Sheffield Sharks are out to upset the odds in final

Atiba Lyons: Aiming for glory.
Atiba Lyons: Aiming for glory.
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Sheffield Sharks will have to shatter a losing streak tomorrow if they are to lift the 2018 BBL Trophy.

Atiba Lyons’s team face Leicester Riders in the final in Glasgow, with a terrible record against their East Midlands rivals.

Sheffield have lost their last six regular season meetings and you have to go back to the BBL Play-off final in May 2016 for their last win.

This season, the Riders beat the Sharks 80-75 and 98-92 before an 75-64 success last week in the league.

That latest loss saw guard forward Zach Gachette sidelined after picking up an injury, while captain Mike Tuck looked jaded after training with the Commonwealth Games England squad.

It left Lyons a frustrated head coach and the Sharks have been hard at work in the gym this week preparing a new game-plan to halt the Riders.

“I was disappointed with how we played on Friday,” said Lyons. “We had too many turnovers and one of Leicester’s strengths is that they capitalise on any weakness so we need to eradicate unnecessary errors.

“Leicester have a deep team and a lot of experience in finals, whereas we are a young team who need to learn from our mistakes and put that into practice quickly.”

The Sharks had a tough road to the final, after seeing off Manchester Magic 89-62 in the first round in December.

They edged out Newcastle Eagles 81-76 in the quarter-finals, before a two-legged success over Worcester Wolves.

The first leg finished locked at 86-86, before the Sharks triumphed 75-66 on home court last month.

In contrast, Leicester have cruised to the final with victories over Leeds Force (104-59), Plymouth Raiders (90-83) and London Lions (90-81 and 92-65 over two legs).

Sharks guard Chris Alexander, though, insists Sheffield are determined to come away from Glasgow with silverware.

“It’s a great feeling to reach the final,” said the American. “We’re all happy to be going, but we are not satisfied with just being there – we want to win.”

Tomorrow’s final will be televised live via BBC Online and Freesport, but Alexander is hoping the Sharks will have plenty of travelling support.

“We appreciate it is a distance, but to have our fans there in numbers is a massive boost for the team – especially in a final where the ‘sixth man’ counts for everything,” added Alexander.

Both teams are looking for a third BBL Trophy and Riders forward JR Holder insists: “I think that anyone can be beaten on any given day so we have to prepare for this like every other game.”