Sheffield Sharks will take an 11 point lead into the second leg of their first round play-off clash against Leicester Riders after an excellent performance on Wednesday night at the EIS.
The Sharks lost all three league meetings with Leicester and finished seventh in the standings, however they out-played their visitors with a sparkling second half effort to give them confidence ahead of the return match in the East Midlands on Friday.
The victory was mainly down to a combined 45 points from Mike Cook and Mike Tuck, who both enjoyed outstanding shooting nights, with the latter just missing out on a fine double-double by one rebound.
After a tight first quarter which the Sharks managed to edge by a point, Atiba Lyons and the hometown favourites were still up by that same slender margin heading to the locker rooms at the interval.
Sheffield were still able to jump out on Riders when the action resumed - opening up a nine point advantage with a rapid fire start to the second half.
With Cook finding some rhythm and supported by the strength of Tuck in the paint, they still held a seven point lead going into the final ten minutes.
However, Riders rallied and got to within a point at 60-59 but Sharks, boosted by ill discipline from Leicester, pulled away late in the game with a three by Patrick Horstmann and free throws from Cook and Tuck.
Coach Lyons said: “We played pretty well on defence - guys showed up tonight and executed stuff, it was good.
“They did a heck of a job. Mike Tuck did great getting us established inside and making shots around the basket.
“We need that kind of help because they’re a tough perimeter team so to get those around the rim really helps.”