Repay the faith: ‘Confident’ Manchester Giants coach Jones urges team to up game

After last weekend’s double disappointment of losing back-to-back games, Manchester Giants coach Jeff Jones is looking for his players to repay the faith he’s placed in them.

Last week the BBL side lost games to Leeds Force and Bristol Flyers, which were tough but winnable games, Jones told MM.

They have the chance to redeem themselves, however, against Sheffield Sharks, who the Giants have beaten once already this season, and struggling Surrey United.

Jones said: “I certainly believe in the guys, it’s just a question of whether that faith will be repaid on the court, and I’m sure it will be.

“I’m quite comfortable going in to the weekend’s games. I’m confident we’ll bounce back from last weekend.”

With offensive linchpin Mike Bernard out injured, Jones called upon some of his newer recruits to show what they’re made of.

Jones said that Phill Wait, the Giants’ closest like-for-like replacement for Bernard, and the newly-acquired Ryan Lewis have both been handed a great opportunity in the absence of the veteran centre.

Jones said: “It puts a little bit of pressure on guys like Phill and Ryan, similar guys to Mike, in the sense that they have opportunities now to prove that they can perform.”

The 36-year-old has had a scan this week, and is due to meet with a specialist on Saturday, which will give the Giants a clearer picture as to the extent of the injury.

Bernard’s hip injury is a big blow to the Giants, and a prolonged spell on the side-line would force the Giants to re-write their game plan for this season.

Jones said: “We prepared all season to be playing with one of the most dominant ‘big men’ in the league. We’ve just had to work on changing our style, really.

“This week in practice we’ve just been looking at adjusting to a different style and being more efficient in playing without Mike.”

If Bernard is indeed out for a prolonged period the Giants will look to the open market for a new centre, such is the importance of the native Mancunian.

Jones maintained though that he would prefer to bring in someone to play alongside Bernard, rather than to replace him.

The coach also admitted that while the mood in the team this week has been somewhat subdued, the Giants are focused on getting back on track after some disheartening defeats, which he felt came down to a shortfall in ‘basketball IQ’.

But he reiterated his unshaken belief in his team’s capabilities to deal with adversity.

He said: “We’ve got a strong team spirit. We don’t have superstars – we’re very down-to-earth and workmanlike. I hope that helps us deal with our defeats and with losing Mike. This season in general will come down to how well we keep building and how we keep improving.

“And we will, we will.”

Main image courtesy of Manchester Giants via YouTube, with thanks.

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