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Leopards go hunting season trophy treble
LEOPARDS will be looking to make it a hat-trick of trophies when they travel to Manchester for the EBL Final Four on Saturday.
The Big Cats will face Leicester Warriors in the semi-final with the winners then facing either Bristol Academy Flyers or Derby Trailblazers in Sunday’s final.
It is the third time in four years that the Big Cats have qualified for season’s climax.
They lost to hosts Manchester Magic in 2009 and eventual winners Reading Rockets last season.
This time Dejan Mihevc’s team go into the showdown on a run that has seen 23 wins and just one loss since early December.
But the coach has played down their chances of further success.
“In the final four there are all good teams with good coaches and good individuals and it would be really unfair to favour any team,” said Mihevc “During the season we showed that we can play the best and as a team when needed the most.
“We want to show everybody in Manchester how we can play and we are well aware that as a team we can go all the way.
“But that for sure will be anything but an easy job because probably all teams have the same goal.”
Warriors were one of four sides to defeat Division One champions Leopards, winning 92-89 at Braunstone Leisure Centre in November Leopards were without David Buchberger and Ousman Krubally for the game and, having been in BBL Trophy action the night before, they noticeably tired down the stretch and let a double-digit lead slip.
But revenge proved to be sweet at a packed Brentwood Centre in February as Leopards won 70-58 in the return game.
And guard Buchberger is relishing another rematch.
“As a team we are very excited for our weekend in Manchester,” said Buchberger.
“We have been on a great run in 2012 and the only way to end it properly is with a strong showing at the Final Four.
“However, we know Leicester have shown all year that they are a dangerous team.
“They are well balanced, with good guard and post play, and coming off an impressive win away against a solid Worthing team I’m sure they have a lot of confidence as a unit.
“We’re definitely going to have to be at our best to make it to the final but we’ve worked hard to make sure we’re ready for what should be an awesome weekend.”