TJ WALKER has singled out the threat of former Northgate favourite Alto Virgil as he prepares for tonight’s trip to Sheffield Sharks.
The BiG Storage Cheshire Jets head coach – now back in the UK after undergoing knee surgery in his native America – knows his team will have to keep a close eye on Virgil, who starred for Jets last season before moving to Sheffield.
Walker said: “Alto is always a dangerous player, and we’ll need to watch out for him.”
Virgil led the way for the Sharks in their last meeting with the Jets – a 74-68 victory at the Northgate on the opening weekend of the season.
Walker, however, knows Sheffield are by no means a one-man team.
He said: “They have re-signed Atiba Lyons and he’s a solid player. You don’t notice him, but he does all the little things, and he’s a great player to have on your team.
“The one thing you do know is that with Pete Scantlebury as coach, they will always be well-prepared. They’ve been a bit up and down this season, but he’s always out there scouting and making sure his side are ready to face you.”
Walker returned to his coaching role with the Jets on Sunday, and his side rewarded him with a fine 90-87 BBL Trophy victory against Milton Keynes Lions.
He said: “We played really well, and although we made it hard for ourselves, we deserved to win. They changed things around a bit near the end with a couple of presses and we threw the ball away, but we did well.”
Walker is likely to remain on the sidelines playing-wise until the end of January, but admits he is enjoying just coaching the team,
“Coaching is the easy part, I’ve got a great group of players here,” he said. They work hard, and they are doing well. They come to work every day and I think I’ve got lucky with them. They could have given up when me and James Hamilton were injured, but they kept on going.
“We have two Trophy games at the end of the month, and if we’re still in the hunt for a place in the semi-finals, I’ll look to come back then, but if not I’ll wait until February.”
The Sharks go into tonight’s game on the back of a mixed weekend. After losing 81-68 at home against Guildford Heat, they bounced back the following evening to win 78-61 at Birmingham Panthers.