2017 – AJ ruled ineligible for Leopards
Leopards’ promotion hopes have been hit by the decision of Basketball England not to register guard/forward AJ Roberts. The governing body have ruled that the American is a professional and will not be allowed to play in Division Two, which they class as Amateur.
Roberts had recently received clearance to remain in the UK for at least 30 months, and with a British wife and child he could expect to qualify for a British passport within five years.
“Above all we’re absolutely gutted for AJ” said Leopards’ general manager Dave Ryan. “Despite offers from Division One sides, he’d stuck to his word and was determined to lead us to promotion. I know how upset he is by not being able to do that .
“It seems crazy that he can do everything that a British person can do – expect play in Division Two – and that playing a handful of games in Division One prevents any import player from ever playing in the lower divisions.
“We’re allowed one American but it’s virtually impossible to sign one unless a club is attached to a university. In theory he could sign for a Division One side and end up playing against us in the Cup – it’s hard to see the fairness of that.
“AJ’s next move is entirely up to him, we’ll completely understand if he finds a Division One club so that he can play this season. Our aim remains to gain an immediate promotion and we hope AJ will be able to re-sign with us next season. He’s an excellent guy to have around and it’s a massive disappointment that he can’t play for us”
Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker was also disappointed that Roberts won’t be able to play for his team this season: “It’s not the news we wanted. AJ is a massive loss, he is an exceptional player and a humble person who just loves to play the game. We wish AJ the best in trying to find a new club. We will continue to push forward and grow together as a team and I believe we can still go on and win this league with the guys we have.”
2011 – Leopards reach Trophy quarter-final
LEOPARDS overcame a furious fight-back against Medway Park Crusaders on Saturday to wrap up a place in the National Trophy quarter-finals.
Vernon Teel put them 93-73 up with three minutes remaining to seemingly seal the game, only for Sam Betts to sink a three and start a 13-0 run to reduce Leopards’ lead to 93-86 with 90 seconds remaining. Teel, who finished with a game-high 40 points along with eight rebounds, and Lukas Volskis stopped the rot as the Big Cats closed out the win.
There is a still home court advantage to play for as Leopards will look for a top two finish in the group, with home games against Bradford Dragons and Reading Rockets to come. Ousman Krubally finished with a 27 point, ten rebound double-double in just under 29 minutes of action before fouling out, with John Lister adding 20 points for the Big Cats. 17-year-old Barking Abbey prospect Joe Lockwood made his first start for the Leopards as they looked to counter Crusaders’ size, and he pulled down seven rebounds to go with his here points in an encouraging 20 minute debut.
Joseph Schow opened the scoring for the home side, and although Teel levelled with a jump shot, the Big Cats struggled in the first quarter before a Lockwood free-throw cut the deficit to 19-16 at the first break. The hosts continued to control the game in the first five minuets of the second period as a pair of Tom Raymen three-pointers saw their lead grow to 35-29.
A Teel trey launched a 6-0 run to level the score heading into the final three minutes of the half, only to see former Leopard Gareth Laws put his side ahead with a jump shot. But Teel hit three points to restored Leopards’ lead and they closed out the half with an 8-2 run to lead 46-42 going into the locker room.
A pair of Krubally baskets split by a Teel free-throw saw Leopards open the second half brightly, and Lister made it a ten point game when he sunk from downtown. An Adrian Fenyn dunk cut the lead, but Leopards’ lead never dropped below seven, and a Teel score four seconds from the end of the period sent them into the final break with a 70-62 lead.
Marlan Henry opened the fourth quarter scoring for Leopards and it was still a ten point game after four minutes of action before Leopards launched what proved to be the key run. Lister hit a long two off Josh Johnson’s assist and also scored a three before Henry hit a trey Teel scored the back-to-back baskets that put Leopards up by 20.
They noticeably took their foot off the gas, and with Krubally leaving the game there were a nervous few minutes before Teel and Volskis remained calm to seal the win.
2000 – Jets shoot down Leopards