by Vlad Ionasc
The Nix will begin the 2021/22 season with a trip to Sheffield, where they will take on the Sharks in the opening game of the BBL Cup Group Stage. Cheshire and Sheffield are also joined by the Manchester Giants, Newcastle Eagles and Glasgow Rocks in the ‘North’ group.
The Nix won four out of their five pre-season games, while the Sharks managed to defeat the Leicester Riders, 88-80, in their lone pre-season fixture on the 17th of September. Ben Thomas’ team completed a clean sweep over the Sharks last season.
Date: Friday 24th September, 2021
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m.
Competition: BBL Cup Group Stage
Where: Ponds Forge
How to watch: BBL Player – FREE!
SHARKS SCOUTING REPORT
Mike Tuck, Jordan Ratinho, Bennett Koch, Kipper Nichols, Nate Montgomery and Oscar Baldwin have all returned for the 2021/22 season.
Atiba Lyons has consolidated his roster with the additions of Marcus Delpeche, Aaron Anderson, Joe Junior Mvuezolo, Jonathan Williams and Lucien Christofis.
Johde Campbell, Nicholas Lewis, Callum Jones, Rob Marsden, Antwon Lillard and Jeremy Hemsley all left the club during the summer.
Anderson, who averaged 15 points and 5.5 assists per game on 46.2% shooting from deep in the French third tier last season, posted a 21-point, 10-assist double-double in Sheffield’s win over Leicester last Friday.
Tuck, who is back for his 13th season in Sheffield, erupted for a game-high 23 points against the Riders, while flashy shooting-guard Williams also chipped in with 12 points, three rebounds and two assists.
Sheffield Sharks: Jonathan Williams — The Michigan-born guard spent his entire collegiate career at Toledo in the Mid-American Conference (MAC). Williams averaged 19.6 points per game in his senior year and was named in the All-MAC Third Team. He showed flashes of brilliance in the first half of the game against the Leicester Riders, but eventually cooled down after the interval.
Cheshire Phoenix: Levi Bradley — The Northern Illinois alum will be tasked with stretching the floor with his outside shooting and exploiting Sheffield’s main weakness, the slow and rigid front-court, by being aggressive on both ends of the court. Bradley averaged 14.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in his first spell in the BBL, with the Bristol Flyers.
Ben Thomas: “I think that Sheffield’s guards are really good so we’ve got to make sure that we keep them quiet. We obviously know that Ratinho is probably one of the best catch-and-shoot players in the league so we’ve got to make sure we know where he is at all times. Jonathan Williams looked really aggressive in their pre-season game against Leicester while Anderson looked really composed and steady on the ball.
“I don’t think that their front-court is as fast and mobile as ours, so we’ve got to make sure that we attack that and find the benefits of helping off those guys defensively as well.
“We’re still short in terms of having a couple of injuries and Noah Dickerson still not being here so it’s not ideal but we fancy our chances against anyone in this league. We’ve built a team that’s going to compete night in, night out.
“We are ready, we’re confident going into the game that we can come away with the result that we want.”
NEXT HOME GAME
The Nix will go up against the Manchester Giants on Sunday 26th of September in the home opener and first North West Derby of the season! Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. and tickets are now on sale!