Basketball: Sheffield Sharks 94 Leicester Riders 99

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the performance was much improved and there is real grounds for optimism but ultimately a defeat for the Sharks last night will hurt as much as the previous four.

Losing at home for the third time this season, this one, against a strong Leicester Riders team stretches Sheffield’s miserable run to five defeats in a row and leaves them an uphill task to compete for the league title.

It was a very enjoyable game at the EIS between two evenly matched rosters who refused to allow the opposition to gain any kind of sustainable lead.

Sharks were first to show with a 6-0 start to the match before a 13-4 Riders run helped the visitors to take the first quarter 24-25. Bradd Wierzbicki was proving tough to guard with back-to-back three point shots for Leicester.

Sheffield centre Justin Dobbins was the star of the first half with 23 points on his way to a game high total of 34, but even that wasn’t enough to stop Riders going in at the interval leading 49-51 on a buzzer beating layup by Great Britain captain Andrew Sullivan.

Sharks looked good after the break. Dobbins, Jimmy Langhurst and Nate Reinking were instrumental in putting them 66-61 up.

And Mike Tuck, back in his role as sixth man, twice made it a six point lead - the last time at 72-66. Riders finished the third quarter on a 10-2 burst, though, to hold a 74-76 advantage with 10 minutes to play. Three three-point shots by Sharks gave them their last lead of match at 83-80 before an 11-3 Leicester run put them ahead for good. Sharks had hope after Olu Babalola and Dobbins brought the score back to 90-91 but the impressive Cameron Rundles drained a three to give the visitors breathing room.

Four more free throws by Rundles made twos from Reinking and Langhurst meaningless as Riders held on for the victory.

* SHARKS: Dobbins 34, Tuck 18, Langhurst 16, Babalola 12, Reinking 12, Lyons 2.