Basketball: League expansion is welcomed by Lyons

Sharks coach Atiba Lyons. Pic: Dean Atkins.
Sharks coach Atiba Lyons. Pic: Dean Atkins.
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Sharks coach Atiba Lyons is looking forward to an expanded British Basketball League next season.

The Sheffield coach, who is also a director of the club, saw at first hand last Sunday that National League clubs possess some quality players when Sharks beat Reading Rockets 85-73 in the first round of the BBL Trophy.

It earned Sharks a quarter-final tie in Devon at Plymouth Raiders but it also made Lyons consider what a 15 team BBL will be like next season with the introduction of Edinburgh-based East Scotland Warriors and current National League sides Leeds Carnegie and Bristol Academy Flyers.

He said: “It’s always good to expand the BBL.

“For us the chance to have a derby against Leeds Carnegie is very exciting and should be great for the players and fans.”

Sharks have the toughest of the four match-ups between BBL and National League clubs when they took on Reading.

Without BJ Holmes, who has returned to America for a brief period, Lyons was delighted that young Canadian guard stepped up with 33 points to guide the Trophy holders through.

He said: “Nick did well all the way through the match. He shot the ball very well.”

Sharks now have a break now until January 31 when they welcome London Lions to the EIS.

The Lions helped Sharks league title hopes last weekend when they beat Leicester Riders.

And they’re among a number of teams who will influence the outcome of the Championship race.

Lyons picked out the improving Cheshire Phoenix, who beat the Riders in the Trophy first round on Sunday, as another.

He said: “Cheshire have a good group of core guys, they’re definitely playing well.”