Preview: Rocks v Phoenix 1/2/13

Preview: Rocks v Phoenix

The race for a place in the BBL Championship play-offs continues at the Emirates Arena tonight as the Rocks host Cheshire Phoenix in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

Rocks are still chasing a top four spot, and go into the game in fifth place with an 11-8 record while Phoenix are seventh, leading a group of five clubs chasing the final two post-season places having won eight of their 20 games.

The head-to-head series between the teams is also on the line on Friday evening, with home court advantage having proved to be key in the first two meetings this season. Phoenix won 90-79 when they met in mid-December, with Rocks gaining revenge with a 95-78 victory in Glasgow three weeks later.

Rocks’ player-coach Sterling Davis is ready for a tough game on Friday evening: “I think they are a team of two faces. We have seen them both play very well against us and also seen where things were not clicking for them. We have to be ready for their performance that beat us early in the season.

“Jerome Gumbs has come in and sort of revamped things with them. He is a versatile scorer and I feel they go as he goes.

“Last time we played them I thought we did a good defensive job on closing down the middle of the floor. They really do a good job of getting to the basket so we have to concentrate on that.”

Rocks saw their BBL Trophy dreams end with a loss at One Health Sharks Sheffield last Friday, and with the final due to be in Glasgow, Davis was clearly disappointed to exit the competition: “It’s pretty disheartening not to be one of those teams running out on our home court for a final.

“Ups and downs was our Achilles heel this game. I thought at times we played pretty good defence while other times we allowed easy baskets. Because we traded baskets with it was anyone’s game to have and they capitalized off of it in the end.”

Phoenix coach Matt Lloyd is hoping for a better performance than when his side last travelled to Glasgow: “I feel we could do a better job than last time, we had a long road trip on the Friday to London before playing them so we will be a little fresher than last time. I think it’s our defence we need to improve on, the team can play offence and score however we seem to be conceding a lot of points particularly after the half time break.

“Rocks are a tough team to beat especially on their home floor. This is the third time that we are facing them and we currently spilt the series so it’s another important game for us. “They have many key players that can all be very effective in the game at various points of the game, I think they are led by Gareth [Murray] and EJ [Harrison], together they control the ship being key players in both the front and back court. They have the scoring threat of [Donald] Robinson who hurt us last time at their place.”

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