Sheffield Sharks tasked with slowing down European trailblazers London Lions

The success of the London Lions in European competition is crucial for the growth of the British Basketball League, says the man plotting their downfall in domestic competition tonight.

Jordan Ratinho was named in the team of the week for Sheffield Sharks (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Reigning BBL champion London have won five straight in the first stage of the Europe Cup as they look to fly the flag for the British game on the continent.

But tonight they face a BBL Cup quarter-final tie with a Sheffield Sharks side led by Atiba Lyons that has begun their own Championship campaign with two wins out of two.

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“We always talk about growing the sport in this country and trying to make more noise,” said Lyons, who has been playing and coaching in Sheffield for more than 15 years.

Sheffield Sharks head coach Atiba Lyons (Picture: Dean Atkins)

“That’s a two-pronged challenge where we have to grow it domestically but also on the continental stage and London have been doing a good job of that.

“They’ve put a very good team together, their strength in depth is excellent, and they’re reaching high levels of performance.”

Trying to counter that at the Copper Box Arena tonight represents a mammouth task for the Sharks, for whom Jordan Ratinho was named in the BBL Team of the Week for his part in their last-gasp win over Manchester Giants last weekend.

Lyons said: “If you want to win a trophy this year you’ve got to go through London Lions, whether that be at the end of the season or right now.

“We like our chances, but equally we know we have to play extremely well.

“We’d be foolish not to look at their strengths and what we have to do to negate them, and we’ll be doing our very best to take away the things that make them so effective.

“They’re a free-flowing team but we have to make sure we’re not careless and we’ve got to look after the ball.”