Leopards hoping to take another step towards Division One safety

Orlan Jackman shoots against Nottingham Hoods. Picture: Dave Ryan

Orlan Jackman shoots against Nottingham Hoods. Picture: Dave Ryan - Credit: Archant

Essex & Herts Leopards are targeting a fourth straight win when they face Barking Abbey at Oaklands on Saturday as they hope to guarantee another season of Division One Basketball.

Elvisi Dusha in action against Nottingham Hoods. Picture: Dave Ryan

Elvisi Dusha in action against Nottingham Hoods. Picture: Dave Ryan - Credit: Archant

The Big Cats edged a thrilling game 99-96 at bottom club Liverpool on Saturday while a barrage of three pointers the following day downed Nottingham Hoods 127-95 at Oaklands.

England international Orlan Jackman was in scintillating form for Thomas Baker's team in both games, finishing with a 37-point, 12-rebound double-double against Liverpool.

He then chalked up a 20-point, 20-rebound, 10-assist triple double the following day.

In Liverpool, the Big Cats led for just 52 seconds but the win for Thomas Baker's team saw them take a massive step towards safety as they finished the game with an 11-0 run for the second week running.

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Having conceded 36 first period points and 30 in the second quarter, Baker's team tightened up at half-time and let in just 15 points in each of the third and fourth quarters as they moved up to 12th place.

Elvisi Dusha and Chuck Duru each had 17 points, with Dusha adding six rebounds, five assists and four steals in 39 minutes.

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Leopards trailed 96-88 with 2:29 on the clock but Duru tied the game with exactly a minute left as he drained a triple before Os Gaizuaskas' floating jump shot put Leopards ahead with 38 seconds remaining.

Dusha was fouled to stop the clock with 18 seconds left and the Albanian international missed his first shot but the sunk the second to put his side up by three before Jackman sealed the win.

After a 35-22 first period, Leopards had the game tied up by the end of the third quarter the following day with a 96-70 lead.

Last week's NBL Division One player of the week Dusha finished with 20 points, seven assists and four rebounds, while Duru had 17 points and five boards in just 15 minutes.

Aaron Williams had 15 points and Prince Lartey had a 13-point, 11-assist double-double while Gaizuaskas also had 13 points.

Barking will arrive at Oaklands one place below the Big Cats, who are 11th, with a 4-17 record and Leopards will look to avenge their 82-74 loss in east London in early January.

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