by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix will look for their sixth straight victory in the BBL Championship when they’ll take on the Newcastle Eagles at the Eagles Community Arena later this evening.
The Nix suffered a narrow 84-85 loss in the first meeting of the season against Ian MacLeod’s side, so they will also aim to even up the season series against the Geordies.
The Eagles have already picked up some silverware this season, the BBL Cup, and they currently sit third in the BBL Championship.
Date: Friday 26th February, 2021
Tip-off: 6 p.m.
Competition: BBL Championship
Where: Eagles Community Arena
How to watch: BBL Player
The BBL Player is the new one-stop-shop for all BBL action as you can watch every club and every game (excluding Bristol’s home games) live and on-demand for £19.99 per month. Alternatively, single-game passes are priced at £4.99.
Because of how the BBL is structured, all the money from the BBL Player goes directly to the clubs, so make sure to select the Cheshire Phoenix as your ‘club to support’ when registering, as all the revenue will help carry the club through this incredibly difficult period of financial insecurity.
EAGLES SCOUTING REPORT
The Eagles occupy the third position in the BBL Championship table, with 10 wins and five losses.
The Geordies are 7-4 at home in all competitions.
Ian MacLeod’s team has a negative 3-4 record in the month of February.
Newcastle has the third best offence (85 points per game) in the league, however their defence ranks just 9th (83.4 points allowed).
As a team, the Eagles are shooting 46.7% from the field, 31.5% from behind the arc and 73.3% from the free-throw line.
The Eagles lead the league in assists with 23.7 dimes per contest, however they also rank fourth in turnovers, with 14.9 per game.
The Eagles are also first in steals (8.9 per game), however the Nix aren’t too far behind, with 8.6 steals per night.
The two-time BBL MVP — Rahmon Fletcher — leads his team in points (17.6), assists (9.1) and three-point shooting (40.4% 3PT).
Justin Gordon, Cortez Edwards and Evan Maxwell are all averaging seven rebounds or more per game.
Gordon is also Newcastle’s second most prolific scorer (16.4 points-per-game) however he has missed the last four games due to an ankle injury.
Edwards leads the BBL in steals, with 2.5 per night and is also Newcastle’s secondary playmaker, as he’s averaging 5.1 assists per game.
The Eagles have triumphed in three of the last five meetings against the Nix.
Newcastle Eagles: Rahmon Fletcher — The BBL stalwart currently leads the league in points and assists and is also a very capable three-point shooter (40.4% 3PT). Fletcher has been held to single-digit points on three occasions this season (BBL Championship only), and the first such game came against the Nix in the first meeting between the two sides, when he scored just nine points on eight shots. He will have to increase his scoring output on Friday night, especially if Gordon misses his fifth consecutive game.
Cheshire Phoenix: Jimbo Lull — The San Francisco alum is averaging 16.3 points and 7.9 rebounds on 54.9% shooting from the field in the regular season. Lull had a monster 30-point, 13-rebound doubled-double in the first game against the Eagles, so he must look to replicate that performance against a potentially Gordon-less Eagles team.
Ben Thomas: “Tonight we face a very talented Newcastle side who haven’t had the best results of late. This makes tonight’s game very difficult for us.
”It’s a must win to level up the head to head and put pressure on a team just above us in the league. But they need to a win to break their losing streak!
“We will go into the game with a lot of confidence knowing that we are playing well, but we need to be locked in and ready to play hard for a full 40 minutes to get the result we want.”
NEXT HOME GAME
The Nix will be back in action at the EPSV on Sunday 28th of February, against the Surrey Scorchers in the BBL Championship. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m.