Sunday 7th February 2021
Manchester Giants 76 B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 90
The B. Braun Sheffield Sharks capped a perfect weekend by taking the Roses derby 76-90 over the Manchester Giants. The Sharks had lost on their first visit to the Giants previous three venues but made no such mistake on Sunday evening led by club career best performances from Jeremy Hemsley and Jordan Ratinho. Six games remain in February starting with fixtures against the top two in Newcastle Eagles and Leicester Riders next weekend.
Giants: Cassell Jr, Hudson, Whelan, Johnson, Brady.
Sharks: Nichols, Ratinho, Tuck, Lillard, Hemsley.
It was a contest the Sharks pretty much dominated from start to finish. Jeremy Hemsley quietly took the game out to a 5-10 lead in the early stages and his partner in crime Jordan Ratinho confirmed the Sharks grip on the game with a three out of the corner at 7-15. Superlative defence was a key to another great start; Antwon Lillard coming up with a big block on Giants’ danger man Sam Cassell Jr. Another trey from Ratinho capped a solid first quarter with the score at 13-28.
The start of the second period became a three-fest. Efforts from Nicholas Lewis and Jeremy Hemsley were matched by Manchester’s Cassell but an ‘and one’ play from Bennett Koch saw the Sharks up by 21-37 and Giants forward Breaon Brady sitting with 3 fouls. Excellent ball movement was a feature for the Sharks all evening and two such moves ended in Ratinho and Lewis both finding success from downtown with the score at 30-47. Manchester’s David Ulph finished the quarter with an ‘and one’ of his own but the Sharks were truly in command at 37-49.
Coming straight out of half time with a big Antwon Lillard dunk, the Sharks were relentless in keeping the scoreboard moving. Hemsley drained a corner three and then assisted to Koch for another dunk at 43-58. A wide open Ratinho drained another treble and Lillard continued the highlight plays with another slam at 47-70 to cap a 4-14 run. Veteran Rob Marsden joined the free-flowing offence with a delightful spin move and at 56-74, the game was all but won.
Manchester took the final quarter by 20-16 but the Sharks managed affairs carefully to secure a big win. Hemsley found success from the top of the key at 61-79 and despite the Sharks entering the penalty with four minutes to play, the result was never in doubt. Hemsley drew the foul in making it 69-89 and despite Giants’ Donovan Johnson hitting the final three points of the game, it was Atiba Lyons’ men who could be very satisfied with a 76-90 success.
A terrific team performance from the Sharks. Mike Tuck nullified the threat of Breaon Brady in the early stages and the Sharks went on to build from there. Ever-involved was Antwon Lillard. His 18 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and a block showed a variety of ways to score and again demonstrated a couple of thrilling highlight dunks. Jordan Ratinho hit four vital three point shots and converted four of five with delightful inside cuts to compile a Sharks career best of 20 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals. The eventual MVP also put up a club career best. Jeremy Hemsley produced an efficiency rating of 31 with his 26 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 6 steals, proving that he is equally as adept at dishing out the dimes as well as finding the hoop.
Captain Mike Tuck was delighted at the progress over the weekend.
‘Huge weekend for the team! Manchester are a physical squad but we came out early and fought fire with fire. Really happy with the effort, we have turned a corner after a tough run of games. Excited to use this momentum going forward.’
Newcastle Eagles v B. Braun Sheffield Sharks, Friday 12th February 2021, Eagles Community Arena, 7.30pm Tip Off.