2012 – Victory for Big Cats
Leopards picked up their first win of the season on Saturday evening as they came from behind to defeat Team USA Select 92-88. Taner Adu led the scoring for the second night in succession, finishing with 26 point, while Greg Hernandez added 21 points, including nine in the final period as the big Cats finished strongly.
Having lost by five points in the previous night’s loss against the Select A team, Leopards had expected to face their B team at Crystal Palace, but the visitors chose to mix their two squads, giving the Big Cats a tough game .
Adu dropped nine points in the opening period as Select dominated from behind the three point lane, scoring all 27 of their points from downtown as they led by seven at the first break. Despite some good work inside from Hernandez, Leopards trailed 55-43 at half-time, and the USA side led by as many as 18 points in the third period before the Big Cats fought back to tie the game at 63.
USA scored eight of the final 11 points in the third period to lead 71-66 at the final break before Leopards stepped up the pressure in the last quarter, and Adu wrapped up the win from the foul line.
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Despite the loss, coach Jon Burnell was pleased with the display from his depleted squad: “I couldn’t have asked for any more from them. We were under-man, under-sized and under-strength, but they all gave 100 percent. I had seven players, but three of them were point guards, so it was tough going. We looked good at the beginning, and it wasn’t until they brought their second unit in that they took control.”
Burnell was especially pleased with guard Gareth Laws who looks set to join the Big Cats having previously played at London Capital, London Towers, Plymouth Raiders and Sutton Pumas: “Gareth played really well. I had to use him at the power forward spot for a while, which is probably the first time he’s done that in his career, but he stepped up, and if he stays with us he’ll be a great asset.”
Laws led the Big Cats’ scoring with 21 points and six rebounding, while James Warwick added 15 and Sam Salter finished with 14 and nine rebounds.
All seven players got on the scoresheet in a game where they each logged at least 20 minutes action, with junior point guard Lucas Volkis finishing with 11 points and centre Nathan Wilson picking up four boards to go with his five points.
A good start saw the Big Cats level at 18-18 with two minutes of the first period remaining against a side who are favourites to retain their league title and are competing in Europe this season. However, the Heat introduced their second unit, and fought back to go into the first break 30-20 ahead.
The home side turned up the pressure in the second period, outscoring 42-21 to lead 72-41 at half-time, before 34-20 and 29-9 quarters wrapped up their win.