Cheshire Phoenix head coach Ben Thomas insists that he and his side won’t simply be heading to the BBL Cup final to enjoy a day out.
The Nix made their first final in seven years after a stunning second leg comeback to defeat London Lions at the Copper Box Arena in the semi-final on Sunday night, overturning a 13-point deficit from the first leg by winning game two 83-67.
The victory means that Cheshire will now face either Sheffield Sharks or Worcester Wolves in the final at Arena Birmingham on Sunday, January 28. Worcester hold a 10-point advantage from the first leg with the two teams set to meet again on December 20.
It has been a long time coming for Cheshire fans who last made a showpiece final in 2010, then known as the Jets, when they were beaten in the finals of the BBL Trophy and BBL Cup.
The last time Cheshire won silverware was as the Chester Jets in 2005 when they won the league title, but their last win in a cup competition came 12 months earlier.
Rookie head coach Thomas, in his first full season at the helm, is now keen to bring some more silverware to the club.
“I’m made up for the guys because of the fact that all the preparation beforehand went to plan and they executed what we asked of them. They were superb,” said Thomas.
“But I’m most pleased for the fans because it has been a long time since they have been to a major final and they have stuck with us over the years when we didn’t have a winning team on the floor.
“But we aren’t going there to have a nice day out and just have fun, we want to win and we want to bring back some silverware.”
Thomas has been involved with the club since 2012 in a coaching capacity, acting as an assistant to numerous coaches until being given a chance to take the helm at the end of last season on an interim basis.
He grasped his chance and was named as the head coach for this season, and with a winning 5-4 record in the BBL so far and a trip to a major final, it has been quite the journey.
“I was one of those fans who was going on away trips to Wembley and watching us when we were dominating British basketball as the Jets in the early 2000s,” said Thomas.
“I’ve been involved in the game playing and coaching since I was about eight and I’ve been really fortunate to be able to get involved with the club over the past five years or so.
“But this is all down to the players and how they buy into what we are trying to do and how they go out there and execute the game plan. They deserve to be rewarded for that.”