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Leopards to stay in hunt

PUBLISHED: 11:45 20 March 2015 | UPDATED: 11:45 20 March 2015

UEL's Will Ashby

UEL's Will Ashby

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Big games coming up for Big Cats

Essex Leopards will be looking to remain in the NBL Division One title race by winning both matches they contest this weekend.

The Big Cats travel to Newham Neptunes tomorrow (Saturday) before hosting Worthing Thunder at Brentwood Centre the following day.

They will be looking to complete a clean sweep against the London side, having beaten them 96-68 in the National Trophy and 83-53 in the league earlier this season.

Leopards will certainly be familiar with the court at University of East London as well, with Will Ashby, Matic Zupanc and Lukas Winegarner all playing for the university,

Ashby, Dave Ajumobi, Albert Margai, Byron Richards and Ladi Brown are all former Neptune players also.

Although Newham are bottom of the table they have pulled off surprise victories against Reading Rockets and against Manchester Magic so the Big Cats shouldn’t get complacent.

Worthing will provide them with a good test on Sunday too.

They currently sit eighth in the table with a 9-11 record this year. One of those victories came when they inflicted Leopards first league loss of the campaign just before Christmas.

Ajumobi’s 35 points that day couldn’t prevent the Big Cats losing 86-83 to Thunder, therefore revenge will be firmly in their minds this weekend.

Leopards will go into these two clashes buoyed by their three-point win against Derby Trailblazers.

A noisy Brentwood Centre crowd were treated to a thrilling contest last Sunday and the hosts showed great character to earn a vital win.

Winegarner, Zupanc and Ashby were missing as they represented UEL, but the latter rushed back and scored a crucial basket with 15 seconds left to see Leopards triumph 63-60.

The Big Cats raced into an early lead, but Derby hit back and came in ahead by the end of the first quarter.

Trailblazers had the momentum now and went 32-18 ahead during the second quarter before coming in at the break with a seven-point advantage.

That lead remained for most of the third before Ajumobi produced an excellent free-throw spell to put Leopards ahead for the first time since the opening minute.

Derby once more responded to level it up going into the final quarter. But Ashby was with Big Cats now and although both teams went ahead during the final quarter, Ashby’s basket sealed an excellent victory.

Former Leopards chairman Fred Dicker is holding an auction in the bar after Sunday’s game with Derby. Excellent items, such as a signed Frank Lampard shirt, are on offer.


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