Cheshire Phoenix vs Newcastle Eagles – Preview

by Vlad Ionasc

The Nix will aim to clinch their second road win and improve their BBL Cup record to 3-1 when they’ll take on the out-of-form Newcastle Eagles at the Vertu Motors Arena later this evening.

Ian MacLeod’s team is still searching for its first win of the season, after falling to the Glasgow Rocks, Manchester Giants and Sheffield Sharks in their opening three games of the 2021/22 campaign.

Ben Thomas will return to the sidelines for the Nix after missing the game against the Rocks last weekend due to food poisoning.


Date: Friday 8th October, 2021

Tip-off: 7:30 p.m.

Competition: BBL Cup Group Stage

Where: Vertu Motors Arena

How to watch: BBL Player


Photo by Newcastle Eagles

MacLeod managed to retain the services of Louis Sayers, Rahmon Fletcher, Darius Defoe, Themba Yabantu and Sauveur Kande over the summer, whilst adding Corey Johnson (ex-Leicester Riders guard), Kyle Williams, Duke Shelton, Terrell Vinson, Wesley Person Jr. and  Daniel Johnson-Thompson (ex-Worcester Wolves forward).

Key players from last season such as Evan Maxwell, Cortez Edwards, Justin Gordon all left the club during the off-season. Rex Pflueger, Eddie Matthew and Sean Murphy also departed, while Drew Lasker retired.

It’s the first time since the 1998/99 season that Newcastle have started a season 0-3, per Dan Routledge.

The Eagles lost the rebounding battle in two out of three losses and only managed to shoot above 30% from three-point range once.

The Geordies are averaging 13.6 turnovers per night, while they’re only forcing their opponents into 9.6 turnovers.

The two-time BBL MVP, Rahmon Fletcher, is averaging 14.6 points and 7 assists whilst committing 3.7 turnovers per game.

Newcastle’s sharpshooter Corey Johnson has endured a tough start to the season, as he’s averaging just six points on an abysmal 28.6% FG and 7.1% 3PT.

American guard Wesley Person Jr. currently leads the Geordies in scoring, with 15 points-per-game on 37.5% shooting from deep.

Florida-born forward Duke Shelton is averaging a 10.7 point & 11.3 rebound double-double after three games.


Photo by Newcastle Eagles

Newcastle Eagles: Corey Johnson — The Canadian guard hasn’t lived up to expectations so far but it’s fair to say that when he’s in rhythm it’s hard to identify a better shooter than him in the entire league. The Eagles will need Johnson to rediscover his 2020/21 form in order to obtain a win against the Nix and be successful for the rest of the season.

Cheshire Phoenix: Namon Wright — The American guard has led the Nix in scoring in two out of three games so far. The visitors will need another big performance at both ends from Wright in order to bring the victory back to Cheshire. Wright must use his superior size and athleticism to limit Person’s impact and exploit Defoe’s lack of speed on the offensive end.

Photo by Adam Day


Photo by Adam Day

Ben Thomas: “The Newcastle Eagles have a lot of talent, their guards are good, Wesley Person Jr. has proven that he’s a scorer wherever he’s been, Corey Johnson is a great shooter, Louis Sayers we know is a great shooter, Kyle Williams is another scorer. The bigs, we all know what Defoe can do, he’s consistent in what he does and then they’ve got Vinson who is a talented player and Duke Shelton who is all over the glass at the moment. It’s not just a one-man band but Fletcher is definitely the main cog in their machine and we’ve got to make sure that we do a job on him.

“Today’s game is a must-win on both sides and we want to cement a spot right at the top of this ‘North’ group and for that to happen we’ve got to target a victory!”


The Nix will host the Sheffield Sharks at the EPSV on Sunday 10th of October, at 5:30pm. Tickets are now on sale!


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