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Cheshire Phoenix vs Newcastle Eagles – Preview

by Vlad Ionasc

The Nix will aim to obtain their first set of back-to-back wins in the 2021/22 season and avenge their triple-overtime defeat against the Newcastle Eagles in their penultimate game of the year.

Cheshire will enter the building in good spirits following their 51-point victory against the Plymouth City Patriots before the Christmas break.

Since their 113-110 triple OT win in Cheshire, the Geordies have dropped back-to-back games against the Bristol Flyers (55-73 L) and Leicester Riders (73-102 L).

The fixture will mark Newcastle’s last outing on their home floor in 2021.

GAME DETAILS

Date: Tuesday 28th December, 2021

Tip-off: 7:30 p.m.

Competition: BBL Championship

Where: Vertu Motors Arena

How to watch: BBL Player

EAGLES SCOUTING REPORT

Photo by Newcastle Eagles

The Eagles have a 4-4 record after the first eight games in the BBL Championship.

The Geordies crashed out of the BBL Cup at the Group Stage of the competition after they finished with a 1-7 record in the ‘North’ group.

Ian MacLeod’s men have lost three out of their last five games and are currently on a two-game losing streak.

Three overtime periods were required for a winner to be decided in the last meeting between the two sides, on the 5th of December. In the end, the Eagles managed to steal a three-point win on the road.

Newcastle’s run-and-gun offense ranks sixth in the BBL, with the Geordies averaging just under 85 points-per-game.

Only the London Lions (73.5) attempt more shots per game than the Eagles (73.3). Newcastle ranks just seventh in in three-pointers attempted (22.9).

MacLeod’s side plays good team basketball, as they currently rank fourth in assists, with 22.5 dimes per game.

Newcastle’s play style means that they’re susceptible to turning the ball over at a high rate. They currently average the third most turnovers per game (15.9).

The Eagles find themselves in the top four in both hustle statistical categories (8.4 steals-per-game; third most) + (3.4 blocks per game; fourth most).

Corey Johnson is Newcastle’s leading scorer this season, with 15.4 points-per-game, while Rahmon Fletcher (15) and Duke Shelton (14.3) round off the top three.

Shelton leads the Geordies in the rebounding, with 10.5 boards per night, while Fletcher is their number one playmaker, with 9.1 assists-per-game.

Johnson (40.4% 3PT) is the only Newcastle player to average 40%+ shooting from three-point range.

As a team, the Eagles are averaging 45.9% shooting from the floor, 32.2% from deep and 71.9% from the free-throw line.

The Eagles have won four out of the last five meetings against the Nix.

KEY PLAYERS

Newcastle Eagles: Duke Shelton — ‘The Duke’ paved the way for the Eagles in their last encounter against the Nix as he recorded a 22-point, 17-rebound double-double and finished with a game-high +14 Plus/Minus. Shelton wasn’t able to replicate his performance against the Flyers or Riders and the Eagles subsequently suffered a couple of heavy defeats.

Cheshire Phoenix: Larry Austin Jr. — The former Xavier guard has adapted well to the BBL and he delivered his best performance in Phoenix colours just before the Christmas break, against the Plymouth City Patriots. Austin tallied 21 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and zero turnovers and was voted the Hillyer McKeown Player of the Game by the fans.

Photo by Adam Day

COACH’S CORNER

Photo by Adam Day

Ben Thomas: “We’ve got a big opportunity tonight to get our second win in a row! We’ve had a good week of preparation under our belts and feel that if we execute the game plan then we are more than capable of getting the result we want!”

NEXT HOME GAME

The Nix are next in action at the EPSV against the Sony Centre Fury in the First Round of the BBL Trophy on the 9th of January. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

 

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