Friday 20th September 2019
BBL Cup North Group
Leicester Riders 75 B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 54
An under-strength B. Braun Sharks came away from the Morningside Arena pointless as the BBL Cup campaign got under way with defeat against Leicester Riders. The home side restricted the Sharks to just 28 points in the first half and left Atiba Lyons’ men a mountain to climb as the 2019-20 season began in earnest.
Riders: Anderson, Ward-Hibbert, Cartwright, Chuku, Wright.
Sharks: Lewis, Backovic, Marsden, McKnight, Koch.
A pair of Nick Lewis free throws opened the encounter and his ‘and one’ play saw the game level at 5-5 after 3.34. That was about as good as it got for the Sharks as their temporary lack of depth began to show. Back to back threes from Namon Wright saw Leicester up by 21-9 and it was Lewis’ steal and lay up that saw the first quarter end at 21-14.
Three pointers from Thomson and Anderson saw the Riders edge away again and it was Brit product Josh Ward-Hibbert who extended the lead to 49-26 with 5 quick points. Bennett Koch made one from the line in the final minute but the half time score of 50-28 saw the Sharks needing a sizeable effort in the second half.
Koch and Lewis again attempted to resurrect the Sharks efforts at the top of the third; Lewis’ trey making it 51-35 after 2.25. Wright’s three plus one score curtailed the fightback midway through the period and despite another three and a rearrange two late in the quarter from Lewis, Leicester were still dominant at 65-40.
Koch opened the final stanza with a two handed throw down but another triple from the influential Ward-Hibbert kept the Riders comfortably in front. Koch ended his evening, picking up his fifth foul with three minutes to play, but having still garnered 20 points and 10 rebounds. The Sharks gave a debut to Josh Chubb with 1.29 to go but it was a goal tend call that saw Leicester run out winners by 75-54.
There were only two clear candidates on the evening. Bennett Koch came under close scrutiny from the Riders but still managed to post 20 points and 10 rebounds to continue his terrific start to life as a Shark. Nick Lewis may not have appeared in the BBL for a few seasons but showed the time away has been productive as he recorded 21 points and 5 rebounds. Only 4 Sharks found the hoop on the night and an increased offensive threat will be one of their targets as they take their home bow against Manchester on Sunday afternoon.
Coach Atiba Lyons was keen to draw a line under this one, focusing on an improved display for Sunday and with news that another piece of the roster may soon be able to take to the court.
Next home game
B. Braun Sharks v Manchester Giants, Sunday 22nd September 2019, Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, 5pm Tip Off.