Nate Montgomery stands tall among imports as Sheffield Sharks beat Glasgow Rocks in BBL Cup

The British Basketball League is full of tales of imports from Illinois and Wisconsin, California and Ohio, dazzling for a year or two and then moving on to bigger leagues in Europe.

Sharks' Nathaniel Montgomery is held up by Glasgow (Picture: Dean Atkins)

It is, as Sheffield Sharks head coach Atiba Lyons told The Yorkshire Post last week, ‘the nature of the beast’.

So every now and again, when a homegrown talent takes the floor it should rightly fill these teams with great pride that their talent pathway is working well.

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Nate Montgomery joined the Sharks junior programme when he was nine and has worked his way up the age groups.

Sheffield Sharks' Aaron Anderson finds room to pass (Picture: Dean Atkins)

Montgomery signed his first professional contract with the Sharks last summer, renewed with the team this summer, and last night at Ponds Forge he played 10 minutes 19 seconds of the 40 available in the 86-73 victory over Glasgow Rocks at Ponds Forge.

He was much more heavily involved than usual because a few days earlier Sharks had told Lucien Christofis that he was being released.

A new guard is expected to arrive on Tuesday ahead of the Sharks opening the bread and butter of the BBL Championship season against Manchester Giants on Friday night.

So Sunday was a chance for Montgomery to show the 250-odd in support at Ponds Forge what the young man from Sheffield was all about.

Sharks Marcus Delpeche scores at Ponds Forge in the win over Glasgow (Picture: Dean Atkins)

“We were missing a guard but I’ve got to step up and prove I can do it,” said Montgomery, who might have looked out of place height-wise, but certainly not in his talent and application.

“I can’t come in and not do the job I’m paid to do. I’ve been working hard in training, trying to do everything coach Atiba has been saying, so I like to think I’m getting a bit of a reward.

“I’m certainly not being complacent, I’ve got to keep putting the time and effort in and keep on improving.

“I’m happy with the minutes and just want to keep moving forward.”

Sheffield Sharks v Glasgow Rocks : Bennett Koch was the game's dominant figure (Picture: Dean Atkins)

Imports, particularly those from North America, raise the standard not just of play in the BBL, but also the local players around them.

“It can be difficult trying to establish yourself but I try not to focus on that, I try to just focus on what I can do,” added Montgomery, 21. “I’m not the biggest guard in the world so I’ve got to use my speed and agility to get me where I need to go.

“The imports are here to help us, especially Aaron Anderson, he’s another guard under six-foot so playing with him and against him every day, asking him questions, all that sort of stuff has progressed me quicker than it would have done otherwise.”

Anderson had a double-double of 16 points and 11 assists as the Sharks finished the BBL Cup North Group with a 4-4 record. They will face the winners of the South Group in the quarter-finals, which is likely to be Leicester Riders.

A game highlighted by runs was ultimately won by Sharks going on a 14-0 tear in the third quarter, while Bennett Koch was the dominant force with 18 points – including the first four baskets of the game – and seven rebounds.