Basketball: Solid Sharks take control of their play-offs destiny

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SHEFFIELD Sharks took a big step towards the play-offs last night with a 95-87 against rivals Manchester Giants, writes Richard Fidler.

The two teams were level on points before the match but Sheffield’s win also gives them the season series over the Giants, which could prove crucial if the teams finish with the same amount of victories at the end of the season.

In front of a packed English Institute of Sport Sharks had to work hard in the first quarter to stay close to the Giants.

Nick George, who had been offered a contract by Sheffield during the summer, looked an excellent signing by Manchester with most of the visitors best play coming through the Great Britain international.

Giants opened with a 9-2 burst but Sharks gradually closed the gap and after BJ Holmes had scored off his own rebound with three seconds of the quarter to play Nick Lewis stole the in-bounds pass and laid it in to trim Manchester’s lead to 23-21.

A three by David Watts and a fast break two from Callum Jones gave Giants a 31-26 lead. But that was the cue for Sheffield to play their best basketball of the half.

A 15-2 run, anchored by excellent play from Canadian forward Mike Tuck, turned the match around in Sheffield’s favour.

Tuck and Jemison were proving a handful for the Giants and the Sharks thoroughly deserved their 43-36 lead.

Sheffield worked hard to establish a double-digit lead in the third quarter. Through a three by Lewis and a three-point play from Tuck they did it. And when Olu Babalola hit a two it was Sharks biggest advantage of the match at 65-52.

A score by George and a three from Callum Jones kept Giants in the game at 69-57 heading into the final 10 minutes.

From 77-66 to 93-81 the teams exchanged baskets, with Bridge’s three creating the 12 point gap.

Jemison’s two made the match safe at 93-81 before free throws sealed the win.

* SHARKS: Tuck 22, Holmes 17, Jemison 16, Lewis 12, Bridge 11, Babalola 9, Williams 6, Gachette 2.

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