Friday 12th April 2019
Newcastle Eagles v DBL Sharks Sheffield
The DBL Sharks Sheffield have four regular season games left to secure a top eight finish (and preferably a top seven finish), beginning with a Friday night road trip to Newcastle. The Sharks face the Eagles twice, bookending games against Manchester and London City Royals, in their quest to reach post season and also to qualify for next season’s lucrative All Stars Championship. Seven teams are hunting for five places separated by just 6 points as an intriguing struggle unfolds.
What to expect
Newcastle had been on a five game winning streak until leaders London Lions took them down by 101-81 last Sunday in front of the BBC cameras. Nonetheless, their 20-9 record means that they have now qualified for the Playoffs with the title looking like the Lions’ to lose. A fully fit Eagles side is still an almighty prospect and legendary coach Fabulous Flournoy will be looking for the highest possible finish and therefore the best possible seeding for the quarter finals. Victor Moses has been a crucial signing for Newcastle this season with his 18.4 ppg and 8 rpg fed by two-time league MVP Rahmon Fletcher, who himself adds 15.4 ppg with 9 apg. The Eagles have excellent back up to those two in the form of Kyle Williams, who puts up 12.2 ppg and veteran talent goes a long way in the shape of Darius Defoe (12.9 ppg / 6.2 rpg), England International Drew Lasker and the resurgent Flournoy himself. There are no ‘gimmes’ as far as Flournoy and the Eagles are concerned and wins in the North East have been rarities in recent years for the Sharks. But if recent BBL results are anything to go by, who knows what will happen?!!!
The contrasting faces of the Sharks showed last week. They scrapped and fought to take down an in-form Glasgow Rocks side by 65-63 on the back of Chris Alexander’s 24 points, during which he climbed to the summit of the BBL’s all-time free throw shooting stats. A heavy-legged Sharks succumbed by 56-85 to the Plymouth Raiders on Friday as the unpredictable nature of the end of season results reared its head once more. Hopefully, a full week of carefully managed planning will see Atiba Lyons men raring to go at the new Eagles Community Arena with the goal of staying amongst the playoff places. A top eight finish will see the Sharks into the Playoff quarter finals, now sponsored by benecos, and a top seven finish will ensure their place at next season’s lucrative All Stars Championships, Surrey being guaranteed a place as defending champions despite missing out on post season this time around. London Lions, Leicester Riders and Newcastle are already guaranteed to dance – the remainder will come from Glasgow, London City Royals, Cheshire, Plymouth, Bristol, Manchester and the Sharks of course. A tense couple of weeks awaits!
Last time out
DBL Sharks Sheffield (Alexander 23 Marsden 16 Williams 13) 86 Newcastle Eagles (Fletcher 21 Williams 17 Moses 14) 74
You thought last season’s playoff race was close? Well this one is even closer! Atiba and the guys need you every step of the way as our final season at the EIS draws to a close. This Friday (12th April) we travel to Newcastle. The following Wednesday (17th April), Manchester is our destination before two huge home games. Friday 19th April sees the visit of BBL Trophy winners, London City Royals before we wrap up regular season with Newcastle Eagles as the visitors to The Tank on Thursday 25th April. Not only are we saying farewell to the EIS but we need to keep up our proud record of always making the playoffs throughout our 25 season BBL history. Play your part and let’s show our opponents that they need to ‘Fear The Fin!’
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