Baker remains positive despite another defeat for Leopards

Essex & Herts Leopards' Hafeez Abdul. Picture: Essex & Herts Leopards

Essex & Herts Leopards' Hafeez Abdul. Picture: Essex & Herts Leopards - Credit: Archant

Essex & Herts Leopards coach Thomas Baker believes his side are making progress despite falling to an 86-77 defeat away at Bradford Dragons on Saturday.

The Big Cats started well, taking a 19-10 lead after five minutes and going into the first break with a 28-21 lead.

With Hafeez Abdul scoring well, the visitors built a 40-29 lead before Dragons finished the half strongly to cut the advantage to 48-43 going into the locker room.

The teams split 22 points in the opening five minutes of the second half before Dragons took control, outscoring the Leopards 13-6 to lead 67-65 going into the final break and they remained in control to leave the Big Cats winless.

But despite the result, Baker remains upbeat and said: "This was our best game of the year so far.

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"We came out the blocks and really committed to our style and we reaped the rewards too.

"We rode their comeback and managed to enter the half still ahead.

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"What hurt us was a lack of discipline down the stretch and we became tight in the decisions we made. They showed their experience and closed the game out.

"Now we are in basketball games and we are making things more competitive we will learn from what happened in this one and be better for it."

Abdul led Leopards with 28 points and five rebounds as he became the first player under Baker to play a full 40 minutes.

Ray Akpofure finished with a season-high 14 points and five boards, with captain Chuck Duru adding 11 points and eight rebounds.

Jerrelle Okoro and Prince Larety completed the visitors' scoring with ten points apiece.

Baker's team complete a run of four straight away games with a trip to Westminster Warriors on Saturday before hosting Hemel Storm at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday October 27.

The London side will include former Leopards Justin Hitchman, Tosin Oyelesi and Nathan Ashley, and started the season with a win against Reading Rockets before going down against Barking Abbey and Hemel Storm.

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