Cheshire Jets v Mersey Tigers
Sunday 19 September 2010 @ Northgate Arena (5.30pm)
Cheshire Jets coach Paul Smith singles out Mersey Tigers' new signings Andrew Sullivan and Tafari Toney as key players his team will need to stop as they open their BBL Trophy campaign with a game against their neighbours on Sunday.
While Toney was a keen part of the Sheffield Sharks side last season, Team GB captain Sullivan joins from league champions Newcastle Eagles, and Smith expects both players to be key for the new-look Tigers: "Toney and Sullivan are obviously excellent pick ups. They are super athletes with lots of experience who win wherever they go. I know they will be well coached and very fired up for this game."
Mersey coach Tony Garbelotto is ready for a tough start to the season as his side travel to Chester: "We've seen them once, played against a Division Three team, and I don't think Paul will change their style of basketball that he coaches, but obviously some different character. That's a bit worrying as we won't know them, but they wouldn't have played on the Northgate Arena court which is good for us.
"They've just had three games in Ireland where they will have faced some decent opposition. But they're going to challenge this year, and they're taking it seriously. I know a couple of their Americans are decent players, at least we get to see them on Saturday against Worcester."
Tigers travelled to the south east last week, recording comfortable wins against Essex Pirates and BA London Leopards, but Garbelotto wasn't entirely happy with his side's warm-ups gave gone: "Pre-season is, like for every team in this league, too short. We haven't has enough preparation, so we're going into a game against a team a little bit better prepared to us that doesn't make me happy.
"We'll play Manchester on Thursday, we need the game to get in shape and get timing issues out of the way. I'm not down on any my players, in fact I'm really pleased with them. They play hard, they're high level players and we hope to make one addition before the weekend.
"We're going to be a very competitive team because we have that type of player who wants to compete and do well. The fact we're all British is a quite a unique factor."
The teams met on four occasions last season, splitting the series as both teams enjoyed successful campaigns. Jets won the first meeting 101-92 at Northgate Arena and them repeated the trick with a 98-87 win at Greenbank Arena. Game three saw Tigers regain some local pride with a 75-63 home victory, and then travelled to Chester in the play-offs and sealed a place in the semi-finals with a 94-79 victory.
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