On this day – Sept 17

2017 – Defeat in Patrons debut

Levett Essex Leopards’ Patrons Cup debut ended in disappointment as they went down 79-73 against Nottingham Hoods, at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday..
The Big Cats were without American guard AJ Roberts who is still waiting for the Home Office to issue his clearance to live in the UK, and they clearly missed him, but it was the lack of defensive intensity and too many turnovers that will worry Baker. Dougie Bennett led the home side with 21 points, with new signing Korry Callum adding 12 and Jamie Hayes nine, but the Leopards had no answer to former England international David Watts and Daleny Powell who finished with 25 and 23 points respectively.
There was little to chose between the teams in the first half as five Bennett points kept the Big Cats in touch in the early stages before a 6-0 run gave them their first lead of the game at 17-16.
The visitors led .18-17 going into the first break but Bennett drained a trey to open the second quarter, and the teams exchanged baskets throughout with the biggest lead coming when five straight Will Ashby points were followed by a score from Callum to put Leopards 32-28 ahead.
Wes Moore looked to have sent Leopards into the half time break with the lead but the young guard turned the ball over, and Wright beat the buzzer to tie the game at 34 going into the locker room.
Ruben Saiz Colon opened the second half scoring for the Big Cats but the teams were still tied at 46 going into the final three minutes of the third period, but although Hayes put Leopards ahead briefly with a dunk off Bennett’s pass, it took three free-throws from Bennett to keep them within two as they went into the final break 53-51 ahead.
Hoods opened the fourth period with a 6-2 run to take a lead they would never lose. Callum broke the run but a Powell trey made it a nine point game with three and half minutes remaining before Ashby and Shaq Lewis dragged Leopards back into the gam.
But it was Watts who sealed the win with a pair of three-pointers, and the Big Cats will travel to Ipswich on Saturday knowing they will need a much improved performance.

2016 – Heart-breaker for Leopards

Essex Leopards v Hemel Storm 16 Sept 2016; Mike Martin;Leopards were made to pay for foul shooting as they went down 69-68 against Hemel Storm, on Friday evening. Steve Ogunjimi’s side converted just ten of their 24 visits to the free-throw line, and despite having 14 more field goal attempts and forcing nine more turnovers than Storm, a Leon Henry buzzer-beating three consigned them to defeat.

David Ajumobi appeared to have made the perfect return to the Leopards when he drove to the basket and scored with 3.2 seconds remaining to put his side 68-66 ahead, only to see the visitors take the National Trophy victory in stunning styleEssex Leopards v Hemel Storm 16 Sept 2016; David Ajumobi;
Justin Hitchman led the Big Cats with 15 points, with Mike Martin adding 14 and Ladi Brown 13. Martin and Brown both recorded double-doubles with ten rebounds, with Martin adding a team-high four assists.
Martin marked his return to the club after 15 years away by opening the scoring from the free-throws line, and a Brian Nguru trey capped a 6-0 start for the Big Cats. That was as good as it got for the hosts, though as wrapped up the first period with a 7-2 run to take a 17-16 lead.
Essex Leopards v Hemel Storm 16 Sept 2016; Brian Nguru;Five Ajumobi points helped his side tie the game at 25 midway through the second period, and five Hitchman points followed by a Brown basket sent the Big Cats into the locker room at half-time with a 36-34 lead.
Leopards’ woes at the foul line were particularly prevalent in the third period as they scored just two of their ten attempts and with Jack Burnell – whose father Jon coached the Big Cats for six years – hitting eight straight points midway through the quarter, the visitors went into the final break with a 52-48 lead.
A second trey of the game from Hitchman gave Leopards a 53-52 lead early in the fourth period and Martin tied the game at 61 heading into the final two minutes.
A three point play from Martin set up the grandstand finish before Henry – who appeared to travel before the shot – broke the hosts’ hearts.
Henry led the visitors with 13 points and five assists, with Michael Darlow adding 12 points and eight boards.

2011 – Leopards make winning start

PAWS London Capital 62 London Leopards 72

LEOPARDS coach Dejan Mihevc was a happy man after his side opened the new season with a pair of wins over the weekend.

The Big Cats defeated Division One rivals London Capital 72-62 in overtime on Saturday to open the National Trophy campaign before progressing to the second round of the National Cup with a comfortable 80-62 win against Brentwood Fire.

“Our team is basically new and very young, so it was really hard to predict how our guys would react when the competitive games started” said Mihevc after the win at Capital. “It was a little nervous beginning, but we were playing better and better every minute and got totally relaxed in overtime when we started to play how we practice and in the end won the game.

“That is for us right now very important because we are still not at the level we want to be in a couple of weeks. So wining games like this will also give us more confidence and more motivation to work even harder. I am really happy that we already made a progress from that game and we started really strong and confident against Fire, playing hard in defence and sharing the ball well in offence, specifically in first half.

“I enjoy it when I see that players are working for one goal and it doesn’t matter if this is a first division or four division team.

“I am also very pleased that young Josh Steel, who is only 14, and got his chance for today’s game, showed that he can play with older guys and that he really is an England prospect.”

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