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WATCH: Dustin Salisbery on Cheshire Phoenix's win over Bristol Flyers

Phoenix tighten grip on fourth with hard-fought 79-68 win over the Flyers at the Northgate Arena

Cheshire Phoenix tightened their grip on fourth place in the BBL after they battled their way to a hard-fought 79-68 triumph at home to Bristol Flyers.

The Nix had to overcome a 13-point deficit in the third to see off their plucky opponents, who had looked on course for an unlikely victory early in the second half after capitalising on a sluggish display early on from the home side.

It wasn't until midway through the third quarter that John Coffino's side found their rhythm, with Taylor King overcoming a scoreless first quarter to pace all scorers with 28 points and grabbing 15 boards.

Dustin Salisbery, taking on the role of chief ball handler in the absence of regular point guard Mike DiNunno, also finished with a flourish registering 19 points and 10 rebounds as the Northgate Arena side swung the contest in their favour.

It was a difficult opening quarter for the Nix, with the home side struggling to shut down the Flyers' dangerman from beyond the arc, Doug McLoughlin-Williams. He finished the game as the high-scorer for the visitors but saw most of his points drained in the first half with the Nix defence giving him far too many open looks from the perimeter.

Flyers' head coach Andreas Kapoulas saw his side head to the bench at the end of the first quarter with a 19-15 advantage over their hosts, with Demond Watt, back in the starting line up after missing last weekend's loss to the Sheffield Sharks through injury, struggling early on.

The Nix shaded the second quarter but were struggling to pull away from the visitors, who have shown their credentials in what has been an impressive first season in the BBL for them.

The presence of a pigeon in the roof of the Northgate Arena midway through the game brought some cheer to the home faithful, who had been subdued early on before eventually finding their voice midway through the first quarter to help roar the Nix to victory.

The rebounding effort from the Nix was key to them turning the contest around, with the home side grabbing a total of 54 boards compared to the Flyers' 29.

Switching to zone defence in the third helped them shut down McLaughlin-Williams, who lost his touch from range while King finally found the hot hand. The Nix also outperformed the visitors in the paint, hitting 28 from the inside while the Flyers notched 18.

Coffino said: "Hats off to Bristol, we knew what kind of team they were going to be, they are a well coached team and they run their stuff well and they pushed us to the limit.

"Demond was rusty and banged up still and I've got to give him a lot of credit because I don't think we win the game without him in the line up. He was very gutsy and played through a lot of pain.

"But then Taylor got hot and Dustin started to get to the basket. We changed defences and that kind of stymied them for a little bit. We had some big possessions, Paul (Sturgess) with the blocked shot and the basket, and he gave us a big lift too. It was a really a feel-good win.

"Our intensity wasn't there in the first half but the guys pulled together. But they came out and got a couple of stops and a couple of baskets and the next thing I looked up at the scoreboard and we were winning."

The Nix are next in action on Sunday when they welcome second-placed Worcester Wolves to the Northgate Arena (5.30pm) for the standout game of the BBL's weekend schedule.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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