These two teams were part of one of the most memorable moments of last season as the London Lions and Cheshire Phoenix did battle in the BBL Trophy Final – with the Phoenix coming out victorious – and tonight they lace up to compete on the hardwood once more in front of the Sky Sports cameras!
Tipping off live on Sky Sports Arena and Sky Sports YouTube at 7:45pm, the Lions put their undefeated BBL Championship start (5-0) on the line against Ben Thomas’ Phoenix (3-3), and the latter’s new floor general Marcus Evans is excited for the trip to the capital.
“I remember some great battles from last year, to be honest.”
Evans said, reflecting on his time battling London with the Bristol Flyers. “We
know how talented they are, but I think what stands out most is their
experience, which means we can’t make many mistakes against them because
they’re going to be ready to take advantage of them.
“They’ve started off really well, they’re undefeated, but
these are the games everybody looks forward to playing as a competitor, so I’m
excited – especially as its on the road, because it just makes the challenge
even harder – and looking forward to seeing what we can do.
“We’ve got potential to be a great defensive team,
particularly, so it’ll be exciting to test that tonight and see how far we’ve
come and how much further we’ve got to go. It’s going to be a great test.”
“I’m happy with how we’ve started but not content.”
Evans had a brilliant debut for the Phoenix, scoring 18
points in a comfortable win against the Caledonia Gladiators, but his counterpart
this evening has been one of the most impressive new acquisitions to the BBL
over the summer.
Great Britain National Team guard Luke Nelson has been at the
heart of the Lions’ success this season, orchestrating the play with efficiency
and authority on the offensive end and he’s already had one incredible game in
front of the Sky Sports cameras this year in the team’s home opener against
Leicester Riders on September 30th.
“I feel like I’ve been solid and that I’m in stride at the
moment.” Nelson said.
“This team is very different to any other I’ve ever played
on, and everybody – including me – has had to make adjustments to fit in with
“The results are the most important thing for me, and in the
BBL we’ve done what we wanted which is to remain undefeated and in EuroCup, although
the first game was tough, we had a really good win in our second game.
“I’m happy with how we’ve started but not content. I just always
feel like I can do better, which has made me the player I am.”
“We compliment each other really well and can give
other teams a lot of problems.”
One of the most tantalising prospects of Cheshire’s acquisition
of Evans is the possible Austin-Evans tandem as two of the most electrifying
guards in the BBL last year now suit up for the same team this term.
Evans discussed the circumstances and reasoning behind his
move to Ellesmere Port Sports Village and why he feels there is a lot to be
excited about in terms of the potential growth of the team in the coming weeks.
“The biggest thing for me was the playing style. I came up
against Cheshire last year and have seen them this year before joining, so I
knew they were a team that were strong in transition and dynamic on both sides
of the floor, so that fits my game really well and I felt like I could add even
more to that by coming here.
“What I was looking for and what the team were looking for
just matched up really well. I really enjoyed getting my first game in the
books last week, it was great to be back in the league and start to build a
chemistry with the guys on the floor.
“It was a great first step for us and I feel like we’ve got
a group that can accomplish a lot this year as we continue to grow together.
Larry (Austin Jr.) and I have developed a great chemistry already, we have a
similar mentality on the floor and I’m really excited because I know what we
can both do, we compliment each other really well and can give other teams a
lot of problems.”
“I don’t think as a team we’re close to our best yet.”
Having started 5-0 in the BBL and 1-1 in the 7DAYS EuroCup,
there’s not much more on paper the Lions could have done to make their start to
the term even better, but Nelson outlined where the team’s focus has to be
going into this game and how much more there is to come from the group as the season
“We have to take every BBL game seriously because these
teams are going to give everything to beat us as we have a target on our back.
We’ve seen it more than once this season, particularly in the first halves of
games, teams come out fighting against and want to show what they can do.
“Cheshire might be underdogs, but anybody can beat anybody
in the BBL, so we’ve got to come out with the right attitude or it’ll cost us. There’s
some really good talent in this league, teams are well-coached, well-organised,
and this is definitely an exciting, up-and-coming league where anybody is
capable of beating anybody.
“I don’t think as a team we’re close to our best yet. We’ve shown glimpses of what we can do and what we’re capable of. We’ve got to continue to play the right way offensively and defensively and build that chemistry. We’ve not had a lot of time to gel in practice and stuff, but we’re getting there and we’ll be a very dangerous team once we’ve had some more time to come together.”