Leopards on the right track says coach Baker despite falling to Thames Valley loss

Herts & Essex Leopards head coach Tom Baker.

Herts & Essex Leopards head coach Tom Baker. - Credit: Archant

Herts & Essex Leopards’ coach Thomas Baker admitted to disappointment as his injury-hit side went down 108-97 at Thames Valley Cavaliers but believes they are making progress.

Herts & Essex Leopards' Hafeez Abdul.

Herts & Essex Leopards' Hafeez Abdul. - Credit: Archant

The Big Cats produced arguably their best performance of the season against the big-spending Cavs but were unable to build on a good first half display as they slipped to a seventh straight league defeat.

Baker said: "Having started the game well we are disappointed to not come away with the result we wanted. Credit to Cavs they punished mistakes we made and made us chase the game in the last few moments.

"For us we have to know we are heading in the right direction, we are a different team now than we were at the beginning of the season and I am confident that if we keep up these positive performances and stay focused on our game plan, we will come good.

"It will be good to start getting guys back to full fitness as the disruption to our line-ups with four guys out at the moment, we must persevere in the direction we are heading as the results will come."

Leopards looked in fine form during the first half as Hafeez Abdul drained three triples to help them into a 20-11 lead midway through the first period.

Ray Akpofure and Jerrelle Okoro also scored from downtown to leave them 30-25 ahead at the first break and skipper Chuck Duru kept them ahead with an early triple in the second quarter before repeating the trick to put his side 44-35 up at the mid-stage of the period.

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Cavs' American veteran Martelle McLemore cut the visitors' lead to four before the ejection of the hosts' Aiman Rezk, collecting one personal and two technical fouls in the space of 10 seconds, seemed to change the game.

The Big Cats didn't help themselves with a rash of fouls for the rest of the game and by half-time Thames Valley led 53-52.

By the end of the third that lead had extended to 82-70 although the Leopards still had one more run left in them.

A a pair of Abdul free-throws brought them within five with 4:45 left on the clock but they couldn't close the gap.

Abdul continued his league-leading scoring run with 33 points while Duru finished with an impressive 18 points and Okoro 24.

Leopards continue their tough start to the season with a trip to Derby Trailblazers on Saturday.