Basketball: Sharks aim for derby victory

Sharks Patrick Horstmann.  Pic: Malcolm Billingham
Sharks Patrick Horstmann. Pic: Malcolm Billingham
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Sheffield Sharks are hoping for a change of fortune when they play their first Yorkshire derby of the season on Friday night at Leeds Force.

The Sharks have lost five in a row and find themselves 11th in the BBL standings, just two points above bottom-placed Leeds.

It has been a disappointing opening to the season for Sharks. The club brought back the majority of the squad who finished runner-up in the league last year and reached the semi-finals of the three knock-out competitions.

Sheffield have been Yorkshire’s sole representatives in the British Basketball League for a number of years since Doncaster Panthers withdrew from the league in 1996. But now there is local competition and Leeds are already improving after a slow start.

Sharks forward Patrick Horstmann wants his team to return to form as quickly as possible.

He said: “Nobody is happy about the results thus far. But we know that we can compete with the best teams in the league so we just have to come together even closer and play our hearts out. Leeds are a new team in this league and they are improving every week. It’s also a new rivalry being so close to Sheffield.”

Sharks fought back from 23 points down on Sunday at Plymouth Raiders only to lose on a last second shot.

Force player James McCann is wary of the threat Sharks pose, despite their poor record of three wins from nine league matches.

“We played them in the pre-season and know what they are capable of,” he said.

“Although they did lose to Plymouth, they were down big in the first half but were still able to build up some confidence in the second half and turn it into a very close game.

“We can’t focus on people’s records, we just need to focus on what we can do to win.”