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Howard Crawford cleared to make Essex Leopards debut
2:00pm Friday 4th October 2013 in Sport
HOWARD Crawford has been cleared to make his Essex Leopards debut this weekend.
The Big Cats face Manchester Magic at the Brentwood Centre on Saturday before hosting Barking Abbey at Southend’s Garon Park the following day.
And the 25-year-old American, who was forced to miss last weekend’s shock defeat to Bradford Dragons after a delay in his international clearance, cannot wait to get back on to the court.
“You can look forward to me leaving it all on the court this weekend in my first game,” said the 6ft 9ins-tall forward.
“Last weekend was frustrating and what made it worse was that we lost and me knowing that we would have won the game easily if I had played.
“But we’re still confident ahead of the weekend.
“We went back and watched the film of the game and we have been working on the mistakes that happened during it at practice.
“We’re also a new team so I see us getting better the more we play with each other.
“Greatness doesn’t happen overnight so it’s going to take a little time for us to gel as a team.
“That’s just the nature of basketball but hopefully we can do better this weekend.”
Crawford is also keen to play a prominent part in that happening after impressing for his new side during pre-season.
The forward top-scored on his debut with 23 points and seven rebounds against his former side, the London Lions, in a pre-season friendly.
But, after trying out in Estonia last season, Crawford was then bizarrely blocked from playing competitive games until clearance had been received, even though he had never played a league game for the Valga club.
However, that has now been received and the American is looking forward to again working with head coach Robert Youngblood who was instrumental in bringing him to Essex.
“I was contacted by coach Youngblood during the summer about coming to play for him and I thought it would be a good situation with him already knowing my skills and the way I play,” said Crawford, who is living in Chadwell Heath.
“We played together in Milton Keynes with the Lions a couple years ago and now we’re back together again my goal with the club is to win in every aspect of the game.
“It’s going to take a lot of work but we have the talent to do so and we just have to get everyone on the same page.”
Leopards face Magic in the National Trophy, tip-off 7pm, and then move on to Southend Garon’s Park for the clash with Barking Abbey in the National Cup, tip-off 5.30pm.