by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix progressed through to the Semi-Finals of the BBL Trophy following a comfortable victory over the Plymouth City Patriots at the Plymouth Pavilions.
Despite spirited individual efforts from Rashad Hassan, Denzel Ubiaro and Antonio Williams, the Patriots never really troubled the Nix, as they failed to register a single three-pointer throughout the night and trailed by as much as 25 at one point of the game.
British swingman Kofi Josephs was extremely disappointing for Paul James’ side, as he finished the game with just six points on 1-of-11 shooting from the floor.
The Nix converted 48% of their total attempts from the floor and were red-hot from beyond the arc, as they connected on 13 of their 25 attempts from deep (52%).
Phoenix’s bench supplied 30 points while Plymouth’s was a non-factor, as James’ second unit added just nine points on the night.
The Patriots started the game well, as they established a healthy six-point lead at the 6-minute mark of the opening quarter, however the Nix recovered well and tied the game at 11-points apiece just three minutes later. Ben Thomas’ men closed the final three minutes of the opening quarter with an 11-to-4 run which helped them go into the second frame on top, 22-to-15.
Namon Wright pushed Phoenix’s lead to double-digits for the first time at the 8-minute mark of the second quarter, after he knocked down a three-pointer. Cheshire obtained plenty of stops and capitalised on the offensive end, eventually doubling their lead at the 3:43 mark, when Levi Bradley connected on a three-pointer off an assist from Phoenix’s floor-general, Teddy Okereafor. GB veteran guard Ben Mockford erupted for 12 second quarter points as he drilled four triples, while the Nix added 30 as a team. Plymouth only managed to score 17 in the second act of the game and went into the locker room down 32-52.
Phoenix’s lead hovered around the 20-point mark for the majority of the penultimate quarter as Thomas’ men were content with just trading buckets with their opponents. Cheshire’s half-time lead remained intact, as both sides added 19 points before the start of the fourth quarter.
The Nix led by a game-high 25 points with just six minutes left on the clock, however that’s when the Patriots started playing their best basketball. James’ men outscored the visitors by 22-to-8 in the final six minutes of the contest, however it was a case of too little, too late as the Nix ran out victorious 88-77 at the final buzzer.
Mockford paved the way with a team-high 17 points on 6-0f-9 shooting from the floor, including 5-of-8 from three-point territory.
Larry Austin Jr. stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points, seven rebounds, six steals and three assists off the bench. Despite committing a team-high five turnovers, the American guard finished with a game-best +13 Plus/Minus.
Noah Dickerson notched himself a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double in his first game back from injury. The American center also dished out four assists and a couple of blocks.
Wright and Bradley both finished with 14 points apiece, while Okereafor tallied eight points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals all while committing just one turnover.