Plymouth Raiders travelled to EIS Arena Sheffield on Friday night to face second place Sheffield Sharks. Their last game against each other coming earlier on in the season in front of a home crowd for the Raiders seeing them come up short in a low scoring game ending 57-66.
Raiders Head Coach, Paul James was determined to rectify this previous result and get back to winning ways although a few personal short with centre Zak Wells and guard Declan Soukup sat out on the bench. The game started with the familiar faces of Rashad Hassan, Josh Wilcher, Donte Nicholas, Devontavious Payne with the “Hitman’ Joonas JÄRVELÄINEN joining the starting five.
Joonas hit the first two points of the game with a layup before Mike Tuck levelled the scores. Both teams struggled to score early on with Sheffield getting in their stride first and gaining a 7 point lead with a dunk from Dirk Williams with just over four minutes to play. Two early fouls from Payne saw him head to the bench and be replaced by Denzel Ubiaro. A ten point run of play then commenced for the Raiders including a dunk from Nicholas seeing Raiders take the lead 17-20 with 1.17 to play before Madray scored one of two shots from the line and Wilcher scoring two. Raiders went in after the first 10 minutes with the lead 18-22.
Raiders hit the first points of the second quarter with Joonas and his dangerous 3 point shots putting them 7 in front. Tola Okiki came on for Ubiaro and made his presence known with three 3 point shots, two falling and being fouled on the third. Okiki went to the line for three shots with 43 seconds to go scoring one from three seeing Raiders going in at half time 30-41.
The traveling team continued their dominance in the second half going on a 10 point run early on, ending with a 3 point shot from Joonas giving Raiders a 21 point lead with 6.21 left in the quarter. Sharks had no real answer to Raiders in this quarter allowing them to open a lead with a margin as large as 31 points, only managing to reduce it to 29 going into the final 10 minutes. The quarter ended 12-30 in Raiders favour surely showing no way back for Sharks.
Sheffield showed fight in the final 10 minutes winning the quarter 24-12 but could only reduce to gap to 17 points. Shawn Shelton scored the final 2 points for Raiders meaning that everyone that featured for both teams featured on the score sheet. The game ended 66-83 earning Raiders their ninth win of the season.
Rashan Hassan lead the scoring with 18 points, closely followed by Joonas with 17, Wilcher with 16 and Nicholas with 14. Hassan and Nicholas both earned double-doubles in the game picking up 10 and 11 rebounds retrospectively.
The Raiders next game sees them return home to the Pavilions to face BBL Cup finalist Glasgow Rocks in the quarter final of the BBL Trophy. The game will take place Friday 1st February with a tip off time of 7.30pm. Buy you tickets now from plymouthraiders.com/tickets.
Full box score – https://www.fibalivestats.com/u/BBL/897945/bs.html