Sheffield Sharks captain Mike Tuck believes his side can deny Leicester Riders a domestic treble in Sunday’s BBL Playoff final.

The Yorkshire outfit, who squeezed past Glasgow Rocks to reach the showpiece at London’s 02 Arena, have steadily improved over the season following a massive rebuilding of their squad last summer.

And although the new-look Sharks have ultimately overcome the inevitable teething problems, Tuck admits the successes of Leicester and Newcastle underline that more BBL teams need to fight for continuity over constant turnover.

“It’s a tough league to do that because this is a mid-level league and it’s a stepping stone league,” the Sharks forward said. “It’s full of young guys trying to prove themselves and step to a better job or a few older players towards the end of their career. So it’s tough for teams to keep a core together.

“Newcastle and Leicester have done that well but we started over this year and I feel like we had all the pieces. We just had to get everyone on the same page and that was one of my jobs as captain.

“For me, considering the years prior, we had a core together for about five years, So this year has been a complete transition where we wiped the slate clean last summer and brought in a new group. It was interesting for me to see that transition, how everyone adjusted to their new surroundings and a new team. And how we got everybody accustomed to playing Sharks basketball.”

It is a role he has taken seriously within Atiba Lyons’ set-up. Out with the old, in with the new, as Sheffield gambled on youth and inexperience going into the current campaign, retaining the Canadian-born veteran but importing fresh blood.

Inconsistencies have been inevitable. But also perhaps a late burst to third in the league and now the opportunity to play in front of 16000 people and to claim the season’s last piece of silverware.

Amid the growth, there has been education, Tuck – an ambassador for Forever Living – confirms.

“Being a leader and a captain here, you have to set an example,” he underlined. “Being an older guy, these guys look up to me whether I like it or not because I’ve been around the league, I know what’s expected and I know what it takes to win.”

It has been insight he has passed on. “It’s funny because a few years ago I was the young crazy guy. Now I’m the veteran. And I hear the voices of old players I used to play with, the voices of Adrian Anderson and Todd Cauthorn, the guys who talked to me but who I probably didn’t take it in or give it a second thought.

“I see the value now that they brought to the table and I hear myself sounding like them. Being prepared for every game is a huge thing.”

Nottingham Wildcats meet Northumbria in the adjoining WBBL Playoff Final with both games broadcast on the BBC Sport website.

BBL Playoff Final (02 Arena). Leicester Riders v Sheffield Sharks (3.30).
WBBL Playoff Final. Nottingham Wildcats v Northumbria (6pm).

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