The battle lines are drawn at Sheffield’s EIS ready for the Sharks and Leicester Riders re-match tonight.
Last Friday saw one of the best games of the season, endking with a Sheffield victory and a good deal of animosity between the teams.
Sharks backcourt pair Marcus Stout and Steve Dagostino, and the Riders guard duo JR Blount and Jo Harris all received technical fouls for skirmishes.
And, according to Sharks player-coach Atiba Lyons, there’s likely to be bad feeling carried over tonight: “When you play teams close together and stuff like that happens then you hang on to it. They’ll be fired up, it’s inevitable. Both our games have been tooth and nail situations. They are a very athletic and up-tempo team. We will need to go into this game geared up for a physical night.”
Offensively the Sharks guard trio of Stout, Dagostino and Ryan Patton have been in excellent form. Lyons says it will be their defence which will be tested by the Riders: “JR Blount has played well for them in both games thus far, but they have a very deep bench with a number of scorers. We will need to better job of controlling the tempo of the game. They are a very quick team that apply full court pressure to speed us up. We need to make sure we don’t play to fast and make mistakes.
“Defensively we need to do a better job on the ball and not allow as much dribble penetration.”
Riders coach Rob Paternostro is expecting another hard-fought match: “It was a good game last Friday in Sheffield with two teams playing hard and competing right to the end. “I thought Marcus Stout played very well, there were times where we played pretty good defence and he was able to still make the shot, it will be important that we do a better job on him this week.”