SHARKS GIVE HOGG AN OPEN SHOT

Brandon Hogg was looking for that next chance.

Waiting, hoping, and refusing to give up on his basketball dream.

The life of a journeyman basketball player can be a difficult one as you never know when the next opportunity will come along or even where it will take you.

Hogg had ended the previous season helping Albanian side Vllaznia Shkodra win the Superliga and now he was in back in the States, holding down a regular job but also training hard to keep in shape.

When someone next sought his services, he wanted to make sure he was ready.

Five thousand miles away in South Yorkshire, the Sheffield Sharks were in a bit of a bind.

They needed to replace the departing Mike Cook and so head coach Atiba Lyons reached out to Hogg, a player he had first met a few years earlier.

“I’d played with Atiba in a summer league in Las Vegas about three years ago,” recalled Hogg.

“It just happens that he kept my name in the back of his mind and when he needed to bring in a solid guard to replace Cook, he got in touch.”

“I was available, in shape and so it worked out well for both parties.”

Not only would he be joining a team mid-season, which is never easy, Hogg would be replacing a former fan favourite too.

“I didn’t know [Cook] personally, but I had heard nothing but good things,” he said.

“I know he’d won a championship and was MVP of the league so he was definitely a stand-up guy and a leader.

“It was just unfortunate that life-changing events meant to he had to go back home, but that’s the business of the game sometimes.”

Hogg admits it took him a little time to settle in to a team that had been together for a number of months but his transition was made a little easier not only because he knew Atiba Lyons, but Jerrold Brooks too.

“Before I went to Albania I was playing for a team called the St. Louis RiverSharks and for about ten games, Jerrold was a team-mate,” said Hogg.

”It’s just crazy how small the world is and that we would end up back on the same team, competing for a championship.

“Having Atiba and Jerrod there made my decision to join Sheffield a lot easier.”

And now, just under five months since he first arrived in the Steel City, the determination to keep playing the sport he loves has paid off with another title.

“Back-to-back championships, man, it feels good!” said Hogg, whose Sharks beat Leicester Riders to win the BBL Playoff Championship.

“It almost feels surreal and I can’t believe the season’s over now, I just want to keep on playing.

“I guess it must be the mid-season move, I feel like I got a lot more in my tank.”

He added, “It has been an up and down season but I appreciate the Sharks’ organisation taking a shot on me.

“Off the court with this team, we have the best chemistry of any team I’ve ever been on.”

With the season over Hogg will soon need to secure a team for next year. Having played in four countries in as many years, he knows he could end up anywhere.

“I’ve got to go in the off-season and see where I go from here,” he said.

“This is definitely a league that I enjoy playing in and Sheffield’s been a good fit for the most part.

“We’ll sit down with management and discuss further steps we can take and if the opportunity presents itself you might just see me back here in a Sheffield Sharks uniform.

“But for the moment, I’m just enjoying being a champion!”

Pic: Mansoor Ahmed

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