On Friday night I was at the EISS for a massive BBL Cup encounter between the Sheffield Sharks and the London Lions. Both of these teams had had a good start to the 2013/14 season with the Sharks having spent some time at the top of the League table.

The BBL Cup is the first of the competitions to be resolved and last time out it was lifted (along with two other trophies) by Head Coach Rob Paternostro and his Leicester Riders.

Leaving Manchester at my usual time, I have to say this was one of the most miserable journeys I have ever had over the Pennines. The weather was terrible and even worse than that was the fact that everywhere I turned was another traffic jam.

It would seem that this was the same across most of the country. The MToggs who were heading down the country to Kent were tweeting about the horrendous situation on the M25.

Coming the other way, The London Lions were having just as difficult a time.

The big news from the Lions was the fact that Matthew Bryan-Amaning, who had been playing for them on a short-term contract, had finally secured a deal elsewhere and had left the club. The Lions would arrive with three new Americans in the team.

The Sharks would be at full strength with back-court dynamo BJ Holmes back in the line-up. This would be his second game since returning to the Yorkshire club.

Sheffield had made the BBL Cup their own Back in the Day and recently, had lifted the trophy in 2011 and in 2010. The Lions, on the other hand, had lifted the trophy under their previous guise of Milton Keynes Lions on that glorious day for the organization in 2008.

Unfortunately, one of these two previous winners would be going out of the competition tonight.

The Lions put up a very good fight but in the end it would be the hometown Sharks who would get the job done. The star of the show would, once again, be Mike Tuck who was simply awesome and tonight he would get some fantastic help from eventual MVP Colin Sing who was stunning. Of course the rest of the Sharks team all knew the importance of this game and all came ready to play.

There is no doubt in my mind that the addition of BJ Holmes to the organization has, once again, made the Sharks contenders for this season.

BJ simply runs the show on offence and every player on the floor knows that if they can get open then he will find them.

The two most spectacular plays for me were the two alley-oops, one for Mike Tuck and the other by Zach Gachette. They were a joy to behold. The Lions really did not have an answer and with the exception of a short spell late in the game they were comprehensively outplayed.

As we are making our way out of the EISS, the news came through that the unbeaten Worcester Wolves had gone down to the Plymouth Raiders in the BBL game tonight.

Their record would now be 6 AND 1.

The atmosphere in the EISS on this Friday night had been electric, the victory over the Lions was joyous and the result from Worcester was the icing on the cake for the Sharks faithful.



Game two for me this weekend would see Leeds Carnegie taking on local rivals Bradford Dragons. Because of the close proximity of these two teams, this game is always a war with no quarter asked for or given. Many players move between the teams and the Dragons would have three former Carnegie stars in their line-up. Also back in the fold was Rikard Sulks who had already visited the Carnegie Arena this season as part to the Leicester Warriors team.

Leeds would be without two of their big names, sharp shooter Branimir Mikulis and big man Ilija Ivankovic. Oliver Hylands would be added to the team at the last minute.

And what a game this was. Carnegie were simply stunning. New signing for this year Rowell Graham-Bell is certainly making a name for himself at both ends of the floor with his ‘above the rim’ play.

Blocking shots and throwing down monster dunks is his game and he brings it every night.

The addition of Josh McGinn this season was also a stroke of genius by Head Coach Matt Newby. I have been watching Josh play for over a decade I think and he has always been solid on the ball and able to control the pace of the game.

Of course Jack Stannard is leading the team from the front and dropping threes for fun and Carnegie legend Armand Anebo just does what ‘Nebo does and that’s a little bit of everything.

Having said all that, the Dragons gave the home team a mighty scare towards the end of the game. With a little luck they could have stolen this one but the Carnegie boys held on for another famous victory over their deadly rivals.

I have said it elsewhere on, if Carnegie could stay healthy this season another trophy could be coming their way soon.



My final game of the weekend would see the Cheshire Phoenix taking on the Sheffield Sharks at the Northgate Arena.

There is no doubt that the Phoenix have had a very difficult start to the 2013/14 campaign. Six games into the season and they have a record of 2 and 4 and are sitting in 8th place in the League.

As I say above, the Phoenix have had a difficult start but they have had an absolute nightmare with recruitment. Thankfully all of that now seems to be behind them now as the organization have moved quickly to make the changes that were so desperately needed.

The addition of Victor Moses was a master stroke by the Phoenix.

Now as you may know I have a tendency to call it as I see it. And I am happy to put it on record that Moses is one of the best players I have seen in a long time.

I realize that I might get shot down for this next statement but Victor reminds me more of Vince Brookins than any other player I have ever seen. He is as smooth as silk, can do everything and is deadly around the paint. I cannot remember the last time I saw a player so comfortable in his game.

He is an absolute delight and I hope he plays in the BBL for many years to come.

What a ballgame this would turn out to be. It was a joy.

The sharks would get out to a comfortable lead and would seem to be strolling to an inevitable victory, but no-one had told the Phoenix that that was how it was supposed to be. In the third quarter the Sharks led by as many as 13 points and the game was over…WRONG!

The Phoenix would go on a 15-0 run to take the lead. There would be triples from Williams and Coleman, there would be awesome drives to the basket from guard Reggie Middleton and awesome rebounding and putbacks from the previously mentioned Victor Moses.

Victor would finish the game with 24 points and 17 rebounds. He was the only player on either team to play all 40 minutes.

His efficiency rating for this game was 33, and it was a joy to see.

I am not sure I have ever heard the hairdryer treatment delivered in a basketball context but it was certainly delivered today by Sharks Head Coach Atiba Lyons.

He was furious.

In the end the Sharks would take control again and run out winners by a scoreline of 66-72.

It has been said before but I say it again tonight the Sharks got out of jail, and I think even they must admit that.

The Phoenix fans will be devastated with another loss but I say to each and everyone of them good times are around the corner. In Victor Moses you have got a player who could be the MVP of the BBL this season and if he is, and, I do admit, there is a long way to go, I will be happy to say you…I TOLD YOU SO!

At times this weekend, the atmosphere at all three games was sensational and I hope we can continue to build on this as the season rolls on.

There was just one negative note which I have to say did not spoil my weekend, but I must mention it.

I have pleaded elsewhere on for officials to recognise the talent that some of our BBL players have got. I have asked that they simply recognise what some of our players can do.

I will put this as nicely as I can. Not every blocked shot is a foul.

In the final game of my awesome weekend there was a sensational block by Reggie Middleton as clean as a whistle. It was a magnificent effort and there was no foul. Having said that there was one blown.

If we continue to not recognise great plays, we will drive fans away from our game and perhaps worst of all great players will not attempt great plays.


Mike S

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