Sunday 29th November 2020
BBL Cup Group Phase
B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 77 Newcastle Eagles 90
The B. Braun Sheffield Sharks bowed out of the BBL Cup at the group stage but it was not a performance without its merits. Unable to gain clearance for new signing Jeremy Hemsley in time, the remaining Sharks produced their best opening quarter of the season so far and went toe-to-toe with an impressive Eagles side throughout before their talisman, Rahmon Fletcher guided them to the win. The Sharks now look to the regular season league opener on Thursday.
Sharks: Lewis, Jones, Lillard, Koch, Marsden.
Eagles: Maxwell, Edwards, Sayers, Gordon, Fletcher.
The Sharks flew out of the traps to go 8-0 on Antwon Lillard’s fast break score within the opening two and a half minutes. Newcastle reduced that to 8-7 thanks to Edwards, Fletcher and Sayers but a Nicholas Lewis ‘and one’ followed by Kipper Nichols corner trey saw them maintain the advantage at 14-9. Louis Sayers kept the Eagles in touch at 19-16 but a Lewis triple saw the Sharks take their first 1st quarter win of the season with the score at 26-20.
Ominously, Newcastle fought back in the second. Former league MVP Fletcher hit three triples to put them up by 30-35 on a 2-15 run and the ever-involved Cortez Edwards weighed in with six points as that became 32-41. The Sharks showed their pluck and a 6-2 end to the half concluding with Nichols’ rearrange two left the game nicely poised at 38-43.
An even third stanza played out. Again the Sharks opened brightly. Birthday boy Rob Marsden made it 40-43 with a one handed putback and Kipper Nichols impressive display produced another three with the score at 45-53. Sayers replied in kind from the corner as Newcastle refused to buckle and Drew Lasker’s ‘and one’ on the back of a neat team move going into the final minute gave them a 55-65 advantage. Again, the Sharks kept vestiges of hope as Nichols converted another three to leave it 58-66 going into the final ten minutes.
Try as they might, the Sharks couldn’t break the Newcastle stranglehold. Lillard converted successfully from the line at 64-69 and the Eagles went into the penalty with fully 5.50 remaining in the period. However, the talismanic Fletcher drained a further three and capped a 2-7 run with the score at 66-76. Callum Jones converted a nice shot off the dribble but a second Lewis technical saw him depart the game inside the final minute at 73-83. There was time for Fletcher and Eagles’ bencher Sauveur Kande to connect from downtown as a brave effort from the Sharks concluded in defeat with the score at 77-90.
Another game and another double-double for Antwon Lillard. He poured in 12 points to go with 10 rebounds in a further consistent display. Bennett Koch loves playing Newcastle and he demonstrated that again with 15 points and 7 rebounds and there was a 17 point haul from Nicholas Lewis, sharing guard duties with Callum Jones, who weighed in with 8 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. However, coming up with his most impressive Sharks game so far was Kipper Nichols. His 19 points came on 53% shooting with 6 rebounds and an assist to boot with huge signs that he is adjusting to life as a pro in Europe.
B. Braun Sheffield Sharks v Cheshire Phoenix, Thursday 3rd December 2020, Eagles Community Arena, 5pm Tip Off.