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Cheshire Phoenix send out warning to rest of BBL Championship

Interim boss Ben Thomas insists Nix will be a tough test for any team after superb double victory

Acting head coach Ben Thomas talks to his Cheshire Phoenix players in their win over Sheffield Sharks(Image: Adam Day Photography)

Interim Cheshire Phoenix head coach Ben Thomas says nobody can expect an easy ride against his team between now and the end of the season.

Thomas has stepped up to fill the role of head coach for the remainder of the campaign after the club announced last week that Robbie Peers would not be returning due to personal issues.

And Thomas helped to keep Cheshire’s slim BBL Championship play-off hopes alive with shock wins over Newcastle Eagles and Sheffield Sharks on a superb weekend for the Ellesmere Port-based side.

Cheshire Phoenix record superb back-to-back victories

The Nix claimed a 103-89 overtime success at title-chasing Newcastle on Friday night before following it up with a 100-83 triumph over Sheffield at the Cheshire Oaks Arena two days later, an effort aided by a 29-point haul for in-form point guard Mike DiNunno, whose arrival has coincided with three wins in four games.

And Thomas, who will be assisted by Mike Burton and James Brice for the rest of the season, says Cheshire won’t be rolling over for anyone.

“It was a great result and a great weekend, two wins from two games,” said Thomas.

Cheshire Phoenix salute their supporters following their win over Sheffield Sharks(Image: Adam Day Photography)

“Last week when we were here I had an interview with the BBC and they asked what was the plan for the rest of the season – and this is it.

“We are here, we are going to fight, we are going to turn up and we are going to give everyone a tough game. I can’t thank the crowd enough, they were absolutely fantastic.

“We’ll keep doing our best and we’ll see what happens.”

Cheshire Phoenix star confident more wins will come

As well as DiNunno’s dominance on the floor against Sheffield, the Nix once again had Earl Brown Jnr produce a double-double, notching 20 points and 10 rebounds.

And Brown Jnr, who has been Cheshire’s most consistent performer during a season of struggle on the hardwood, credited the Phoenix faithful for helping the club turn around their form in time for the season run-in.

Said the American: “Everybody’s in good spirits. We knew that Sheffield were going to come in and challenge us.

DII'Jon Allen-Jordan dunks two points for Cheshire Phoenix in their win over Sheffield Sharks(Image: Adam Day Photography)

“We have been through a lot of adversity and hopefully these two wins will give us the confidence to go into the London game and fight.

“Our chemistry has got a lot better. Everybody wants to play together and we came to a realisation that we can’t let you guys down. Our sixth man is our biggest supporter, it gives us that encouragement to go hard in tough times. We appreciate it so much.”

Brown Jnr has been named in the BBL All-Star Five for the second week running – and has been joined by DiNunno.

Cheshire Phoenix record first BBL win of 2017 in front of BBC Sport cameras

A league spokersperson said: “The Phoenix forward keeps his place in our starting five after recording the second-best performance efficiency valuation of the 2016-17 season.

“Brown became only the second player to hit the magic 40-mark after a sensational 28-point and 14-rebound double-double in the overtime win at Eagles. He made a staggering 13 of 15 inside the paint and also registered three assists.

“DiNunno grabs a debut place in our fantastic five lighting it up from behind the arc with seven triples on his way to 29 points against Sharks. He only just missed out on a double-double by one assist and did it defensively with five steals.”

Cheshire are without a game this weekend. They return to action when they travel to London Lions on Friday, March 24 before hosting Worcester Wolves on the Sunday night.

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