It's been a tough start to life in the 2016/17 season for Cheshire Phoenix after much optimism following their summer recruitment and installation of ex-Cheshire playing star Colin O'Reilly as Head Coach.
The currently sit at a 2 - 5 record in The BBL Championship and on Friday night crashed out of The BBL Cup 95 - 85 despite a heroic effort away at Esh Group Eagles Newcastle where a tough task was made all the tougher after Phoenix surprisingly cut small forward Josh Fox from their roster.
Fox who had been playing over 32 minutes a game for The Phoenix averaging 14 points and 6.6 rebounds a game found his numbers and perhaps more importantly his style was not suited to what Cheshire needed and in his last game a home loss v Plymouth only played 25 minutes scoring five points.
Phoenix have also lost James Batish and Kaj-Bjorn Sherman from their original line-up leaving them with a very short bench of five senior players and three juniors at O'Reilly's disposal. Clearly it's a situation that needs to change.
EuroBasket caught up with General Manager James Brice immediately after the loss at Newcastle and he gave his thoughts on the game and the future for Cheshire going forwards.
'First of all I have to say I was really proud of the players tonight. We came here and dug deep. A short rotation and a short bench but we stuck together this week as a group in practice. We knew we were in for a tough time coming here against Newcastle but we're really proud of the effort and we can crack on from here.'
With no Batish, Sherman and now Fox seemingly on his way are Cheshire looking to bring players in?
'We're always looking to improve the squad and we're in the market for players. I was pretty open about that last week with our home press. We're looking to bring a couple of players in, maybe three if we can and we're always looking to improve.'
'Obviously it's disappointing when you bring guys in and it doesn't quite work out but that happens and we'll learn from that again so yes we're definitely looking to add to the squad and make a run for it in the next three quarters of the season.'
Cheshire now have a two-week break for Brice and O'Reilly to consider their options and are apparently very close to signing their first replacement but it won't be O'Reilly himself stepping up to become Player-Coach.
'It's a question I've been asked a lot and it's a question I've put to him as well. We even spoke about it when we interviewed him for the Coach's job about him kitting up but I can't see it happening to be honest.'
'As I say we have spoke about it and I think he could still do it in this league. Obviously he's not old, he's only 32 years of age but he just wants to concentrate on coaching and we're happy for him to do that.'
'He's not happy with the way things have gone but he's fully involved in all the discussions. He's settled in really well and knows the area and The Club really well. This is a real long-term project here at The Phoenix.'
'In the past few years it hasn't quite been that and there have been a lot of changes. So now we're looking for stability and Colin's a big part of that program and he's really buying in to that.' 'All the decision on the playing side are his and supported by The Club whatever decision he makes and we're all looking long-term right now..'
'There's still a lot to play for this season and we've certainly not written it off this early. We've got to focus on the league and finish as high up as we can and we're looking at The Trophy as well. That's a competition that's close to The Club's heart.'
'We won it four times in a row in the past a few years ago. We're really looking to crack on this year, address our issues as soon as we can and make a statement once we've finalised the roster. Colin's confident, we're confident to see what the team can produce.'
It certainly hasn't been all doom and gloom for Phoenix this season. New Captain Jamell Anderson has made a very big and mature contribution since coming over from Leicester and he's been joined by Raheem May-Thompson who's certainly showing what it takes at BBL level.
'Raheem is a complete breath of fresh air on and off the court. He was in a situation at Leicester where he wasn't playing many minutes and when he was they weren't important minutes. We saw something that we really thought we could get out of him.'
'He's been a great addition and a massive upgrade to our team so far. He had another massive double-double again tonight (17 points and 15 rebounds) so he's really shining.
'It's really good that The Club is making moves for players like him, a British player, and putting confidence in in him to play in this league and he's producing and doing it justice. We're really happy with Raheem and he's someone that long-term we'd like to keep hold off.'
Identifying the right players to fit a plan and a Coach's style is one thing but being able to bring them in is another. But despite the start and the problems they've had Brice is still optimistic about The Phoenix's future.
'Definitely, very confident. Like I said it's a long-term project that we're looking for and we're confident that the changes that we're making or have made are going to improve the team and The Club going forward. We've got a young Coach who's hungry and wants to win and who wants to be here and improve The Club on and off the court so we're very optimistic about the future.'
It is very refreshing in a cut-throat success at all costs world to hear that a Club is willing to take short-term pain for long-term gain and with Brice at the helm and O'Reilly buying in then it seems Cheshire Phoenix and their fans can look forward to a bright future.
Manchester drop curtain on Senior Playoff Finals with D1M win - 3 hours ago
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Manchester retained their D1M Playoff title after a comfortable 73-53 win over Loughborough. A poor 2nd quarter where the Riders fell behind and shot just 2/15 from the floor proved too much to overcome against a well drilled and talented Magic side. Unable to call upon the injured Josh Ward-Hibbert, Loughborough struggled to find answers on offence for the duration. With the game meandering through the 2nd half, an altercation between Lee Goldsborough and Jonas Dieterich during a loose b... [read more]
Manchester retained their D1M Playoff title after a comfortable 73-53 win over Loughborough. A poor 2nd quarter where the Riders fell behind and shot just 2/15 from the floor proved too much to overcome against a well drilled and talented Magic side. Unable to call upon the injured Josh Ward-Hibbert, Loughborough struggled to find answers on offence for the duration. With the game meandering through the 2nd half, an altercation between Lee Goldsborough and Jonas Dieterich during a loose ball play led to unsportsmanlike fouls for both players and a disqualification for Magic's Stefan Gill (173-PG-83) after he was involved in the aftermath. That was as exciting as things got in a 2nd half that never really threatened a comeback from Loughborough. Duane Morgan (198-F-93, college: Adelphi) treated the vocal Manchester crowd to some spectacular plays, including a number of dunks and an alley-oop for good measure. He was awarded the game's MVP trophy after his stat line of 20 points, 12 rebounds and 2 assists. Morgan started his MVP afternoon off well and picked up a team high 5 points in the opening 10 minutes. More importantly captain Jack Minister, guard Kayin Darbey (183-PG-94) and Lee Goldsborough all settled into the game with early points as Manchester moved out to a 22-16 1st quarter lead. Loughborough's athletic guard Reiss Pinnock offered some resistance but it wasn't the start the Riders were looking for as the initiative was with their opponents heading into the 2nd. With the largely Manchester based crowd fully into the game and behind the team in the lead, Loughborough crumbled in the 2nd. With only Pinnock and Levi Noel (197-G-91, college: E.Illinois) troubling the scorers, it was a crippling 10 minutes for Loughborough's chances of success as practically everything they attempted failed to connect. With a young roster, confidence was quickly dented and the D1M 5th seeds never really recovered. A 21 point Manchester lead at the half meant the game was firmly in the hands of the reigning playoff champions. The main talking point of the 2nd half occurred midway through the 3rd period and led to Stefan Gill leaving the court much earlier than expected. With Duane Morgan grabbing an offensive rebound, he went to put the ball back before being forced into a miss by a Lucien Christofis foul. Grabbing the rebound as the whistle sounded, both Goldsbrough and Dieterich went about the act with a bit too much effort for the others' liking. That led to a shove from the Manchester man and a chest bump from the Riders' captain. Taking exception to Dieterich's actions, Gill became involved in the melee with a shove that earned him a DQ. Aside from that flash point, the 3rd period played out with little of note. Loughborough sought a way back into the game that was frequently denied by the continued scoring of Manchester and their own errors on offence. Even when the Riders were presented with opportunities from the free throw line, they faltered there to and recorded a 39% success rate from the charity stripe in the game. The final quarter provided Manchester Coach Paul Middleton with a real luxury as he was able to provide his bench with some useful minutes in a showpiece game. Cian Hickey, Tyme Regent-Bascombe and Yannick Onifade (201-C/F) all saw their first action of the contest during the final 10 minutes and Kaiyem Cleary (196-G-99) was provided with an extended opportunity to showcase his talented. To their credit, Loughborough continued to fight but the difference in score didn't deviate far from the 20-point mark before the final buzzer sounded. Courtesy of: basketballengland.co.uk
The BBL Championship regular season came to a close with an action-packed Sunday with Bristol Flyers sealing the final spot in the Play-Offs. Andreas Kapoulas and his side defeated Surrey Scorchers 71-79 behind a double-double from Hameed Ali as both sides edged out Plymouth Raiders, who saw their season end with a 99-93 loss at Manchester Giants. Leicester Riders were beaten 77-80 at home to Worcester Wolves, while Esh Group Eagles Newcastle edged out DBL Sharks Sheffield for an 82-84... [read more]
The BBL Championship regular season came to a close with an action-packed Sunday with Bristol Flyers sealing the final spot in the Play-Offs.
Andreas Kapoulas and his side defeated Surrey Scorchers 71-79 behind a double-double from Hameed Ali as both sides edged out Plymouth Raiders, who saw their season end with a 99-93 loss at Manchester Giants.
Leicester Riders were beaten 77-80 at home to Worcester Wolves, while Esh Group Eagles Newcastle edged out DBL Sharks Sheffield for an 82-84 victory on the road.
Also, Glasgow Rocks came from 20 down to beat London Lions 80-77 with Cheshire Phoenix storming to a 128-77 success over Leeds Force with Mike DiNunno pouring in 34 points.
2017 BBL Play-Off Quarter-Finals
Riders (1) v Scorchers (8) Eagles (2) v Flyers (7) Rocks (3) v Lions (6) Sharks (4) v Wolves (5)
All ties will be played over two legs starting next weekend, with exact dates and tip-off times to be confirmed on Monday 24 April. BBL Championship Surrey Scorchers 71 (19,36,50) (McCray 18, Williams 12, Ogedengbe 11) Bristol Flyers 79 (23,36,52) (Ali 19, Smith 16, Cosby/Boggs 13)
Bristol Flyers secured their place in the BBL Play-Offs after beating Surrey Scorchers 71-79 on the road to finish seventh.
Andreas Kapoulas ' side knew that a double-winning weekend would be enough to make the post-season and did exactly that as they followed up a win against Manchester Giants.
The Scorchers had cemented their own spot with a win against Plymouth Raiders on Saturday, and were playing for a higher-placed finish.
Hameed Ali posted a double-double with 19 points and 10 assists, while three other players reached double figures in the win.
The Flyers managed to push ahead by four at the end of the first after an even start, but the game was level at 36 heading into half-time.
The lead changed hands throughout the third quarter with Bristol edging into a two-point lead before quickly opening up a 54-62 advantage in the fourth.
Surrey provided another twist as they closed to within a single point on three occasions late in the game, but Ali closed out the win with a decisive 7-0 run.
Bristol will now face Newcastle in the Play-Offs Quarter-Finals having recovered from a 1-11 start to make the post-season, while Surrey take on league champions, Leicester BBL Championship Leicester Riders 77 (26,47,60) (Bernardini 19, Thomson 16, King 11) Worcester Wolves 80 (21,36,52) (Khan 17, Zeigler 15, Navajas 14)
Worcester Wolves made a return to winning ways as they held on to hand Leicester Riders a first home defeat since December with a 77-80 victory.
Ashton Khan top scored with a 17-point haul having hit a huge triple heading into the final minute with Wolves also welcoming back Maurice Walker to action on court.
The Riders led 20-9 early on before the Wolves cut the gap with a strong finish to the first, though the hosts restored their 11-point lead at the half.
A 16-0 start to the second half saw Worcester take the lead before the Riders responded with 13 straight to end the third up eight. The visitors poured in 28 points in the fourth to power to victory as they finish with 20 league wins.
Tyler Bernardini had a game-high 19 points for the Riders as they drop three of their last four having already secured the league title. BBL Championship DBL Sharks Sheffield 82 (19,42,60) (Rembert 16, Riley 15, Davis 13) Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 84 (27,37,66) (Fletcher 28, Martin 15, Behrens/Hart 8)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle closed out their regular season camapign with an 82-84 victory on the road against DBL Sharks Sheffield.
Rahmon Fletcher netted a game-high 28 points as the Eagles followed up Friday's win over Leicester Riders to finish 23-10 on the season.
Scott Martin opened with back-to-back triples in an early 13-0 run from the Eagles before the home side responded to cut the gap and took the lead in the second on an 11-2 run.
The Sharks led by as many as nine points at 53-44 before Fletcher scored 13 points in a pivotal 20-0 reply from Newcastle as they surged into an 11-point lead.
A 5-0 close reduced the deficit and after falling 10 behind once more, the Sharks hit back with a 9-2 run to set up an exciting finish. Rashawn Rembert made it 80-79 in the final minute before Drew Lasker fired Newcastle back ahead from downtown before his free throw sealed the win.
Rembert had 16 points in the loss with Jordan Davis adding 13 points and 10 assists as the Sharks finish in fourth with a 20-13 record behind Glasgow. BBL Championship Glasgow Rocks 80 (16,37,54) (Lescault 19, Achara 17, Bunyan/Watson 15) London Lions 77 (25,49,68) (Hassan 19, Owumi 15, Taylor/Niktash 14)
Glasgow Rocks came from as many as 20 points down to beat London Lions 80-77 for a dramatic final day victory.
The Rocks were 48-68 behind with less than two minutes to go in the third, but battled back with a 26-9 final period to take the win with third place secured earlier in the day.
Glasgow still trailed by 14 heading into the fourth and sealed the win with a 15-2 close in the final six minutes with a couple of huge triples from Jonny Bunyan.
Hayden Lescault top scored with 19 points, while Kieron Achara added 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting as well as eight rebounds, four assists and five blocks i the win.
The Lions looked set to finish with two wins on the weekend before their opponents' stunning rally and the two teams will meet again next week in the Quarter-Finals of the Play-Offs.
BBL Championship Manchester Giants 99 (26,49,75) (Jones 26, Williams 25, Bell/Okoro 13) Plymouth Raiders 93 (28,55,80) (Dixon 29, Corletto 26, Nicholas 14)
Manchester Giants finished a difficult season with a flourish as they claimed a 99-93 victory over Plymouth Raiders.
The Raiders needed a win coupled with a loss for Bristol Flyers to make the post-season, but their campaign ends with double disappointment.
Callum Jones starred with 26 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists, while player-coach Yorick Williams fired in seven triples in a 25-point haul.
Plymouth jumped out to a 2-13 start and that would be their largest lead of the game as the Giants battled back and eventually took the lead with a 7-0 start to the fourth.
Cory Dixon had 29 points in vain for the Raiders with Daryl Corletto adding 26 as they finish with a 14-19 record.
BBL Championship Cheshire Phoenix 128 (39,76,101) (DiNunno 34, Brown 26, Allen-Jordan 16) Leeds Force 77 (12,40,59) (Marsden 30, Sanders 20, Matthew 10)
Cheshire Phoenix ended their 2016-17 BBL campaign in style after recording an emphatic 128-77 success against Leeds Force.
Mike DiNunno poured in 34 points in just 22 minutes, while Earl Brown recorded a double-double with 26 points and 14 rebounds, missing just two shots from the field.
Cheshire scored 39 points in a dominant first quarter and had a commanding 76-40 advantage at the half as they powered their way to a 51-point win.
The visitors were without two starters in Rob Sandoval and Jack Isenbarger as they suffered a heavy defeat to end their campaign.
Rob Marsden led Force with 30 points and 11 rebounds as they finish the season with eight wins to their name, with Cheshire one place ahead in 10th with an 11-22 record.
The final day of the 2016-17 BBL Regular Season on Sunday has seen the line-up for the forthcoming BBL Play-Off Quarter-Finals confirmed. 2017 BBL Play-Off Quarter-Finals Riders (1) v Scorchers (8) Eagles (2) v Flyers (7) Rocks (3) v Lions (6) Sharks (4) v Wolves (5) All ties will be played over two legs starting next weekend, with exact dates and tip-off times to be confirmed on Monday 24 April. The last two teams standing after the Quarter-Finals and subsequent Semi-Finals, will adv... [read more]
The final day of the 2016-17 BBL Regular Season on Sunday has seen the line-up for the forthcoming BBL Play-Off Quarter-Finals confirmed.
2017 BBL Play-Off Quarter-Finals
Riders (1) v Scorchers (8) Eagles (2) v Flyers (7) Rocks (3) v Lions (6) Sharks (4) v Wolves (5)
All ties will be played over two legs starting next weekend, with exact dates and tip-off times to be confirmed on Monday 24 April.
The last two teams standing after the Quarter-Finals and subsequent Semi-Finals, will advance to The 02 in London on Sunday 14 May for the 2017 British Basketball Play-Off Finals, where a record-breaking crowd is being anticipated.
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