Leopards prepare for quarter final clash

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Leopards face their biggest game of the season on Sunday when Reading Rockets visit Oaklands College in the National Cup quarter-final.

“Having made the semi final last year it would be great if we could get there again this season” said coach Thomas Baker.

“We played Rockets a couple of weeks ago and it was a great game where we felt like we should have got more from it, the guys are excited at the prospect of continuing our cup form and they are determined to make sure this game ends in our favour.

“We’re looking forward to a good weeks of practice and then another great game at Oaklands.”

When the sides met three weeks ago, a good performance wasn’t quite enough as Leopards went down 81-67. The Big Cats matched the high-flying Rockets for most of the game, but a 16-2 run during the final four minutes of the third period proved to be the difference between the teams.

A three points win against Bradford on Sunday saw Rockets move up to joint third in Division One with an 8-3 record.

Leopards went close to collecting a third straight win before a disappointing final 200 seconds saw them lose 85-80 at Nottingham Hoods.

Hazeef Abdul had put the visitors 77-72 ahead with 3:20 remaining, but the Hoods went on a 10-0 run and despite Abdul making it a two point a game, Kieran Wright sunk a trey to send Leopards home empty handed.

Abdul led the Big Cats’ scoring again, finishing with 23 points, missing a double-double by a single rebound and adding three steals and as many assists. Ray Akpofure had his best night of the season to record a double-double with 18 points and 13 boards in 23 minutes, while Jerrell Okoro had 11 rebounds to go with his 16 points, and James Cummings was also in double figures with 12 points.

After a poor start to the first quarter, a pair of Akpofure baskets gave the Big Cats their first lead of the game as they went into the first break with a 21-19 lead but the home side controlled the second period to lead 42-39 and they stretched that advantage to 66-58 at the final break.

Abdul launched the run that dragged Leopards back into the game and back-to-back Cummings baskets saw the Big Cats grab a 71-70 lead with 5:12 on the clock.

Scores from Okoro and Abdul made it a five point game before Hoods’ strong finish ended Leopards’ chances.

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]

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