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'Superstar' Hamilton right man for the job

JETS coach Robbie Peers is hoping his new captain, James Hamilton, will lead the squad to more success this season.

JETS coach Robbie Peers is hoping his new captain, James Hamilton, will lead the squad to more success this season.

Hamilton, 29, of Ellesmere Port, helped the side to success in the uni-ball trophy last season, which was the club's first major honour.

Since he first arrived in Chester two years ago, Jets have gone from being league strugglers to serious championship contenders.

Peers said: 'James is the best player in the league and because he's a non-work permit player, it makes him 10 times as valuable to the club. He's a superstar and a winner and he could have gone anywhere this summer. He turned down a huge offer from an Israeli club.

'James was the first player to re-sign for us in the close season and he's dedicated to Jets. He was our best defender last year but also led our field goal percentages.

'He dominates at both ends of the court. James has bought a house in the Ellesmere Port area and will hopefully be with us for years to come.'

Hamilton, born in Grand Blanc, Michigan, does not need a work permit because he is married to a British citizen.

This is a significant advantage for Jets, who are only allowed to field four overseas players.

Hamilton joined the club in 1999 after an unhappy time with Hungarian outfit, Pecs, but had previously played in the UK with both Worthing Bears and London Towers.

He said: 'The people in Britain are really nice and although basketball is not a major sport here, they are all genuine and friendly. When I came here, Jets were struggling. They were 0-8, in last place and were regarded as a joke.

'But there has been a dramatic change for the better since then and we are now one of the big teams and are favourites to win most of the games we play.'

Much has been made in recent weeks of Jets' new-look team and how the style of play will differ from last year.

Hamilton believes both the team and himself can benefit and said: 'In the past, I've always been tired at the end of games because I've had to do so much work.

'Now we have so many athletes in our team I don't have to go out and score 30 points all the time to win the game, which is good because I'm getting old.

'Last year we made moves around Loren Meyer and played a slow build-up game, but we're now a lot quicker and, hopefully, for the fans it will be more exciting.

'Now that I'm captain my own role has changed and I help Robbie with some tactical input because the game can seem quite different on the sidelines from what we experience on the court.

'I must say, though, I've played for many coaches during my career, but none of them are quite like Robbie!'

One of the highlights of last season for Hamilton was playing alongside his former Iowa State University team-mate Loren Meyer.

Meyer entered the NBA as a first round draft pick in 1995 and was therefore, on paper, the best player ever to play in the British League.

During his season with Jets he justified his reputation by being voted the BBL's Player of the Year and also played alongside Hamilton in the All-Star game.

Hamilton said: 'Loren and I were the best of buddies at college, but he hadn't played for a year because he'd had a bad back and some other problems. He wasn't really interested in playing basketball at the time but when I gave him the call and told him the Jets needed a big man, he gave it a shot.'

One of the major difficulties on the court for Americans coming to play in the British League is that referees do not allow as much physical play.

It is something Hamilton feels strongly about and he said: 'I've played here for five years and the referees get worse. Just as you think they're doing alright they make another bad call.

'I remember my first game, I was fouled out in the third quarter and four of them weren't fouls.

'I think I'm a marked man, though. After all the mouthing that Loren and I gave referees last season, but he's not here to get their backlash, so they take it out on me!'

The current nature of the BBL is that most teams' starting fives are dominated by American players, but Hamilton believes there is plenty of British potential out there.

He said: 'The Americans get the minutes but when I've coached the kids here, I see a lot of raw talent.

'If more English kids could go over to the USA and play college basketball then they could come back here and make an impact.'

Looking forward to Jets' chances this season, Hamilton said: 'Although there are a lot of good teams in the league, we have the tools to be the best. I always aim for the championship.'


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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