Victor Moses produced a career-best statline of 50 points and 20 rebounds for Cheshire Phoenix on the way to victory over fellow playoff spot chasers, the Plymouth Raiders, 94-82 on Sunday night at the Northgate Arena.
For Moses, it was the highest points tally of his basketball career, and secured it with the final two points of the game from the line.
The opening quarter never really caught fire for either side, but Mr Double-Double almost secured it within the first ten minutes, with eight points and eight rebounds to his name at that stage, however the home side edged it 24-23.
And it took until midway through the second period before Cheshire, and Moses, got in to their stride properly.
John Lavery called a timeout with 4:24 left in the half and the score level at 34-34, before a 15-0 run was put on the board by Phoenix.
A three from Moses, followed by two of the same from Dominique Coleman, forced Raiders’ coach Jay Marriott into calling a timeout of his own, but to little effect; Coleman, Moses and this time Creppy in on the act. Nick George for the Raiders pulled two points back, but going in at the break, the Phoenix were flying.
Initially it seemed as though Plymouth were about to put together a concerted effort, but it was all about Victor again in the third, this time posting up 15 points in the quarter, which ended 73-54.
It was the man of the moment who also extended Cheshire out to a game-high 21 point lead shortly in to the final period. Although the gap was closing by the Raiders, so was the tally for Moses, and it was only fitting that he would secure the magic figure with his last two efforts from the free-throw line, as well as ending the game on 94-82.
Speaking after the game, Moses handed off all the credit to the other players he shared the court with: “My team-mates did an excellent job of finding me in positions to score, and they made it easy for me to get fifty points tonight. I’m not saying it’s ‘easy’ to get fifty points, but having these team-mates around me made it easier to get that!”
Devan Bailey, who rounded off his night with a team-high of nine assists, was astonished at what Moses achieved: “I’ve never seen someone score fifty points in the BBL – it just goes to show how talented he is, and we have a lot of faith in him, and we can close out the season strong with him too.”
Power-forward Moses now feels that Phoenix can push on for a good finish and make it all the way to Wembley in May: “It’s a good feeling to come in to this team, help them out tremendously and keep them going in the right direction to get to the playoffs.”
Reggie Middleton sat out from the game after playing through the pain on Friday in Glasgow, but Moses feels he’s a vital part of the side: “I think we have all the tools to get there. We still need to work on a few things, but we have a great chance of getting to that final. We need all our pieces in place, and Reggie is doing a great job rehabing at the moment and we’ll have him back real soon.
Coach Lavery, whilst congratulatory of Moses’ efforts, knows that when it all comes good, then it’s been a successful team effort: “It’s all about the W – it doesn’t matter who scores, however he had a fantastic night at both ends, and also credit goes to his teammates who were the ones that found him in the right spots.
“We had that loss on Friday and that good teams don’t lose two games in a row, and we had to play for 40 minutes, not just turn up for one quarter.
“We didn’t play well in patches, but the pleasing thing is we bounced back and got the win. We’ll continue now from here, we know the Trophy’s gone, but we forget about that, and we keep progressing on to finish as high as we can this year,” said Lavery.
For Plymouth, Nick George’s 25 points was their only real highlight, but Gabe Haskins had a nostalgic trip back to Chester, where he was involved in the first season under the Phoenix name, and was pleased to see old faces: “It brought back a lot of memories tonight – it’s a real family here. It’s so warm and welcoming, and even though I’ve been coming back from injury, getting to come here and see people – it’s like being home.
“It’s sort of electric here at the Northgate – it wasn’t like I was playing ‘with’ them but I still felt that love and warmth,” he went on to say.
Jay Marriott, head coach of the Plymouth Raiders, expected a backlash from Cheshire, but felt it was always going to be a difficult game to go in to: “We were trying to carry over our form after a good performance from a new-look Surrey side – plenty of confidence. It’s a big blow for anyone to be knocked out from a cup competition, and being at home, we knew they were always going to be super tough.
“Moses probably had one of the games of his life, and it was won and lost as well from the free-throw line – 43% from there is never going win anyone any games, but we’ll dust ourselves off for next weekend and go again.”