Sunday 3rd January 2021
B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 83 Plymouth Raiders 78
The New Year got off to the best possible start for the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks as they toughed out an impressive 83-78 success over a useful Plymouth Raiders side. The Sharks overturned a five point final quarter deficit despite being without the services of Bennett Koch and Oscar Baldwin to come out on top of a physical encounter. There was an MVP performance from debutant Jordan Ratinho, who iced four free throws at the death to secure the points for the South Yorkshire men.
Sharks: Lewis, Lillard, Tuck, Nichols, Hemsley.
Raiders: Hamilton, Porter-Bunton, Dusha, Neighbour, Ibeh.
It was clear the game would be a physical affair from the off as two Prince Ibeh blocks for Plymouth eventually led to them taking a 5-11 lead on a pair of Porter-Bunton corner triples. The Sharks found their footing eventually – Lillard replied in kind and a couple of Hemsley drives saw the deficit cut at 12-15. New signing Jordan Ratinho joined the fray with three minutes of the quarter to go and it was his corner trey that saw the Sharks take a 19-17 lead. A trip to the line for Sharks skipper Mike Tuck saw the stanza close at 20-18 in the home sides favour.
An even second period played out. Ratinho hit his second triple of the game and a trademark Tuck three from the top of the key soon made it 31-24. The momentum went with the Sharks as Kipper Nichols assisted for a brutal Antwon Lillard alley oop but seven points from Raiders’ Chris Porter-Bunton brought them back in range at 34-33. Ratinho hit his third trey to move to nine points in the half and it was his late drive into the paint that saw the Sharks take a 43-41 halftime lead.
Plymouth’s impressive roster saw them take the third quarter by 14-21. Great Britain’s Ashley Hamilton gave them a 43-45 lead and Rickey McGill, recently trialled in Sacramento, extended that to 50-58 out of the corner. Despite the rarity of a Rob Marsden three pointer, followed in more expected fashion by Jeremy Hemsley, it was Hamilton who saw the Devonians in charge at 57-62 going into the final ten minutes.
Sheffield’s Nicholas Lewis picked a fine time to put up his first points of the game, opening the final stanza with a three. The influential Porter-Bunton took his points tally to eighteen but fouled out with 6.34 remaining in the game. The Sharks seized the initiative as Hemsley capped a 14-2 run with a triple at 75-67. Undeterred, Plymouth fought back through Hamilton and Ochereobia at 77-74 but penalty trouble for the Raiders saw Hemsley take that out to 79-74 with 22 seconds remaining. Four successful trips to the line for debutant Ratinho saw him ice a hard-fought win with the score at 83-78.
Shorn of a pair of forwards, it was the whole Sharks roster that stepped up to secure the win in a pretty bruising encounter. Antwon Lillard came up big in the final quarter to record his customary near double-double with 20 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. Another consistently high scorer is Jeremy Hemsley. He put up 19 points with 6 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal in another high energy display. It was some debut however for former University of San Francisco man, Jordan Ratinho. The Portuguese – American missed just a single shot in the first half, going on to make 17 points with 8 rebounds and 2 assists to secure a well-deserved MVP award on his home bow.
Post Game Interview
Atiba Lyons spoke of a hard fought win and despite a thrilling performance, the need to improve even further!
Cheshire Phoenix v B. Braun Sheffield Sharks, Sunday 10th January 2021, Ellesmere Port Sports Village, 5pm Tip Off.