Sharks have Euro ambitions

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THE Sharks are hoping this season will be their first step in their dream of returning to European competition.

While basketball in Great Britain remains a minority sport, across the rest of the continent it is second in popularity only to football with the Euroleague providing big money for those involved.

Sheffield are a long way from even contemplating being at that level, but director Sarah Backovic says the strides the club has made this year have put them on the right track.

She said: “Ultimately our goal is to not just have a successful structure here but to expose ourselves out in Europe. And get back into that level of competition.

“It is (Europe is a legitimate aim). It’s fair to say that at the beginning of the summer that we didn’t anticipate we’d be where we are now. It has been a radical summer in terms of changes and opportunities.

“We weren’t really thinking along those lines but now all this has happened quickly and we’ve had a lot of great support it has opened up a lot of doors that previously we didn’t looking to open so Europe is inevitably where we want to go.”

Finance has always been an issue for British clubs to build a team capable of competing at the highest level. Backovic says the One Health sponsored Sharks have no intention of jeopardising their future.

“Lessons have been learned from the past. We have to get our funding in place before we can go. In doing that I think we can capitalise more than just taking the gamble.

“We’re not prepared to gamble. We now have a clear strategy on getting there which we didn’t have before. I don’t think we’ll approach it like there’s a golden egg at the end of it – you need to go pretty far in Europe to achieve that.

“It’s baby steps and the first step is to get a British club back into Europe and hopefully hosting the Olympics we’ll be taken a lot more seriously.

“This year is looking really, really exciting and that is why we want more and more people to come down and support us.”

Backovic says the input of player-coach Atiba Lyons, who is also a director of the Sharks is vital.

“You have to keep motivated. This is Atiba’s fourth year as a head coach. As a director he is very much part of the business so he has to have something beyond just the domestic league and trophies. I think this will give him an extra kick for sure.

“The vision of what we’ve got this year is much bigger than it ever was before because of the individuals involved.”