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Baker hails back-to-back wins as a special weekend for Essex Leopards

PUBLISHED: 14:00 23 January 2019

Head coach Thomas Baker talks to his Essex Leopards squad (Pic: Dave Ryan)

Head coach Thomas Baker talks to his Essex Leopards squad (Pic: Dave Ryan)

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Head coach Thomas Baker hailed a special weekend as his Essex Leopards side made it four wins on the bounce with a pair of victories.

Essex Leopards captain Sam Newman in action against Bradford Dragons (Pic: Dave Ryan)Essex Leopards captain Sam Newman in action against Bradford Dragons (Pic: Dave Ryan)

The Big Cats staged a remarkable comeback to win 94-90 at Nottingham Hoods on Saturday before completing a second weekend of back-to-back victories with a 91-79 success over Bradford Dragons at the Brentwood Centre the following day.

“This weekend was special,” Baker said.

“We showed a different side to our game and it was great that our performances ended up with two more victories to add to what has been an excellent couple of weeks for us.

“To come back from 22 points down against a talented Hoods team was massive for our confidence and also our togetherness, and to earn a win against a physical and aggressive Dragons team was just as crucial.

“It demonstrates that we can make adjustments in game and also shows our ability to fight through adversity.

“We have come a long way in recent weeks but we are focussed on just getting better one game at a time.”

The pair of wins put Leopards into the play-off zone for the first time since returning to Division One, and they now have a weekend off before basement side Manchester Magic visit the Brentwood Centre on Sunday, February 3.

There was little sign of Leopards completing the first half of the league season with a win at Nottingham as trailed throughout the first half, going into the opening break 35-25 down and trailing 60-49 at half-time.

It was a 12 point game with four and half second half minutes gone when Asante Sandiford started the comeback with a three-pointer followed by a lay-up and with Rory Winter scoring twice from long range the deficit was cut to 79-75 at the final break.

Captain Sam Newman hit a triple to open the fourth period before Lee Hodges’ dunk gave his side their first lead of the night.

Sandiford finished with a game-high 28 points and five assists, with Newman adding 20 points and four assists.

The following day saw a more controlled performance from Leopards as they took a decisive lead in the third period and another good night from outside the three-point line.

Sandiford led the way with 20 points, ten assists and seven rebounds, while Mascall-Wright also added 20 points, adding four assists and three boards.

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