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Basketball: Leopards looks to rebound at Loughborough

PUBLISHED: 11:00 03 October 2019

Action from a match between Leopards and Loughborough Riders

Action from a match between Leopards and Loughborough Riders

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Leopard coach Thomas Baker is looking for a big improvement as his side travel to Loughborough on Saturday.

Hafeez Abdul scores a basket for LeopardsHafeez Abdul scores a basket for Leopards

THe Big Cats began the National League Division One season with a big 122-61 loss at Solent Kestels and Baker knows they need to play much better this weekend.

He said: "It certainly goes down as one of the toughest losses I have had as coach and the team felt it too.

"It wasn't an easy start in the league campaign against last season's league and play-off champions but we definitely felt we should have performed better than we did.

"We must make sure we regroup quickly and get ready for a competitive game against good Loughborough side.

"It is important this season we don't get too high with the highs and too low with the lows, this is a moment for us to learn from and improve."

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Division One champions in 2017/18, Loughborough finished third last season and won the National Cup, but Leopards produced arguably their best performance under Baker when the sides met in Colchester last season.

The Big Cats hit an incredible 20 three-pointers with just 32 shots as they ran out 108-76 winners in what was probably the best shooting performance in the club's 15-year history.

In contrast, the game between the sides in the Midlands saw the Riders win 106-88, but Loughborough were one of two sides who sat out the opening weekend of this season.

Solent opened with an 8-0 run on Staurday and never looked back as they dominated from tip to buzzer, going into the first break 33-19 up and then effectively ending the game as a contest with a 29-19 second period to lead 62-38 at half-time.

Things didn't get any better in the second half as the gap grew to 91-52 and the fourth quarter saw Leopards outscored 31-9, adding only a single point in the last five minutes.

Hafeez Adbul led Leopards with 17 of his 24 points in the first half, with five boards and three assists.

Jerelle Okoro added 10 points while Prince Lartey scored eight as Leopards suffered the biggest defeat in club history, outrebounded 59-32 and shooting just 26 per cent from the floor.

Solent's American pair Ian Smith and Travis Charles had 26 points each and the latter added nine rebounds.

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