BBL Championship

Friday 28th December 2018 – Glasgow Rocks v DBL Sharks Sheffield

Sunday 30th December 2018 – DBL Sharks Sheffield v Manchester Giants

The DBL Sharks Sheffield round off 2018 with two BBL Championship games that could see them maintain the pressure on current leaders, London Lions. First up comes a visit to Glasgow Rocks, who sit in tenth place with a 4-8 record. Sunday afternoon sees Lancastrian rivals Manchester Giants come to the EIS, fresh from dispatching holders Leicester Riders out of the BBL Trophy.

What to expect – Glasgow Rocks

The Rocks have won three out of their last five league games, improving after a somewhat ‘rocky’ start. Their last league outing was an 83-76 road win against the Sharks’ other weekend opponents, Manchester Giants. Ally Fraser led with 23 points and 9 assists in that win, showing his international credentials and there was a double-double for former GB skipper Kieron Achara with 14 points and 13 rebounds. When Fraser, Achara and GB colleague Gareth Murray click, then the Rocks are a match for anyone. Glasgow added a scoring threat in Tadas Rinkunas recently and have scoring options in Bouna Ndiaye, Bo Ziegler and Kenny Carpenter. The long trip north and the vocal atmosphere at the Emirates Arena also play a factor in trips over the border so the Sharks focus will need to be sharp against their Scottish opponents.

What to expect – Manchester Giants

The Sharks wrap up 2018 in the Tank with the visit of Roses rivals, Manchester Giants. The Lancastrians sit one place above Glasgow in ninth with a 5-8 record but undoubtedly buoyed by that 101-94 BBL Trophy win over holders Leicester Riders. The veteran experience of brothers Callum and James Jones was a key factor in the Riders win and there were big hauls for point guard Mike McCall (20) and Torry Butler (17). It was a rare off-day for forward Willie Clayton but he does average a huge 14 rebounds per game for the Giants and is a key factor more often than not. Coach Danny Byrne has built upon an improved season in 17-18 and the Giants fear no-one as the Leicester result proved. The Sharks have been burned once before this season and another challenge awaits on Sunday.

Shark Watch

It is heartbreaking that the Sharks came out of two fantastic encounters with London Lions with nothing to show for it but they must remember that they can go toe to toe with the best. It was a quieter day for Dirk Williams in the Trophy encounter but he still averages a massive 19.15 points per game and is right up there as a potential MVP candidate. While Williams minutes were limited, Chris Alexander continued his scoring efforts that have propelled him to 18.38 points per game. Teams can ill-afford to focus on the efforts of Williams and Alexander. Proving himself to be more than adept inside or out is Leslee Smith, who recorded another 14 down in the capital. Providing the ammo for his team-mates is Anthony Collins, who dished out another double figure assist haul and isn’t afraid to go long as well tight inside in an attempt to get an easy bucket for a colleague. Above all, the Sharks must keep the belief in the system that gave them an eight game streak just before Christmas as the continue to focus on driving up the BBL table.

Last time out

DBL Sharks Sheffield (Alexander 28, Don 25, Williams 21) 99 Glasgow Rocks (Murray 20, Achara 17, Zeigler 12) 87

DBL Sharks Sheffield (Williams 23, Alexander 16, Castro-Caneddy 14) 87 Manchester Giants (Butler 19, McCall 17, Jones C 16) 92

Fans corner

There’s a double helping of Sharks basketball this weekend as 2018 comes to an end. Friday evening sees a 7.30pm tip off in Glasgow and you can catch all the action on livebasketball.tv as well as the highlight plays on the Sharks Twitter feed (@sheffieldsharks). Our final game of the year is in the Tank this Sunday with a tip off time of 4pm. Our roses rivals Manchester Giants will be in town so we need the Sharknation out in force to cheer the guys into 2019. Click the banner below for your all-important match tickets!

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Andy Chubb