HEAD coach Paul James has labelled Worcester Wolves’ clash with Sheffield Sharks tonight (7.30pm) “crucial” as he targets a top-three finish.

Fourth-placed Wolves are level on points with Sheffield and Glasgow Rocks who occupy third spot with 38 points from 31 games in the British Basketball League.

Despite losing both of their previous encounters with Sharks this season Wolves are one place above their rivals on points difference.

And James is determined to pull further clear with a victory at the University of Worcester Arena.

“If you look at the league table right now you have got three teams fighting it out for third place in the league,” he said.

“We have lost the head-to-head to both Sheffield and Glasgow so tonight’s game is crucial because whoever wins it will probably end up finishing third.”

In September Sheffield won 78-64 at the arena before beating Wolves 79-77 at the English Institute of Sport in early February.

“The last time they beat us away we had two or three attempts to win the game and didn’t execute very well,” said James whose side knocked Sheffield out of the BBL Trophy with a 99-68 home win in January.

“It was a really poor game from us. I don’t think anyone came out of that game with any credit.

“But we have moved on from then and it is a chance to put the record straight.

“They are a good team and have got players who can score a lot of points in a hurry and are very physical and tough defensively.

“So we have got to play one of our best games to win it.”

After tackling Sharks Worcester travel to champions Leicester Riders on Sunday (4pm) in the final game of the regular season before preparations begin for the play-offs.

Wolves are the in-form side in basketball’s top flight having put together a run of 12 successive victories.

And James insisted their impressive run which started more than two months ago had “not come by accident”.

“I think what we have done post-Christmas has been quite amazing,” he said.

“We were languishing down in ninth at one point in the season and just looking around for where our next win was going to come from.

“But then we had that big win in Newcastle which gave the guys a lot of confidence.

“The work we have put in throughout the remainder of the season has resulted in this amazing series of wins so it has not come by accident.

“I have always said as the season goes along we would see the best of this team.

“We have the talent but could not find a way to win.

“Now we have found that way to win and it is a great situation to be in.”