Lions left with big deficit to claw back in the new year

THE PRESTIGE Homes MK Lions’ year came to a disappointing end last week when they were brushed aside by the high-flying Cheshire Jets, leaving the city team in little doubt of how much they will need to improve in 2011.

That 112-87 defeat at the club’s new Lions Arena was their biggest of the season and leaves them third from bottom of the British Basketball League table.

Lions do have plenty of games in hand on all the teams above them - as many as three or five on some - but the nature of their defeat to second placed Jets will have come as a big shock to Mike New’s men.

With just two wins from their six games, Lions are now a mammoth 16 points off leaders Mersey Tigers and six off the top eight. But a spot in the end of season play-offs is the minimum required for New, and a huge improvement in the new year will be high on the coach’s wish list this Christmas.

Lions will get a chance to change things around in the coming weeks with a three-week break until their next Championship fixture - again against the Jets, and this time it’s away from home.

An improved performance when the sides meet on January 9 will be more important than the result of the game - few teams will actually win in Chester this season. Instead it’s the four home matches on the spin and five games in just 16 days during January which will go a long way to shaping Lions’ season.

Play-off glory remains a realistic target in 2011, but only if Santa can rustle up something pretty special from his sack in the coming weeks.