Leopards coach Baker delighted with comeback against Hemel Storm

PUBLISHED: 13:00 18 February 2019

Coach Thomas Baker talks to his team (Pic: Paul Phillips)

Coach Thomas Baker talks to his team (Pic: Paul Phillips)


After seeing his side clinch a thrilling 101-99 win at Hemel Storm, Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker was clearly a happy man.

Essex Leopards Asante Sandiford in action against Derby (Pic: Paul Phillips)Essex Leopards Asante Sandiford in action against Derby (Pic: Paul Phillips)

The Big Cats chalked up their 11th league win in the last 14 games with a blistering fourth quarter that saw them score 40 points.

“Wow! What a game,” Baker said.

“Having lost by one earlier on in the season we knew it was going to be close.

“We have grown and developed a lot since then and in this game we showed again how resilient we are.

“The game itself was a great advert for British basketball, it was competitive and both teams had great moments of defensive and offensive execution.

“It is great to see this never say die attitude we have, I think it is going to be crucial for us as we continue on this season, the way we came together and hit some big shots down in an exceptional fourth quarter for us scoring wise and this is something we must hold on to, the ability to score at will.

“However, defensively we must continue to work and tighten up and hold teams to less points.”

The Big Cats trailed by two heading into the final 12 seconds but Findlay Wood hit a big three pointer to put Leopards up by one.

Some great defence from the visitors saw Hemel turn the ball over and they sent Asante Sandiford to the foul line where he hit both free-throws to make it a three point game.

After Sandiford was adjudged to have fouled Treyvonn Wright, Hemel had the ball under Leopards’ basket.

Darrell Bethune was then called for a foul before the inbound, resulting in his ejection, and Blain Feckleton hit the first free-throw before missing the second to leave his team down by two, with the ball and 2.3 seconds left.

The hosts got the ball to Leome Francis but some great defence meant his shot was short, and Leopards held on for victory.

Sandiford led the visitors with 27 points and five rebounds, while captain Sam Newman had an impressive 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

The Big Cats will host high-flying Worthing Thunder at Essex Sports Arena on Saturday.

The south coast side have spent heavily with former BBL players Zaire Taylor and Alex Owumi scoring heavily for them.

They lifted the National Trophy with a win against Loughborough Riders a fortnight ago and are second in the table.

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