PAUL Smith is rallying his Cheshire Jets troops for a do-or-die mission to reach the BBL Cup final.
The Jets trail the Sheffield Sharks 107-85 from the first leg of their semi-final, having failed to fire on all cylinders at the Northgate Arena on Sunday.
But head coach Smith is refusing to go down without a fight and he firmly believes the Jets can stun the Sharks in tomorrow’s second leg at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
“We have looked really good and strong in training. The guys are really fired up for this game,” said the Jets boss, who led his team to the BBL Cup and BBL Trophy finals last season.
“There is a real determination to prove the doubters wrong, to say yeah, we had a bad game but we are good enough to overturn this.”
Smith can attest to the Jets’ ability to surprise.
Last season in the first leg of their BBL Cup semi, they trailed MK Lions by 21 points at half-time away from home.
They closed that gap to four by the end of the game and when the Lions visited Chester, they were mauled 83-71 as the Jets went through to the final to face the Sheffield Sharks.
“When you have two teams that push like we do and the Sharks do, 20 points can disappear very quickly,” said Smith.
“We have a few new little things tactically we will do, but everyone expects us to lose so we can go out and play with a little more freedom.”
New signing Jason Killeen, a 6ft 11ins centre from Limerick, Ireland, is settling in well after a brief appearance in the first leg and Smith intends to utilise him more tomorrow.
And of course there is the extra man on court, the travelling Jets fans, who could make all the difference on the road.
“The fans are always great and the players really appreciate the support they get,” said Smith.
“I know it will be tough this weekend to travel, but I hope as many as possible make the trip because when we played at Sheffield in the BBL Championship a few weeks ago, they drowned out the home fans and they really can make a difference.”
If you want to support the Jets’ as they try to defy the odds, email firstname.lastname@example.org for ticket and travel prices and to book.