Bennett Koch dominant, Malek Green eye-catching as Sheffield Sharks get back on track in BBL with rout of Plymouth City Patriots

After a start to the calendar year which reaped just one win in eight games, Sheffield Sharks turned leap day into the moment they leapt back into the British Basketball League equation.

Sharks thrashed the Plymouth City Patriots 97-60 at the Canon Medical Arena on the back of a dominant performance on the boards and a night of unerring accuracy from three-point range.

It was only their second win this year, both now coming against the Patriots who sit at the foot of the 10-team league, but the amount of points scored, the minutes given to all 11 players and some strong, committed performances from all over the floor can only bode well for the tougher tests that await, starting on Sunday night in Cheshire when they take on BBL Trophy winners Phoenix.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Malek Green (20 points) continues to produce eye-catching turns, a long range three in the first quarter followed by a reverse basket on a deep bass from Prentiss Nixon getting the Thursday night crowd to its feet.

It was a dominant performance on both ends of the floor from Bennett Koch of the Sheffield Sharks against Plymouth City Patriots (Picture: Adam Bates)It was a dominant performance on both ends of the floor from Bennett Koch of the Sheffield Sharks against Plymouth City Patriots (Picture: Adam Bates)
It was a dominant performance on both ends of the floor from Bennett Koch of the Sheffield Sharks against Plymouth City Patriots (Picture: Adam Bates)

Green also has the speed to keep pace with Devearl Ramsey on a fast-break, finishing the point guard’s pass in another rousing move.

RJ Eytle-Rock, fresh from spending the week with the GB basketball team, came back to a large number of minutes but the dominant force in the game was Bennett Koch.

The 28-year-old centre, in his fifth season with the club, would have had his fourth double-double (more than 10 points and 10 rebounds) of the season had he not been rested in the fourth quarter with Sunday in mind. Through three quarters he scored 12 points and had eight rebounds, the tenacity with which he attacked defensive rebounds prevented Plymouth getting a foothold in the game and on offence, he repeatedly kept the Sharks attacks alive by reacting quickest to second chances.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Sharks looked ragged in the first 15 minutes, tied at 29-29 with a team that has won only once on the road all season but they stepped on the gas towards the end of the second, a 16-4 run to end the half headlined by a three-pointer from Ramsey (11 points) and one from Nixon from deep as time expired.

With the scores knoted at 29, head coach Atiba Lyons called a timeout knowing he needed to convey a message to his players to stop being over-anxious.

"Sometimes when you’re in those positions when you’re really trying to chase a win you play a little sped up and out of control,” he said.

"We had some looks that we missed because we were playing too fast, so I just told them to relax, options are there, don’t rush it, sometimes it’s just that little nudge to redirect them and they took advantage of it.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Sharks continued that momentum in the third, taking the game out of Plymouth's reach with another three-pointer from Eytle-Rock and a Ramsey lay-up in an imperious third quarter which they won 30-13 to stretch their advantage to 75-46.

Fan favourite Kipper Nichols exploded into life in the fourth with yet another three to the team’s tally and a left-handed lay-up as the Sharks turned on the charm with the result beyond doubt.

Sheffield-born Nate Montgomery added the gloss, a corner three bringing his team-mates to their feet off the bench before Jalon Pipkins (13 points) – named to the league’s All-Star game later this month during the broadcast on Sky Sports – scored the 11th and final three.

Lyons said: "It was nice to get that one, it was what we needed to right the ship.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"When we had the lead and I’m bringing the second five on that I didn’t start I was able to look at it and say this is a really strong second five.

"Now we’ve just got to keep putting it together, it’s not something that’s going to be done overnight, we have to understand how we play well and really buy into that.”