Essex & Herts Leopards set for cup quarter-final clash with Reading Rockets

PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 December 2019

Hazeef Abdul in action for Essex Leopards (Pic: Essex Leopards)

Hazeef Abdul in action for Essex Leopards (Pic: Essex Leopards)


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

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

But coach Thomas Baker has quickly switched his attentions to the cup quarter-final and wants his side to match their performance from last season.

He said: "Having made the semi-final last year it would be great if we could get there again this season.

"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 week of practice and then another great game at Oaklands."

The two sides met three weeks ago when a good performance was not quite enough for Leopards as they 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.

Hazeef Abdul had put the visitors 77-72 ahead with 3:20 remaining against Nottingham in their last outing but the Hoods went on a 10-0 run.

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.

James Cummings was also in double figures with 12 points but it proved not to be enough to prevent Leopards from suffering defeat.

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