by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix crashed out of the BBL Cup after a tough match in the capital.
Cheshire started poorly, but picked themselves up after half-time, bringing the game within five points, however their opponents closed the game better and booked their place in the Semi-Final.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright put on a good display, as he contributed with 20 points and 13 assists. Ben Mockford also dropped a team-high 21 points, he made 7 of 14 shots from beyond the arc. Disraeli Lufadeju was impactful too, he shot 62% from the floor and grabbed two offensive boards, the combo guard provided the team with a lot of energy and hustle during the game.
The Nix failed to connect on their first six shots of the game. Their inability to put the ball in the basket allowed their opponents to jump out to an early 13-point advantage. Disraeli Lufadeju finally stopped London’s run with a deep two-point shot at the 6:33 mark of the first quarter. The Royals were up by as much as 15 points but a couple of three-point makes from Louis Sayers and Mockford combined with a few tough lay-ups by Jackson-Cartwright reduced their advantage to nine points. The City Royals made the most of their dominant start and went into the second quarter up 29-19.
The hosts went on a 9-2 run to start the second period of play, as the Nix continued to struggle on the offensive end. The Royals pushed their lead to 20 points after Andrew Lawrence converted an open lay-up at the 5:26 mark of the quarter. Lufadeju provided the Nix with a spark of energy as a result of his monster-dunk and chase-down block on the defensive end, however it wasn’t enough to prevent the City Royals from going into half-time up 51-41.
The Nix opened the third quarter with three-point makes from Sayers and Mockford. Jackson-Cartwright followed up with a tough lay-up in transition, while also obtaining the foul. However, the point-guard missed his free-throw and Phoenix’s opponents immediately went on a 7-0 run. Cheshire heated up midway through the penultimate quarter as they sunk multiple shots and played hard on the defensive end. London’s lead was cut down to just five with less than three minutes left in the quarter. The Nix went into the final quarter down 71-78 after an impressive performance in third act of the game.
Phoenix went scoreless during the opening two minutes of the fourth quarter, before Jalen Hayes knocked down a three-point attempt at the 7:24 mark. London started the quarter with an 8-3 run, creating a 12-point cushion for themselves. The opponents remained resilient on the defensive end, while they also stayed aggressive on the offensive front. The Nix trailed by 16 with just four minutes left. Despite Cheshire’s tremendous effort to claw back into the game, London were just too strong on the day and they emerged victorious, 100-82.
KEY TEAM STAT: 34 rebounds. The Nix done a good job on the glass all night long. They out-rebounded their opponents on the offensive end, 13 to 10, which allowed them to score 16 second-chance points, compared to London’s six.