So, we’re back on UK soil and have been since Sunday and after almost a week’s solid practice we get to let off some steam and see what improvements we’ve made since the Belgium trip by visiting one of our biggest rivals over the years, Sheffield Sharks.

It’ll be interesting to see how the likes of Kyle and Ahmad adjust to basketball British style and how Victor is going to get on as he returns to The BBL. Of course, this is not a “competitive” match as such but you can bet Fab will have the guys as ready as they can be and there’s no doubt he’ll want to get that W.

It is Sheffield’s first outing as a team this season and they have once again put together a solid looking side that should be well capable of giving anyone a game as well as challenging for honours as they seem too every BBL season.

To date they have named a 9-man roster with speculation abounding that there may well be one more at least coming in before the season starts. Perhaps Head Coach Atiba Lyons commencing his 11th season at the helm is waiting to see how his signed charges perform pre-season before making a definitive decision.

Those nine named see five returnees from last season and therefore four newcomers as Sharks although in one case it’s a return to the BBL for one of Sheffield’s new players. So, let’s see what our Eagles will be up against when they motor down the M1 for Friday night’s clash.

Almost inevitably Sharks will be lead by Captain Fantastic and Mr Sheffield basketball himself, Mike Tuck. The 6’ 7” British/Canadian forward who played for England in last season’s Commonwealth Games is now entering his tenth season with Sheffield and no doubt will be as reliable as ever.

Sharks have returned two of their Americans from last season. High scoring 6’ 1” guard Chris Alexander averaged 17.4 points per game last season and the human highlight reel, 6’ 5” Dirk Williams, almost matched him with 17.1 per game as well as throwing down thunderous dunks in almost every game.

Also returning is the solid 6’ 7” British forward Rob Marsden who averaged 8.5 points and 6.5 rebounds from the bench and is very much an impact player that will begin his second season at Sheffield. Marko Backovic is still only 21 but has been with the senior side since his 16th birthday.

The most prominent of the newcomers is rookie professional Rene Castro a 6’ 2” guard fresh out of Duquesne University, a former abode of ex-Eagle Reggie Jackson and Glasgow Rocks’ Keiron Achara, who averaged 13.3 points per game in his senior season.

Matthew Don is 6’ 7” British forward who comes to the BBL for the first time after three seasons in Spain’s LEB-Silver division and is a player Sharks have high hopes for. The final two named so far for Sheffield are 6’ 2” guard Sedale Hanson-Young and another 6’ 7” forward, Matthew Martin.

Hanson-Young spent the 2015/16 season at Cheshire Phoenix before trying America out for the last two seasons and is now back in The BBL hoping to add to his previous experience. Martin is a 6’ 6” forward who is also a BBL rookie making the move up from Doncaster Danum Eagles where he played under his father, the legendary coach Bob Martin.

All-in-all another “Blue Collar” Sheffield Sharks outfit that combines experience, youth, team-work and no little flair which will present a considerable test for our Eagles before they go in to next week’s home pre-season games against Team USA Select and a return fixture against the Sharks.

Check back to the website tomorrow night for news on how your Eagles got on as they prepare not only for those two home friendlies but also the BBL’s opening night of the 2018/19 season when Cheshire Phoenix are the visitors to Sport Central on Friday 21st September.