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Big weekend at Brentwood for Leopards

PUBLISHED: 16:00 05 January 2017

Essex Leopards coach Steve Ogunjimi talks to his players (pic Paul Phillips)

Essex Leopards coach Steve Ogunjimi talks to his players (pic Paul Phillips)

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Coach Ogunjimi wants good start to new year

Levett Essex Leopards coach Steve Ogunjimi is looking for his side to start the New Year strongly as they face a pair of home games at the Brentwood Centre this weekend.

The Big Cats host Manchester Giants in the BBL Trophy on Friday (8pm), before Worthing Thunder visit for a Division One game on Sunday (4pm).

“It’s an important weekend for us” said Ogunjimi. “The Giants’ game gives us the chance to test ourselves against BBL opposition and it’s a game we’re capable of winning if we play to the best of our ability.

“The visit of Thunder is the key game, though, as we need to start moving up the table. They’ve got some good players, but there can be no excuses, it’s time to start consistently winning in the league.”

Leopards have regularly been invited into the BBL Trophy, which is the knockout competition of the fully professional British League, and are still looking for their first victory in it.

Manchester will arrive at Brentwood looking to snap a six-game losing streak that has seen them drop to the bottom of the BBL table with a 3-12 record.

After losing their first six league games, Yorick Williams’ team looked to have turned the corner with three straight wins, but despite going agonisingly close to upsetting high-flying Newcastle Eagles at the weekend they’ve remained winless since.

Williams was a key player in the original Leopards’ final season in the BBL, playing alongside Ogunjimi, and the Big Cats’ play-caller is looking forward to coaching against his former team-mate:

“It’ll be good to see Yorick again” he said. “We’re both in our second year of coaching and it’s a steep learning curve, but it should be fun to coach against him.”

Worthing are also struggling and head into 2017 in 13th place with a 3-9 record, but they have reached the National Trophy semi-finals where they will meet London Lituanica.

Despite a disappointing start to their league campaign, the south coast club include Division One’s leading scorer in American forward Lyonell Gaines, who is capable of scoring 30-plus points on any given night.

Leopards won both league meetings between the teams last season, hammering their hosts 89-57 in the opening Division One game of the campaign and beating them 75-62 at Brentwood in the return.

Leopards are offering pre-game coaching for under-16s on Sunday as well as a special weekend ticket for fans who attend both games. See leopardsbasketball.co.uk for more details.


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