Dave Ryan reports…
Levett Essex Leopards have announced their first two pre-season games as they start preparations for the 2017/18 National Basketball League season.
The Big Cats will host Team USA Select at Oaklands College on Friday September 1 (7.30pm) before the touring side visit the Brentwood Centre on Sunday September 3, tip-off 4pm.
There are two pre-game camps before the September 3 game at the Brentwood Centre with youngsters getting the chance to practice and play games with Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker and several of the first team. Full details on www.leopardsbasketball.co.uk.
Team USA Select bring around 40 players over from the States, and Leopards will face different teams on each date. The squad consists of players who have finished their college careers in the States and are looking for pro jobs in Europe. Several have gone on to successful careers in England including former Leopards’ big man Greg Hernandez who helped the Big Cats win the National Trophy in 2013.
The Big Cats have been regular opponents for the Americans over the years, playing them at Brentwood, Capital City Academy and Crystal Palace as well as training games in east London.
The teams last met a year ago and a big crowd at the Brentwood Centre saw Leopards edged out 81-77. Sean Killmartin’s side also visited the Brentwood Centre in September 2015 as Steve Ogunjimi made a winning start to his career as Leopards’ coach with a 76-67 victory. The sides also met in a closed-door scrimmage game just before the start of that season with Leopards winning a thriller 84-83.