Going into the new 2023/24 season of the British Basketball League season, many fans were ready to watch out for many things. How the reigning champions, the London Lions, would fare, or how the newly revamped Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles would deal.
not many people were expecting the demolition job the Cheshire Phoenix created
against the Leicester Riders.
Coming into game week one, the Phoenix were seen as the underdogs with the Riders expected to win at home routinely. But, this wasn’t the case. The scoreline of 110-86 to the Phoenix if anything, complimented the Riders, which says how dominant Cheshire truly were.
In the best
way to describe it, an NBA-style offence, The Cheshire Phoenix mimicked the
great basketball offences of the last few decades in world basketball: prioritising
threes, ball movement, free-throws, and points in the paint.
In the 110 points scored by the Phoenix, every single one of those points came via a three, a free-throw, or scored within the paint. The ball movement was also on display with 26 of their 39 field goals being assisted. This style has become notoriously famous over the past 20 years in the NBA with legendary coach Mike D’Antoni being one of the original advocates of this philosophy, ironically with the Phoenix Suns.
Phoenix head coach Ben Thomas said post-game:
“We had a
game plan of getting our bigs onto the perimeter, and more importantly, getting
their bigs onto the perimeter.
got such big guards who can post up, we have so many options that so many teams
in the British Basketball League don’t have. If we play like that every week
then we’re going to cause a lot of problems.”
briefly highlighted the versatility of his team’s structure with most of the
rotation being able to be triple-threat options. However, this once again is
another NBA trait that we see with the likes of the Golden State Warriors and
the Toronto Raptors.
It’s no wonder that the Phoenix finished with the most points in game week one without a single other team breaking 100 points, let alone the 110 points they scored.
even though their offence was incredibly explosive, it also came down to many
other factors seen in the stat sheet. Their defence was truly locked in,
claiming an absurd 13 steals in the game which led to 24 points off turnovers,
a stat they beat the Riders by 18.
though it technically isn’t a defensive stat, the grit shown with the +14
margin in offensive rebounds to the Phoenix allowed them an extra 29 field-goal
attempts than the Riders.
The scary thought with how the Phoenix played though was their considerably lacklustre numbers from the free-throw line. Cheshire went 14/25 from the line, a rather low 56% and head coach Ben Thomas will be hoping to rectify. However, if they can sort that, the Phoenix could truly be the dark horse of the British Basketball League.
ended the game against the Riders with three players scoring over 20 points:
Maceo Jack, Aaryn Rai, and Skyler White. With these three, Cam Holden nearly
notching a triple-double, and Cam Christon scorching off the bench, this team
truly has no star and is a true team that could be very deadly going forward.
“The problem with our team is that we don’t have a star but I think that’s going to help us. A lot of people see us and underestimate us, and if we can play good, team basketball, we can cause a lot of teams a lot of issues,” Ben Thomas said.
You could call it a fluke, a hot shooting night, or a bad performance from the Riders. However, after their display in game week one, no one should be underestimating the Cheshire Phoenix going forward in the British Basketball League season.
With the new season here, you can still get your British
Basketball fix by following the League on social media or heading to our YouTube channel to relive all of
the best moments from last year!