Coming to get you: Manchester Giants coach Jeff Jones fires warning to British basketball

By Phil Jones

Manchester Giants coach Jeff Jones was in bullish mood at the end of a draining BBL season, warning the rest of the league to watch out.

Jones led a consortium of Manchester basketball enthusiasts in bringing the franchise back from the dead in late 2011 ten years after it folded.

Though there have been growing pains, Jones said the team – who finished just one win outside the play-off places this term – will come back stronger next season.

“We will become the dominant force in British basketball, I have no fear of saying that,” he told MM.

“People can call me an arrogant prat but I guarantee it, we will be in Europe within five years.”

The ninth-place finish was achieved with an all-British roster, the only one in the BBL, eight of which were home-grown Mancunian talent.

But Jones recently admitted the all-British philosophy may have to be sacrificed for the team to develop, and he has already been hard at work recruiting for next season.

“I’ve already got three guys ready to come, we’ll definitely strengthen in positions and have guys that are influential and make the right decisions,” he added.

“We will absolutely be a better team, there’s no doubt about it – the current guys who are here next year will have all bought in to it, as will the new guys.

“We’ll be a top-four team, we will take care of business and be a class act – I guarantee it.”

Jones helped develop many of the current Giants players in his previous role as Manchester Magic coach and said their performance as a first-year franchise should be respected.

“I’ve got guys that have really bought into it, that grew up with this and with me, have watched me and know what I expect – and then I’ve got guys that haven’t,” said the American.

“We haven’t been able to play the way I want to all year, but that’s not a reflection on the players.

“We’ve got eight Manchester kids who came through a programme at one club, nobody else in the country could do what we’ve done this year, nobody.”

Working within the confines of a very limited budget, Jones led his side to within seconds of making the BBL play-offs but were denied in their penultimate game by London Lions’ last-gasp winner.

And the coach hopes strides taken off the court during their first season will lead to success on it.

“If you have a big budget you can go British and be competitive in the BBL, we’ve been competitive with no budget,” he said.

“Guys have been doing jobs away from the court because they wanted to be here and they made a lot of sacrifices, I have nothing but admiration for them – it’s been a tough year.

“Next year we’ll have people full-time, we have a foundation and you will not recognise us in six months time.”

The veteran play-caller admitted some players would inevitably leave, but he hopes the Giants collaboration with Sport 4 All will lead to a steady stream of homegrown players.

“Our local players came through the development programme we had in Manchester previously, now we will do the same thing,” he added.

“We will be churning out our own talent, running teams across the board, have an academy and we’ll take care of business.

“Manchester basketball will thrive, believe me.”

Picture courtesy of Jack Hinds Photography, with thanks.

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