Plymouth Raiders’ shooting guard James Jones is excited about facing former team-mate Andy Thomson in Sunday’s BBL Cup final.
The pair came through the junior ranks at EBL club Manchester Magic, and were team-mates at Mersey Tigers last season as the Liverpool side lifted three trophies.
“It’s a fifth consecutive BBL final for me and Andy,” said the 28-year-old Englishman. “We played in the 2010 play-off final, and all three last season. One of us is going to be happy on Sunday evening and one isn’t.
“Andy was around my dad’s house in Manchester at Christmas and I told him he’d have to wait for his present as it was a runners-up medal. He told me the same thing, but it was definitely my idea!”
Jones is clearly excited about the prospect in playing in his ninth BBL final. As well as competing in six title games with Tigers, he was a key part of the Guildford Heat team which won the BBL Cup and play-off double in 2008.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it, it’s always exciting to be in a final and I think it will be a really good game,” he said.
Jones has a good idea what to expect from Eagles: “We know how they’ve been picking up wins, and it’s hard to look past Charles Smith, Thommo [Thomson] and Joe Chapman as their key scorers. We’ve seen from their stats that they’re shooting a lot of three-pointers, so we’ll have to defend the three point line.
“Fab [Flournoy], Darius [Defoe] and Andrew Bridge all play good, solid defence, and they’re a well balanced team. Paul Gause brings something different with his speed and ability to penetrate, but I think we match up well with them.”
The Eagles have already handed a 90-67 beating to the Raiders this season, and Jones is keen to avoid a repeat: “A lot of us didn’t turn up last time played them, and we lost badly. Mike Ojo was missing and Anthony Row had flu, but we weren’t ready to play. It will be completely different this time. When Tigers lost to Sharks in last year’s final it was a turning point for us, and I think the loss at Eagles this year was a similar situation. Gavin [Love] was sorting the rotations out, and we’re now comfortable with our roles – there’s been a big improvement.”