by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix will be faced with another difficult test against BBL opposition in their second and final pre-season game against the Leicester Riders on Sunday evening.
Rob Paternostro’s side started their 2020/21 preparations earlier than the Nix as they hosted the Sheffield Sharks – and lost 66-70 – in their opening pre-season game on the 2nd of October. The Riders were scheduled to play the Bristol Flyers on the 9th of October before several players tested positive for COVID-19, subsequently forcing the entire roster to isolate for 14 days.
Date: Sunday, Novemeber 1st, 2020
Tip-off: 5 p.m.
Where: EPSV (behind-closed-doors)
How to watch: FREE on our YouTube channel!
RIDERS SCOUTING REPORT
Jamell Anderson, Corey Johnson, Darien Nelson-Henry and Mo Walker have all returned to the Mornigside Arena ahead of the 2020/21 season.
The Riders also added Conner Washington, Zach Jackson, William Lee, Raheem May-Thompson (won’t play due to injury) and Geno Crandall during the off-season.
On the flip side, Leicester lost the services of Rema Lascelles, Josh Ward-Hibbert, Kyron Cartwright, Jesse Chuku, Namon Wright and Andy Thomson (retired) over the summer.
Their only pre-season encounter against the Sharks was a pretty even one, with neither team having a great shooting night – Riders 40% FG, 33% 3PT and Sharks 39% FG, 33% 3PT – and with no individuals grabbing any headlines. Leicester opened and closed the game well as they outscored their opponents by a combined nine points during the opening and final frame, however the Sharks controlled the mid-way point of the game, outscoring the Riders by a combined 13 points before and after the interval. The Riders lost the rebounding battle 38-to-44 and commited 16 turnovers on the night.
Leicester Riders: Darien Nelson-Henry – The 6’11 Penn alum will have seen the Nix struggle on the boards against the Flyers, losing the battle in the end 26-to-39. Leicester’s captain started all of the 21 games that he played last season and averaged around 15 points and 5 rebounds per night. Standing at 6’8, Sol Rolls-Tyson is Phoenix’s tallest player, however, he doesn’t play big minutes and isn’t even a natural center, so the concern is that Ben Thomas’ men will be outmatched on the boards yet again, unless Eric Hamilton arrives in time for the game.
Cheshire Phoenix: Kahron Ross – The Lehigh alum put the entire league on notice with a spectacular 30-point debut against the Bristol Flyers. He will have to perform just as well against the Riders. In order for the Nix to make up for their front-court deficiency, the back-court of Ross and Devin Mitchell must carry the load. Ross hit 11 of his 12 two-point shots (lay-ups, mid-ranges) against the Flyers, but he made just one of his five attempts from beyond the arc. Ross shot 42.7% from 3-point territory in his senior year at Lehigh and 38.9% during the 2019/20 season, so we know that he’s capable of performing better in that department.
Ben Thomas: “The Riders will be a great test for us, we know they are one of the best teams in the BBL and have a lot of talent and depth.
“But tomorrow is about us! We are looking to put right some of our mistakes that we made last weekend against Bristol and we are ready to see an improvement in our own performance.”
NEXT HOME GAME
The Nix will begin their BBL Cup campaign at home against the Manchester Giants next weekend, with tip-off scheduled for 5:30 p.m.