Overtime drama will help Sheffield Sharks in BBL play-offs, says Atiba Lyons
A double dose of overtime drama will help Sheffield Sharks when it comes to the BBL play-offs, says head coach Atiba Lyons.
The Sharks had gone 53 games without needing more than the usual four 10-minute quarters before last weekend when both of their back-to-back matches against Bristol Flyers and Worcester Wolves were won in added time.
Victory over Bristol saw them qualify for the end-of-season contest – which starts one week after the end of the regular season on the weekend of 30 April – for the twenty-sixth consecutive campaign.
“When we end up on the right side of things it's not too bad,” said Lyons.
“It's great really in a way because we have had a lot of close games and won a few but probably not as many as we would like. Winning close games going into the play-offs shows we can execute, it gives us more confidence.
“We just need to hold our nerve a little bit more when teams have a strong spell during the game. When teams make a run, which is inevitable, we try to break what we know well and force things.
Lyons has now led the Sharks to the play-offs in each of his 13 seasons in charge with the exception of last year when the BBL ended prematurely because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Their most recent silverware came in 2016 when they won the competition at London’s O2 Arena for the first time in 12 seasons in front of 13,000 fans.
“Consistency is everything in sport really,” he said. “Being able to have a team that competes consistently despite difficult circumstances is what I want to be known for.
“I want to uphold the legacy that the Sharks have. They have built a team with a really strong brand and reputation for success in an industry where it's really hard to have consistency.”
And this year’s team has made no secret of their desire to win the play-offs once again.
“We are really good at what we do and we have just got to believe a little bit more,” Lyons said.
“It's great to qualify, we set the goal after we were knocked out of the cup competitions that we wanted the play-offs to be our ultimate goal and the players all bought into it.”