Basketball: Leopards to return to Harlow

Lifestyle / Tue 19th Jul 2016 am31 10:51am

LEVETT Leopards will return to Harlow Leisurezone for a third season with at least six games at the Essex venue.

The 2014/15 National Basketball League champions will play five league games and all their National Cup home ties as they continue their partnership with Harlow Hawks.

“We’re looking forward to returning to Harlow” said Leopards’ General Manager Dave Ryan.

“Our partnership with Hawks is working really well, and the crowds are growing. It was great to see so many kids playing at the Hawks’ camp over the weekend, and hopefully those young players will continue to support pro basketball in Harlow.”

Steve Ogunjimi’s team play their first home league game of the campaign when they host newly-promoted Loughborough Riders on Saturday October 15.

It will be only the second time that the sides have met, with the previous clash coming in the National Cup quarter-final with the Big Cats winning 78-73 on the road.

That will be part of a busy weekend in Harlow for the Big Cats as they are also in action there the following day in the National Cup third round. Leopards will host the winner of the second round tie between Ipswich and Chelmsford Lions or Essex Blades, with the Suffolk side hot favourites to make the trip to Harlow.

The winner of Leopards’ third round tie will travel in the next stage, with London Lituanica or Kent Crusaders being the most likely opponents, although the Big Cats could face their nursery side Oaklands College Wolves.

The fifth round would see the Big Cats return to Harlow on November 20, if they qualify, with Hemel Storm or Reading Rockets the most likely qualifiers.

The other Division One new-boys Solent Kestrels are the visitors to Leisurezone on Saturday November 26 in what will be the first meeting between the clubs, although Kestrels’ predecessors Solent Stars were regular opponents of the Big Cats in their first few seasons.

London Lituanica are the visitors to Harlow on Saturday December 12, and the two sides have had some thrillers over the last few years.

The same could be said of Derby Trailblazers who visit Leisurezone on Saturday February 11, with both of last season’s league meetings between the clubs going down to the final seconds of the game.

Two weeks later on Saturday February 25 Westminster Warriors will arrive in Harlow for what is likely to be Leopards’ final game of the season at Leisurezone.

The London side became the first visiting side to win at Harlow last season as they snapped a ten-game winning streak for the Big Cats, but Leopards gained revenge by beating them home and away in the league.

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