Manchester Giants coach Jeff Jones has brought in two new faces to his squad as they prepare to welcome the high-flying Worcester Wolves on Sunday.
The BBL side have signed Birmingham-born Martyn Gayle and Latvian Ingus Bankevics, but had to release Jamie Kohn after he struggled to regain fitness after a back injury.
Coach Jones told MM: “Gayle and Bankevics are good, solid players. They both will give us great perimeter threats, both very high IQ basketball players.
“We knew Jamie Kohn had an injury and we’ve given it as long as we can but it’s just a situation where we had to do something.
“It’s unfortunate but it’s just one of those things that happen.”
The capture of Gayle had been on the cards for a while, having featured in the Giants’ pre-season friendly against a USA Select side.
The move is something of a coup for the Giants, after the guard starred for his hometown Birmingham Knights last season.
Jones said: “He fits into our philosophy, which is to give opportunities to British players. So it’s really a win-win situation with Martyn.”
Having never played in Britain, Bankevics is more of an unknown quantity, but Jones is happy to take the risk after including him in Giants practices for a number of weeks.
The 29-year-old, along with Gayle, allows the Giants to play a four-guard rotation and that extra flexibility will be invaluable against the better teams, like the Worcester Wolves.
The Wolves beat pre-season favourites Newcastle Eagles 86-81 last weekend, putting down an early marker and Jones is under no illusions as to the task at hand.
He said: “We’re going to have to play a lot better than we did last week against Sheffield Sharks to get the win on Sunday.
“We need the same type of desire and intensity but we’ll have to be a lot more efficient and better from a technical point of view.”
The Giants will rely on the support of the home crowd on Sunday, but Jones told MM the team’s fans always give them great backing.
He said: “The great thing about them is they get behind us all the time, not just when one of the big teams come to town.
“I think the support comes more from them identifying with our mission to build the club in the right way, to try to build British basketball.”
Image courtesy of Jack Hinds, with thanks.