BBL LOGO 568Sheffield Sharks’ captain Mike Tuck believes his side are ‘hitting their stride’ at just the right time as they stay in the hunt for the BBL Championship.

The Sharks have won six consecutive games in the league and currently sit in third place with a 20-5 record after a double-winning weekend.

“It was a huge weekend for us,” Tuck said. “Cheshire are having a great second half of the season and Glasgow are in the Trophy Final so they were important wins.”

“This is the crucial time of the season, especially with the top three teams being so close together. It’s good to be winning games and that’s what we’re focusing on.”

Newcastle (23-5) and Worcester (21-4) have grabbed the headlines in the league so far, but the Sharks are very much still in the title equation. The 6’7” forward believes that confidence is high despite not receiving as much attention.

He said: “Not a lot of teams give us a lot of credit. We’ve flown under the radar a bit, but in our eyes we feel we are the team to beat. In games we’ve lost, it’s been because of things we’ve done wrong. Right now though, we are very confident.”

Sheffield missed out on reaching this weekend’s BBL Trophy Final after falling to a 146-130 aggregate defeat against Worcester in the semi-finals. The Sharks were the defending champions after last season’s win over Leicester and Tuck feels that missing out on the final is serving as added motivation.

“We definitely owe Worcester one when we play them next. It’s been a big motivation for the guys and everybody’s stepped up.”

Head-coach Atiba Lyons was able to retain the main core of last season’s Trophy winning squad and that has proved to be an advantage this campaign with the Sharks challenging for more silverware.

BJ Holmes has been a major influence for the Sharks, especially in the absence of compatriot Jeremie Simmons in recent weeks. The American point guard is averaging 18.6 points per game along with 6.0 assists over his last five games, which included a game-winning three to beat Newcastle at the EISS.

And Holmes earned special praise from his team-mate.

“He’s huge for us,” said Tuck. “A pure point guard, and in my opinion, he’s the best point guard in the league. He’s been carrying this team, putting up big numbers with assists not only points and he gets the whole team involved.”

Tuck himself has had another strong season in the BBL, averaging 14.3 points per game along with adding 8.5 rebounds. The Canadian-Brit has been a key player for the Sharks in his five seasons in Sheffield and prides himself on his role as captain.

“One of my biggest things is leading by example and helping the team in any way that I can. I’m just trying to play hard and help get these wins.”

The 31-year-old signed a two-year deal at the start of the season which would take his time with the club into a sixth season next year and it is no surprise that Tuck has a fond admiration for Sheffield and the BBL.

“I love Sheffield as a city. The people, the club and the fans have always been great to me so I’m happy here. It’s been a great experience for me.

“I’m playing in a great league and I think it’s made some big improvements and there’s so much more room for growth. There are good things happening with BBL TV and the Spalding sponsorship and I hope that it only gets better.”

Since arriving in the UK in 2009, Tuck won the BBL Cup in his first two seasons as well as last season’s BBL Trophy and the Sharks’ captain has called upon his side to remain ‘focused’ if they are to claim a first BBL Championship for the club since 2003.

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