Old rivals One Health Sharks Sheffield Sharks and Newcastle Eagles will meet with BBL Championship points at stake on Friday evening.
Sharks are unbeaten in their three league games this season (though this may change at Guildford tonight), while Eagles have picked up after three straight losses to start the Championship season and are now seventh with a 2-3 record.
Despite seeing his team hammer Worthing Thunder 107-84 last week, Sharks player-coach Atiba Lyons wants an improvement from his players: “I felt we played good in spurts and that is a habit we have to break. Worthing made a push at us in the third quarter and we didn’t respond as well as we could have. We are talented but at times don’t put the forth need for 40 minutes.”
“No one person stood out to me last game. I felt it was a great collective effort. It was one of those games we were favoured to win and that can be dangerous if we would have come out flat. I felt everyone was focused. It was important against the Thunder to make sure we improve our offence sets as well as tighten the bolts on our defence.”
With the sides having split their BBL Trophy meetings, Lyons has a good idea what to expect from Newcastle: “The Eagles game is going to be very intense and scrappy basketball game. We split with them in the Trophy and both games came down to the wire. Returning Trey Moore was vital to them and as Kadari Richards finds his footing with the Eagles they will be a very hard team to beat. Chapman has played very well in both our encounters this season and we will need to do a better job limiting his good looks at the basket.
Eagles come into the game on the back a 69-point annihilation of Essex Pirates, and player-coach Fab Flournoy was pleased with the attitude his side showed: “We did what we had to do against Essex. Our offence improved as the game went on and we kept to our defensive principles.
“We had individual points of emphasis for all our guys and overall I am satisfied that in general everyone took on board what we asked of them. Everyone got decent minutes and demonstrated that the deserved to be on the court. Aaron in particular is really pushing hard for minutes at the moment and not only shot the ball well but also rebounded and played defence the way we want him to. KD [Richards] is also getting better and better as he gets more used to our system and is a showing the real shot-blocking threat that we knew he would give us.
“It was not hard at all to stay motivated , we were coming off a loss and needed to work on a number of areas of our game. On top of that we have 10 guys who are all desperate to prove to me that they are worthy of minutes. Motivation was not an issue at all.”
Eagles forward Kadiri Richard is looking forward to facing the Sharks again: “It should be a good game, and we’re coming into it with some momentum from the Essex game. Regardless of the score in that, we used it to iron some things out. We sorted out our defensive rotations and improved our offensive rebounding.
“Sharks are a good team, they have a good shooter in Mike Tuck, and Steve Dagostino and Ryan Patten bring a lot to them. Having their coach back out there playing hard and motivated can only help them. He had a double-double against us in the second Trophy game, and his return has clearly helped them.”