BASKETBALL: Leopards face their biggest weekend of the season so far as they open their defence of both their Division One and National Cup titles.
The Big Cats are at Worthing in a league game on Saturday before hosting Canary Wharf London Lituanica at the Brentwood Centre in the third round of the National Cup on Sunday (tip-off 4pm).
Robert Youngblood’s team had arguably the easiest passage to the last 16 stage as they received a 20-0 walkover against neighbours Brentwood Fire but they will face a tough test against the London side who won Division Four in 2011 suffering only two losses in 20 games – one of which came against the Big Cats’ B team.
They have won both of their Division Three games by big margins and had a 99-76 road win against Division Two side London Westside in the second round of the Cup.
Leopards will be offering pre-game coaching to young fans (8-16) before the next game with youngsters having the chance learn all about the game from one of the club’s American players in a one hour session starting at 2pm.
Each fan will receive one hour of coaching, a water bottle, a picture with the player and a ticket for the game for just £8. Places can be booked by calling 07828 470015 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before that, Leopards travel to the south coast to face a Worthing side they comfortably defeated in the National Trophy a fortnight ago.
The Big Cats will want to make a better start to their league campaign last season, with all four of their defeats coming in the first five game before they went on a 19 game winning streak to take the title.
Thunder went out of the Trophy at the group stage with only one win in five games, but their National Cup victory at Medway Park Crusaders means that Youngblood's team will have to take them seriously.
Leopards sealed home court advantage in the National Trophy quarter-final with a comfortable 81-61 victory at Hemel Storm on Saturday.
For the second straight game the Big Cats led from tip to buzzer, and will now host Derby Trailblazers at Basildon Sporting Village on Sunday, January 13.
Greg Hernandez led the Big Cats with a 22 point, ten rebound double-double as he converted ten of his 15 field goal attempts. Carl Josey finished with 17 points and five boards.