Two sides looking to bounce back after losses last weekend meet at the EIS tonight as One Health Sharks Sheffield host the Rocks in the BBL Championship.
The Sharks saw their BBL Cup dreams end with a heavy loss at Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders on Saturday, but their win against basement side Mersey Tigers the previous night saw them maintain their ninth spot in the Championship table with a 4-8 record. Despite their surprise loss against Cheshire Phoenix,the Rocks remain firmly in the play-off hunt, and are seventh with six wins from 11 games.
It will be the second meeting of the season between the two clubs, with Sharks winning a thriller 72-71 when they met at the EIS in the BBL Cup in November. While Sharks lead the all-time series between the clubs 46-21, Rocks won all three meetings last season and have split the last 12 games between the two sides.
Despite their indifferent start to the BBL Championship season, Rocks’ player-coach Sterling Davis won’t be taking the Sharks lightly: “They have added at least one addition and lost one so a new look to a team always turns into motivation to improve which I think they have.
“Mike Tuck and Olu Babalola are veterans and proven winners in the league so you have to start with them as their base.”
Rocks’ guard/forward Andrew Wedemire also expects a tough game in the steel city: “They are coming off a good win against Mersey. They have come together as a team and have been playing good basketball.”
Davis was clearly disappointed with last week’s loss against the Phoenix: “I felt we let them do what works for them. Chez Marks got his average and we know what type of player [Jerome] Gumbs would be but we weren’t able to move them away from their strengths. We gave up 90 points which is way too many and a number that works in their favour.”
The Rock’ coach did have praise for Scottish forward Gareth Murray: “I thought Gareth did his part in trying to keep us in the game. He is a guy who does not get the credit he deserves in this league. I would say he is one of the most versatile players in the league for whatever the team needs him to do. We ask a lot of him on our team on both ends of the floor and in minutes played and he has never complained.
Sharks’ forward Andrew Bridge has a good idea what to expect from the Rocks: “I played against the Rocks when I was with Newcastle, and I know how Sterling [Davis] likes his team to play. He’s a tough player and his side play the same way with not an inch given.
“I always enjoyed the games against them, and EJ [Harrison] has been a class performer in this country for years, first in Division One and then moving up to the BBL.
“Sterling always plays well, and I think he’s overlooked as a player now that he coaches as well, but in his Brighton and [London] Towers days he was one of the top players in the country. The amount of work he has to do as a player-coach will change the way he plays, and he’s become more of a role player over the last few years. Certainly in the last couple of years he’s got the balance right and has improved. One of the advantages Fab [Flournoy – Newcastle player/coach] had is that he was role player anyway, so there wasn’t much change. He could also put himself at the point [guard] if things weren’t going as he wanted. Sterling doesn’t have that option, but he’s done a really good job.”