SHEFFIELD Sharks backcourt partnership of BJ Holmes and Nick Lewis are relishing the chance to take on Leicester Riders in today’s BBL Trophy final.
With shooting guard Micah Williams almost certain to be unavailable with a foot injury the onus will fall on Holmes and Lewis to lead the scoring from the guard positions.
Holmes, a 25-year-old point guard from Houston, said he’s looking forward to the challenge of facing BBL Championship leaders Leicester at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena: “It’s fun to play against the top teams. They’re deep and have good coaching - it’ll be a dogfight.
“We have to go out there and play smart, play our hardest if we want to come out on top. They’ve beat us pretty handily the last few times. It has been close for two or three quarters but in that fourth quarter they seem to hit big shots and go on a run.
“We need to stop their transition and just play as good a defence as we can. That’s the thing; stopping then and making shots to keep it close.”
Holmes was added to the Sharks in mid-season after fellow American Gage Daye was released by the club. Averaging nearly 15-points per-match his main job is to lead Sheffield’s offence.
He said the team feel like they can win the Trophy for the first time since 1998: “We have a few young guys who play a good amount of minutes and others who give us what we need night in and night out. We need to bring it all together.
“I don’t think there’s a better time than now. It’s the Trophy final and we need everyone to get their game where it needs to be for Saturday.
“I come to do my part and get guys where they need to be. I try to figure out when it’s best to do certain things, I try to keep the young guys under control and just go out there and try to get the win.”
If Sharks do win then Holmes’ Sunday maybe tinged with a bit of sadness as he waves goodbye to his fiancée and one-year-old son who are flying home to Houston after spending several months in Sheffield.
Holmes has settled well in the city. Aided by regular trips to favourite restaurant TGI Fridays he admits that he is enjoying his time here.
He said: “I want to go to a football game. I went to a hockey game and it was a great atmosphere.
“I’ve played overseas a few years now and there’s some guys who don’t really take to Americans well but here people have been great.
“Off the court we all get on and I think that’s what helped us gel so fast. We’re coming together at the right time of the year and we’re looking to peak right now.”
Canadian teenager Lewis’ form has been a pleasant surprise for the Sharks. The 19-year-old from Toronto is also a student at Sheffield Hallam University and is set to play a big part in the club’s future. For now though his mind is set on beating Leicester. He said: “It’s the same thing as always, I’ll go into the game and try and do the role that the coach wants me to do. It’s a good opportunity but I have to step it up.
“The thing for us is whenever we’ve played Leicester we’ve not been able to hit our shots. That’ll be key for us to be able to execute our shots against the zone.”