B Braun Sheffield Sharks: Atiba Lyons targets silverware on Ponds Forge return
The new British Basketball League season dawns this weekend with one of the competition’s long-standing members carrying new faces and set for a return to a former home.
The B Braun Sheffield Sharks have undergone the customary turnover of players befitting a sport of single-year contracts but they also have to deal with a switch in accommodation for the year ahead.
After more than a decade playing at the English Institute of Sport, the Sharks are heading back to their original home of Ponds Forge for 2019/20 as the wait for funding to be secured for a new purpose-built facility at Sheffield’s Olympic Legacy Park goes on. One constant amid the upheaval remains captain Mike Tuck, the North American power forward who enters his 11th season at a club that is perennially in the shake-up for trophies.
“The big picture goal is to bring some silverware back to Sheffield,” said Tuck, whose side have brought imports Bouna N’Diaye, Connor Cashaw and Bennet Kock into the locker room. “I’m confident in the team we have that we can deliver on that. We have a lot of good pieces but you don’t know how competitive you’re going to be until you step on the floor.
“We are much bigger than we have been in recent years so, hopefully, that translates into us being much better defensively and on rebounds.”
Heading out of Sheffield after inspiring them to the play-off semi-finals last season is Dirk Williams, with Cashaw the direct replacement, although visa issues mean the club are still waiting for his arrival. “Connor looks pretty good from the film I’ve seen of him. Once his papers come through he’ll be on the first flight,” said Tuck.
The restructured BBL season – which starts for Sheffield on Friday night at Leicester and continues on Sunday at home to Manchester (5pm) – sees the first two months dedicated to the BBL Cup, which is then followed by the regular Championship season beginning in December. The play-offs are then best-of-three in the spring.