Leopards look to bounce back

Big Cats hope to slay Dragons

Leopards will look to bounce back from last Sunday’s National Cup exit when they host Bradford Dragons at Basildon Sporting Village today (Sunday, 4pm).

Both sides won their opening league game last week, as Leopards defeated Worthing 102-83 and Bradford beat Brixton 76-68.

The game will see Leopards’ guard Tom Martin face the club he played at for two seasons, helping them to promotion to the top flight in 2011.

Martin, who made his first start for the Big Cats on Sunday, expects a tough game against the Dragons and said: “Bradford are a very organised and well drilled team that play behind a tough, in your face defensive philosophy,

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“They will be a tough team to play against as they have a good core group of players with Bobby Edmunds, Rihard Sulcs and Vance Silcott, who have all been with club over the past three years.

“Chris Mellor will have the team amped up and ready straight from the tip.”

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The Dragons, who rely heavily on the city’s Eastern European population, have made a good start to their second season in Division One, winning Group B of the National Trophy with five wins from six games.

The only real disappointment for Mellor’s side was a 68-61 home loss against Leeds Carnegie in the National Cup.

The Big Cats’ trip to Bradford last season saw them suffer their heaviest loss of the campaign, a 110-77 defeat, but they bounced back the following day to defeat the Dragons 86-66 in the National Cup quarter-final and Leopards also won 82-66 at Basildon when the sides met in the return league game.

Martin admitted to having mixed feelings about last weekend: “i thought Saturday at Worthing was a great team performance and we showed how we can step our defence as a team.

“Sunday was a very disappointing loss for us as we are out of the cup, We couldn’t seem to pull away more than five or six points and when the game was there for the taking the other team wanted it more.

“However we can’t dwell on the loss and must stay together as a team and learn from it.”

Dragons head coach Chris Mellor added: “Leopards look like they have recruited very well after losing just about everybody from last season’s treble winning team.

“They have some guys with BBL experience and [Greg] Hernandez destroyed Division Two defences last year. So it’s going to be a tough task for us but one we are really looking forward to.”

American guard Bobby Edmunds is clear about what Dragons need to do to get the win, saying: “The key for us is to not have too many turnovers as well as winning the rebounding battle. Also after the Brixton game it is important that we have a good shooting game.”

Today’s action tips off at 4pm, with tickets available on the door priced �6 for adults, �4 for concessions and �16 for a two adult, two child family.

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