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Basketball: Leopards coach Baker excited by Essex Classic

PUBLISHED: 09:00 06 September 2018

Leoaprds are hosting the Essex Basketball Classic at Brentwood

Leoaprds are hosting the Essex Basketball Classic at Brentwood

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Leopards coach Thomas Baker cannot wait to see his side on the new Brentwood Centre court as the Big Cats prepare to host the Essex Classic this weekend.

The British All Stars Championship winners London Lions, along with Vipers from Illinois and Team USA Select, join the Leopards in a two-day basketball extravaganza which will see four games on both Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s going to be a great showcase for the sport,” said Baker.

“I’m really excited to see the team against one of the best teams in this country and some competitive teams from across the pond.

“The guys are eager to get on the floor and show the fans what we can do this year. I think we will surprise some teams.

“A special mention has to go to Tony Shaw whose relentless work ethic has created a great event for us all to be a part of.”

The tournament is widely regarded as the biggest pre-season competition in British basketball, with tickets on sale at leopardsbasketball.co.uk and also be available on the door.

While Lions are one of the biggest sides in the British Basketball League, Vipers compete in the American Basketball Association – the biggest competition outside the NBA system – and USA Select are a well-established touring side comprising of American players looking to gain a professional contract in Europe.

The Big Cats are expected to field a new-look line-up including seven-foot centre Leigh Hodges, Spanish guard Alejandro Hernandez Batista, Englishmen Rory Winter and Sam Newman, as well as at least two American players.

The action starts with a free junior coaching session for under-16s on Saturday (book at leopardsbasketball.co.uk) at 11.30am, before Lions face Team USA Select at 12.45pm.

Leopards host Vipers at 2.30pm, the American teams meet two hours later and the English sides clash at 6.15pm.

Lions face Vipers at noon on Sunday before Leopards and Team USA Select wrap up the group stage at 1.45pm.

The sides who finish third and fourth meet in the bronze game at 3.45pm and the top two play the final at 5.30pm.

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