One Health Sharks V Plymouth Raiders - Match Preview
One Health Sharks Sheffield and UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders will both be looking to move up the BBL Championship table on Friday evening when they meet at the English Institute of Sport.
The Sharks will look to put a poor start to the season behind them on Friday as they currently sit in 11th spot with two wins from eight games, while Raiders are fourth with a 6-3 record.
If last season's results between the two clubs are anything to go by, the fans in Sheffield are in for a treat. Three of the four games were decided by six points or less, with Raiders winning the BBL Championship series by two games to one and also knocking Sharks out of the BBL Cup with a thrilling 85-83 road win. That Cup win ended a run of ten straight Sharks' victories against the West Country side, and they hold a 22-10 lead in the all-time series of games between the two clubs.
With Sharks having lost at London Lions last Tuesday, forward Andrew Bridge (pictured) knows that his team needs to get something out of a weekend that also sees them travel to Worcester Wolves on Saturday: "Right now we need to find a way to get a win. Our league record isn't great, and I think it's getting to the point where it's becoming psychological because we've done well in the Cup. We need to find a way to win, because when we start, we'll be okay. I've never been on a run like this in my career, so even as a veteran player I don't have the experience. We just need to forget our record, perform well and start getting some wins."
However, Bridge knows it will be tough against the high-flying Raiders: "Obviously they're a very good team with some strong perimeter players who played in this league for a while and are established. All four of them can be explosive scorers, and we need to key on that. But if we give them all the attention, they have Matt Schneck and other proven weapons all over the over the court.
"They've lost a couple of games that they'd have expected to win, which probably isn't a good sign for us as there will be some kind of reaction and they'll be fired up for the game.
"I am surprised that they released Anthony Rowe, I don't know the ins and outs of it, but he's a solid player from Plymouth. I guess it's tough for both sides as he's been there a while, but he's moved on to a great situation and I'm sure it'll work out for both him and Riders."
Despite that disappointing start to Sharks' season, Plymouth coach Gavin Love isn't taking the Sheffield team lightly as his side make the long trip north: "I know the Sharks have a good mixture of experience and talented rookies so I know we will be in for a tough game.
"Mike Tuck and Olu Babalola are always going to be the lead their team and adding a veteran like Andrew Bridge will only strengthen their team."
Raiders come into the game on the back of a weekend that saw them lose at home against Glasgow Rocks before bouncing back the following day to defeat London Lions, and Love had mixed feeling about the games: "We really played our worst basketball of the season against the Rocks, they did a great job of knocking down shots and executing. Keiron Achara had a great game and was hard to contain.
"We were a lot better against Lions, and it was important we bounced back quickly. Orlan Jackman had a highly efficient game for the Lions, and for us Javariss Barnett had his best game of the season."