by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire’s quest for their second road win in the regular season will continue when they’ll face the Newcastle Eagles at the Eagles Community Arena on the 17th of January.
They will be hosted by an Eagles side which has won four of their last five outings, with their most recent victory coming against the Surrey Scorchers away in Guildford. Newcastle has the advantage in head-to-head meetings with the Nix, as they’ve won both confrontations this season and the last five overall.
It won’t be an easy task for the Nix to get a result in Tyneside, however, they have proven that perhaps they play better when the odds are stacked against them, with the two nail-biting wins against the Sharks and Riders springing to mind.
Newcastle currently sit on a 4-1 record in the BBL Championship, with their lone defeat coming against the Sheffield Sharks, just before the turn of the year. Veteran point-guard Rahmon Fletcher has been the driving force behind Newcastle’s success this season. He’s averaging 17.8 points-per-game along with 8.6 assists-per-game. Fletcher is an efficient player. He’s shooting 54.4% from the field and 35% from three-point range in the regular season. Former Cheshire big-man, C.J. Gettys has been on a tear for the Eagles ever since he signed for Ian Macleod’s side back in November. He’s averaging 24.2 points-per-game and 14.8 rebounds-per-game. Gettys was the recipient of BBL’s December Player of the Month award.
Michael Ochereobia will be tasked with stopping Gettys on Friday night. Phoenix’s enforcer has chipped in with some huge performances lately, especially on the defensive end, so it’ll be fun to watch two skilled and powerful centers battle for superiority when the two sides will collide. Phoenix’s answer to Fletcher will be Parker-Jackson Cartwright. The undersized floor-general will have to play hard on both ends of the floor to reduce his opponents’ effectiveness.
With Momcilo Latinovic no longer on the roster and Jalen Hayes out with a shoulder injury, the Nix will be short-handed yet again. Disraeli Lufadeju carried the load off the bench last time out against Plymouth and was one of the most efficient players on the court, as he shot 75% from the field and 85.7% from the line. More of the same will be expected from the combo-guard as the starters will need as much help as they can get.
Just like they paid zero attention to Plymouth’s woeful 11-game losing-streak coming into last Sunday’s game, the Nix will have to ignore Newcastle’s good run of form and just play their own game, because when they do, they can triumph against any team in the league.
BRING THE NOISE! GO PHOENIX!