Basketball: Chester aiming to make Giant leap

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The Independent Online
THE CHESTER JETS coach, Robbie Peers, joked recently that if he was allowed to bet pounds 1,000 on today's League Trophy quarter-final with Manchester Giants in Birmingham, he would have to back his odds-on opponents.

Now Peers and the bookmakers are backing Chester as a long shot to upset the odds in the second of today's ties, all being played at the NEC, after they defeated last season's League and Cup title winners, Sheffield Sharks, in the Northern Conference of the championship at the start of the holiday weekend.

Sheffield, who play Newcastle Eagles in the last of today's games, suffered their first defeat since the opening day of the season when a three-pointer from Pero Cameron seven seconds from time gave Chester an 87-86 win to break the Sharks' 19-game unbeaten run.

The Giants' coach, Nick Nurse, will not allow his players to relax after watching Chester come from 20 points down to defeat Sheffield. Nurse said: "They will go into the game with nothing to lose and they seem to run well with that attitude." Newcastle's coach, Craig Lynch, knows his team are underdogs but takes some comfort from Sheffield's shock defeat. "I'm not sure they're as good a team as they used to be," Lynch said.

London Leopards bring a run of six defeats into their tie with Thames Valley Tigers, who have won the Trophy more times - four - than any other club. As coach and player, Paul James has been part of all four titles and said: "This is our best chance of winning something."

The closest game is likely to be London Towers against Derby. Storm have won their last three games and are challenging for the Northern Conference title. Yesterday, third-placed Manchester closed the gap on the leaders, Sheffield, by beating second-placed Derby 95-80.