks took the first period 20-10.

Matters improved in the second quarter with 19-7 run giving the One Health sponsored-Sharks a 22 point lead at 39-17. Only David Aliu was causing Sheffield any problems but his basket to trim the gap back to 20 only incited Sharks to move 51-25 clear by half time.

Mersey tried to rally after the interval and a 7-0 run midway through the third quarter briefly gave them hope.

A Dagostino steal from a Lawson, layup and free throw stopped the rot and Sheffield carried a 74-46 advantage into the final stanza.

Any hopes of a dramatic Tigers comeback were ended when Dagostino made four consecutive three-pointers to thrill the travelling Sharks contingent and ensure the cup will remain in the city for at least another 12 months.

It was the perfect day said Dagostino: “My team-mates were finding me open today. I had a little less confidence and a little more focus to knock down the shots.

“The way I play is pretty irritating for the other team’s fans and I think I irritated the Tigers today. It was a team effort though and I’m just delighted to get the win.”

Sharks scorers: Dagostino 35, Tuck 18, Babalola 14, Williams 8, Stout 7, Patton 5, Lyons 4, Anderson 2.