Basketball: Jones' return as Derby coach ruined as Eagles have late run

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The Independent Online
Jeff Jones' second debut as Derby Storm coach threatened to begin with a Budweiser League victory at the Newcastle Arena last night, where his team led the Eagles 55-47 at half-time before being overwhelmed in the fourth quarter to lose 104-91.

Jones took over this week from American Steve Tucker, who had replaced him during the summer in a coaching change which has brought Derby just three league wins all season.

A fourth one looked likely last night when the players responded to a week of turmoil to outscore Newcastle 18-6 late in the second quarter for their half-time lead. Bryan Balser hit four three-pointers in the quarter and Ted Berry added another two.

Jones said: "There is talent here but the players' confidence is shot to pieces, especially after losing five games in overtime. I watched them play earlier in the season and there wasn't alot of structure in their play."

Derby's nerve held last night sufficiently for them to lead 76-72 at the end of the third quarter, but they then failed to score for nearly five minutes as the Eagles took a 14-0 run.

Jones does not assume his appointment is permanent. ''I know they are talking to other people about the post, but it will be fun helping out for the foreseeble future."

Derby's opponents tonight are Chester Jets, whose coach Mike Burton brings his continuing injury problems tot he Moorways Leisure Centre. Brian Lloyd may return, but fellow Americans Ricardo Leonard and Sean Bell are definitely out with knee injuries.