CHESHIRE Jets produced a determined performance to beat Mersey Tigers 79-73 to lift the spirits of their supporters and provide a distraction from the crisis-hit club’s ongoing problems.
Days before Sunday’s north west derby, the British Basketball League withdrew the Jets franchise from owner Haydn Cook when it became clear he did not have the financial resources to continue running the club.
The move, which came just weeks after local businessman Cook assumed control at the Northgate Arena, led to widespread reports that the club had been ‘kicked out’ of the BBL.
There were genuine fears that the club had died and that it would not be able to fulfil its fixtures this season.
But the Jets – for now, simply going by the name of Cheshire – have been allowed to continue after the league took control of the running of the club.
Cheshire’s overseas stars have been evicted from their accommodation and are staying with volunteers from the club.
But they managed to put their concerns to one side to help Cheshire to an excellent home victory over the much-improved Tigers.
Chez Marks led all scorers with 21 points, Kenny Moore added 18, while Alif Bland finished the game with 17 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
Cheshire coach Matt Lloyd, whose side were playing in unbranded kit and with no courtside advertising after owner Cook walked away from the club last Tuesday, said: “They're a lot tighter after the experience of this week. There’s a lot of banter in the dressing room and they are beginning to look like a proper team.”
Lloyd was assisted on the Cheshire bench by Jets legend Mike Burton.
Lloyd, who hailed the support of the fans as ‘amazing’, said: “Having Mike is unbelievable.
“For him to come along and offer his services, it would be a stupid mistake to say no to somebody of his calibre.”
Cheshire are away to Worcester Wolves on Saturday.