Sharks captain Tuck backing new plan to mimic NBA play-off format

Sheffield Sharks captain Mike Tuck has welcomed changes to next year’s play-off format as the curtain comes down on the 2018-19 British Basketball League season.

Mike Tuck.

Leicester Riders won the end-of season BBL play-offs for the third year in a row at the O2 Arena on Sunday night, defeating London City Royals in the final.

The Royals had defeated Tuck’s Sharks in the semi-final the previous week, a tie played over two legs.

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But from next season the BBL play-offs will mimic how the biggest prize in America’s NBA is decided with a best-of series.

In America they play a best-of-seven format, but next year’s BBL play-offs will see a best-of-three series in the quarter-finals and semi-finals ahead of the one-off final at the O2 Arena in May 2020.

“I’ve never been a fan of the aggregate score,” said Canadian-born Tuck, who has completed his 10th season with the Sharks.

“I don’t think it’s the right way to decide the best team to advance. A two-legged tie is just not basketball. Because of the points it’s not a true reflection.

“As we found in our recent play-off run when we trailed by five points and two points going into the second legs the team talk is about winning the game, not trying to win by a certain amount of points.

“So a three-game series is a better way of determining who the better team truly is.”

Qualification for the play-offs will continue to be the top eight of 12 teams, but the regular season will be shortened from 36 games to 22.

To make up the shortfall in home games for teams that traditionally rely on gate receipts, the BBL Cup is being expanded and brought forward to the start of the season in September.

The 12 BBL sides will be split into two groups of six to play home and away fixtures.

The BBL Trophy will run during the season as it always has with the 12 BBL teams joined by four invited non-BBL teams.

Sheffield Sharks will play home games at Ponds Forge next season after spending the last 13 years at the English Institute of Sport.