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Chester Jets 87 Leicester Riders 79

Chester Jets 87 Leicester Riders 79

RIDERS' coach Billy Mims wondered in his pre-match programme notes what would happen to Jets if their point guard John Thomas got injured or in foul trouble, writes Christopher Beesley.

The treatment dished out to Thomas by his Leicester markers during the game suggested Mims could have beeen plotting to make this scenario a reality.

But despite the rough treatment to Thomas, which included several off-the-ball incidents, he shone through with a terrific match-winning display.

It was two of the big men who dominated early on as Chester's Calvin Davis and Leicester's former Jet Billy Singleton (nine first-quarter points) led the way.

Jets had edged 24-21 ahead by the first-quarter break, but as Thomas started to run the show in the second they advanced into a 50-41 lead by half-time.

Thomas' pace proved too hot to handle for the Riders' rearguard and he was lying horizontal as he despatched a rugby-style assist for James Hamilton to finish.

Jets remained in control after the break and led 69-60 at three-quarter time, although Ralph Blalock was becoming a threat and eventually bagged 22 second-half points.

As the minutes ticked away it became more of a stop-start affair as there were several delays, including a lengthy break over a foul count dispute and an injury to Hamilton.

Jets' skipper had fallen akwardly on his head after colliding with Michael New and was taken to hospital suffering from concussion.

The hold-ups seemed to disrupt Chester's tempo and Leicester got within two points of the hosts (77-75), but missed a three-point attempt which would have put them ahead.

But Jets recovered and Thomas hit a big three to put some daylight between the sides, and Chester eventually wrapped things up as Riders hit foul trouble late on.

Coach Robbie Peers said: 'It was a tough battle but it's a man's game and we're delighted to have come through and sneaked the victory.

'We hit the foul shots when it counted and we'll gain a lot more from that game than we do from the big wins.'

Jets scorers: Thomas (29), McCord (22), Davis (20), Hamilton (13), Cameron (3).

- Jets switch their attentions to the cup this weekend as they host Brighton Bears on Sunday (5.30pm).


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
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