Sheffield Sharks v Manchester Giants: Aiming to end basketball trophy drought

Four trophies are on offer at the start of every British Basketball League season but the campaign for the most important one begins tonight.

On a mission: Sheffield Sharks coach Atiba Lyons.

Sheffield Sharks tip off their BBL Championship season at home to Manchester Giants hoping that over the course of 27 games it is they who top the standings.

The league title is something the Sharks have not achieved since 2003 when they claimed it for a fourth time in nine years.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Indeed, they have not won any of the trophies on offer since winning the end-of-season play-offs in 2016, even if they have shown great consistency in qualifying for the post-season 26 years in succession.

Winning the league is something they are striving to rectify, starting tonight against the Giants, with Sharks head coach Atiba Lyons knowing it is the Championship that matters most.

“The league is the one that every one wants to aim for, it shows consistency and excellence over a sustained period,” said Lyons, whose side will face the biggest challenge for league honours from London Lions and Leicester Riders.

“It’s going to be tough this year, there’s a lot of strong sides and it will be interesting to see how it unfolds.”

It is the variety of trophies on offer that helps clubs like the Sharks attract players from North America, point guard Rodney Glasgow – a product of Virginia Military Institute and a former Newcastle Eagles player – joining Sheffield this week.

“Many American guys coming here don’t understand it because it’s so foreign to us having played for just one title a year, that there are so many competitions to play for,” continued Lyons.

“Most players just want to play and win, but when you get here you understand the nature of things, the history behind it and it becomes a little more exciting.”

Sheffield have been inconsistent at the start of the 2021-22 season, winning four and losing four of their BBL Cup North Group fixtures, including twice against Manchester, who won six of their eight matches and look a team transformed after finishing 10th and missing the play-offs last year.

They are bolstered by Callum Jones, who played for the Sharks last season.