Cheshire Phoenix a tough 80-86 defeat to Plymouth Raiders on Sunday night in the BBL Championship, but remain fifth in the table after this round of games this weekend.
After pushing Leicester Riders close on the road the previous night, hopes were high coming into this fixture and Phoenix quickly established a commanding 11-0 lead in the opening two minutes of the game with Kinu Rochford with seven early points.
New signing and experienced BBL veteran Olu Babalola made his home debut midway through the period to great appreciation from the Nix Nation.
Plymouth however had the better of the quarter, eventually bringing the score to within two at 21-19 thanks to those player-coach Daryl Corletto converting two free throws.
It was to be a disappointing start to the second period as the Raiders stretched out to lead 22-35. Danny Huffor helped to try and rally his team mates and Jordan Williams put down a late three pointer, but back-to-back threes gave the visitors the momentum into the half time break.
Phoenix needed to come out fighting, and were keen not to let the Cheshire fans down, but as the third quarter wore on baskets were soon being traded and Cheshire found it difficult to make any real impression inside and penetrate Plymouth’s defence. Nix brought the game to within ten at one stage (54-64) but once more the Raiders finished on the high side 54-68.
In need of a similar performance seen just a week before in the late turn around against Manchester Giants, Babalola and Williams stepped up and cut the deficit to just eight (67-75) giving the vocal home support even more reason to get behind the team, however with Cheshire in foul trouble heading towards the final buzzer the best efforts to bring it back to just a four-point gap, the Raiders were able to hang on for the win thanks to Corletto from the line in the closing plays of the game.
Despite the loss, Jordan Williams was overall top scorer with 25 points and seven rebounds, followed by Huffor on 14 points and eight boards.
Coach Lavery, whilst almost seeing his side turn the game around, was disappointed with the result: “We weren’t good enough, we came out flat, slow and sloppy which ultimately lost us the game.
“They [Plymouth] got whatever they wanted to get, we just didn’t turn up to play.
“It wasn’t just one or two guys, it was a collective poor performance and we can’t hide from that. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, I’m not going to say we were in the game and only lost it by six – we were never in the game.
“The 11-0 run we had, they called the time out, but after that, that was it; we were poor. We didn’t execute, we didn’t play any defence, but all credit to Plymouth Raiders – they came in and took the win.”
Cheshire Phoenix now look to prepare for the vital first leg BBL Cup semi-final next Sunday at the Cheshire Oaks Arena with Newcastle Eagles as the opponents – tip off 5:30pm.
To get your seat for what could be our first ever Cup final as Cheshire Phoenix, visit here – enter promo code NIXNATION for half price tickets.