Cheshire Phoenix braced for crucial fortnight in BBL league and cup

Reporter:

Daniel Heald

CHESHIRE PHOENIX are braced for ‘massive tests’ over the next two weekends, according to coach Ben Thomas.

The Nix welcome title-chasing Newcastle Eagles for a Championship clash on Sunday, before turning their attention to a BBL Cup final showdown with Worcester Wolves a week later.

After impressing with some fine displays this term, the Nix suffered a double blow last weekend as a league defeat at London Lions was followed by elimination in the BBL Trophy by Worcester.

But Thomas insists there is no time to dwell on those losses and has challenged his side to respond with a strong showing against the high-flying Eagles.

He said: “They were two disappointing results and not what we’d hoped for, but we have to move on quickly with the big games we’ve got ahead of us.

“We know our next two games are going to be massive tests for us, but we’ll just keep our approach the same as it has been all season.

“It’s a case of not looking too far ahead and tailoring our approach to each opponent as we face them.

“Newcastle are a really great side and have already shown their strength in the league with some big wins already this season.

“There’s quality throughout the roster up there and in Jaysean Page they might have the best shooting guard in the whole of the championship.

“He’s in superb form right now and scored 40 points in a single game for them recently, which shows you how dangerous he can be for them.”

The Ellesmere Port side have twice faced the Eagles this term, prevailing 80-79 to eliminate them in the Cup, before an 87-76 home defeat for Thomas’ men in November.

And the Nix coach has urged his side to draw confidence on the performance with another strong showing this weekend.

“We know Newcastle are a well-drilled side with good discipline, a strong workrate and great set-plays” added Thomas.

“But they’re beatable and we have proved that ourselves by beating them away from home.

“Even in our defeats last weekend, there were lots of positives to take from those game and we have to retain those elements against Newcastle.

“It’s important that we try to return to winning ways this weekend and try to regain that positive momentum we’ve had for most of the season so far.”

The Nix could be without influential forward Orlan Jackman who sustained an injury in the clash with London.

Newcastle are in action tonight at home to Sheffield Sharks in the BBL Trophy , while Loughborough Students visit London and Worcester host Manchester Giants.

Glasgow Rocks visit Surrey Scorchers tomorrow, with pacesetters Leicester Riders at home to Bristol Flyers.

Struggling Leeds are at home to London on Sunday, while Plymouth Raiders entertain Glasgow.

Email:

daniel.heald@nwn.co.uk

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