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