Two weeks ago, I travelled to Sheffield to volunteer to help out the Sheffield Steelers with live streams for their EuroLeague weekend. Catching up with people I hadn’t seen in ages contributed to an amazing weekend. This article is designed to give you an overview of the weekend from Steelers’ perspective.
Steelers captain Mark Scholefield said that the tournament was “all worth it as we’re now officially ranked as one of of the top 28 teams in Europe.”
The first Steelers’ game tipped off at 12 noon on Friday 27thApril at the EIS which saw them take on the RSC Koln 99ers from Germany. Early on Steelers established a seven-point lead in the first quarter 25-18. The hometown side continued to showcase their dominance in the remaining quarters; 51-33, 73-53, resulting in an 87-69 win to kick off Steelers’ crusade. George Bates was top scorer for Steelers with 22 points, closely followed by James MacSorley (20pts), Abdi Jama (18pts) and Phil Pratt (17pts.) Pratt also had the same number of assists.
Later that day, Steelers faced Italy’s ASD Handicap Sport Varese at 6pm. Similar to the last game Steelers showed that they weren’t taking any prisoners. They had a 14-point lead in the first quarter 24-10 and pushed ahead for the remainder of the game, 47-22, 60-42, ending 84-58. The Welshman, Pratt continued to rack up assists as he had 16 by the end of this game. Bates consistently top scored for the Sheffield side, with 28 points with Ben Fox behind him on 22.
Fox said the competition was “a really enjoyable three days of basketball, which was topped off by winning a trophy alongside great teammates.”
The beginning of day two was an early 9:30am start for the home team who breezed through to the quarterfinals to face Russia’s Nevskiy Alliance. Steelers sights were set on gold as they displayed another dominant performance. The opposition tried their best to keep the deficit as low as possible but Steelers forged ahead by nine points in the first quarter (19-10) and the lead was extended to 12 by halftime 37-25. By the end of the third quarter they had nearly gained a 30-point lead, 60-36 however, the final score was 80-46.
Steelers set to close out day two the same way they began it. They faced the team from France, Le Cannet in the semi-final. The French side proved to be a tougher test than any of the previous opponents. It was a one-point game at the end of the first quarter, 18-17. However, Steelers extended their lead to 18 in the second quarter, 44-26. Le Cannet fought back to slash the deficit in half as they trailed by nine at the end of the third. Nonetheless, Steelers came away with the win 84-65. Instead of averaging double-doubles, Phil Pratt pulled a triple-double out of the bag. By the end of the game he had 17 points, 12 rebounds and a staggering 23 assists. Likewise, with Bates who yet again finished the game as top scorer this time with 36 points, 10 points higher than his tournament average.
The final day of action saw Steelers take on Spain’s BSR ACE Gran Canarias in the final. The Spanish side were without a doubt Steelers’ most formidable adversary, backed up back the likes of; USA’s Jared Arambula and Jorge Sanchez. For the first time in the tournament Steelers ended a quarter on the losing side as they were down by one point. They rectified this as by the end of the second quarter they were up by five but could only extend their lead to six at the end of the third. Both teams traded basket-for-basket. In the final quarter of the tournament the hometown team were able to gain an 11-point lead to finish the game 71-60.
Abdi Jama, a man widely regarded as one of the best one-point classification players in the world made the All-Star 5 alongside Bates and Pratt. He proved crucial for Steelers during games, hitting a total of 69 points over the course of the tournament. Bates was the highest points scorer of the tournament as he averaged 26.6 points per game whereas Pratt had the highest number of assists, averaging 18.8 per game.
Pratt thought the team put in a “great team perfermance from start to finish. I still feel we had a few gears to go through but we still managed to grind it out in the final despite not playing to our full potential.”
Steelers Premier squad will next be in action at the British Wheelchair Basketball National Championships on May 26th/27th at the EIS.
Stay tuned for next week’s article covering my experience at the IWBF Champions League Final Four.
You can follow me on Twitter @DylanOnWheels