In-form Cheshire Phoenix delight head coach with Plymouth Raiders win

Reporter:

Daniel Heald

CHESHIRE PHOENIX coach Ben Thomas hailed his side’s ‘focus and commitment’ following their impressive 83-70 win at Plymouth Raiders.

The Nix were in ruthless mood and punished the sloppiness of the home side with 26 points from turnovers.

Having opened up a five-point lead in the first quarter, the Nix were gradually pegged back in the contest and when the Raiders hit a triple to move 59-56 in front at the start of the final quarter, the hosts looked poised for victory.

However, the Raiders went into meltdown and allowed Cheshire to score the next 14 points without reply and the visitors didn’t look back.

Malcolm Riley excelled for the Cheshire men and was one rebound away from a double-double after netting 24 points, a tally also reached by Raheem May-Thompson prior to fouling out.

The victory, a seventh of an impressive campaign to date, lifted the Nix to sixth in the BBL Championship standings.

Thomas was delighted to see his side resume their positive form and hopes the victory can be the catalyst for further success later this month.

He said: “It was a really professional performance from us in what is our longest away trip of the season.

“We went there with a game plan and the players executed it perfectly.

“Having already played Worcester on the Friday we knew that Plymouth would have split their attentions between ourselves and that game.

“We knew this was our only game and we capitalised on that freshness with a really important win.

“The players kept defensive  focus throughout the game and came away with a deserved victory after allowing Plymouth only 70 points.

“If you limit any team in the Championship to that kind of points total then nine times out of ten you are going to win the game.”

The Nix make the trip to the capital on Friday for their Championship clash with London Lions before hosting Worcester in the BBL Trophy quarter-final on Sunday.

Sunday’s game will be a precursor to the BBL Cup final when the Nix and the Wolves will clash again in Birmingham on January 28.

And while Thomas maintains that a Championship play-off position is his side’s fundamental aim, the Nix coach has urged his side to challenge on all fronts this season.

“The league is tough with everybody out there scrapping to pick up points, but we  can’t prioritise any of those games above our fixtures in the trophy or the cup,” he added.

“Doing that can be disruptive because as soon as you start turning in a lower standard of performance it can affect the players’ mindset.

“Obviously we don’t want that to happen and the plan is to extend this positive momentum for as long as we can.

“We’ll continue to take each game as it comes and treat each one with the same amount of respect.”

Pacesetters Leicester Riders were 91-82 victors against Worcester, while Newcastle Eagles remain four points behind after an 87-80 success at Bristol Flyers.

The Flyers then bounced back with a 93-81 win at Leeds Force, London Lions beat Sheffield Sharks 81-73, while third-placed Glasgow Rocks were 110-82 victors at home to Manchester Giants.

Email:

daniel.heald@nwn.co.uk

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