Kinu Rochford believes that Cheshire Phoenix ’s resounding 105-84 success over Newcastle Eagles on Sunday has sent a clear message to the Tynesiders ahead of this weekend’s BBL Play-Off double-header.
Rochford set a season-high league points tally on Sunday in the win over the Eagles, last season’s treble winners, hitting 40 points and pulling in 14 boards in a stellar double-double.
Despite wins over fourth-placed Worcester Wolves on Friday and second-placed Newcastle on Sunday, Cheshire were forced to settle for seventh spot after being edged out by London Lions, meaning a match-up against last season’s play-off winners Newcastle.
But New Yorker Rochford, who has fashioned a reputation as one of the BBL’s best big men after an excellent campaign with the Nix, believes that Sunday’s win has given his side a huge confidence boost ahead of their first round match-up.
“We just wanted to let them know we’re ready,” said Rochford, whose performance was backed up by Danny Huffor’s 29-point haul against the Eagles.
“I love playing against them because they were the league champions and the veterans but we wanted to let them know that we practice hard too, though. It is going to be a good series and I’m looking forward to it.
“Every day I fight and we have fought through so much this year and is was so good to beat them as we have played them so much this season, it was the best way to go out here at the end of the regular season. We gave the fans what they wanted.”
The Nix are just four games away from a possible play-off final appearance, with the showpiece event of the BBL season set to attract another sell-out 15,000 crowd at London’s O2 Arena next month.
And Rochford fully believes that he and his team-mates, who go into the play-offs in the richest vein of form of all eight competitors, have what it takes to win the main event.
He said: “I am just looking forward to it. I think it would be a blessing to give the fans what they want and for me, I have been through a lot this year and just want to let the people know I care about all the fans. I’m just proud everytime I put that Cheshire Phoenix jersey on and we’re ready to do this.
“We just have to stay together and stay focused but we should be able to pull this one off, though.”
Cheshire travel to Newcastle for the first leg at Sport Central on Friday (7.30pm) before hosting the Eagles at the Cheshire Oaks Arena on Sunday (5.30pm).