THE task awaiting BiG Storage Cheshire Jets could hardly be greater as they take on the might of Newcastle Eagles in tomorrow’s play-off quarter-final.
Jets’ eighth-placed league finish means they have been paired with the table-topping Eagles in the end-of-season shakedown – with the winner of tomorrow’s clash going through to BBL Finals Weekend in Birmingham.
Newcastle have home advantage for the one-off tie, meaning Paul Smith’s side will have to spring a major surprise if they are to progress.
The Jets head coach reckons his opposite number, Fab Flournoy, is vital to Newcastle's success.
Smith said: “The key person is Fab. He is the leader and the team has obviously completely bought into him and his system.
“There is no one key player on the floor. Stop one and others step up. They have been very impressive and very consistent all year.”
Jets had a mixed bag of results in the final weekend of the regular season, losing at neighbours Everton Tigers before hammering Worthing Thunder 122-83 on Sunday.
Smith said: “We took too long to get going against Tigers. We didn't get to the level of intensity required for such a big game and we were 11 down before we started playing.
“Against Thunder, some would say there was nothing to play for but aside from the head to head we had an opportunity to try some stuff out ahead of an important play-off game next week.
“We did that, we got everyone on the floor and we gave a good performance for the last time in front of the home fans.”
Newcastle have dominated their games against the Jets this season, winning all four.
Flournoy’s side, who are chasing the treble, go into tomorrow’s match-up on the back of a 100-96 victory at Guildford Heat.
The Eagles boss said: “I've said on many occasions that Jets are a team that would get on a run at some points and start playing well.
“They are one team that I really didn't want to face in the play-offs. I honestly feel that they have an abundance of leadership, and players who have won things on numerous occasions.”
Flournoy added: “Paul Smith and the whole organisation itself know what it takes to win games like this.
“A one-off game sees both teams laying it all on the line, and they have the likes of James Hamilton, Calvin Davis, Phil Perre and Shawn Myers who know what it takes to win in the play-offs.”
Tip-off at the Newcastle Arena tomorrow is 7.30pm.