BRITISH basketball’s top team stands between BiG Storage Cheshire Jets and a place in the semi-finals of the BBL Cup.
The Jets travel to the north east to take on the Newcastle Eagles tonight (7.30 tip-off) and head coach Paul Smith knows his players will have their work cut out against the side which currently stands at the top of the BBL Championship.
"We know they will be very tough," said Smith. "They are the best-run club in the country and that is matched by the quality of the team they are putting on the floor.
"We know most of their players and how they like to play but that will count for nothing if we are not prepared for the toughest game of the season.
"Trey Moore is a great pick up for them and is pretty much un-guardable on his day. Lynard Stuart is the best all round post player in the league."
Eagles player-coach Fabulous Flournoy is expecting an exciting game against a Jets team which can be as good as any in the BBL on its day.
He said: "They’re filled with a lot of experience and talent, and we don’t know who will turn up in form on the day. It’s hard to prepare for them, because they are capable of doing a lot of different things.
"They have built a team that will be there or thereabouts in the league, but they’re a team put together for one-off situations like this.
"They have the likes of Calvin Davis, James Hamilton, Shaun Myers and Chez Marks, and that’s before you even discuss the bench. They’re a dangerous basketball team, and with Paul Smith back in charge they have a great coach."
The Eagles go into the game on the back of a weekend which saw them suffer a surprise home loss against Sheffield Sharks before bouncing back to beat Worcester Wolves the following night.
Jets were without a fixture last weekend so have had a fortnight to prepare for tonight’s cup quarter-final, which is the first of a testing weekend doubleheader. Once the Newcastle game is over, Jets must turn their attention to Sunday’s league match at reigning champions Guildford Heat (3pm).
Smith said: "We are not playing well so the break has given us the chance to work on the specific things we need to put right. We have trained hard. Whether it has been beneficial or not will become clear by the end of the weekend!"
The head-to-head series between Jets and the Heat is at stake on Sunday, with both having won their home game.