CHESTER Jets' play-off challenge will suffer a damaging blow if they fail to lay their Milton Keynes Lions jinx to rest at the Northgate Arena on Sunday.
Billy Singleton's men have already lost twice to the Lions this season and a third defeat to their top-eight rivals would leave Jets with plenty of work to do in the final 10 games of the regular season.
Jets, who visit rock bottom Birmingham Bullets tomorrow, were soundly beaten at Scottish Rocks last Sunday, making a maximum points haul this weekend even more imperative.
Chester's assistant coach Paul Smith knows four points from the two games is a must.
He said: 'It's a huge weekend for us. The gap between top and bottom teams has closed every year so there are no 'gimmies' any more.'
The Lions have got their claws into the Jets too often for Smith's liking this season, something he blames on a clash of styles.
He said: 'Milton Keynes have got our number this year.
'One thing I learned as coach is that some teams you match up with better than others. With some teams you're so much quicker than them, or you're much bigger than them.
'Milton Keynes match up really well with us. They play at a slow tempo, and we're best in a quick game. They've got one very big inside player who we struggle to match up with and if you try to help out with that guy close to the basket, it leaves their three-point shooters open.
'It's real tough but we need to find a way to beat them because we've got to take at least one more win off them this season.'
Returning Chester hero James Hamilton - captain of the 2002 'Jet-Wash' team - made his debut at Scottish Rocks last weekend and Smith feels the versatile 34-year-old's presence can add some much-needed experience to the squad.
Jets have struggled to string results together on a consistent basis this term and Smith admitted: 'There has been a lack of consistency. Whatever sport you're playing, that's often what separates the top two or three from the teams in the middle.
'On their day, Jets have proved they can compete with anybody in the league but it's a case of trying to arrive at that consistent level.
'We've got a very young team, some of them fresh out of college, and maybe some of that individual consistency doesn't come until a later stage.
'The arrival of James Hamilton will help with that. He's a mature player. You know what you're going to get with James. Hopefully his personality will rub off on some of the younger players.'
Tomorrow's opponents Birmingham have lost their last two games and have won only five in 26 this term.
The Lions, however, chalked up a double last weekend, beating Leicester Riders on Saturday before toppling the Bullets 24 hours later.
They played the Riders again on Wednesday and claimed a 79-76 triumph.
Smith added: 'They won at the weekend so they're on a roll. You get to this stage in the season and every team is competing for something. Every game's important.'