The battle for BBL Championship points continues at the Emirates Arena on Sunday evening as the Rocks host One Health Sharks Sheffield in a reverse preview of Friday’s upcoming BBL Trophy Quarter-Final.
It will be the third meeting of the season between the two sides, with Sharks having won both of the previous encounters in the steel city. A thrilling 72-71 victory against the Rocks in November saw Atiba Lyons’ team seal a place in the BBL Cup semi-final, and they repeated the victory with an 83-74 success in the Championship the following month.
Despite that win for Sharks, Rocks are currently fifth in the Championship table with a 10-8 record, while five wins in the last eight games has seen Sheffield move up to eighth spot with seven wins from 18 games.
Rocks’ player-coach Sterling Davis knows what his side has to do to level the Championship series between the teams: “We have seen very good performances on both occasions we have faced this team. They have closed very well against us so it is something we have to adjust to.
“Mike Tuck really played well against us last time. We have to be able to match his energy and keep him off the boards.
“Last time, we didn’t get the stops when we needed to. We have to be able to make the plays down the stretch to win the game.”
Rocks continued their push for a top four spot with a win at Manchester Giants last week, and Davis was clearly delighted with the win: “I thought it was a great team effort that game. We had five guys in double figure scoring and finished with 27 assists which is the most this season for us.
Rocks added 6’10” Canadian/British forward Jamie Vanderbeken to their roster last week, and he is expected to make his debut against the Sharks. Davis is happy with his new signing: “He will be fine. He is just getting acclimated with our system and then there will be the adjustment to the league so we will have to be patient with him.”
Sharks’ forward Andrew Bridge knows the importance of Sunday’s game: “We seem to be playing them a lot as we have them in the Trophy next week. They’re a very explosive team, and if they get hot they can run the score up really quickly. But they just play good team basketball. Someone who leads them with 20 one game will only get two the next, but they won’t worry about that if they won. They play as a team, and I think that’s how it should be played. They play hard, and they have Sterling’s DNA. It’ll be a physical game but if we want to climb up the table we need to show up in these games. We’ve not won any on the road against higher sides and we have to find a way to win these games starting this week.”
Rocks’ guard/forward Andrew Wedemire knows what to expect from the Sharks: “They’ve have had a up and down season so far. But they have a good team with good new additions to their line-up. Micah Williams and Mike Tuck are probably their key guys.”
Wedemire was also pleased with the win in Manchester and is pleased with their new acquisition: “Gareth [Murray] had a great game for us controlled the game and got everyone involved. Jamie’s fitting in good – he fits our schemes for offense and brings good size to our team.”