Friday 13th November 2020
BBL Cup Group Phase
London Lions 88 B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 73
The B. Braun Sheffield Sharks took a fifteen point loss on the road at London Lions, rueing a slow start that saw them down by nineteen at half time. The Sharks were much improved in the third period, taking it by 17-27, but a 32 point game from former NBA star DeAndre Liggins eventually sealed an 88-73 success for the men from the capital. The Sharks have an immediate chance to bounce back with a road trip to Newcastle on Tuesday evening.
Lions: Ikhinmwin, Robinson, Williams, Bristol, Liggins.
Sharks: Lewis, Lillard, Koch, Marsden, McKnight.
Rob Marsden’s mid-range two point score put the Sharks up by 4-5 in the early stages but Liggins three pointer soon gave London an 11-7 advantage. Antwon Lillard answered in kind at 11-10 but a Dirk Williams and one effort saw the Lions steal a march at 20-16. The introduction of Kevin Ware for London saw him connect from deep at 26-18 and the same player closed out the quarter from the line with three successful attempts at 29-18.
Andre Lockhart took over for the home side at the top of the second period. He capped a 16-2 run at 33-18 and drained four from the line as the Sharks gave up a foul and two technicals with the score on 39-21. Liggins, who eventually went seven of eleven from downtown, connected on three further occasions towards the end of the half as London concluded the twenty minutes up by 55-36.
The Sharks rallied immeasurably in the third quarter. Lillard’s dagger three was matched by Liggins at 61-43 but an and one plus a further bucket from Bennett Koch saw the Lions entering penalty with the score at 64-48. The Sharks profited from seven successful free throws to the end of the quarter and a Mike Tuck trey on the buzzer gave a glimmer of hope going into the final stanza at 72-63.
Scores from Lucas, Ware and Liggins with a triple out of the corner saw the Sharks calling for time at 79-66 early in the fourth. Again the Sharks forced London into penalty with 5.31 to play and despite Kervin Bristol fouling out on an unconverted Koch and one score, the Lions continued to crash the offensive boards. Liggins drained his final three of the evening at 86-69 and as Mike Tuck laid in at 88-73 on Mackey McKnight’s assist, the Sharks hopes of finishing within their nine point margin of victory from the week previous diminished in the face of some tough London defence. Nicholas Lewis sat out the final 1.09 of the game having reached five fouls as the game came to a 15 point conclusion in favour of the home side.
The game never really felt like a fifteen point ball game and again there were several performances of note from the Sharks. Stuffing the statlines was Mackey McKnight, who piled in 11 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals. Bennett Koch was influential in the low post, coming up with 13 points and 7 rebounds. The eventual Sharks MVP was a close call between two players. Kipper Nichols grew into the encounter to eventually close with 16 points, 5 rebounds and an assist. However, for the second week running, finishing just 1 category off a double-double, the award went the way of Antwon Lillard, who claimed 16 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists.
Sharks Coach Atiba Lyons gave his thoughts on how the game panned out.
‘I thought the rough second quarter put us too far on the back foot. We showed an amazing amount of heart and character and I thought [DeAndre] Liggins hit crucial shots when they needed them.’
‘It will be good to get back on the floor on Tuesday for a game after a couple of training sessions. It [Newcastle] will be a tough test and that’s what we need.’
Captain Mike Tuck was equally determined to focus on the next game.
‘It just wasn’t our night. We dug a huge hole in the first half and despite some good runs in the third and fourth, we weren’t able to get over that hump. This is the Cup though and in round robin play, there’s no time to hang our heads. We shake it off and head on to the next one on Tuesday in Newcastle.’
Newcastle Eagles v B. Braun Sheffield Sharks, Tuesday 17th November 2020, Eagles Community Arena, 7pm Tip Off.