THE day many Jets fans thought they would never see has arrived as the relaunched team prepares to make its long-awaited return to BBL combat.
Jets – who won a hard-fought battle against closure during the close season thanks to the work of dedicated club officials and the backing of Chester firm BiG Storage – tip-off the 2007-08 campaign tonight at Plymouth Raiders (7.30pm) before playing host to Sheffield Sharks at the Northgate Arena on Sunday (5.30pm).
It is a landmark weekend for the club and head coach TJ Walker – who was lured away from Newcastle Eagles in the summer to head up the new operation– can’t wait to see his revamped team in action.
The Californian said: ‘Things are beginning to fall into place and we are all looking forward to opening the season. We know it will be a challenge, but we need to try ourselves out against the best.’
Walker has been a busy man since taking the reins in July, signing five new players and bringing back old favourites James Hamilton and Richard Murphy.
Jets have been on a training and ‘team bonding’ exercise in Abersoch this week under Walker’s watchful eye.
He said: ‘I am focused on each game as it comes and I just go out to win each game. We are training hard and looking at how we can make a quick and successful start. I think this team is going to be tough and not easy to beat. We will be working on all areas of our game.’
The Jets will have to knock top sides like Walker’s former club Newcastle off their perch if they are to challenge them for this year’s BBL title.
Walker added: ‘The Eagles are a very good team who have kept many of their old squad and Guildford will also be strong. I think these teams are going to be tough but we have a good team with some strong players.’
Among the clutch of summer arrivals are London-born Marc Pratt and 23-year-old Nigerian Jayson Obayuaye, who promise to bring new depth to the Jets’ game.
Walker said: ‘Marc is a super player, very strong, very athletic and has great skill. I think that Jayson could be one of the best players in the BBL.’
Jets officials are expecting a big crowd for Sunday’s Sheffield game and are urging fans to use one of the new pre-purchase options for tickets. They can call 01244 399993 any time from 9am to 5pm today or book on-line at www.bigstorage.info/jets
Supporters unable to book in advance are advised to arrive by 4.45pm to be sure of getting a seat.