AFTER sweeping the board last season, Chester Jets' Ellesmere Port-based coach Robbie Peers is hoping to build a basketball dynasty at the Northgate Arena as he aims to continue the club's dominance of the British game.
Although he isn't guaranteeing a second 'Jet Wash', Peers still aims to increase the level of his team's performance and is promising fans another season of exciting action.
He said: 'It's going to be a similar style of basketball to what we played last season and we'll be up-tempo, explosive and make good decisions. I may recruit individuals but I turn them into team players and that's one of the secrets of our success. It's going to be tough though because other teams are coming for us and virtually all the other rosters in the league are beefier.'
But once again Peers has shown his master craftsman skills in the art of recruiting by bringing in more top names to his financially modest club.
British Basketball League MVP John Thomas and former skipper James Hamilton may have taken up lucrative contracts in Israel and France respectively but other stars from last year, John McCord, Calvin Davis and Pero Cameron all remain.
New arrivals are last season's BBL top scorer Shawn Myers from Newcastle Eagles, Todd Cauthorn, a stalwart with championship rivals Sheffield Sharks and the man tipped to fill Mookie's sneakers, Shaheen Holloway.
Jets' New Zealand captain Pero Cameron is currently in the form of his life after being voted into the All-Star team at last month's World Championships in Indiana.
Cameron was named one of the tournament's top five players alongside NBA stars Dirk Nowitzki of Dallas Mavericks and Germany, Yao Ming (Houston Rockets and China), Predrag Stojakovic (Sacramento Kings and Yugoslavia) and Emanuel Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs and Argentina).
Peers said: 'It doesn't surprise me, Pero is a fantastic player and a terrific person. He's the backbone of our team and our most experienced player. He has great composure and his all-round play makes him the glue of our team. He makes others look good and is a winner both on and off the court.'
Jets' coach is also delighted with his other returnees, McCord and Davis and said: 'John was last season's MVP for me. He produced the big performances when it mattered and his record in this league speaks for itself. This year he is classed as a non-Work Permit player which makes his value to us enormous, he's absolutely priceless.
'Calvin settled into our style of play from the start and he won a Player of the
Month award early on and ended up being voted the third best in the league. He certainly wasn't overshadowed by John Thomas in my eyes and nobody ever remarked that we missed Loren Meyer.' Just as Jets went from strength to strength without the previous year's BBL Player of the Year Meyer last season, Peers is hoping that Shaheen Holloway will fill the void left with Thomas' departure.
He said: 'Shaheen has the best pedigree of any guard ever to come to this league. Performance wise he is similar to Thomas in that he is sensational. I searched long and hard for a top class guard because I wouldn't have signed a replacement for Thomas until I found someone who could match or better his ability. Shaheen is the same age, from the same city, quick, dynamic and a leader.'
Peers has also managed to snap up two of the BBL's biggest names in Shawn Myers and Todd Cauthorn.
He said: 'Shawn is perfect for us, he's an explosive scorer and although he'll have to fit into our team unit we'll allow him to retain his freedom. Todd is another Pero in that he is a great all-round competitor who can pass, shoot, create and dribble but isn't flashy. He's also a British citizen now which meant that every team in the league wanted him.'
Jets' back-up squad has also changed with Mark Singer joined on the bench by Jamie Burchell, Sion Parry, Paul King, Stuart Williams and Mike Coughlan.
Forward Burchell, who played for Plymouth Raiders last season will help run Jets' junior programme alongside guard Parry, who arrives from Anglesey.
Meanwhile, King, Williams and Coughlan are all 16-year-olds straight from Mike Burton's basketball academy at Ellesmere Port Catholic High.
Jets' wealthier BBL rivals are certainly trying to ensure that Chester don't dominate the silverware stakes for a second successive season but don't bet against at least one of those trophies returning to the Northgate Arena next spring.