Basketball: Jets prepare for play-off take-off

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The Independent Online
The Chester Jets coach, Mike Burton, believes he owes their fans a memorable weekend at Wembley Arena, after their 69-57 defeat against London Towers in the 7-Up League Trophy final back in January.

The Jets, bottom three finishers in the league for the previous five years, have had the most successful season in their history and make their debut at the Budweiser play-offs in tonight's first semi-final against the league champions, the Leopards. "But we didn't deliver for our fans in that League Trophy final and we're very conscious of that," Burton said. "Chester sports fans don't get many chances to support a team at Wembley and we want to make this count."

Chester finished fifth, but eliminated fourth-placed Birmingham Bullets, last season's play-off winners, to join the Leopards, runners-up Towers and third-placed Sheffield Sharks at Wembley. The Jets beat Leopards 80- 79 in their last league meeting at London Arena. But Burton warned, "We played to our strengths and took away theirs, but they'll be a lot tougher this time."

The Leopards coach, Billy Mims, who is recovering from a hernia operation, played down the pressure on his team adding a third title to their league and National Cup triumphs. He said: "We want to be the best we can and if that means taking two titles, we'll still say we had a great season."

The Towers, who won three titles last season, face a Sheffield team beaten in the semi-finals for the past two years. The Sharks coach, Jim Brandon, said: "There is no team in the country we can't beat."

The Towers coach, Kevin Cadle, said: "If we win here, it will mean five titles out of a possible eight in the last two years."

BUDWEISER PLAY-OFFS (Wembley) Semi-finals (tonight): Leopards v Chester Jets (6.45); London Towers v Sheffield Sharks (8.45). Tomorrow: Men's Second Division final: Solihull v Thames Valley Tigers B (12.0). Women's First Division final: Sheffield v Thames Valley Tigers (2.0). Men's First Division final: Ware v Plymouth (4.0). Budweiser Championship final (6.45).

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