Basketball: Lyons aims to keep big scoring Chez in check

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SHEFFIELD Sharks plan to keep Cheshire Phoenix under control tonight (7.30pm)as they take 14 point lead into the second leg of the BBL Trophy semi-final at the EIS.

Sharks coach Atiba Lyons is confident that his team can reach their first Trophy final since 1998 but thinks it is important the Phoenix aren’t allowed to score quick points.

He said: “Cheshire can put up a lot of points.

“Their guards Chez Marks and Gabriele Haskins are very capable of putting up big numbers so it’s up to us to defend well and limit them.

“We approach every game with it being about ourselves though.”

Marks will be the main danger for the Sharks. The American is leading the BBL this season in scoring averaging just over 23 points per match.

Haskins showed his ability to get under Lyons’ skin in the first leg when he hit a three with the last shot of the match. It brought Sharks’ lead back from 17 to 14 points and gave Phoenix a glimmer of hope.

Lyons said: “I’ve been in teams that have come back from 20 plus points behind so we know we have to approach the match to win it rather than just go through.”

Sharks, who trained yesterday afternoon at the EIS, have a busy March which they hope will begin securing their place in the March 9 final in Glasgow.

Their attention will then quickly turn to improving their league position.

A visit to London Lions on Sunday will provide an immediate opportunity to close the four-point gap on their hosts.

Currently in seventh place the Sharks would like to reach at least sixth to avoid Leicester Riders and Newcastle Eagles in the first round of the play-offs.

And while it is unlikely that they could move any higher than sixth given the lack of games remaining for the teams above them, Lyons is refusing to put a cap on his team’s potential final league position.

He said: “It’s hard to say where we’ll end the season. We have a tough schedule coming up but we’re ready for it. Our chemistry is good and we’re playing really well.”

Next season when Sharks visit London Lions it will be to their new home at the Copper Box on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Sunday’s match will be at Crystal Palance National Sports Centre.

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