Friday 30th April 2021
B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 68 London Lions 80
There were contrasting approaches to the final game of regular season as the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks went down by 12 points to London Lions. The Sharks chose to give court time to the whole available roster, all except one of whom made the scoresheet. The Lions gave big minutes to their key performers in taking the win ahead of the post-season playoffs, which begin on Bank Holiday Monday.
Sharks: Nichols, Ratinho, Tuck, Lillard, Hemsley.
Lions: Parker, Robinson, Williams, Alihodzic, Liggins.
London lived by the three in the early stages; Justin Robinson, Orlando Parker and Dirk Williams giving them an early 6-11 lead. An 8-2 run hauled the Sharks back into the contest. Jordan Ratinho converted Jeremy Hemsley’s pinpoint assist to give the home side an 18-17 lead but former NBA star Deandre Liggins and former Shark Dirk Williams saw the Lions to a 23-26 first quarter advantage.
London pressed home that advantage in a 13-21 second quarter. Jules Dang Akodo increased the lead to nine at 30-39 but it took Antwon Lillard’s first points of the encounter and a pair of Bennett Koch free throws to see the Sharks still in touch. Former two-time BBL MVP Robinson had the final say of the half. His bucket and three pointer with 13 seconds to go saw London take their biggest lead of the game into the locker rooms at 36-47.
After Mike Tuck’s triple at the top of the third quarter, seven Dirk Williams points the Lions lead go out to 14. Liggins cross-court pass saw him make it 45-59 and his trey inside the final minute extended that to 48-64. A pair of Oscar Baldwin free throws saw the quarter end at 50-64.
The Sharks took the final stanza by 18-16. Tuck’s ‘and one’ play typified the Sharks willingness to keep the scoreboard moving and their use of the full roster saw Nate Montgomery making a useful basket from the baseline. A pair of Jeremy Hemsley free throws closed a game that both sides used differently as the warm-up to the playoffs with the Lions winning out by 68-80.
The Sharks shared the minutes evenly and everyone except Nicholas Lewis made the scoresheet. Antwon Lillard just missed out on a double-double with 9 points and 11 rebounds and Jeremy Hemsley lead the Sharks scoring with 14 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. The eventual MVP was Bennett Koch. Continuing on from several fine recent displays, he was again aggressive around the hoop, keen off the boards and happy to dish a dime on his way to 12 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
Post Game Interview
Assistant Coach Marko Backovic spoke of a scrappy game but emphasised the lessons learned as the Sharks look forward to their Playoff journey.
B. Braun Sheffield Sharks v Newcastle Eagles, Tuesday 4th May 2021, Vertu Motors Arena, 5pm Tip Off.