BIG Storage Cheshire Jets may only be an “outside bet” for the play-offs, but that won’t stop them from giving their all against two of the leading teams in the BBL this weekend.
Still reeling from last Sunday’s home defeat to Everton Tigers, Paul Smith’s men make the long trek to Plymouth Raiders tonight before hosting Guildford Heat at the Northgate Arena on Sunday (5.30pm).
With games fast running out, head coach Smith knows Jets face a tall order if they are to claw their way back into the play-off frame.
He said: “We’re only an outside bet for the play-offs now, and we need to respond after the loss against Everton. Plymouth play excellent defence, and it’s a tough place to go to.”
Smith singled out Drew Lasker as Plymouth’s danger man, adding: “When we beat them it was no coincidence that he got into foul trouble. He can score and he plays great defence. Terrence Durham does a pretty good job for them.
“He works hard, is physically strong and knows how to get away with stuff. But all in all, they are a good team all round.”
The two sides have already met four times this season, with Raiders emerging as winners in three of the games. Having lost 94-78 to table-topping Newcastle Eagles last weekend, Plymouth go into tonight’s meeting knowing their title chances are all but over.
Coach Gary Stronach said: “We haven’t got a chance of winning the league.
”Both Newcastle and Guildford have the head-to-heads on us, but we need to get home court advantage and finish as high as we can. Guildford are looking good for second, but we still want our best-ever finish in the BBL.”
The Raiders boss expects Jets to provide tough opposition.
He added: “Cheshire can still get eighth place, although it will be tough for them. They are a guard-oriented team and have two outstanding players in Trey More and Jayson Obazuaye. They’ve also got James Hamilton in there, and I have been really impressed with Matt Otten recently. They are a good side, and it won’t be easy.”
As for Jets game against Guildford on Sunday, the hosts will be looking to avoid an unwanted hat-trick of league defeats against the Heat.
A strong third period proved key when the sides met in Chester in October as Heat won 98-89. The return at The Spectrum proved to be more one-sided as Guildford turned up the heat on their depleted visitors to triumph 111-91.
Coach Smith knows his players will have their work cut out.
He said: “We pushed them well with only five players available, but James Jones came off the bench and hit a bunch of threes. That’s the kind of team they are. They are really deep and don’t need any superstars.”