by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix made it five wins in a row in the BBL Cup after they defeated the Manchester Giants.
The Nix played brilliant basketball all night long, despite being limited to just six available players. The Giants never led in the game as they struggled to make shots against a stubborn Phoenix defensive unit.
Jalen Hayes was a perfect 10-10 FG from the floor, the forward also grabbed 11 rebounds and secured himself a double-double. Ben Mockford continued his brilliant form by posting up 26 points on 52% FG and 45% 3PT.
The Nix opened the game brightly as they got off to an early 5-0 run. The visitors were kept scoreless for the opening two minutes of the game. The Giants were forced into their first time out after the hosts created an eight-point cushion at the 4:32 mark of the first quarter, following a creative assist from Louis Sayers to Parker Jackson-Cartwright. The Nix managed to extend their lead to 10 by the end of the opening 10 minutes and went into the second quarter up 25-15.
The Giants started the second quarter with a 5-0 run, but the Nix quickly resumed normal service and restored their 10-point lead after Hayes converted his and-one play. The teams traded blows during the mid-way point of the quarter but the Nix remained resilient and withstood Manchester’s attempts to claw back into the game. Cheshire shot 62% FG in the first 20 minutes of the game and went into half-time up 52-44.
Cheshire missed their first few shots in the beginning of the second half, but their opponents weren’t able to capitalise as they committed silly turnovers and missed some easy shots themselves. Momcilo Latinovic put the Nix up by a game-high 14 points at the 3:41 mark in the third quarter after he connected on a fadeaway three-point attempt. Phoenix battled hard in the closing stages of the third but their 14-point lead was cut down to seven heading into the final quarter.
Neither side started the fourth well, as it took until the 8:01 mark for the first points to be scored, when PJC connected on two shots from the charity stripe. Phoenix’s lead hovered around the 10-point mark for the entire quarter. The Nix understandably looked fatigued during the final quarter but their quality showed as the Giants still weren’t able to take a hold of the game. The home side outscored the visitors 10-6 during the final two minutes and ran out victorious, 96 – 85.
KEY TEAM STAT: 57% FG. Cheshire shot the basketball well while they also limited their opponents to just 43% FG. The Nix also dominated their opponents in assists as they accumulated 26 to Manchester’s 13. The two stats proved to be the key ingredients to Phoenix’s win.