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Leopards coach Baker refusing to be downbeat after mixed weekend

PUBLISHED: 12:00 05 March 2019

Essex Leopard coach Thomas Baker (Pic: Paul Phillips)

Essex Leopard coach Thomas Baker (Pic: Paul Phillips)

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Essex Leopards coach Thomas Baker refused to be downbeat after seeing his side fall to a 96-84 defeat against Hemel Storm.

Asante Sandiford in action against Hemel Storm (Pic: Paul Phillips)Asante Sandiford in action against Hemel Storm (Pic: Paul Phillips)

They did however pick up a narrow 93-91 victory over the Leicester Warriors the night before.

“One weekend or one game has not and will not define our season,” Baker said.

“The attitude and approach to what’s important will.

“I am confident that we will get back to it this week in practice and be ready to go again.

“We must come together and find a way to continue to play our style for 40 minutes as we hunt for the consistency that still eludes us at times, accountability across the program to do us is crucial for our performance both on and off the court.”

While Leopards did collect their 12th league win of the campaign at Leicester on Saturday to stay firmly in the play-off race.

“Overall it was a frustrating weekend for us,” Baker admitted.

“We played well in parts in both games, but at the moment we are searching for the discipline to stay focused and execute our game plan throughout.

“It is clear we can compete with the best teams in this division but we must continue to understand that if we go away from what has made us successful in the game then every team in this division will punish us.

“Although we won on Saturday we made the game harder for ourselves then it needed to be and on Sunday we knew Hemel had the quality to hurt us and credit to [Robert] Youngblood and his team they executed extremely well in the second half.”

Leopards led for most of the game at Leicester, but had to withstand a late fight-back from the hosts to record a victory that realistically means they need one win from their final four games to seal a place in the post-season.

The Big Cats started slowly but led 26-18 at the first beak before sharing 50 points in the second quarter.

A 25-24 third period saw that lead grow to nine at the last break but it took a Lee Hodges free-throw with four seconds on the clock to wrap up the win.

Asante Sandiford led the Big Cats with 28 points and five rebounds.

The Big Cats now face their longest trip of the season when they visit second from bottom Newcastle on Sunday afternoon.

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