Cheshire Phoenix 88 – 84 London Lions
by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix secured their 15th win of the season after a brilliant performance against the London Lions.
The Nix came up clutch in the fourth quarter and caused an upset in the capital. The Lions could’ve secured the league title with a win but Ben Thomas’ team battled all night long and deserved the victory. Daniel Norl continued his brilliant weekend with another incredible performance, the guard scored 30 points on 10-16 FG.
Momcilo Latinovic and Daniel Norl opened the scoring for the Nix in the capital. They hit a pair of three-pointers that inspired a 11-0 run for the visitors. The Nix looked like they were going to pull away early like they did against the Giants but the Lions rallied back into the game following a flurry of three-pointers from Justin Robinson. The hosts trailed 22-23 with just second left in opening quarter but Paul Guede hit a last second buzzer beater to put the Lions up 25-23 at the end of the first quarter.
The Nix regained the lead mid-way through the second quarter after Disraeli Lufadeju made a nice turnaround jumper. The two teams battled back and forth for the entire second period play, with no side able to pull away. The Nix connected on two late shots from beyond the arc and went into half-time with a slim 46-42 lead. Norl had 18 points after 20 minutes while Justin Robinson carried the scoring load for the Lions, he finished the first half with 16 points.
Phoenix started the second half well but they just couldn’t stop Robinson. Lions’ star man scored 10 points in the opening four minutes of the third quarter and helped his team tie up the score with five minutes left in the third. The Lions closed the quarter a little better than the Nix as they recovered from their four-point deficit and created a three-point cushion for themselves. Lufadeju was fouled on a three-point attempt in the closing seconds of the third but converted just two of his attempts at the line. The hosts went into the last period of play up 66-65.
The Lions opened the fourth quarter with a 8-3 run, but the Nix kept battling. Norl made some big shots in the opening minutes of the fourth, but careless turnovers from Ben Thomas’ team meant that the Nix trailed by six with just five minutes left until the final buzzer. The visitors turned the game around and seized the lead following a 12-0 run which was started by a Norl three-pointer. The Nix defended and rebounded at a high level in the closing moments of the game and secured one of the most important victories of the season, 88-84.
Key Team Stat: 42 rebounds. The Nix severely out-rebounded the Lions and that allowed for second chance attempts. The visitors scored 23 second chance points while their opponents managed to score just 10. The 15 to 10 advantage on the offensive glass proved to be crucial in such a close game.