PAUL Smith says if the opportunity comes to shoot down MK Lions comes in tomorrow night’s BBL Trophy semi-final first leg, the Cheshire Jets will take it.
The Northgate Arena side will spend all weekend away from home for the first time in more than six years as they go to Milton Keynes for their semi final before going straight to Essex to face the Pirates in the BBL Championship 24 hours later.
But the biggest game by far if the Trophy tie, and Jets head coach Smith said he learned a lot from the Jets’ last semi-final in December in the BBL Cup.
“Two-legged basketball is rare, in fact I think this is the only place where it happens,” he said.
“Last time the second leg was at the Northgate and I was happy to stay close and get through at home.
“But the Lions have had some problems with their form recently and if the chance comes to kill the tie off, we have to take it.”
The Jets have been battling with some consistency issues of their own, losing to Leicester Riders last Saturday before thumping London Capital 104-76 at the Northgate, including a 31-point haul which earned veteran skipper James Hamilton a selection in the BBL Team of the Week.
To freshen things up, Smith has called on an old friend, former Jets, Manchester United and England player John Lavery.
“That was a confidence boost, the London game,” said Smith. “But John brings a lot of experience and another person to share the load.
“He has been a good friend and team-mate of mine over the years and is a good friend of our current assistant coach Richard Murphy, and once John has settled in the three of us should be able bring a lot to the team.
“We really want to get to the Trophy final, the whole club was surrounded by a buzz and we want that feeling again.”
Essex Pirates the following day will be no pushovers and Smith knows his side will need to work hard.
“It’s been a long time since we stayed away,” said Smith. “But at this stage of the season, playoff places are up for grabs so every game is tough and we just have to rise to the challenge.”