Cheshire Phoenix got 2015 off to the best possible start on the court after they claimed their ninth straight league triumph with victory over Manchester Giants at the Northgate Arena on Sunday.
A packed crowd saw the Nix, who have been flying in the British Basketball League under the stewardship of John Coffino in recent weeks, put in a determined display to see off a dogged Manchester Giants side in the North West derby.
Point guard Mike Di Nunno was the star of the show on the court for the Nix as he ran the offence for the home side and weighed in with a stunning 36-point haul to establish their place in the top four in the BBL and keep up themselves in the hunt for honours.
The Nix enjoyed a strong start and went in at the end of the first quarter with a 12-point advantage at 30-18, but the Giants came out with renewed vigour in the second and went about chipping away at the deficit immediately, reducing it to just four points at the half-time break.
The visitors had a deep rotation with a six-man bench at their disposal while the Nix, now without the services of Julius Hodge and Joel Barkers, were left with a seven-man rotation to see out the contest.
Manchester, buoyed by a strong travelling contingent, continued to try and make inroads into the Nix defence and kept the home fans subdued as they stayed hot on the heels of their hosts going into the final quarter.
Martyn Gayle hit back-to-back threes for Jeff Jones' side to see them take a brief one-point advantage at 70-69 in the fourth quarter, but a monster jam from Demond Watt, crowned BBL Player of the Month for December prior to the game, set the Nix on a devastating run in the last five minutes to pull clear of the Giants.
The visitors inability to keep hold of the basketball in the late stages was punished by the Nix and, in particular, the fast hands of Di Nunno.
Nix head coach John Coffino said: "I expected some stiffness from the guys out there given the fact we haven't played for a couple of weeks and we have only had limited practice, but I was pleased with how we performed. We were a lot better than I thought we were going to be.
"The players were fantastic. When you combine the fact that we were two guys down, to go out a get the win over a tough Manchester side was great.
"These players mean the world to me. They really lift me up and they're a really special group. The fans were great again and we'll be looking to continue that on Friday at Sheffield."
Next up for the Nix is a trip to Sheffield Sharks on Friday, January 9 (7.30pm).