Huge win for Leopards has them upbeat ahead of a ‘massive weekend’

PUBLISHED: 13:13 06 March 2020

Elvisi Dusha led the way for Leopards in a big win against Reading Rockets. Picture: PAUL PHILLIPS

Elvisi Dusha led the way for Leopards in a big win against Reading Rockets. Picture: PAUL PHILLIPS

Archant

Leopards go into one of the biggest weekends in club history on the back of an excellent 97-91 overtime win at Reading Rockets.

The Big Cats travel to basement side Liverpool on Saturday before returning to their Oaklands College home on Sunday to face Nottingham Hoods

A win for Leopards on Merseyside would effectively relegate Liverpool and send the Big Cats into Sunday's home game against Nottingham knowing they were only two wins away from safety.

Their win at Rockets was the first away league victory of the season, giving them a real chance of avoiding the drop and it left coach Thomas Baker a happy man.

He said: "We always had this win in us. The desire and competitiveness we showed was flawless at times, right from the pre-game to the end.

"We shot the ball well and we gave everything we could to the defensive end. I felt we were connected from coaches to players and it showed in how we finished the game.

"I hope we can continue that in what will be a massive weekend for us."

Elvisi Dusha was the star man for the Big Cats as the Albanian international played through a back injury to land 34 points, including six of his nine three-point attempts.

Fellow international, England's Orlan Jackman, added a 20-point, 12 rebound double-double while Lithuanian Os Gaizuaskas had 11 points.

It was a tight game throughout, with 19 lead changes and 12 ties, and it was a triple from Dusha with 71 seconds left that took the game to the extra period tied at 86-86.

Leopards had noticeably tired in the fourth quarter with a much shorter bench, only six players played over 10 minutes despite overtime, but they dug deep when it was needed.

Reading hit the first five points of the extra period but triples from Toby Gastaldi-Davis and Gaizuaskas put Leopards back in front before Jackman and Gaizuaskas wrapped up a massive win for the Big Cats at the foul line.

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