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Brixton debut for US man Cummings
3:26pm Wednesday 26th September 2012 in Local Sport
LEOPARDS will give a debut to new American guard Simon Cummings when they host Brixton Topcats at the Brentwood Centre on Friday evening.
The 6ft 1in point guard arrived in the UK last week and hit 16 points in the Big Cats’ 68-66 loss in a friendly at NASSA on Sunday, adding six rebounds, two assists and two steals in 26 minutes for Robert Youngblood’s team.
Leopards fought off interest from three BBL clubs to sign the Florida Tech star, with coach Youngblood’s persistence paying off as he made a personal visit to the 23-year-old to clinch his signature.
Cummings was coached by Billy Mims - who led the original Leopards to back-to-back BBL titles with Youngblood as his captain - and he gained national prominence in the States in December when he tied a 23-year-old NCAA Division II record by hitting 10 consecutive three-pointers in a victory against Trinity College.
The action at Brentwood starts at 8pm on Friday, and Topcats were one of four sides to defeat Leopards as the Big Cats won the Division One title last season, although the champions did gain revenge with a 78-66 win in the return at Basildon.
With a new-look team, Brixton have started slowly with heavy losses against Hemel Storm and Tees Valley Mohawks in the National Trophy, though they made short-work of Division Four side Ealing Phoenicians in the National Cup with an 88-37 on Sunday.
Leopards are also in action at Basildon Sporting Village on Sunday when Medway Park Crusaders visit in the National Trophy, tip-off 4pm.
The Kent side have won both of their Trophy games this season, and will provide a tough test for the Big Cats. After the sides split the league games between them last season, Crusaders were the final visitors of the season to Basildon as Leopards produced a dominant display to win 93-75 in the play-off quarter-final.
A depleted Leopards side went down to a narrow loss in Newham on Sunday as two Josh Oladejmi free-throws with eight seconds remaining gave the home side victory.
Starters Greg Hernandez and Taner Adu sat out with minor injuries while Simonas Bublys was ill, and Youngblood concentrated on coaching as they faced last season’s Division Three treble winners.
Poor foul shooting and a terrible night from long distance where Leopards missed all 19 attempts proved the visitors’ Achilles heals, but they did get an excellent performance from England junior forward Rowell Graham who finished with a 15 point, 11 rebound double-double.
Admission at Leopards is £6 for adults, £4 for juniors and £16 for a two adult, two junior family ticket. Further details on www.leopards basketball.co.uk