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Leopards coach Baker looks to avenge earlier losses and get campaign back on track

PUBLISHED: 08:00 11 January 2019

Leopards coach Thomas Baker explains his tactics (pic Nick Winter)

Leopards coach Thomas Baker explains his tactics (pic Nick Winter)

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Essex Leopards coach Thomas Baker is looking for his team to get their season back on track as basketball returns to the University of Essex on Sunday.

The Big Cats host Loughborough Riders with a 5pm tip-off, having lost to Solent (101-60) and Hemel Storm (95-94) last weekend and with reduced priced tickets on sale at leopardsbasketballl.co.uk.

“This weekend gives us a chance to focus on getting our season back on track” said Baker.

“After a tough weekend it is important we start picking up some wins and I feel if we can stay competitive for 40 minutes we have a very good chance of doing that.

“Barking picked up a crucial win against Bradford last weekend and Loughborough continued their strong start to the season by beating Leicester Warriors, so it isn’t going to be easy for us.”

The Big Cats will look to avenge a 106-86 loss in October when the hosts finished strongly to put an unbalanced look to the scoreline.

As they look to retain their Division One title, the Midlands side are fourth in the table with a 7-3 record and cannot afford many slip-ups in their final 16 games.

It will be the first of successive games at the University of Essex as Riders return on January 19 for the National Cup final against Team Solent Kestrels.

Riders have also reached the semi-final of the National Trophy with wins against Warriors and Nottingham Hoods in the group stage, before a loss against Derby.

The Big Cats are also on the revenge trail on Saturday (4pm) as they travel to Barking Abbey Crusaders.

A strong second half could not prevent them starting life at the University of Essex with an 84-77 loss against Abbey in October.

The Big Cats erased a 20-point deficit with a strong end to the third period and a good start to the fourth, but they ultimately came up short down the stretch.

They will have to watch out for Ade Adebayo as October’s game saw the youngster hit 35 points in as many minutes including four of his five three-point attempts and 21 straight in the final period.

The young Crusaders team are ninth in the table with a 5-7 record and look set to avoid last season’s relegation scrap.

Baker added: “Having started the season playing Barking, I am excited to see how far we have come and I am confident we can put in a great performance against two tough opponents.”

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