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History says Sheffield Sharks should hold on against Cheshire Phoenix, says Daniel Routledge

Features Posted 27th February 2013 view comments

Sheffield Sharks have one foot in BBL Trophy Final after an impressive third quarter gave them an almost unassailable 14-point first leg lead over Cheshire Phoenix in the semi-final.

I say almost because if there is one team who know that 14 is not necessarily enough of an advantage to take into our televised game this week, it's the Sharks.

Several of the current squad were part of the Sheffield team that set the BBL record for a second leg turnaround in 2011 when they lost the home leg of their play-off quarter-final to the Rocks by 15 only to win the return by 21 points three days later.

Finch: famously watches Terrell Myers' three-pointer on the buzzer

Finch: famously watches Terrell Myers' three-pointer on the buzzer

If there is another team in the league who know that having a double-figure lead to chase down on the road is not beyond the realms of possibility, it's Cheshire. They, of course, won in Newcastle by 10 in last season's play-offs, only to lose the home game by 15 and go out.

Those two results, though, are the exception rather than the rule. When the old grey matter lets me down, the BBL results guru Neil Adcock helps me out and this week I asked him for a list of the biggest swings in the history of two-legged affairs.

Of the 26 ties he sent me, only four saw the away team overturn the deficit in the second leg, the two I've mentioned and couple of others that were decided by just a couple of scores in each leg.

Invariably where there have been big swings between the legs it is because the home team in the second leg were doing the winning big or because they won by enough away that their second leg defeat didn't stop them from progressing. Basically there is not much history on the side of Cheshire, but what history there is is recent and involves many of these players.

Speaking of history as I've gotten older there are two things which are starting to really date me. One is the relentless growth of my kids, both of whose births I can link to a basketball game by the way - regularly readers of this column may be interested to know that next Monday marks a year from my mad dash back from Heat-Wolves - and the second is the frightening distance it has gotten from games I remember vividly and fondly.

With all due respect to John Ameachi, who turned in one of the greatest individual performances of all time in any BBL final, I realised this week that it is fully 15 years since the Terrell Myers Trophy Final.

1998 was the last time Sheffield were in the Trophy Final, when Terrell Myers announced himself to British basketball fans with a three-pointer on the buzzer to beat London 82-79, beating Sky Sports' own Kevin Cadle in the process.

The classic image of Myers launching the shot, with his coach Chris Finch on his haunches, is one of my favourite BBL pictures of all time. In that moment, that split second where everything is in the balance, is all that I love about the game. The following shot is of Finch celebrating his first silverware as a coach, pointing towards the Sheffield contingent at the end of the court.

Legend

Myers went on to create a legend in the BBL, with game-winning shots on the biggest occasions his forte, before continuing a great career on the continent. And Finch, of course, was Great Britain's coach at the Olympics and is currently working at Houston Rockets.

And seeing those pictures again, brings it right back to me as if it were yesterday (well, apart from Finch's haircut which is distinctly 1990s!), before shuddering to think it was a decade-and-a-half ago.Back to the present day, I expect Sheffield to go through although I am definitely on the fence when it comes to the other tie. Leicester, of course, will be the bookies' favourites, but I really like the make-up of the Worcester side as it now stands and I feel they will give the Riders everything they can handle over two legs.

A slight edge to Leicester maybe, but Worcester winning through to their first ever final will not be a massive surprise to me.

Oh and my love of a good stat has been ignited once again this week. Leicester are going for a club record 12th straight win, trying to stop them is Paul James and his Wolves.

If PJ manages it, he preserves the 1981/82 Leicester squad's record, which coincidently happened to be the season he made his playing debut for his hometown club... Leicester!! He's trying to keep his own 31-year record in the books, which is brilliant and unbelievable in equal measure.

Comments (1)

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Number6 Number6 says...

Finchy set John Amechi up as the foil for that play, and Terrell just said ' give me the ball & I'll win the game for you ', and true to his word he did, together with several other occasions he did that. Still got my Uni-Ball Cut Glass cookie jar from that. It has pride of place on my trophy cabinet.

Posted 12:46 28th February 2013

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