Baker excited about Classic

LEOPARDS’ coach Thomas Baker can’t wait to see his side on the new Brentwood Centre court as the Big Cats prepare to host the Essex Classic over the weekend.
British All-Stars Championship winners London Lions along with Vipers from Illinois and Team USA Select join the Leopards in a two-day basketball extravaganza which will see four games on both Saturday and Sunday.
“It’s going to be a great showcase for the sport” said Baker.
“I’m really excited to see the team against one of the best teams in this country and some competitive teams from across the pond.
“The guys are eager to get on the floor and the show the fans what we can do this year. I think we will surprise some teams.
“A special mention has to go to Tony Shaw whose relentless work ethic has create a great event for us all to be a part of.”
The tournament widely regarded as the biggest pre-season competition in British basketball, with tickets currently on sale at www.leopardsbasketball.co.uk, and will also be available on the door.
While Lions are one of the biggest sides in the British Basketball League, Vipers compete in the American Basketball Association – the biggest competition outside the NBA system – and USA Select are a well-established touring side comprising of American players looking to gain a professional contract in Europe.
The Big Cats are expected to field a new-look line-up including 7 foot centre Lee Hodges (formally Leigh Greenan), Spanish guard Alejandro Hernandez Batista, Englishmen Rory Winter and Sam Newman, as well as at least two American players.
The action starts on Saturday September 8 with a free junior coaching session for under-16s (book at www.leopardsbasketball.co.uk) at 11.30am, before Lions start things off by facing Team USA Select at 12.45pm.
Leopards host Vipers at 2.30pm before the two American teams meet two hours later and the two English sides clash at 6.15pm.
Lions face Vipers at midday on Sunday as the second day tips off before Leopards and Team USA Select wrap up the group stage at 1.45pm.
The sides who finish third and fourth in the first round meet in the bronze game at 3.45pm before the top two play-off in the final at 5.30pm.