BBL Championship
Thursday 3rd December 2020
B. Braun Sheffield Sharks v Cheshire Phoenix

Reach for the Sky! The 2020-21 BBL Championship gets under way this Thursday in front of the Sky TV cameras and your B. Braun Sheffield Sharks take on the Cheshire Phoenix in the opening game. Although it is officially a Sharks home game, the game will take place at the Eagles Community Arena in a double-header event preceding the home town Newcastle versus London encounter. The game marks the start of a two year agreement with Sky to show thirty BBL games per season.

What to expect

It’s been a torrid start to the season for Cheshire. Impacted early by the coronavirus, the ‘Nix bravely chose to play on but unfortunately went 0-4 in the BBL Cup group phase. However, things have improved of late and it’s no coincidence that former Manchester Giant, Mike McCall Jr has been a key to their revival since his return to the North West. McCall poured in 23 points after playing the whole of Cheshire’s 73-86 loss to Glasgow and is well known from his previous spell in the UK as a high scoring facilitator. Returning to the Phoenix is the athletic Jalen Hayes and there has been a very bright start to the season for former Shark Sol Rolls-Tyson, who looks to be fulfilling the promise he showed during his short time in South Yorkshire. Disraeli Lufadeju caps a quartet of players with great BBL experience and you can guarantee that ‘Nix Coach Ben Thomas will build on this core to drive Cheshire to the high standards he expects from his players. The neutral court and the TV cameras could spur Cheshire on to perform on the highest stage and is a factor that the Sharks must be wary of come Thursday afternoon.

Shark Watch

The Sharks bowed out of the BBL Cup last Sunday with defeat against Newcastle but it wasn’t a performance that was without its merits. The Sharks were without new signing Jeremy Hemsley, awaiting clearance to play, but shook Newcastle with their first 1st quarter lead of the new campaign. The Sharks hung around the Eagles most of the game but it took a savvy spell from former MVP Rahmon Fletcher to see the visitors home by 77-90. Hopefully, Hemsley can make his debut on Thursday and demonstrate the scoring threat that Coach Lyons feels he can bring to the team. Mention too for Kipper Nichols, who relished the extra responsibility on Sunday going on to 19 points and 6 rebounds for his best Sharks display so far. Thursday, 5pm, in a neutral gym, in front of national television cameras makes for an interesting combination but definitely one which can bring out the best in the Sharks and help them begin the league campaign on a winning footing. That it is Atiba Lyons 500th game as Sharks Coach also brings added incentive!

Last Time Out

Cheshire Phoenix (Hayes 28 Jackson-Cartwright 19 Flannigan 16) 83 B. Braun Sheffield Sharks (Marsden 18 Lewis 17 McKnight 17) 78

Fans Corner

Howay the Sharks! For one night only, all eyes will be on the North East as Atiba and the guys open up the 2020-21 BBL Championship season with a ‘home’ game at the Eagles Community Arena against Cheshire Phoenix. Get on to Sky Sports Main Event or Sky Sports Arena from 4.30pm to see if the Sharks will be the ‘Likely Lads’ on the Toon as a great night of BBL basketball lies ahead. Game tips off at 5pm – which means even Ant and Dec have got time to tune in! Never mind the ‘Fog on the Tyne,’ those waters are going to be Shark infested!

Next Game

B. Braun Sheffield Sharks v Cheshire Phoenix, Thursday 3rd December 2020, Eagles Community Arena, 5pm Tip Off

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Adam Bates