The decisive burst came inside the final two minutes. John Amaechi's three-pointer stretched their lead to 15, then Mark Robinson, with 31 points, and Hames kept their lead just in double figures. Sharks would have settled for that, but then Myers and Hames produced the priceless 18-point margin for next Thursday's second leg.
The Leopards coach, Billy Mims, played his American quintet for all but 37 seconds of the first quarter, but gave Ryan Cuff and Eric Burks spells on the bench in the second. Cuff was first to sit out, watching a 25-24 first-quarter Leopards' lead evaporate as Amaechi, Hames, Robinson and Wilbur Johnson inspired the Sharks. Cuff returned and set up Robert Youngblood for a three-point play. But by then Burks had walked to the bench and Leopards slipped 58-41 behind.
Sharks fell apart as John White and Makeeva Perry joined in ripping their defence to shreds, outscoring them 29-11 in a 10-minute spell to lead 70-69.
SCORERS: Sheffield Robinson 31, Amaechi 26, Myers 22. Leopards White 29, Burks 20, Youngblood 18.Reuse content