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Leopards on for long range Trophy trip
8:00pm Wednesday 11th July 2012 in Basketball
ESSEX Leopards face one of their longest trips of the season when they open their National Trophy campaign.
The Big Cats will make the long journey to Tees Valley Mohawks on Saturday, September 15, as they look to make a winning start to the only competition to elude them last season.
The 14 English Basketball League Division One sides are drawn into two seven-team groups, with the top two in each group getting home court advantage in the quarter-finals and the third and fourth-placed sides facing road games.
The first games of the season will see Leopards return to Middlebrough where they sealed a place in the National Cup final with a 96-84 victory against the Mohawks, and they also beat the north east side home and away in the league.
After a weekend off, Leopards then face a home double at the end of September. Friday September 28 sees Brixton Topcats visit Brentwood while two days later Medway Park Crusaders are the visitors to Basildon Sporting Village.
Both sides defeated Leopards on their own court in the league, but the Big Cats gained revenge in the return as they went through the home league season unbeaten.
Crusaders were also the visitors to Basildon in the play-off quarter-final with Leopards winning 93-75 on their way to lifting the season’s final piece of silverware.
The Big Cats visit another of the four sides who defeated them in the league last season when they travel to Leicester Warriors on Saturday, October 13.
They gained revenge for the four-point loss in the Midlands with a comfortable 70-58 win against Karl Brown’s team at the Brentwood Centre and ended their post-season dreams with a 82-73 semi-final win at the Amaechi Centre in the final four.
Old rivals Worthing Thunder are the visitors to Basildon Sporting Village for Leopards’ penultimate group stage game on Sunday, September 14, when Robert Youngblood and his team will look to repeat the hat-trick of victories Leopards chalked up against the south coast side last season.
Leopards complete the Trophy group stage on Saturday, September 20, when they travel to newly-promoted Hemel Storm.