by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix will embark on a trip down to Guildford where they’ll face off against last season’s All-Star champions, the Surrey Scorchers, at the Surrey Sports Park on the 20th December.
Despite their successful run at last year’s All-Star event, the Scorchers were poor for the majority of the 2018-19 campaign. They only won six games during the regular season and also failed to advance past the First Round in the BBL Cup and Trophy. The southerners continued their 2018-19 form into the new season as they crashed out of the All-Star tournament after just two games. They were unable to get out of their Cup group, as they finished with a sub-par 3-7 record. They split their first two regular-season games, so they’ll come into Friday’s fixture with a 1-1 record.
The Nix will come into the building full of confidence after their last game against the Leicester Riders. Ben Thomas’ men treated the fans in attendance at the Cheshire Oaks Arena with one of the most exhilarating games of the season. Phoenix managed to win the exuberant contest, 95-91, after overtime was required to separate the two sides.
The Scorchers last played on the 7th December, so they will have had a 13-day lay-off compared to Cheshire’s 5-day break leading up to the game. That could mean Surrey will be a little rusty compared to the Nix. Since they were last in action, Surrey tweaked their roster by acquiring Devontavius Payne, while Ryan Richards departed after his short-term deal came to an end. Surrey’s leading scorer is Lovell Cook, he’s averaging 22 points per game. Skyler White is their main inside presence, he’s averaging 18.5 points and 10 rebounds per game. Henry Wilkins is their distributor, he’s averaging 3.5 assists per game.
The Scorchers shot 29% from three-point range in their loss away to the Worcester Wolves. They were more accurate in their win against the Bristol Flyers, as they shot 41% from beyond the arc. They were also heavily out-rebounded against the Wolves, as their opponents grabbed 57 boards to Scorchers’ 35. The Flyers only had a slim six-rebound advantage in that department, 46 to 40. Cheshire will need to dominate the glass and limit Scorchers’ outside shooting if they want to secure their third victory of the season.
The Nix will have to show the same intensity and tenacity they displayed in their triumph over the Riders. Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Ben Mockford combined for 57 points, while Jalen Hayes also tallied a quiet 17 points on the night. The starters will be expected to carry on where they left off. The bench duo of Disraeli Lufadeju and Demonte Flannigan combined for 15 points on 5-10 FG but most importantly they had a huge impact in the rebounding scrap, as they grabbed six of Cheshire’s 11 offensive boards. The bench mob must provide the starters with the same boost against the Scorchers, as the Nix will aim to obtain their third W in the BBL Championship.
BRING THE NOISE! GO PHOENIX!