Sheffield Sharks suffered a heart-breaking 74-70 defeat to Leicester Riders in the semi-finals of the BBL Cup tonight.
The Sharks fell behind early and simply ran out of time in their attempt to close the deficit and go to Glasgow for the final. The team was able to put together runs through out the game but they were just not enough to overcome a very good Leicester team.
Jerrold Brooks was awarded Sheffield’s MVP for the game with 23 points, five assists and two rebounds.
Leicester’s TrayVonn Wright hit a nice floater mid way through the first quarter to give his team a 10-8 lead. Leicester expanded on this, taking advantage of Sheffield nerves and mistakes, closing out the quarter 22-12.
Sheffield’s defence, a major component of their successful cup run until now, failed them in the first half. Their efforts weren’t aided by their inability to take care of the ball and limit turnovers.
Kyle Odister nailed a fade away to cut the lead down to eight. The end of the second quarter will have offered hope to fans as they reduced the Riders lead.
The third quarter showed glimpses of what we have come to expect from coach Atiba Lyons and his players in 2016. Odister continued to shoot well hitting two huge threes to start the quarter. Then when TJ Robinson added his first points of the game with two free throws, the Sharks were able to cut the lead to just seven with 3:59 left to play in the quarter.
It appeared that every time Sheffield posed a threat to Leicester’s lead, their performance would pick up and keep them at bay. Tyler Bernardini scored back to back baskets to end the third and maintained his team’s advantage.
Sheffield made a late run in the fourth thanks to Brooks and Brandon Hogg but it proved futile in the end.
The team will rue poor shooting from beyond the arc and a sloppy first half and will have to pick themselves up quickly with important games against Newcastle Eagles and Surrey Scorchers in the BBL Championship this weekend.