Biggest test for Essex Leopards as Newcastle come to town

PUBLISHED: 13:00 17 January 2014

Leopards captain Carl Josey attacks the basket against Bristol (pic: Paul Phillips)

Leopards captain Carl Josey attacks the basket against Bristol (pic: Paul Phillips)


Newcastle visit for Essex Leopards Trophy tie

Leopards face their biggest test of the season when they host Newcastle Eagles at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday, 4pm.

The BBL Trophy first round tie will see the Big Cats facing the most successful club in British basketball over the last decade.

The Eagles will be looking to bounce back after losing the BBL Cup final 72-69 against Leicester Riders on Sunday, but have won 16 titles and collected 13 runners-up medals in the last ten years. They are still in the hunt for the BBL Championship title, sitting fourth in the table with an 11-4 record.

Leopards’ player-coach Robert Youngblood is excited about Sunday’s game: “I’m looking forward to it, over the last couple of years Leopards have talked about going back into the BBL, so this is a good opportunity to face one of the top teams.

“We played London Lions pre-season and only lost by ten, so this is a good test for us to see if we can stay with the big boys. We’ll need to be firing on all cylinders and have our best game of the season to even have a chance.

“But we’ll go in with all guns blazing. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

A blistering third period display saw Leopards maintain their challenge for the EBL Division One title with a 78-73 victory against Bristol Academy Flyers, on Sunday.

Youngblood’s team outscored the visitors 29-12 in the third quarter, draining five three-pointers and going on an 11-0 run to take a lead that they would never lose.

Captain Carl Josey has a season-high 26 points including five treys, adding 11 rebounds, while Howard Crawford finished with eight boards to go with his 22 points. Kris Clark had a 12 point, 11 assist double-double, with Courtney Van Beest finished with nine points, four rebounds and four assists as he started in place of Ish Fontaine.

Leopards had trailed 20-16 at the first break, and although a Van Beest basket saw them pull within a point midway through the second quarter, Flyers took a 38-31 lead into the locker room at half-time.

There’s a quick return to Bristol for the Big Cats as they face Flyers in a Division One match-up. Sunday’s win against the West Country side saw them move up to third place in the table with eight wins from 11 games.

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