Sheffield Sharks had a bad first experience of the Olympic Park’s Copper Box with a heavy defeat against London Lions tonight.
The defeat means the Sharks are off the top of the BBL Championship and they’ll be disappointed they didn’t capitalise on a spell during the third quarter when a big Lions lead had been whittled down to just four.
However, the home team regained control and eased to a comfortable victory over Atiba Lyons’ team.
London began the brighter with Sharks struggling to develop any kind of rhythm on offence.
The experienced Mike Martin was proving hard to combat and Lions led 19-13 at the end of the first quarter before extending their advantage by half time.
Sharks were over-reliant on point guard BJ Holmes, with 12 points including a perfect 10 from 10 free-throws.
Trailing 42-31 at half time the Sharks opened the third half with a 10-3 burst - skipper Mike Tuck scoring the first four.
It was as close as Sheffield would get though as the cool head of Rod Brown halted that run and the Sharks - still reliant on scores outside the paint - saw their progress checked as they missed two three-pointers in a row.
Former Shark Perry Lawson connected on a three-pointer to put Lions 53-44 up and the home side went on a decisive run with scores late in the period from Kramer Knutson and Julius Joseph to make it 59-47 with just 10 minutes to play.
The Sharks weren’t allowed to recapture any momentum as they didn’t score for the first six minutes of the fourth quarter.
Indiscipline marred the closing moments with Sharks soundly beaten by the end of the match.