Leopards celebrate first league win

Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker was a happy man as his side picked up their first league victory of the season with a 97-77 victory against Liverpool, on Sunday.

The Big Cats outscored the Merseyside team 38-11 in the first period, hitting eight three pointers in the process, before taking their foot off the pedal during the rest of the game.

“After what has been a highly emotional week for us as a club, it is great to finally get our first league win of the season” said Baker.

“We started fantastically well in this one, even better than we have been doing in recent games which is a credit to guys. We were relentless at both ends.

“As the game went on we natural took our foot of the gas and even though Liverpool have had some issues over the last couple of days they showed they can still punish teams. Aru

“It was good to see us maintain a strong advantage in the game and we will be looking to build on this as we take on Hoods next weekend”

Forward James Cummings was also pleased with the victory: “It feels good to finally get a well deserved win

“It’s exciting when we play our style of basketball still things we need to work on but step by step we getting there!”

Division One’s top scorer Hafeez Abdul came off the bench, but again led the Leopards with 27 points, seven rebounds and three assists, while Ray Akpofure had a massive 18 point, 14 rebound double-double. Jerrelle Okoro added 14 points, ten boards and four assists, while Cummings had 12 points and six rebounds.

Captain Chuck Duru and Okoro both hit treys to open the game, and the home side blitzed a Liverpool side who had seen three players depart during the week.

Akpofure hit five straight points and Okoro drained a triplr as Leopards rushed into a 17-4 lead.

Marius Kaftaniukas made it a 25-point game as he sunk a triple and the Oaklands graduate sent his side into a 38-11 first period lead with another trey.

With the game effectively won, the rest of the action proved to be something of an anticlimax as Leopards took their foot off the gas, but the win should prove to be a boost for the Big Cats as they traval to Nottingham Hoods on Saturday.

Hoods are sitting joint tenth in the table wth three wins from ten games, but a strong fourth period at Thames Valley saw them record a surprising 102-95 win at Thames Valley Cavaliers on Saturday.

Leopards lost both league games against Ryan Lewis’ side last season but defeated the Midlands side 88-73 in the National Cup on the way to the semi-finals.

The Big Cats will aim for a second successive last four spot in the cup when they host Reading Rockets at Oaklands on Sunday December 15, 3.30pm.

Mick Ferris

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