2012 – Adu on fire in opener
An encouraging performance from the new-look Big Cats saw Leopards go down narrowly 93-88 against Team USA Select on Friday night,
Robert Youngblood’s team ran the first team of the touring American side close throughout the game, with an impressive debut performance from Taner Adu. The England international poured in 32 points – half of them in the first quarter – for his new club. Former MK Lions centre Lawrence Brown finished with 14 points and fellow big man Greg Hernandez added 12.
Adu and Hernandez were the only two Leopards in the opening stages as they took a 13-8 lead after six minutes. But a change of line-up from the visitors saw them reel off eight unanswered points before Adu hit one of two free-throws to cut the deficit to 26-22 at the first break.
Captain Lukas Volskis drained a trey to open the second period, and Leopards stayed in touch throughout the quarter, and Hernandez scored a jump shot to reduce the arrears to 48-40.
The visitors’ lead grew to as many as 12 in the early stages of the third period, but five straight Adu points dragged Leopards back into the game, they trailed by nine heading into the final two minutes of the quarter, but Adu started and finished an 8-0 run to pull Leopards within one before Beliles hit buzzer beater to make it 67-64 at the final break.
England junior Raul Graham continued his impressive debut with a basket to open the final period, and Leopards were still within a point after three minutes of action before six straight points saw Team USA open up a lead that was never seriously challenged again.
Adu broke the run at the foul line, and two late Volskis free-throws made it a four point game with 15 seconds remaining before Team USA wrapped things up at the charity strip.
Coach Youngblood, who didn’t play in the game, was pleased with his side’s display: “We need to cut down on the turnovers, and improve our foul shooting, but it was a good start considering we’ve only practiced three times.”
Leopards face the Team USA Select B team at Crystal Palace this evening. Tip-off is 6pm, with London Lions facing Select A at 8pm. Admission is £6.