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Big cup win for Big Cats

PUBLISHED: 09:00 23 September 2014

David Ajumobi shoots for the basket as Leopards take on Barking Abbey (pic; Paul Phillips)

David Ajumobi shoots for the basket as Leopards take on Barking Abbey (pic; Paul Phillips)

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Essex Leopards ease past Barking Abbey

Leopards powered their way into the National Cup second round with a 95-48 victory against Barking Abbey at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday.

Dave Ajumobi led the way with 21 points and four assists as the Big Cats proved too strong for the young visiting side, and they will now host Hackney White Heat at a date and venue to be announced.

Josh Foulds opened the score for Abbey, but back-to-back scores from Courtney Van Beest gave Leopards a lead they would never lose.

Ajumobi sunk a trey to send Leopards into the first break with a 23-12 lead, and a 15-0 run across the first two periods effectively ended the game as a contest as the home team led 42-23 at half-time.

A 12-2 start to the second half continued the pain for the visitors and Leopards led 68-31 at the final break before wrapping things up with a 27-17 fourth period.

Van Beest and Will Ashby finished with 16 points apiece, with the former adding seven rebounds and six assists, while Lawrence Brown and Marvin Isebor each added 10 points.

Friday’s home game against London Lions proved to be something of an anti-climax as a depleted Leopards’ side went down 87-48 in front of a big crowd at Brentwood.

With east London gridlocked and flash flooding leading to delays on the railways, Leopards were without several key players including Ajumobi and point guards Albert Margai and Ronnie Baker, and after a good start the Big Cats were overpowered.

American forward Byron Richards scored Leopards’ first nine points and four straight Lawrence Brown points kept them 16-13 up with eight minutes gone.

A pair of Adrien Sturt baskets saw Lions pull within one point, but Andre Allette beat the buzzer to send the home side into the first break with a 20-15 lead.

That proved to be as good as it got for the hosts as Lions opened the second period with a 15-2 run, and Leopards were outscored 27-7 in the second quarter and 28-8 in the third as the BBL team ran out comfortable winners.

The home side did compete to the end, as Richards finished with 11 points despite suffering an ankle injury in the second half.

Leopards have a busy time on Saturday with a day of basketball at the Brentwood Centre, starting at 2pm when they face a team made up of American air force players from Lakenheath.

The Americans were one of Leopards’ first opponents back in 2004 when they met in a pre-season tournament and Robert Youngblood’s team can expect a tough game.

At 4pm there will be a special coaching clinic for young players with members of the Big Cats first team.

Then at 6pm Leopards return to action on the court to face Dagenham Dragons in a second friendly game as the Big Cats prepare for the Division One season.

Place on the coaching clinic can be book by calling 07828 470015.

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