John Lavery wants to see his side replicate their ‘never say die’ attitude when they take on the Glasgow Rocks in the second leg of the BBL Trophy semi-final on Friday (7.30pm).
Lavery was impressed with his side’s resolve in the first leg against the Rocks on Sunday, where they overturned an 11-point deficit to claim a 80-74 triumph.
The Cheshire Phoenix head coach expressed his delight at the way his players responded in the final quarter and wants to see more of the same fighting spirit to ensure they book their spot in the final, to be held on March 30.
“We had spoken beforehand that it didn’t matter how the victory came, just as long as it did,” said Lavery.
“It doesn’t matter what the score is at half-time or in the third quarter. It’s what the scoreboard says at the final buzzer that is important.
“The guys stuck to the task and didn’t allow them to run away with the game and they produced their best stuff on the court when it mattered.
“Before the final quarter we weren’t shooting the ball particularly well but we got going in the fourth.”
Lavery praised the contributions of his starting five in the final period, particularly Dominique Coleman, who shot 18 points in the final ten minutes and a game-high 33 points overall.
“Dominique was excellent in the fourth, he took over the game,” said Lavery.
“We ran the ball through him because he had the hot hand. When one of your players has the hot hand you have to make sure that they see as much of the ball as possible.
“I thought Devan Bailey was outstanding. He was solid defensively and made a real contribution offensively as well.
Lavery also lauded the contributions of centre Donatas Visockis and forward Victor Moses, who was named BBL Player of the Month for the third time in four months last week, after both posted impressive double-doubles.
“With Vic (Victor Moses) you know what you are going to get. He is always a standout performer,” he said.
“Donatas was excellent again and was huge for us. Seven of his rebounds came in the final quarter and that was a big help in us taking control and getting a run together.”
With his side taking a six-point advantage into their rematch with their Scottish opponents on Friday, Lavery is expecting another tough encounter but is hoping for the same fighting spirit from his players.
“We have a never say die attitude and all the lads on the court are there for each other and they play as a team,” he said.
“We have the advantage going there and we know that it’s going to be tough but it’s important that we stay focused on the task ahead.
“We knew that they were going to come at us in the first leg and it’ll be the same in the second. It’s the semi-final of the BBL Trophy and if you’re a sportsman, in any sport, if you can’t get yourself up for it and motivated for a semi-final then you might as well not turn up.
“The most important thing for is to make sure that we get that ‘W’. It doesn’t matter when it comes, just as long as it does.
“These guys have done fantastically well so far and they’ll be up for the fight.”
After facing the Rocks, the Nix resume BBL action at the Northgate Arena on Sunday against the Plymouth University Raiders (5.30pm).