Friday 24th September 2021
BBL Cup Group Stage
B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 64 Cheshire Phoenix 71
There was to be no fairytale start to the 2021-22 BBL season as the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks were edged out in their first BBL Cup group stage game by Cheshire Phoenix. The Sharks led by as many as fifteen midway through the third quarter but a 16-5 burst by the visitors at the start of the final stanza saw the ‘Nix take a lead that would prove unassailable.
Sharks: Anderson, Williams, Ratinho, Tuck, Koch.
Phoenix: Carey, Okereafor, McSwiggan, Wright, Ochereobia.
The Sharks were slow out of the blocks as six Mike Ochereobia points gave Cheshire the early advantage. A two handed throw down from Bennett Koch momentarily stalled the Phoenix offence but Great Britain point guard Teddy Okereafor steered his team to a 12-22 lead after ten minutes play.
Sharks basketball returned in the second quarter. A breathtaking Jonathan Williams rearrange levelled the scores at 27-27 before Kipper Nichols helped to push the lead out to 37-31. Ochereobia, already on a double-double, concluded the scoring for the half at 39-33; the Sharks being content with a 27-11 quarter and seemingly with the advantage.
The opening of the third period saw the Sharks take their biggest lead of the game at 50-35 on an outrageously long Aaron Anderson three point score. Nichols also connected from downtown at 55-43 but Ochereobia, Okereafor and Levi Bradley made the last three buckets of the quarter as the gap closed to 55-49.
The Cheshire momentum spilled over into the final stanza. Nine Levi Bradley points tied matters at 60-60 as another Okereafor triple saw the ‘Nix back into the lead. The final ninety seconds saw the Sharks down by 64-68. A technical foul for Coach Atiba Lyons into the final twenty seconds exacerbated matters as trips to the line for Bradley and Okereafor twice saw Cheshire close out a 64-71 win.
Post Game Interview
It was a rollercoaster evening for the Sharks but two performances in particular stood out. Kipper Nichols, the last Shark to arrive from the United States, demonstrated that he had progressed from his rookie year with a measured 13 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals. The MVP award went the way of another player with considerable BBL experience. Marcus Delpeche, unfortunate to foul out in pre-season against Leicester, showed his considerable talent to compile 14 points and 6 rebounds with an assist, a steal and a blocked shot to boot.
Glasgow Rocks v B. Braun Sheffield Sharks, Sunday 26th September 2021, Emirates Arena, 4.30pm Tip Off