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Sony Centre Fury got off to a dream start in their British Basketball Trophy Cup tie against Cheshire Phoenix at Ellesmere Port, but found the difference in leagues too strong, as the pro BBL side powered to a 123-65 win over the Scottish Champions. The 1st round tie saw the pro Cheshire side ,have to work hard in the opening quarter as Fury stunned the home team and their fans by going 11-5 ahead after 3 minutes, with Fury guards - American Trey Whitley and former pro Rocks player - Bantu Burroughs, hitting big time shots. The Sony sponsored side began confidently taking the game to Phoenix and not allowing the big occasion to influence their style of play. Fury pushed the ball up the court early on offence, with Whitley and Burroughs finding the bottom of the basket early. However a 13 - 0 run for the home side saw them go 18-11 ahead. Fury's Trey Whitley, a former Black Hills State NCAA player, then hit his second three of the game to bring it back to 4 with 3 minutes of the quarter remaining and Fury still very much in the match. Phoenix then pulled out to a 23-14 lead, led by GB star Teddy Okereafor (14pts first quarter), but Falkirk's Bantu Burroughs with 2 minutes of the period remaining hit a long range 3 to bring it back to 6. Whitley hit his 3rd three of the quarter as the first period closed out at 30 -20 in Cheshire's favour. But, that was as good as it got for Fury, with Cheshire dominating the second and third periods. The home side, who have one of the deepest benches in the BBL bench, hit 20 threes in the game and had an overall 55% field goal percentage. Okereafor led the Cheshire side with 20 personal, but it was the bench scoring that stood out, with that stat a telling, 62-8 in Phoenix's favour. Fury's Whitley, was the games top scorer on 22 personal with Bantu Burroughs second highest scorer with 21pts. Fury's Adnan Jalil and Zygi Dauksas shared 16 pts with Marko Mladenovik on 4 and Evaldis Burksaitis with 2pts. Fury Headcoach John Bunyan commentated to Heraldsport after the game - ' Full credit to the effort and commitment our players made, in what was always going to be a very tough game. Chester are a great organisation, with a solid standing in the British pro league. This dates back to when Mike Burton coached the side and it was special for me to speak to him today, as there are a lot of similarities between our clubs - particularly in getting players on a pathway from youth to pro ball. " We had a fantastic start in the game, but were unable to keep the kind of intensity that was required in transition and at both ends of the floor. The 62-8 bench stat , shows the strength in depth Cheshire have, they also dominated us on the boards with a 51-29 stat line. 8 of their players were in double figures in terms of scoring, so great team play from them also. Factors for us that would have helped us, but not with the result, were that we did have 5 of our regular 12 players not available, one a starter and 3 who who have started in games this season; we had not played a competitive match for a month due to Basketball-Scotland/ Government regulations and only had non contact training sessions prior to the game. I think, had some or all of these players been in the game and our build up and preparation anything like normal, we could have continued to play at the level we did in the opening period. That said all the 10 players who travelled Cheshire performed well and gave 100%, so I cannot fault the team on the day. Cheshire, are one of the BBL's top sides and I would like to thank their fans, who really gave us a great reception and I could see, appreciated the effort we made throughout the game. Thanks also to West Coast Motors coach hire, great journey; and the staff at Ellesmere Port -fantastic facilities and Leisure Centre. I also think its a very important part the British basketball structure, that opportunities, are afforded to the very best clubs in Scotland, England and Wales, who are not in the BBL, to take part in a National club event, such as the BBL Trophy and thanks also to Andy and Jamie at the BBL for working with us through the last 2 years in finally getting us to competition. I know we approached the game in a professional manner in all aspects of basketball and covid. " BBL - British Basketball League Cheshire Phoenix Basketball Photo Credit: Paul Harrington


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