Strong fourth gives Flyers lift off over Sharks

BBL Championship

Bristol Flyers 68-55 B. Braun Sheffield Sharks (18-19, 35-33, 55-48)
(Flyers: King, 19; Bell III, 11; Delpeche, 10 — Sharks: Ogunyemi, 12; Banks Jr./Koch, 8; Glasgow Jr./Nichols/Nelson, 6)

Bristol Flyers used a solid final period to beat B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 68-55 at the SGS College Arena on Saturday night.

After a fairly contested first three quarters, the hosts flipped the game on its head to start the final ten minutes with a 13-1 run, which sunk the Sharks.

“Happy with the win where we wanted to impose ourselves on the defensive end, and we had a good start to the fourth,” Bristol coach Andreas Kapoulas said.

“We got ahead of ourselves at the end, but overall I’m very pleased; we wanted to make some adjustments in the second half, as Sheffield scored 13 points from their offensive rebounds, and we managed to tighten it in the second.

“We also forced them into 18 turnovers which is excellent, considering they are a team that looks after the ball. I was happy with that and the performance overall.”

VJ King let the British basketball fraternity know his name by leading Bristol with 19 points, shooting 72% from the field.

Speaking on King’s performance, Kapoulas said: “We like to run things through him, he makes great reads, and tonight he was very efficient with his shooting and rebounding, overall he was great.”

Thomas Bell III added 11 points and 11 rebounds, with Malcolm Delpeche amassing his own double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.

On his return to the line-up following a hamstring injury, King showed no signs of rust, scoring seven of Bristol’s first nine points en route to 14 in the first half, shooting 6/7 from the field.

Sharks, though, hung around, defying coach Kapoulas’ strategy, pre-game to protect the paint, by scoring 10 of their 19 points inside to take a one-point lead after the opening period.

With the competing Delpeche brothers on the court together for the first time to begin the second, Malcolm drew first blood as he saw an open lane and hammered home to give Bristol the edge.

It spurred the boisterous, sell-out crowd to pile the pressure on the Sharks – who trailed at one point by six points in the second – they needed a player to step up.

And that guardian was Javion Ogunyemi, who kept Sheffield in the game, reducing the deficit to 33-30 with 1:45 left until the break on his way to 10 first-half points on 5/6 shooting.

However, having trailed after the first, the hosts found themselves up at the half in an up-tempo and entertaining first two periods.

And the Flyers started to spread their wings to open the third, going on an 11-2 run, highlighted by a three-point play from Thomas Bell III and a triple from Mahan, forcing Sharks coach Atiba Lyons into a timeout.

The break in the play had no effect as the Flyers came out of the gate with a steal and subsequent dunk from Bell III, giving the hosts a 53-39 cushion.

Sheffield, who forced double overtime after going 21 points down in last Sunday’s game at Manchester, showed their resilience once more, answering with a 7-0 spurt, inspired by three points and an assist from Jordan Ratinho.

Bristol, to the relief of its crowd, held on to its lead with a stylish fade away from King, handing them a 55-48 lead heading into the final quarter.

And despite a 6-0 finish from the visitors, the Flyers’ early run in the fourth ended any hope of Sheffield securing a first win of the season as they slip to 0-3 for only the second time in their history with it last happening in 2012.

Ogunyemi was the only Sharks player in double figures with 12 points.

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