It took a while to arrive but Cheshire Phoenix ended their home hoodoo last night to book their place in the BBL Cup semi-final after a gritty 72-60 triumph over Bristol Flyers.
A vocal crowd at the Cheshire Oaks Arena finally had something to cheer at the final buzzer as head coach John Lavery’s side built on their superb 94-76 success at Worcester Wolves on Friday to cap a perfect weekend.
Home defeats at the Cheshire Oaks Arena by Manchester Giants, Glasgow Rocks, London Lions and Leeds Force had seen the Nix’s form at their new residence become a millstone around their neck.
And while Sunday night’s triumph over the Flyers wasn’t vintage basketball by any stretch, its arrival was greeted with an almighty roar of relief, with the clouds that had been hanging over the club after their rocky start to the season banished and a cup semi-final against Newcastle Eagles to look forward to.
Kinu Rochford led the Phoenix scorers with 16 as the Nix outscored Bristol in every quarter, while Akeem Ellis added 15. But it was the nature of their defence that won the day, with some big time plays from the likes of Rochford and Jeff Dirkin limiting the usually devastating three point shooting of the Flyers to a paltry 13%, connecting with just three from 23.
“We didn’t win in style and I thought it was an ugly win but we’ll take any kind of win,” said Lavery.
“Our focus all weekend was getting two wins and we came out and done that so it was a great performance over the both games.
“It’s been a long time coming but we just need to get this bus rolling and when we do it will be tough to stop. We’ve just got to continue and have a good week in practice. We have got to prepare well and not rest on our laurels and, like I said, keep this bus rolling.
“I thought the crowd were fantastic right the way through the game. The fans have never give up on us. It has been disapointing as it has been a long time coming to get the win for these guys. But they were fantastic and very, very vocal. It was like stepping back in time to the Northgate. But we can get it louder and we will, we just want to make these fans happy for supporting the Phoenix.”
Match report by Dave Powell, from the Chester Chronicle. Image courtesy of Adam Day Photography.