BEN THOMAS has demanded more ‘hunger and intensity’ from his Cheshire Phoenix players in this weekend’s fixture double-header.

Nix coach Thomas was left frustrated by his side’s underwhelming display in the 84-66 defeat at BBL Championship rivals Sheffield Sharks last weekend

The result saw the Nix lose ground on the league’s top four sides and the Sharks claim the head-to-head honours after also winning October’s league fixture.

The Ellesmere Port side now face a tough test in the league at Newcastle Eagles on Friday evening, before Sunday’s BBL Cup home clash with Manchester Giants.

Thomas said: “This weekend we need to be much better in all aspects of our play than we were against Sheffield.

“We failed to match them in key areas of the game and paid the price for it. Sheffield played with a hunger and intensity that we lacked in the game, which was really frustrating.

“As a coach I can handle losing, but that performance just wasn’t good enough in terms of what’s expected at this club.

“All credit to Sheffield - they came into the fixture with a game plan and executed it brilliantly.

“They defended very well for most of the game and limited our scoring opportunities for most of the game.

“But we didn’t create enough when we really need to in the game and we really have to give a stronger account of ourselves against quality sides.”

The quick fixture turnaround will provide a stern test of the Nix’’s powers of recovery, with Thomas highlighting the difficulty of preparing to face two rivals with contrasting styles.

“In terms of preparation, it can be tricky to tailor the right approach for two very different opponents” he added.

“All of your focus is usually on the next game, but we have to have one eye on Sunday for a very important cup game.

“Newcastle are a strong experienced side and we know they’ll have a high intensity in both their offensive and defensive plays.

“They have layers like Victor Moses who is a consistent performer in this division and vital to their success.

“Manchester are much improved from last season and the results they’ve started to pick up this season reflect that.

“There’s a physicality about their game, with big guys like Willie Clayton offering a very decent option for them.

“He’s been key for them this season, so if we can shackle him, then we’ve a much better chance of exerting more control over the game ourselves.

“We need a reaction this weekend so we can try to put the Sharks game down to a one-off.”

Elsewhere in the championship on Friday evening, leaders London Lions visit Worcester Wolves,in-form Bristol Flyers entertain Leicester Riders, while Glasgow Rocks make the long trip to Plymouth Raiders.

Newcastle head to Leicester on Saturday, with Sunday’s games including Plymouth at home to Sheffield, Worcester at London and Surrey Scorchers at Glasgow.