by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix obtained an impressive road win against the Sheffield Sharks in the first game of the 2021/22 BBL season.
Ben Thomas’ new-look side blitzed Atiba Lyons’ team in the opening couple of minutes, as they scored seven unanswered points through Michael Ochereobia and Josh McSwiggan. The Nix finished the opening quarter in similar fashion, as they outscored the hosts by 7-to-2 in the last minute and a half and earned themselves a 22-12 lead heading into the second period.
The Sharks flipped the script in the second stanza as they exploded for 27 points, whilst limiting Cheshire to just 11, which was enough for Lyons’ team to go into the interval with a six-point advantage.
Sheffield’s lead ballooned up to a game-high 15 points at the 6:21 mark of the third quarter after Aaron Anderson capped off an 11-to-2 run with a step-back three from the wing, however the visitors showed great heart as they kept chipping away at the lead, eventually bringing it back down to six points before the start of the final quarter.
The Nix played stifling defence in the fourth as they held the Sharks to just nine points in 10 minutes. Thomas’ men also executed extremely well on offense, as they amassed 22 points on their way to a gutsy 71-64 victory at Ponds Forge.
Ochereobia tallied a monster 18-point, 19-rebound double-double, which also included three blocks and 75% shooting from the floor.
Despite starting on the bench, Phoenix forward Levi Bradley led all scorers with 20 points (7-13 FG) in just 24 minutes. Bradley also hauled in seven rebounds (four offensive), committed zero turnovers and finished with a joint game-high +9 Plus/Minus.
Phoenix captain and GB starting guard Teddy Okereafor stuffed the stat-sheet as he finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, six assists, three steals and a joint game-high +9 Plus/Minus.
Marcus Delpeche, who made the move from Bristol to Sheffield over the summer, led his team in scoring with 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor, while Anderson also enjoyed a good debut as he drew a game-high nine fouls and finished with 13 points.