While Manchester Giants sit back this weekend and wait for their Budweiser League rivals to settle the line-up for the Wembley play-off finals in two weeks, the club's former coach, Jeff Jones, is already planning for next season, writes Duncan Hooper.
Jones, the former England international, has returned to coaching with Derby Bucks, 18 months after his controversial and still largely unexplained split with the Giants. Player power was put at the root of his problems with Manchester, where he played for 12 years and coached for another six, winning one play-off championship and a league title.
Jones said: "About December I started watching some games and I got the urge to become involved again. At Derby I'll be responsible for junior development and have the chance to get the club back into the top flight."
Last season the Bucks reached the last four at Wembley by eliminating the then champions, Thames Valley Tigers, but this season they failed to qualify for the quarter-finals after finishing ninth. Giants reached Wembley by completing a 2-0 series win over Doncaster Panthers on Wednesday.
Tigers are again living dangerously, with Wednesday's 97-94 overtime win against Worthing Bears keeping them on the Wembley trail and taking their series to the decisive third game at Bracknell tonight.
The series involving Sheffield Sharks, the League champions, and Birmingham also goes to the third game, tomorrow, when the Bullets guard, Nigel Lloyd, will play despite a foot injury.Reuse content