Surrey Scorchers curtain opener began with a full crowd at the Surrey Sports Park Arena as the home side hosted Cheshire Phoenix.
Lloyd Gardner started his campaign as the head coach of the Surrey side with confidence from a successful pre-season. The Scorchers only returned two players from last season in Ogedengbe and Wanliss as the team injects fresh new talent.
Unfortunately due to injuries and Visa issues the home side would start their season without Americans Shakem Johnson and Padiet Wang, as well as missing British home grown talent Jacdonmi and Captain Ogedengbe.
Cheshire controlled the tip and Larry Austin opened the scoring with a finish at the rim over big man Bakkali.
Bakkali replied at the other end banging down low with Ochereobia finishing with a post hook for 2 points to get scorchers on the score board.
The first 3-pointers dropped for both teams as Phoenix’s Anderson knocks one down to follow Charleston Dobbs shot from range at the Scorchers end.
Cheshire upped the tempo early with Larry Austin getting out in transition and Ochereobia giving second chance opportunities for the away side.
Luke Busumbru looked to get out in transition doing what he does best finishing at the rim for his first points in the BBL.
Scorchers were unable to find rhythm on offense in the first quarter with Jamel Anderson applying pressure on the Surrey guards and pushing Cheshire to an early 10-point lead to finish the first quarter.
Continuing from the first quarter, Busumbru getting the Scorchers fired up with energy plays. An offensive rebound lead to a strong finish through contact to build some momentum to the home team.
Cheshire held Scorchers at a 10-point difference before Andrew Lawrence drove to the hoop with composure finishing with contact and knocking down the bonus point.
Scorchers pick up momentum with 3 minutes to go as Lawrence gets back-to-back buckets to bring the game within 6 points.
Gardners former star at Giants Jamel Anderson kept Cheshire in the game with his relentless defence and up beat tempo on offense as he would finish the half with 16 points.
Scorchers rallied together towards the end of the quarter as Cheshire ran out of steam. Busumbru scores in the final possession with the foul to bring scorchers within 5 points heading into the locker room.
After full 24second of defence from the Surrey side, the 2022 Trophy final MVP Larry Austin opened the second half with a deep 3 as the shot clock runs out.
An unsportsmanlike foul on American Jalen Ray enabled the away side to push out an 11-point lead.
With the crowd roaring momentum swings after a triple from Busumbru proving he can be a weapon from behind the arc. Radwan Bakkali follows with two post finishes for some magic inside the paint.
Unable to sustain the intensity, Cheshire hit right back with strong finishes inside increasing the lead back to 10 points.
Both teams traded 3s as the third quarter ended. Cheshire repel Scorchers continued attempted to break into a single digit deficit.
With 2 seconds on the shot clock Phoenix guard Evans finds the net on a long 3 ball coming out of the time out to take a 16-point lead heading into the final quarter.
Scorchers looked frustrated throughout the 4th quarter; aggressive play saw the home side push the ball in transition to find looks at the hoop. Drives were met with contact and not the whistle which they hopped to go along with it.
Although battling hard at both ends, Phoenix executed on offense possession after possession to confirm their dominance throughout this game.
After controlling the game for Scorchers and proving he is back at his best, a moment which all Scorcher fans and British basketball fans did not want to see for Andrew Lawrence. Pulling up at half court with a hamstring injury resulting in the experience guard exiting the court for the remainder of the final quarter.
A huge blow for Scorchers and as the home team still gave effort and energy in front of the Surrey Sports Park crowd, Cheshire would comfortably see out the game taking an 81 – 96 victory.