SHEFFIELD Sharks veteran Andrew Bridge is putting the pressure on himself to perform well in tomorrow’s BBL Trophy final against Leicester Riders in Glasgow, writes Richard Fidler.
The Sharks will begin the match as underdogs but with five Trophy winner’s medals and two final defeats amongst a host of other silverware from a glittering ten season spell with Newcastle Eagles, 33-year-old Bridge is perfectly placed to judge his and Sheffield’s chance.
He told The Star: “I have expectation on myself that I’ll play better than I have in a regular game.
“At this point in my career it’s easier to get up for weeks and games like this.
“The aches and pains you feel on a day to day basis feel a lot less and I personally expect to go out there and make some shots.
“Over the years I’ve played better in finals and semi-finals than regular games and I’m expecting that of myself.
“I have friends on the other team, so there’s been some good banter flying around.”
Sharks have been rocked by news that shooting guard Micah Williams is highly doubtful for tomorrow’s final with a foot injury.
Williams’ likely absence will mean more court time for Bridge, Nick Lewis, Zach Gachette and Colin Sing as coach Atiba Lyons looks to fill the minutes that the American will usually take.
It also makes Sheffield’s task harder against a team that is top of the BBL Championship, has already won the BBL Cup and has beaten Sharks four times by an average of over 20 points already this season.
However, Bridge says the pressure will be on Leicester to make it a cup double.
“They’re top of the league and won the cup so the first thing they’ll be is confident,” he said. “They’ll feel like they’ve been in this situation before so they’ll know what to do to win.
“Now they’re an overwhelming favourite and that brings a different pressure. You never know how they’ll handle that on the day.
“The first final against Newcastle was probably a 50/50 thing and this time it is different for them.
“Different people respond in different ways.”
Bridge insists that Sheffield will cope with the occasion and thinks they can match Leicester in the final.
He said: “It’s a different kind of pressure that I had at Newcastle but we put pressure on myself and the expectation on our team from ourselves.
“Every time we have played Leicester they have played a zone against us because we’ve not made any shots.
“There’s no way that they will change their game plan, and why would you when they’ve beaten us so many times.
“The onus is on us to make some shots. If we do everything else against them that we have been doing, we’ll be competitive.”
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