Sheffield and Cheshire Jets will be looking to open 2012 with a victory when they meet at the EIS on Friday evening.
Sharks head into the game on the back of a 72-64 loss at Glasgow Rocks which saw them drop down to sixth spot in the BBL Championship with a 5-5 record. Meanwhile, Jets return to action for the first time since an 86-75 loss against Prestige Homes MK Lions on December 11, and are eighth in the table with three wins from eight games.
Sharks’ captain Adrian Anderson admitted that the loss in Glasgow was as a result of a poor display from his team: “It was quite disappointing as we put together a lacklustre performance. It wasn’t the way we’d played in the previous two games, and I’m always a bit concerned when we put together a run like that just before Christmas because it upsets the momentum. It wasn’t a lack of effort, but bad habits crept in. There’s no point making the effort if you’re not playing smart, and 18 turnovers – many of which they scored off of – is simply too many.
Justin Dobbins”Justin [Dobbins, pictured] had only just got out of bed after being unwell, and we missed Jimmy Langhurst, but they were depleted without Sterling [Davis] and EJ Harrison, and if we’d played to out potential we would have won.”
Anderson is still recovering from surgery to a broken hand, but expects a better performance from the Sharks this weekend: “I keep saying that if we train hard, learn from our mistakes and play one and done defence, we’ll be alright. If we’re still without Jimmy it will hurt us, he’s been putting up good numbers and sometimes when you take out just one player it can upset the balance. But I’m optimistic if we can get our heads right and play smart we’ll get the win.”
The teams have already met twice this season – both on the opening week of the campaign – and Sharks narrowly won the two BBL Trophy meetings. They edged the home game 66-62 before an even tighter game at Northgate Arena saw them win 86-84 two days later.
Jets’ coach John Lavery knows what his side have to do if they are to take their fourth BBL Championship victory of the season: “After playing them early on in the trophy, we know they are a well drilled team. We played good team basketball both times, this time we just need to close it out and get the win. I think Justin Dobbins and Nate Reinking are their key players.”
The two clubs are old rivals having met 87 times since Sharks entered the BBL in 1995, and the Sheffield team are leading the all-time series between the sides 57-30. Sharks have won ten of the last 12 games between the teams, including three victories against the Jets in the BBL Cup in the last two years on their way to becoming the first time to win the competition in back-to-back seasons.