Akeem Ellis says that he and his Cheshire Phoenix team-mates must be prepared to go to ‘war’ over the next month in a bid to cement their play-off berth.
The Nix overcame a short-handed Surrey Scorchers 81-74 on Sunday night at the Cheshire Oaks Arena to register back-to-back wins in the BBL.
It was a vital success for head coach John Lavery’s side, securing the head-to-head over Surrey and kept Cheshire hot on the tails of London Lions in sixth and Glasgow Rocks in fifth.
And with clubs scrambling to finish as high as possible to avoid a first round match-up with Newcastle Eagles and Leicester Riders, the top two, Ellis acknowleged how important the success was but warned his team must be better prepared than they were on Sunday in the season run-in.
“I think we have to come better prepared, for now for the league it’s March madness,” said Ellis, who hit a game-high 23 points in the win over the Scorchers, who only had a six-man rotation at their disposal on Sunday.
“Right now everybody is going to be going in, going to battle and going to war every single night for play-off positions and we have to be more ready.
“When a team is short-handed a player always thinks that they’re going to be tired or this and that, but you have to play them the same exact way, you never know what’s going to happen. They can bring you to the point of losing the game.
“But I think we are in a great position right now. These two games that we won, we have to keep moving, extend it and I think that we’ll be in good shape by the time that play-off time comes around in seeding.”
This Sunday sees the Nix with home-court advantage once again, with second-placed Leicester making the trip to Ellesmere Port.
The BBL Trophy champions are 10 points adrift of leage leaders Newcastle, but do have five games in hand on the Tyneside club.
But Ellis, who joined the Nix in the summer from Canadian NBL outfit Brampton A’s, believes there is enough firepower in the Cheshire arsenal to spring a surprise.
“We’ll be looking for a big upset against Leicester,” said Ellis,” who played his college basketball at NCAA Division One level with Coppin State University.
“This week in practice we are going to go hard at each other, play hard and execute all our plays.
“I think we can pull it out, we just need to stay together.”