Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker was in a reflective mood after a weekend that saw the passing of club volunteer Keith Tewkesbury.
A good performance wasn’t quite enough to give Leopards their first league win of the season on Saturday as they went down 81-67 against Reading Rockets at Oaklands.
But the following day they progressed to the National Cup quarter-final with an 88-78 win at Sussex Bears
“Overall it was a a tough weekend with the news of Keith’s passing,” said Baker.
“The game against Reading was one of our most disciplined performances of the season and on another day I feel we would have come away from there with a victory.
“The guys did a great job for most of the game in executing our game plan, unfortunately some empty trips towards the end of the game meant Reading were able to extend the lead.
“Sunday’s game against Sussex Bears was complete opposite. We started extremely poorly and found ourselves in a tied game at half time. However, an excellent third period blew the game open for us and we were able to see it through.”
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.
Division One’s league scorer Hafeez Abdul had another massive night as he finished with a 27 point, 14 rebound double-double, while Jerrelle Okoro added 16 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Ray Akpofure also had a double-double with 13 points and 12 boards.
In contrast to Saturday, Sunday’s Cup victory against Division Two side Bears saw the game won in the third period as Leopards overcame a 39-35 half-time deficit to blow the home side away with a 35-16 quarter.
Abdul continued his fine season with 32 points, with Teni Mongo and Marius Kaetaniukasis adding nine each while Duru and James Cummings scoring eight apiece in a balanced scoring effort. The Big Cats will now host Reading in the last eight on Sunday December 15.
Leopards return to Division One action at Oaklands on Sunday (3.30pm) when Liverpool are the visitors.
The Merseyside team have won two of their first nine league games but caused controversy when they failed to travel league leaders Solent Kestrels, on Saturday. They had already called off their Cup game against Myerscough because their players would be tired after the trip to Southampton, and look set to recieve a large fine and the deduction of one of their league wins.