by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix will aim to seal their place in the Quarter-Finals of the BBL Trophy when they’ll face off against the Worcester Wolves at the Cheshire Oaks Arena on the 5th January.
Having ended 2019 with two successive defeats against the Surrey Scorchers and the Glasgow Rocks, the Nix will be itching to get off to a winning start in the new decade.
The Wolves are currently sitting on a three-game win-streak having picked up victories against the Giants, Lions, and Riders. Their last win over Leicester helped Matt Newby’s men secure their place in the BBL Cup Final where they’ll be met by the Bristol Flyers. Worcester have won three out of their five games in the regular season.
Cheshire have won four of their last five meetings against Worcester, however, the Wolves possess an arsenal of players that will aim to make life tough for the Nix on Sunday night. Amir Williams is averaging 20 points-per-game in the BBL Championship while Cortez Edwards is Worcester’s main distributor with 6.4 assists-per-game. Jordan Williams is a crafty 6’8 forward who led the Wolves in scoring against the Riders, with 18 points on 7-16 FG. Raheem May-Thompson is their main threat from three-point land, the 6’6 forward is shooting 42.9% from beyond the arc this season.
Despite being loaded with elite shooters, the Nix had a tough time making shots on their two-game road trip against Surrey and Glasgow. Ben Thomas’ men shot 40% from the field against the Scorchers and just 36% against the Rocks. Those numbers will need to improve for the Nix to advance to the next round of the Trophy.
One player who can boost Phoenix’s shooting percentages is Momcilo Latinovic. Having rehabbed his toe injury at home during the festive period, the Serbian guard is expected to be back on the floor against the Wolves. Latinovic is an established first-class shooter who has shown the ability to create match-up and spacing problems against any team in the league.
The Nix must not allow the Wolves any open looks from the perimeter, as their opponents can hit shots from deep if given the opportunity. Worcester connected on 56% of their attempts from three-point territory against the Riders, which helped them overcome the initial first-leg deficit. The Phoenix bench has been very productive over the past few games and the same will be asked of them on Sunday, especially with Latinovic back in the rotation.
BRING THE NOISE! GO PHOENIX!