Sharks' toughie against rising Raiders

Several weeks ago Sharks league match with Plymouth Raiders at the EIS tomorrow looked little more than a warm up for Sunday's BBL Cup final. But not now.

The Raiders are one of the most in-form teams in the Championship with Sunday's victory over league-leaders Mersey Tigers confirming their improvement after a slow start to the season.

First year coach Gavin Love has been quick to release failing players and bring in proven BBL performers Chez Marks, Evaldas Zabas and Jerome Gumbs.

The change has been dramatic with Love winning coach of the month for December and Marks the players' version.

It is the third time this season the two clubs have met. In October the One Health sponsored-Sharks easily won 116 – 73 and they were again comfortable with a 96 – 84 cup quarter-final victory.

Since then Raiders up-turn has been such that they will go above Sheffield should they win on Wednesday.

Sharks player-coach Atiba Lyons is well aware of Plymouth's capabilities. He said: "It will be a good test. They're an offensive heavy team with a lot of guys who can put it through the hoop."

Sheffield won for the first time in 2011 on Friday night over the hapless Essex Pirates.

Lyons said the team had had a heart-to-heart after recent defeats and insisted fitness levels were good: "We talked about the Newcastle loss and addressed a few things. The guys had to respond and that's what they've done.

"Fitness is alright. Some of the guys are still a little sluggish but we'll get heavier on the cardio in training which will see us through to the end of the season."

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