Leopards staying up after National Basketball League conclude aborted season

Orlan Jackman in action for Leopards against Nottingham Hoods. Picture: PAUL PHILLIPS

Orlan Jackman in action for Leopards against Nottingham Hoods. Picture: PAUL PHILLIPS - Credit: Archant

Essex & Herts Leopards have had their National Basketball League Division One status confirmed after the final positions in the aborted season were calculated.

Basketball England has awarded a point to each team for the games due to be played during the final fortnight of the season meaning the Big Cats finish with 13 points from 26 games with their home fixtures against Barking Abbey and Leicester, along with the trip to Worthing, going unplayed.

The Oaklands College-based Leopards won just one of their first 16 league games but the addition of England international Orlan Jackman saw them record a key 81-77 win against Westminster at Oaklands sparked a revival and the further additions of Elvisi Dusha, Aaron Williams and Osvaldas Gaizauskas helped them finish the season with three straight victories culminating in a 127-95 hammering of Nottingham Hoods in what proved to be their final game of the season.

General manager Dave Ryan said: “It’s a strange way to finish the season but I don’t think Basketball England could have done it any differently.

“Staying in Division One was our aim after the fire at Oaklands and a poor start to the season. The changes we made certainly paid off and I think everyone connected with the club can be proud of how we turned things around.

“It’s a shame we couldn’t have played the final three games as we were on a roll and I think we could have ended up in 10th spot.

“But we certainly finished in style with the win against Nottingham, although I think our best result of the season was the victory at Reading the previous week.”

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Basketball England CEO Stewart Kellett said: “After an uncertain and turbulent few weeks, we are pleased to announce the final standings for the NBL.

“All our leagues represent the amazing efforts of players, coaches, officials, volunteers, parents and guardians. The effect of the COVID-19 has had an extraordinary impact on us all and we were determined to find the fairest way to conclude the 2019/20 season.

“I hope you’ll join me in congratulating our league winners and recognise the efforts of our basketball community during what has been an unprecedented time.”

There is no news yet on what will happen to Oaklands Wolves in the WBBL.