Cheshire Phoenix head coach Ben Thomas wants his side to be fearless when they take on Newcastle Eagles in the BBL Cup quarter final on Friday.
The Nix head north to take on the high-flying Eagles at Sport Central (7.30pm) knowing that they will very much be the underdogs against a side who are anticipated to be challenging for honours on all fronts this season.
Cheshire suffered their second loss of the season on Friday night when they went down 91-78 at Worcester Wolves in the BBL Championship, but Thomas now wants his side to learn the lessons from that defeat and earn a spot in the final four of the BBL Cup.
“It will be a massive test for us as they (Newcastle) have put together a really strong group this year,” said Thomas.
“But we have shown how strong we can be this year and we’ve got some really good results along the way so we shouldn’t have any fear going up there and we’ll be going for the win.
“It is very much our cup final, and that is how we’ll be approaching it. We want to be in that final four and we want to be pushing for trophies.
“Newcastle are tough this year and their American guards (Saah Nimley and Jaysean Paige) can really score and put up big numbers, but we have reason to be confident.
“We’ll learn the lessons from the loss at Worcester and move forward and look to get a response against Newcastle and try and progress.”
On Friday night at Worcester, Cheshire kept in touch with the hosts throughout the contest but were unable to overcome a poor first quarter that saw them nine points down after 10 minutes.
CJ Gettys (23) and Malcolm Riley (21) lead the scoring for Cheshire in the loss, and Thomas attributed the defeat - Worcester’s first win of the season - to less rebounding and more turnovers.
“This season we have been averaging around 49 rebounds a game and about 11 or 12 turnovers. Against Worcester we had 18 turnovers and 30 rebounds,” said Thomas.
“Worcester really needed that win and you could almost sense it around the arena, it was a case of win at all costs and there is no doubt that they deserved the win and we can have no complaints on that front.
“We didn’t do what we have been doing as a team and that showed in the numbers and in the end result. But you learn more about yourself from a loss than you do from a win and we will be looking to make sure we put right some of those wrongs.
The Nix are back in action at the Cheshire Oaks Arena on Sunday night when they play host to Manchester Giants (5.30pm tip off).