Friday 22nd January 2021
BBL Trophy 1st Round
B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 63 Plymouth Raiders 69
A stirring final quarter fightback wasn’t enough for the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks to secure their passage to the quarter finals of the BBL Trophy. Despite being sixteen points adrift going into the final stanza, the Sharks outscored Plymouth Raiders by 21-11 but finished agonisingly short with the score at 63-69. The Sharks must now focus on improving their 4-4 BBL Championship record with the league and the playoffs still to play for.
Sharks: Campbell, Nichols, Ratinho, Koch, Hemsley.
Raiders: McGill, Hamilton, Porter-Bunton, Morsell, Ochereobia.
The Sharks went with a different approach in the opening quarter giving first BBL starts to guards Johde Campbell and Jordan Ratinho. They started at good tempo, taking a 9-6 lead on Campbell’s assist to Kipper Nichols for a dunk. Plymouth fought back strongly with Great Britain forward Ashley Hamilton throwing one down at 11-14 but there was little to choose between the teams as Ratinho’s floater ended the quarter with Plymouth up by 18-19.
Raiders’ Will Neighbour, quiet during the two sides previous encounter three weeks ago, lit up the second period, forcing the Sharks to call for time at 22-25. He repeated the feat as the quarter wore on; a mid-ranger followed by a triple seeing the Sharks talk it over once more at 26-34. Three successes from the line sealed a 10-18 quarter in favour of Plymouth, happy that they had restricted the scoreline to 28-37 at halftime.
Bennett Koch, limited to just over a minute of play in the first half, picked up his third foul early in the third quarter with Plymouth’s Chris Porter-Bunton and Neighbour capping a 2-11 run for the Devonians with the score at 35-54. The Sharks introduced veterans Rob Marsden and Mike Tuck to good effect late in the period – Tuck’s ‘and one’ play giving some momentum to the Sharks but still leaving Atiba Lyons’ men a sixteen point deficit to claw back at 42-58.
The mood palpably changed as Sheffield upped the intensity at both ends of the floor. Nicholas Lewis’ eurostep to the hoop sealed a 11-0 run either side of the quarters as the Sharks drew to within eight at 50-58. A pair of Ratinho three pointers, both out of the corner, saw that drop to four at 59-63 and a big two from Sharks talisman Jeremy Hemsley shaved a further point off at 63-66. The Sharks, who had taken advantage of a big Plymouth spell in the penalty, saw Lewis foul out with a minute remaining and trips to the line for Raiders’ Rickey McGill saw them eke out a 63-69 success.
The Sharks were left to rue Bennett Koch being forced to sit after barely one minute of play, as Plymouth opened up the lane to gain the lead that carried them to the win. Doing their best to overturn the lead were Jordan Ratinho and Jeremy Hemsley. Ratinho revelled in his first starting berth to finish with 13 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists, making three big shots from downtown that almost got the Sharks over the line. The MVP once again though was Hemsley. Ten points in an explosive final quarter saw him finish with a statline stuffing 17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. His energy and athleticism almost steered the Sharks to what would seem like an unlikely win at one point and they must hope for more of the same in the league programme to come.
Despite playing only 12 and a half minutes, Bennett Koch was 100% from the field and the line for his 5 points, adding 2 rebounds, an assist and a block for the third highest index of 9. Sadly, Koch’s four fouls reduced his playing time and had the Sharks been able to call on his services for longer, things might have been very different.
B. Braun Sheffield Sharks v Worcester Wolves, Monday 1st February 2021, Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, 6pm Tip Off.