LEVETT Essex Leopards enjoyed a super win at the weekend - and now turn their attentions to the National Trophy campaign when they travel to London Lituanica on Sunday.
The Newham-based side hammered Westminster Warriors 94-69 in their opening game in the competition at the weekend.
But, on Friday night, the Big Cats suffered a heart-breaking 69-68 home loss against Hemel Storm, so now Steve Ogunjimi's side know they must win on Sunday to retain an interest in the competition.
Leopards won a thriller 71-68 at the Brentwood Centre when the teams met in the competition last season, while the away side went home happy on both occasions the sides clashed in the league.
It was a disappointing first competitive game for the Big Cats as poor foul shooting cost them against Storm on Friday evening.
Ogunjimi's side converted just ten of their 24 visits to the free-throw line, and despite having 14 more field goal attempts and forcing nine more turnovers than Storm, a Leon Henry buzzer-beating three consigned them to defeat.
David Ajumobi appeared to have made the perfect return to the Leopards when he drove to the basket and scored with 3.2 seconds remaining to put his side 68-66 ahead.
Justin Hitchman led the Big Cats with 15 points, with Martin adding 14 and Ladi Brown 12
Martin marked his return to the club after 15 years away by opening the scoring from the free-throws line, and a Brian Nguru trey capped a 6-0 start for the Big Cats.
That was as good as it got for the hosts, though as wrapped up the first period with a 7-2 run to take a 17-16 lead.
Five Ajumobi points helped his side tie the game at 25 midway through the second period, and five Hitchman points followed by a Brown basket sent the Big Cats into the locker room at half-time with a 36-34 lead.
Leopards' woes at the foul line were particularly prevalent in the third period as they scored just two of their ten attempts and with Jack Burnell - whose father Jon coached the Big Cats for six years - hitting eight straight points midway through the quarter, the visitors went into the final break with a 52-48 lead.
A second trey of the game from Hitchman gave Leopards a 53-52 lead early in the fourth period and Martin tied the game at 61 heading into the final two minutes.
A three point play from Martin set up the grandstand finish before Henry - who appeared to travel before the shot - broke the hosts' hearts.
The Big Cats are in the process of signing two guards to complete their squad, and with Martin resting a sore knee, they found London Lions too strong in Saturday's friendly as they went down 95-52 at the Brentwood Centre.
The home side matched the Lions in the early stages, but noticeably tired down the stretch following the previous night's game as their full-time opponents took advantage.
Ajumobi and Hitchman led the home side with ten points apiece.