Basketball: Sheffield Sharks seek to end Newcastle Eagles domination

Sharks Olu Babalola against Newcastle Eagles in the 2011 Play-offs Semi Final 2nd leg at EIS against Newcastle Eagles. Pic: Steve Ellis.

Sharks Olu Babalola against Newcastle Eagles in the 2011 Play-offs Semi Final 2nd leg at EIS against Newcastle Eagles. Pic: Steve Ellis.

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Sheffield Sharks hope to keep their play-off momentum going tonight against Newcastle Eagles in the first leg of their semi-final.

Sharks, who finished the regular season in seventh place, shocked Leicester Riders in the first round to set up a last four clash against triple trophy winners Eagles.

Sharks Paul Williams against Newcastle Eagles in the 2011 Play-offs Semi Final 2nd leg at EIS against Newcastle Eagles. Pic: Steve Ellis.

Sharks Paul Williams against Newcastle Eagles in the 2011 Play-offs Semi Final 2nd leg at EIS against Newcastle Eagles. Pic: Steve Ellis.

The north-east club have already wrapped up the BBL Cup, Trophy and league title in another excellent season.

SHARKS BEAT EAGLES 2011 PLAYOFFS: Sharks v Eagles 2011 - CLICK HERE.

Eagles have beaten Sharks on all three occasions this campaign.

However, small forward Olu Babalola says his teammates will use that as motivation for tonight and Sunday’s return leg.

Play-off joy for Sharks Ryan Patton & Steve Dagostino

Play-off joy for Sharks Ryan Patton & Steve Dagostino

“I remember beating the Eagles in the same semi-finals my first year here at Sheffield (2010/11),” said Babalola. “But that’s so far removed now. Nobody is thinking about previous seasons. All we’re thinking about is the fact that we haven’t beat them this season yet so we have a tough job in order to get to the finals.

“Newcastle, of course, are a great team. They have a great background and are one of the most highly regarded teams in the country’s history, undoubtedly.”

The form of Atiba Lyons’ side has been as good as any team’s in recent weeks.

The Steel City club finished the regular season with nine wins from their last 11 games before upsetting Leicester Riders in the Quarter Finals, after overtime.

Sharks Atiba Lyons against Newcastle Eagles in the 2011 Play-offs Semi Final 2nd leg at EIS against Newcastle Eagles. Pic: Steve Ellis.

Sharks Atiba Lyons against Newcastle Eagles in the 2011 Play-offs Semi Final 2nd leg at EIS against Newcastle Eagles. Pic: Steve Ellis.

Eagles appeared to make light work of Bristol Flyers in their last eight clash to reach this stage, but ignoring what has gone before and focusing on what is making Sheffield so effective now, could be key for Newcastle.

“You can’t go back to previous years or even to previous games this season,” said player-coach Fab Flournoy.

“Teams evolve over the course of the year so it’s a question of understanding how well they are playing at the moment and planning accordingly.

“They are in a good rhythm at the moment. They have used the second half of the season to build up momentum for the Play-offs and integrate Mike Cook.

Sharks Ryan Patton scores against Newcastle Eagles in the 2011 Play-offs Semi Final 2nd leg at EIS against Newcastle Eagles. Pic: Steve Ellis.

Sharks Ryan Patton scores against Newcastle Eagles in the 2011 Play-offs Semi Final 2nd leg at EIS against Newcastle Eagles. Pic: Steve Ellis.

“They will present a formidable challenge for us.”

Regular season head-to-head results:

Newcastle Eagles 95 Sheffield Sharks 84 (Sport Central, 10 Oct 2014)

Sheffield Sharks 75 Newcastle Eagles 95 (EIS Sheffield, 07 Nov 2014)

Sheffield Sharks 84 Newcastle Eagles 97 (EIS Sheffield, 01 Feb 2015)

Olu Babalola is hoping Sharks can reach the Play-offs final. Pic: Dean Woolley.

Olu Babalola is hoping Sharks can reach the Play-offs final. Pic: Dean Woolley.