Ben Thomas has challenged his Cheshire Phoenix players to adopt an ‘all or nothing’ mentality for Friday night’s BBL Championship clash at Sheffield Sharks.

The Nix have faced the Yorkshire club twice already this term, losing the reverse league fixture 78-61 before turning the tables with an emphatic 93-64 away triumph in the BBL Cup.

And with his side’s head-to-head record on the line, head coach Thomas has called for a brave approach against familiar opposition.

He said: “I think that if you look at the two results from our games so far, there’s a marked contrast there.

“Our defeat to them at home came was the second game of our first back-to-back fixtures this season and we were without ( Nix forward) Jimario Rivers too.

“Those were both big factors for us in that game, and it just made us more determined to get revenge when we went to their place in the cup a few weeks later.

“As holders, obviously we’re desperate to defend that title this year and I think we won so convincingly because went there with that attitude and were determined not to get beaten.

“It was all or nothing on that night and that’s exactly how we have to approach Friday night’s game

“The motivation to go above them in the league into fourth place is a big one, but there’s also our head-to-head record to think about too.

“We’re already thinking about how these games can affect our eventual league position this season, so we want to ensure that Sheffield don’t have the superior record if we find ourselves level on points at the end of the campaign.”

The Ellesmere Port club have enjoyed a two week-fixture-break but remain in contention with the league’s leading sides.

Thomas feels his side are now in ‘good shape’ to cope with the Sharks’ latent attacking threat and maintain their challenge near the summit.

He said: “I think the break has done us the world of good to be honest.

“It came at the right time for us after playing three games over a six-day period, which takes it toll at any level of the game.

“So we’re refreshed and looking forward to getting back on court against a side we’ve got to know very well over the last few weeks.

“They have quality in their set-up with Chris Alexander and Dirk Williams both very dangerous players for them in attack.

“Those two are both among the league’s top 10 points scorers already this season, so we know we’ll have to do a job on them defensively and match them physically to stop them dictating the game too much.

“Our squad’s at full-strength right now and the players are in excellent shape. All of our focus this week has been on how we can come away from there with a victory.”

Elsewhere on Friday night, Leicester Riders host pacesetters London Lions, while basement side Worcester Wolves head to Newcastle Eagles.

The Riders then visit London City Royals on Saturday, ahead of Sunday’s clash between Plymouth Raiders and Manchester Giants.