Olu Babalola believes the Sharks have what it takes to challenge for the BBL Championship this season.
The vastly experienced Babalola, who has won the title twice earlier in his career with Newcastle Eagles, said there’s no reason to panic despite last Friday’s defeat against Glasgow raising question marks about Sheffield’s ability to maintain their place towards the top of the table.
He said: “There’s still a lot to play for. It’s still early, we’re not halfway yet.
“It’s not a matter of giving up, it’s a matter of applying pressure.
“After Christmas that’s when the teams separate. We need to make sure we separate with those at the top.”
Forward Babalola joined the Sharks in 2010 and has won the BBL Cup and BBL Trophy with the club.
However, third place in 2011 during his first year in Sheffield is the closest he’s come to winning the league in a Sharks vest.
He said this season’s team is better: “This is probably the strongest team since I first came to Sheffield when we were really strong. I feel like we’re better than that team because we’re smarter.
“Atiba (coach Atiba Lyons) is a more experienced coach. Back then he was playing as well and now he has more attention to the coaching side.
“I’m older and I’ve a lot to give the team in terms of leadership off the court.”
Sharks play their final match of 2013 tonight against London Lions at the EIS (7.30pm). Sheffield beat London 90-63 in the BBL Cup on November 1 but were heavily beaten 78-55 when the sides met at the Copper Box on the Olympic Park a fortnight later.
Babalola, a Londoner, said: “We feel like we owe them. They embarrassed us down there; especially me in more home town - almost in my back garden.
“On a personal note we let them beat us up down there. We let them bully us and we accepted it.
“We need to land the first blow tonight.”