ESSEX Leopards coach Robert Youngblood has told his squad they are playing for their futures after they suffered mixed fortunes at the weekend.
The Big Cats beat Tees Valley Mohawks 96-88 at the Basildon Sporting Village on Saturday night.
But, 24 hours later, they were beaten 92-78 by Medway Park Crusaders.
And coach Youngblood has warned his players they must soon improve or they will be allowed to move on.
“It’s a very important game against Derby on Sunday because right now it’s a ‘jobs on the line game’,” said Youngblood.
“If you don’t come out and play, you might not have a job next week.
“I’ll be starting, and everyone has to be ready to play.”
There were no problems for Leopards on Saturday though, with Greg Hernandez leading the way with a 26 point, 13 rebound double-double.
Taner Adu finished with 22 points and five boards while Dan Dunscombe had arguably his best game in a Leopards vest, hitting eight of his nine shots on the way to 18 points in 21 minutes and Carl Josey added 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Simon Cummings missed out on a triple-double by a single point as a late three-point attempt rimmed out adding 11 rebound and as many assists.
But there was less success on Sunday as Leopards sunk to a disappointing defeat.
Josey and Hernandez were joint top scorers for the Big Cats with 20 points each, while Adu added 14.
However, it was not enough to for Leopards to come out on top.
They led 23-17 at the end of the first quarter and 43-40 at half-time.
But Crusaders hit back in the final two quarters to triumph and Leopards will now be looking to bounce back when they take on Derby Trailblazers in the quarter finals of the National Trophy at the Brentwood Centre this Sunday.
The match tips off at 4pm.