Marshall MK Lions and Cheshire Jets will be looking to take a step towards the BBL Cup final when they meet in the first leg of the semi-final at Bletchley Leisure Centre on Friday.
Lions won the competition in 2008 with a victory against Newcastle Eagles, and coach Vince Macauley is keen for his team to return to the final: "The Cup is special to us and we want it back, we all enjoyed that run and those are the reasons you play the game, to win!"
However, Macauley admits that he isn't a great fan of two-leg basketball: "I don't think two legs work in basketball, but it's better than one. Will we coach the game differently? Yes it will be eight quarters and you can't win it in the first game, but you can certainly lose it."
The teams met at Northgate Arena in late September and Jets ran out 78-77 winners. Macauley is expecting another tough game:
"It was another game we lost at the buzzer, I think Jets are one of those clubs who know how they want to play and recruit players to fit, they are having an exceptional season.'
Jets coach Paul Smith is ready for a difficult game at Bletchley Leisure Centre: "They are very good. We stole a win and they were without their point guard, so I know it will be a very tough game. Good veterans with some exciting young guys and an experienced coach will make them tough for everyone this year."
Elsewhere on Friday, Essex Pirates will look to repeat one their two BBL Championship victories this season when they host Worthing Thunder.
Tim Lewis' team travelled to the south coast in October, and ran out 88-82 winners – their only win on the road since joining the BBL in the summer. Although Thunder currently sit outside the play-off zone, and have played more games than any other team in the bottom half of the table, Lewis is expecting a difficult game when they visit Southend: "I think that Worthing are a good team – they have been unlucky with injuries. With Dave Titmuss coaching them they are going to competitive no matter who is or isn't playing for them."
The two sides who dominated the BBL last season meet at Newcastle Arena on Friday evening when the home-town Eagles host Everton Tigers.
Eagles came out on top when the teams met in October, winning 98-81, but coach Fabulous Flournoy is not taking anything for granted as his team prepare to face the Tigers:
"Tigers are even more of a work in progress than us" he said." They have a lot of talent and will be a tough team in the second half of the season. Without Larkai they are perimeter orientated but they have a number of multi skilled players. To beat them we need to defend the perimeter better than we have been doing." Tigers coach Tony Garbelotto is also expecting a tough game when his team travel to the north east: "They are still a championship calibre team, and don't let anyone else tell you different. Of course, take Fab (Flournoy) out and the emotional leader and best defender is gone, but when he gets back they will be fine.'
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