THREE-POINT shooting will be critical to Sheffield Sharks hope of success against Leicester Riders this weekend in the first round of the Play-offs.
Tonight’s first leg at the EIS gives Sharks a chance to beat Leicester for the first time this season, before the return leg at Loughborough University on Sunday evening.
The Riders had the better of the regular season matches between the two sides, winning all three games. They won a thriller at the EIS in November, edging home 99-94, before a 10-point win in February 74-64. A month later, they completed a season sweep with a 97-86 victory at John Sandford Sports Centre.
Sharks have plenty of three-point threats of their own in Ryan Patton, Jimmy Langhurst, Nate Reinking and Mike Tuck. But Riders’ Bradd Wierzbicki has the best memories of making a long range shot when his buzzer-beating three knocked Sheffield out of the play-offs in 2009.
Wierzbicki said the Sharks are a different team since earlier in the season: “We’re definitely looking forward to playing the Sharks” he said.
“It’s the first time we’ll play them with Nate [Reinking] and Ryan [Patton] in the team, so it’ll be different.
“With Jimmy Langhurst also playing, I think that three point shooting with be a key to the game. Mike Tuck’s also having a great year, and Sharks have just had a great win against Plymouth.
“Anyone can beat anyone in the play-offs, so we’ll have to be ready.”
Wierzbicki says the first leg away suits Leicester: “There’s two schools of thought, you want to keep it close if the first game is on the road, whereas if you’re at home in game one you want a good lead.
“It’s nice to have second leg at home, but we need to focus playing well tonight.”