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Basketball: Leopards look to upset Kestrels

PUBLISHED: 14:00 05 December 2018

Leopards coach Tom Baker talks to his players

Leopards coach Tom Baker talks to his players

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Leopards will go into Sunday’s National Cup semi-final against Solent Kestrels in top form after a 102-74 demolition of Team Newcastle.

Asante Sandiford in action against NewcastleAsante Sandiford in action against Newcastle

The Big Cats host the Division One leaders at the Brentwood Centre (4pm) on the back of a four-game winning streak which has made coach Thomas Baker a happy man.

“Another fantastic win for us” he said. “Defensively we are doing a really good job in forcing poor shots from the opposition and then we are capitalising down the other end.

“Scoring has never been our problem but we shot the ball incredibly well. I don’t think i envisaged us scoring 17 three-pointers in one game but we have the weapons to do it, it was only a matter of time.

“We are building momentum at the right time and this shows we are a team that can achieve big things this season. This is great preparation for what will be a tough semi-final against an undefeated [in league games] Solent team.

Chuck Duru shoots for the basketChuck Duru shoots for the basket

“We will need to be at our best to beat them and this result gives us the confidence that we can do just that.”

Baker knows that the south coast side’s only loss in 15 games came against big-spending Worthing and will present a tough test for his side as the look to win the National Cup for a fourth time.

He added: “Coach Guymon’s teams are always well drilled and strong defensively so we will need to be at our best if we are to reach the final. They have some returning players from last year, most namely Herm Senor II, who is a great leader.”

Tickets for Sunday’s game are available at leopardsbasketball.co.uk or on the door, with the chance for under-16s to practice woth

Asante Sandiford led the way for the Big Cats at Essex Sports Arena on Sunday with a massive 34-point, 15-rebound double-double.

Luke Mascall-Wright added 16 points and four assists, while Chuck Duru came off the bench to finish with 11 points and five rebounds.

Findley Wood chipped in with nine points, with Lee Hodges, Sam Newman and Rory Winter adding eight points apiece.

Newcastle started well, but an 11-0 run sparked by Hodges gave Leopards a lead they would never lose.

They led 24-16 at the first break and 54-34 at half time, increasing the gap to 78-53 at three-quarter time, with Dion Easton’s basket with 100 seconds left bringing up the century.

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