Glasgow Rocks will look to level the season series with Cheshire Phoenix when the two sides meet at the Emirates Arena on Sunday December 30.
The Phoenix recorded a 90-79 victory at Northgate Arena when the side met three weeks ago, but Rocks went into the Christmas break ahead of them in the BBL Championship standings. Prior to their road double-header at London Lions and Worcester Wolves, the Rocks were sixth in the table with a 7-6 record, while Phoenix had the weekend off prior to Christmas and will go into Sunday’s showdown with seven wins from 16 games.
Sterling Davis (pictured), the Rocks player-coach, is well aware that Phoenix are a dangerous team at the offensive end of the court: “This is a scoring team” he said. “They have guys who can put up numbers in bunches which make them very dangerous.
“Jerome Gumbs has come in and really established himself within their group. He just knows how to find a way to put the ball in the basket.”
Davis has a good idea what his team needs to do to avenge that defeat in early December: “I thought we allowed them to be comfortable in what they do. We have to be able to contain Chez Marks and Gumbs throughout the entire game.”
Rocks’ guard/forward Andrew Wedemire thinks that the Phoenix are an in-form team: “They have started to put a streak of wins together in the recent weeks in the BBL with Chez Marks standing out for them.”
Phoenix forward Phil Brandeth is expecting a tough game against the Rocks: “We played the Rocks a couple of weeks ago, and although we won but it was a close game. Gareth [Murray] had a great game but fouled out – with him not in foul trouble it could have been a different story. We need to stop his getting hot early.
“Also if EJ [Harrison] is fit he will be a problem so Gabe [Haskins] will have to stay focused all game otherwise he will hurt us!
Cheshire’s acting coach Matt Lloyd knows his side are in for a tough trip north of the border: “Rocks are a good team who after their good run of wins during November have recently hit a low which I am sure they are constantly looking to get out of. They play a well-balanced game having threats on the inside and outside.
“They have a good core of players in EJ Harrison, Gareth Murray and Sterling Davis, however in the game a few weeks ago it was Brice Fantazia who hurt us the most especially in their third quarter run.”
Phoenix’s final game before Christmas saw a thrilling victory against One Health Sharks Sheffield, and Lloyd was a relieved man after the win: “I think we played poor throughout the game which was shown in the first half scores, luckily in the second half we played a little better but some costly mistakes down the stretch made it closer than it needed to be especially when we were up by 11 with only three minutes or so left.
“Although we played poor as a whole the team did come together well down the stretch to hold on for the win, Jerome [Gumbs] played well for his 22 points and Gabe [Haskins] for his 26. Alif [Bland] got into foul trouble but I feel he was still effective, Phil provided us with an outside threat with Chris Pearce and Niel Gillard coming in and giving a lot of energy. Sharks were helped a lot by Holmes he stepped up a gear in the fourth which we missed and were always trying to catch him up intensity wise.
Cheshire captain Chez Marks is looking forward to facing Glasgow again: “The Rocks are tough. With EJ running the point, Gareth’s outside shooting and Sterling inside, they will be tough. EJ is the key to that team because he is a floor general.”