Cheshire recorded a victory in it’s first game under their new name, having survived the threat of extinction while Glasgow continued their fine form with a win on the road in Manchester.
Cheshire’s order of the Phoenix was completed on Friday to keep the magic of basketball alive from the ashes of the Jets. Despite missing the influential and in-form figure of Chez Marks, Cheshire were too much for the Mersey Tigers to handle and completed a hat-trick of North-West derby wins with a 92-65 success.
Phil Brandreth opened the scoring with the first five points for the visitors before Joshua Lockett broke the deadlock for Mersey after nearly four minutes without scoring. Phoenix then took control with a 14-2 run with a three pointer from Chris Pearce and the first points on debut for Jerome Gumbs.
The first quarter ended with the score 20-6 in favour of Cheshire and their new signing then added consecutive baskets at the start of the second against his former side to increase the lead. Martin Calvo nailed a triple midway through the quarter but a 9-2 burst helped the visiting Phoenix take a dominant 50-22 lead into half-time.
Mersey rallied after the break and shared the third quarter in terms of scoring 20-20 but they still trailed 70-42 with ten minutes remaining. An 11-2 run from Cheshire saw the lead peak at 35 points but the Tigers clawed back some pride with the stronger finish to outscore their opponents in the final quarter.
Chris Bigley scored five points in quick succession towards the end of the game to help himself to a game high 25 points while the Phoenix’s top-scoring honours were shared by Alif Bland and the debutant Gumbs.
November has been a prosperous month for the Glasgow Rocks with Sterling Davis leading his side to five successive victories with the last three all coming on the road. Manchester continue to slide down the table with their losing streak extending to six games. Donald Robinson top scored for the Rocks with 25 points while Devan Bailey had 21 for the hosts.
The match proved to be a topsy-turvy encounter in which the opening quarter set the tone for the night ahead. The visiting Rocks raced into an early 8-2 lead before David Watts netted from beyond the arc.
Glasgow were leading 17-9 with three minutes to go before consecutive baskets from Ben Eaves and a combined four triples from Bailey, Stefan Gill and James Jones formed a 16-0 spell to give Manchester a 25-17 advantage.
Bailey’s two increased the lead to double figures but Owen McNally responded immediately with a three that sparked a 9-0 response from Glasgow. Davis later found his range from three point range before Robinson put the Rocks with a dunk in the final minute which helped his side lead 40-38 at half-time.
Manchester took the lead midway through the third but Glasgow began to break clear; starting with a run of eleven unanswered points to lead 60-51. The visitors also closed the quarter with the last six points to take a commanding 68-55 lead into the fourth.
Both teams traded baskets in the final quarter and Glasgow still looked comfortable with a 12 point lead with just under five minutes remaining. However, Manchester found some much needed inspiration and kept their opponents score-less for the next four minutes whilst cutting the lead to just three points in the final minute.
Their efforts were to be undone from the free throw line as Robinson and EJ Harrison held their nerve to seal the 83-77 victory for Glasgow.
Manchester are on the road next as they take on Surrey Heat while Glasgow host the league leaders on Sunday. Also on the Sunday, Durham host Sheffield and Worcester travel to Plymouth.