Rocks left with moun­tain to climb af­ter poor start to the Play-offs

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FINAL SAY - MARK WOODS

GLAS­GOW ROCKS will re­quire a com­pelling re­tort when they visit Sh­effield Sharks to­mor­row for the se­cond leg of their BBL Play-off semi­fi­nal af­ter a tor­rid show­ing last night left Ster­ling Davis’s men with a chasm to bridge. Out-thought and out-mus­cled, the 91-80 de­feat put the York­shire­men in the driv­ing seat in the race to reach next week­end’s sea­sonal fi­nale in London.

If not for the re­lent­less bus­tle of Jonny Bun­yan – who scored a game-high 22 points – and an over­due rally in the fourth quar­ter, all hope for the Scots might al­ready have been lost.

“We were a step slow,” Davis ad­mit­ted.

“We didn’t do a good job de­fen­sively but the big dis­ap­point­ment was we al­lowed them to shoot the ball in front of our faces. But 11 points is a lot bet­ter than it could have been. We’ve got guys who can play bet­ter but we now have to come out ready and per­form.”

A 12-0 run late in the first quar­ter gave the vis­i­tors a lead they would not re­lin­quish as their phys­i­cal­ity and con­stant de­fen­sive pres­sure de­nied Glas­gow a chance to set­tle into a rhythm. And even when Bun­yan’s three­p­ointer capped a flurry from the hosts mid­way through the se­cond pe­riod, another 10-2 burst pro­pelled Sh­effield to­wards a 43-36 half-time ad­van­tage.

Kieron Achara, who con­verted only three of his 13 shot at­tempts, found him­self shack­led and a 22-6 burst pushed the Sharks as much as 74-48 ahead early in the fourth pe­riod. How­ever, Bun­yan con­tin­ued to ex­cel and he ig­nited a spell of 11 unan­swered points that con­structed a life­line for the Rocks as they pre­pare to head south.

And the Scot­land in­ter­na­tion­al­ist, whose el­der brother Keith was part of the Rocks side that lifted the Play-off ti­tle in 2003, re­mains in­tent on pulling off a re­cov­ery and land­ing what would only be the club’s se­cond-ever tro­phy in London next week­end.

“It would mean a lot if we get through,” Bun­yan said. “The last time I was in a semi-fi­nal, I only had a small role. So this time would be more spe­cial be­cause I feel a big­ger part of it. And I want to win some­thing be­cause I know how much Ster­ling wants a tro­phy, how much Kieron wants one.

Else­where, tre­ble-chas­ing Le­ices­ter Rid­ers visit Cheshire Phoenix tonight in the first leg of their semi-fi­nal.

Mean­while, a meet­ing of Euroleague clubs and na­tional leagues in London yes­ter­day con­firmed a place in next sea­son’s Eurocup can be al­lo­cated to a team from the BBL.

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