Plymouth Raiders focus on Manchester Giants guard James Jones
GAVIN LOVE is wary of guard James Jones returning to haunt Marjon Plymouth Raiders at the Pavilions tomorrow (4pm).
Jones and the reformed Manchester Giants visit in the BBL Championship in a big early-season match-up.
Both clubs are legitimate pretenders to reigning champions Newcastle Eagles' throne.
Jones, 29, left Raiders this summer after one year at the Pavilions to be reunited with his father and Giants coach Jeff Jones.
He has led Giants in scoring, averaging 20.3 points per game this season.
Jones was Raiders' starting shooting-guard in 2011/12, averaging 10.8 points and 3.5 assists per game, and had a good but not great campaign.
Raiders boss Love said: "Maybe James didn't quite hit the heights he expected to here, but at the same time he did a really good job.
"He's a very good player and can kill you from outside. We have to key in on him."
Love, whose team are 1-0 after an opening 108-86 win over London Lions last weekend, added of tomorrow: "It's going to be a great game – I'm looking forward to it. It's really important we get a second win."
Jones kept a then rookie Michael Ojo out of Raiders' starting line-up last season, but in many respects Ojo eclipsed Jones and led Raiders in three-point shooting.
One year on, Ojo has been terrific and is now keeping the more experienced Drew Lasker out of Raiders' starting five.
Ojo, Raiders' second-top scorer last weekend, versus Jones is set to be an intriguing and pivotal individual contest tomorrow.
"James and Mike know each other inside out," said Love.
"I'm sure Mike will be ready to prove a point tomorrow, because James kept him out the starting line-up last year."
Love added: "It was important to get Mike back this year. I think he's going to have a stellar season.
"You can see he's learning all the time and improving every facet of his game. He's getting to the basket more and he has more of a mid-range game offensively."
Lasker has effectively replaced Jones on Raiders' roster this year, but Love reveals it was never an option to re-sign Jones.
He said: "To be honest, myself and James didn't even talk about him coming back here this year.
"I think it was a no-brainer he was going to Manchester, regardless."
Jones, who has won seven BBL titles since first entering the league with Surrey Heat in 2007, said: "It's going well. I'm enjoying being back in Manchester.
"It's good playing for my dad. He's played the game at a decent level and been around a long time. He's a players' coach; he lets us play."
PLYMOUTH Marjon tip-off the new EBL season at Oxford Brookes University in Division Three South tonight (7pm).
New signing and former Raider Tomas Janusauskas is set to make his debut after completing his move from the Pavilions.
"It's good to get the season going, but always tough on the road," said new Marjon coach Matt Hatchell. "It's horrible not knowing what we're going into, but the more away wins we can get this year, the stronger our position will be in the league."
Hatchell added: "To be honest, I'm more concerned with what performance we put in. Results then take care of themselves."
Division One club Bristol Academy Flyers visit Marjon in the National Cup second round tomorrow (3pm). Admission is free.