Wednesday 3rd April 2019

BBL Championship

DBL Sharks Sheffield 65 Glasgow Rocks 63

They may have gone 6-1 for the month and earned Vincent Lavandier the Coach of the Month award but the DBL Sharks Sheffield inflicted a nail-biting win on Glasgow Rocks that sent them to fourth place in the BBL table. The Sharks led for just five minutes of the game but came up clutch thanks to Chris Alexander, who led all scorers with 24 points.

Starting Fives

Sharks: McKnight, Marsden, Alexander, Williams, Martin

Rocks: Murray, Fraser, Pryor, Carpenter, Achara

Key Moments

Despite the Sharks taking an early lead, the Rocks soon demonstrated why they are one of the BBL’s form teams. Carpenter put them 7-10 up on the angle and a Gareth Murray trey extended that to 7-17 out of a Sharks timeout. A pair of Achara free throws twisted the knife at 9-21 and it took late scores from Drago Brcina and Rob Marsden to see the Sharks just cling on by 13-21 at the end of the first.

Ndiaye euro-stepped his way to the hoop to give Glasgow a ten point lead early in the second quarter and four shot clock violations signalled the difficulty the Sharks were having in completing their offence. Despite this, Chris Alexander took matters into his own hands, delivering a big three at 26-32, a pair of free throws and a delicious triple after a neat interchange with McKnight to conclude the half at 31-34.

Both sides went toe to toe in the third period with the Rocks maintaining a narrow lead. Alexander weaved his way to the basket to briefly put the Sharks in front at 41-40 but GB international Murray restored the Scots lead almost instantly. The increasingly-influential Bo Ziegler edged Glasgow into the lead at 47-51 and a Mike Tuck bucket ended the quarter at 49-51.

The fourth stanza was no less nip and tuck. Achara drained a trey from the top of the key at 51-56 early in the quarter that saw Atiba Lyons calling for time. The Rocks maintained that five point lead until the final four minutes when they went into team penalty. Mathew Martin hit back to back scores to finally inch the Sharks ahead at 63-62 only for Ziegler to level from the line with 55 seconds remaining. The final twenty seconds saw the Sharks awarded the ball on an endline call and out of the timeout, the Sharks chose to start from the backcourt. Alexander was fouled with 3.1 seconds remaining and made the two ice-cold free throws that put the Sharks up by 65-63. The Sharks held firm on the Rocks final play and completed a memorable but nerve-wracking win.

MVP

It was a plucky display from the Sharks in a very attritional game. Honourable mentions must go to Mackey McKnight, who was again the Sharks heartbeat with 8 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists and Mathew Martin, who put the Sharks in front at the death to finish with 6 points and 7 rebounds. On a low scoring evening, the 24 points gleaned by Chris Alexander were remarkable and fully deserving of the award on the night. All the more remarkable was the 250th completed free throw by Alexander, who as a result became the greatest free throw shooter in BBL history.

Quotes

Chris Alexander spoke of his relief at getting an important win against a playoff rival and displayed great modesty in crediting his team-mates for helping to seal his place in BBL statistical history.

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Andy Chubb