Sheffield outclassed again

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Three weeks ago the European champions, Real Madrid, could beat Sheffield Sharks by only 10 points in the European Clubs' Championship, writes Duncan Hooper. It is a measure of Sheffield's struggles in recent weeks that the Belgian champions, Sunair Ostend, found it far easier to win 71-58 at Ponds Forge last night in the first leg of the third qualifying round of the European Cup.

Only Roger Huggins seemed to have shaken off the hangover following Sheffield's drubbings at last weekend's McDonald's Championship. Ostend are hardly in the class of Real Madrid or Maccabi Tel Aviv, Sheffield's conquerors at the London Arena, but they are still full-time professionals.

Huggins scored 19 first half points as Sheffield trailed 38-28 at the interval after being hit by a 14-4 run in the last three minutes of the half. However, Huggins scored only two free throws in the second period as Ray Mitchell, Daniel Goethals and Ronny Bayer calmly built a commanding lead for next week's second leg.