Sharks’ final agony

editorial image
0
Have your say

The Sharks had to settle for second best on Saturday afternoon as Mersey Tigers wrapped up a BBL treble in emphatic style at the NIA in Birmingham.

The Sharks had to settle for second best on Saturday afternoon as Mersey Tigers wrapped up a BBL treble in emphatic style at the NIA in Birmingham.

A five-point margin of defeat was flattering to Sharks, who were outplayed for long periods by a Tigers squad bent on revenging January’s BBL Cup final humiliation on the same court.

Three outrageous Ryan Patton threes in the last minute gave Sharks some respectability.

But they had trailed from tip-off to final buzzer as Mersey confirmed their position as the kings of British basketball adding the play-off crown to the league title and BBL Trophy.

Sheffield never recovered from a nightmare first quarter, which saw Tigers set the tone for the rest of the match.

Normally so sure and confident of themselves, the One Health sponsored-Sharks were nervous in possession and loose on defence. Fouls on key players also led to coach Atiba Lyons having to re-arrange his line-ups regularly.

Tigers raced into a 4-10 lead and made it 14-23 when the match’s Most Valuable Player James Jones connected on the first of his five three-point shots.

Mike Tuck reduced the arrears with a three-point play to 17-23 but Sharks were already suffering.

Paul Williams brought Sharks back to 21-23 before Jones stretched the lead out to 23-31. Sheffield were never able to get within a single basket again as Tigers led 35-42 at half time. Williams was proving the Sharks best offensive weapon with Steve Dagostino totally nullified by the swarming Mersey defence. The big American scored all the points as Sheffield pulled back to 43-47 midway through the third quarter.

Tigers stood firm. Former Shark Perry Lawson hit a three to make it 45-54 before Tuck had the last word for the third quarter in a row as Sheffield trailed 48-54.

A fast start to the final period was needed but the impressive Jones gave Mersey a double-digit lead (50-61) with his fourth three.

Sharks were briefly given hope when Tigers were called for an unsportsmanlike and a technical foul in quick succession. Patton made all four free throws to bring Sharks to 56-61. A turnover on the next possession by Sheffield began a decisive 9-0 Tigers run to crush hopes of a Sharks comeback.

Patton’s heroics from long-range kept the scoreline tight but it was too little, too late against an excellent Mersey squad.

Sharks scorers: Patton 24, Williams 17, Tuck 14, Stout 9, Dagostino 5, Babalola 4, Lyons 1.