Basketball: Scantlebury hopes Sharks' experience can crack Rocks

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The Independent Online

Most coaches go through an entire career without earning a shot at a Championship, but whether tomorrow's BBL Cup final at the NIA in Birmingham is won by Peter Scantlebury's Sheffield Sharks or Steve Swanson's Scottish Rocks, this title will be going to a first-year rookie.

But there are rookies and there are rookies. And somehow Scantlebury, the rightful owner of an MBE for his services to the sport, hardly fits the bill. The 40-year-old from Camberwell in London has stepped up easily from his former role as Sharks' assistant to Chris Finch, while in 22 years as a player "Scants" won 10 national titles, 131 England caps and held four domestic records, including most appearances. Scantlebury retained most of the line-up that took Sharks to the League Championship last season. Between them the Sharks have won 26 national titles.

Scantlebury said: "With our experience we've got to go at the Rocks early, put them under pressure and hope they crack."

Swanson's burden has been increased by the loss of his most powerful presence under the basket, Nike Arinze, who could miss the rest of the season with anterior cruciate ligament damage.