THAMES Valley Tigers, Bracknell Forest's table-topping basketball team, have suffered a setback in their bid to win the British Basketball League title for the first time since 1994.
They went into their home clash with Chester Jets on November 13 in high spirits after a 111-84 victory at Teesside Mohawks which put them in the National Cup semi-finals.
But unlike the Mohawks, treble champions at NBL Conference level last season, the Jets - who won all four top flight trophies - were a stern proposition.
When the sides last met at Bracknell Sports & Leisure Centre in February the Jets, depleted by injuries, used the same five players throughout the game and ran out of steam towards the end to lose 103-84.
But this time they arrived with seven quality players, including former Thames Valley favourite John McCord, and this greater depth enabled them to repel the home side's efforts to claw back Chester's early lead.
Tigers narrowed the gap to 24-28 at the end of the first quarter but the wheels fell off in the second period as the Jets scorched away to a 22-point advantage at 36-58.
Once again Thames Valley made inroads, dragging themselves back to 46-64 at half-time, and a tremendous surge in the third period closed the gap to just five points at 79-84.
But just when it seemed Tigers were going to stage a grandstand finish Chester sank a couple of quick baskets to reach the final interval 81-89 ahead.
Tigers' defence was not strong enough to stop Chester scoring in the final quarter and the visitors knew their 105-115 victory was in the bag when the home side brought on young reserve Ryan Cadogan for the final minute.
Their next home game is against the London Towers in the BBL Trophy on November 30, tip-off 7pm.