TWICE in the last month the Cheshire Jets have been beaten by their play-off quarter-final opponents, Plymouth Raiders.
The Raiders, featuring former Jets players Chez Marks and Anthony Martin, are the form side coming into the post-season. They beat the Jets 102-92 at the Northgate Arena and 102-94 away.
But over the course of the season, the difference between the sides has been marginal, and aggregate scores over their three encounters come up Raiders 301 Jets 300.
Add to that the fact the Jets subconsciously took their foot off the gas when the title slipped out of their grasp, and the Raiders could be in for a nasty shock when Paul Smith’s side make the 280-mile trip to the Plymouth Pavilions Arena.
According to Matt Schneck, the Jets’ explosive first-season professional, his team will ‘bring it’ come Saturday.
“I think we’re very motivated right now,” said Schneck. “I think these last couple of games we were relaxed in our mindset and being that this is the play-offs that changes a little bit.
“We know that it’s win or go home and that’s the approach we’re taking. We will bring the intensity this weekend.”
The Jets welcome Plymouth back for the return leg on Sunday at Chester’s Northgate Arena (5.30pm) and Schneck, a 6ft 8ins centre from Wisconsin, is excited about his first professional play-off campaign.
“It’s great, it’s the reason you play the game,” he said. “We’re happy to be here and we’re going to prepare hard this week and bring our best.
“Defence is our main focus right now. We’re rediscovering our zone defence a little bit and we’ve done some defensive drills, so that is the main area of focus for us.
“We know we can score against the Raiders, but they’ve been scoring against us in big numbers so obviously that’s what we have to improve on.”
And the famous Northgate crowd will play a pivotal role in the Jets’ ability to come through this two-legged play-off tie victorious.
“Hopefully the fans turn up in big numbers,” said Schneck. “The community has been incredible this year and that they’re with us in the play-offs is huge.
“They are our sixth man and when it gets loud in the Northgate it’s tough to lose there so hopefully they’ll come out in big numbers and enjoy a big Jets win.”