Cheshire_Phoenix logo 568Reggie Middleton is confident there is more to come from Cheshire Phoenix after helping his side take the league by storm in recent weeks. 

The ‘Nix are on an impressive run with just two defeats in their last 11 coming on the road against high-flyers Worcester and Newcastle. Having knocked out Leicester Riders in the first round of the Trophy, Middleton has high hopes that silverware is very much a realistic target.

He said: “We want to win. We can’t win the Championship but going into the play-offs we feel like we’re equal with any other team and we’re in a good position with the Trophy too.”

Middleton hails from Augusta, Georgia – ‘The Garden City’ – and after a tough start to the campaign is blossoming along with Cheshire at the right time. The 24 year-old has been an ever-present for the ‘Nix this season and believes head-coach John Lavery was right to make several changes despite causing early problems.

“It was very difficult (at the start) because of just trying to get the chemistry down pat but it was important for the club to continue to make changes until they were happy and had that right fit.”

The addition of 6’9″ forward Victor Moses sparked a change in fortunes for the ‘Nix and the American has formed a formidable partnership with fellow compatriots Dominique Coleman and Middleton. The trio played a vital role in helping the ‘Nix to a comfortable 97-74 win over the Rocks on Sunday which lifted the North-West side to seventh and past the .500 mark for the first time this season.

And the three are dominating in the stats department.

Middleton is top of the scoring charts with 495 @ 23.6 ppg, has the most assists with 138 and most two-point field goals made with 160. Moses averages a league-high 13.7 rebounds per game, 16 double-doubles and has 95 offensive boards while Coleman’s effort of 78 made 3-pointers is unrivalled.

Speaking of their relationship, Middleton said: “It’s great playing with them. Everytime I pass to Dominique (Coleman) I think the 3-pointer is going in and Victor Moses is unstoppable in the paint so I feel like I can shoot any ball and he’ll get the rebound. It’s a great feeling to have players on the team like that.”

The 6’1″ guard is proving to be a key orchestrator of the Cheshire offence with points and assists in abundance so far but Middleton is still looking for ways to improve.

“I’ve been very pleased with my performances. I’m happy with how I’ve been playing but I hate the fact I get a lot of turnovers. That might be because I play so many minutes but that’s the only thing I wish to change and I’m trying to cut back on that.”

With a small playing squad, the starting five at Cheshire are racking up the minutes with Middleton himself playing 40+ minutes in a game on no less than 12 occasions. Coach Lavery is still tinkering with his side having signed American-British guard Mike Creppy with Latvian Ricards Rozins departing after failing to make a telling contribution during his brief spell, taking the total number of players to take to the court for the ‘Nix this season to 19.

Despite a high turnover of players, things are working well on the court and nine victories in their last 11 games has made them earn the attention of the rest of the league. Cheshire’s run began with an impressive home win against Newcastle in December and with valiant displays against teams at the top, they will be feared come April/May should they make the post-season.

Middleton said: “I think it’s very important for the team as a whole to gain respect from the league but we have to continue playing well and see how we do when it comes to the play-offs. We’re not afraid of anybody.”

With ten defeats to their name already, Cheshire face an uphill struggle to make the top four but have London Lions well within their sights as they look to continue their climb up the table. A quarter-final clash against EBL side Bristol awaits in the BBL Trophy resulting in Lavery’s side being dubbed as strong contenders to return silverware to Cheshire.

Still a long way to go but Phoenix are on the rise and are a real danger if they keep up their impressive run of form.


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