Cheshire Phoenix coach Ben Thomas hailed his side’s unity following their thrilling 82-80 home win against Surrey Scorchers.

A topsy-turvy encounter saw the Nix throw away a commanding first quarter lead and looked on course for defeat until debutant Malcolm Riley drained a game-winning three-pointer with nine seconds remaining.

The Nix’s first game of the season began in scintillating fashion as they opened up a 30-9 lead to the delight of a vocal home crowd at the Ellesmere Port Sports Village.

But the Scorchers assumed more control on the game in the second and outscored the Nix 29-10 to end the second quarter just two points adrift.

A strong showing from Scorchers guard Tony Hicks, who amassed 23 points in the contest, helped the visitors establish a 63-59 lead by the end of the third.

But standout performances from the likes of Robert Sandoval with 29 points and three rebounds helped turn the tide and brought the Nix back into the game.

Though the Nix struggled from beyond the arc with 29 per cent accuracy, they made it count at the right time made it count at the right time when Riley made the decisive clutch shot to seal victory.

Reflecting on his side's performance, Thomas said: “It wasn’t the best performance or the prettiest of wins , but it was the result that really mattered in the end.

“We started really well and showed plenty of attacking energy early on to get ourselves in such a strong position.

“But we didn’t really stick to what got us in that position in the first place and it felt like we opened the door.

“Our intensity in defence dropped and it felt like we were playing more as individuals in attack as the game went on.

“We then took our foot off the gas for a period of the game but I felt like our  team spirit helped us a great deal in getting the victory in the end.”

“The atmosphere in the arena was amazing and helped us massively too and I’m sure the result will have sent our fans home happy.”

After assembling a new-look Nix roster in the summer, Thomas has been impressed with the cohesion his players have shown both on and off the court.

Admitting it may take time for fans to see the best of his team, Thomas believes his players will only get better as the season progresses.

He said: “The team chemistry and togetherness is brilliant among the squad already and overall I was very happy with what I saw from the players in our league opener.

“There was plenty there to work on and I’m sure the players will keep learning and improving as time goes on.”

Early Championship pacesetters London Lions maintained their perfect start with an emphatic 115-74 win against Manchester Giants.

The Giants were also well beaten in a 102-70 home defeat against Newcastle Eagles, who  beat Glasgow Rocks 119-104 two days earlier.

Plymouth Raiders were 98-78 victors over Leeds Force, who were also beaten 98-71 at Sheffield Sharks in the first game of their weekend double-header.

Leicester Riders got their Championship campaign off to a winning start with a 79-59 at home victory over Bristol Flyers.