Levett Leopards will get their longest trip of the NBL Division One season out of the way early as they open the 2016/17 campaign at Team Northumbria on Sunday.
Both sides finished with 16-10 records last season, but although the Big Cats had the head-to-head decider between the teams, Northumbria edged them into sixth place in the four-way tiebreaker.
Steve Ogunjimi’s side lost a bad tempered game 86-83 at Sport Central in December despite a second-half comeback but they gained revenge at the Brentwood Centre in March with a 74-63 victory as a 20-2 first half run proved key.
Marc Steutal's side - who include former Leopards Duane Camile and Siman Stewart - have had a similar start to the season to Leopards, winning two of their three National Trophy games, against Lancashire and Bradford, but losing the decider against Manchester Magic.
The Big Cats wrapped up their National Trophy campaign with a hard-fought 69-64 victory at Westminster Warriors, on Saturday.
Mike Martin continued to show what a key signing he will be for the Big Cats with a team-high 20 points, while Bode Adeluola marked his debut with a 14-point, five-assist haul. David Ajumobi and Ladi Brown added ten points apiece for Steve Ogunjimi's team as they made it back-to-back road wins.
However, with the competition being revamped and the quarter-final round being removed, London Lituanica's 93-87 win at Hemel Storm meant that Leopards missed out on a place in the knock-out stage as all three teams finished level and the Big Cats went out on points different in games between them, Storm and Lituanica.
Martin hit six of Leopards' first nine points, split by a Adeluola trey, and with Dominic Scott-Robinson and Brian Nguru also scoring from the Land of Plenty, the Big Cats went into the first break with a 19-16 lead.
A massive dunk from Martin followed by a trey from the former England international saw that lead extended to 30-25 at the midway stage of the second period, and with Ajumobi sinking a sweet trey the visitors remained in control as a single free-throw from Justin Hitchman made it 41-32 at half-time - a Warriors' half court shot coming just after the buzzer had sounded.
Hitchman opened the second half scoring for the Big Cats before Martin scored six straight points for Steve Ogunjimi's side, but as the foul count started to mount against the Leopards it took another Ajumobi trey to send them into the final break with a 57-51 lead.
That advantage evaporated within 70 seconds of the restart as a pair of Odia tied the game and forced a timeout from Ogunjimi.
Former Warrior Hitchman broke the run but the visitors grabbed their first lead since the opening stages when Al-Shamari hit a trey to put them 62-61 ahead with 4:43 on the clock.
The game developed into a war of attrition with the scorer rarely troubled, but three-from-four foul shooting from Brown put his side up by two with 32 seconds to got, only to see Alli tie the game with 25 seconds on the clock.
Both teams stole the ball and then turned it over in just eight seconds before Brown stole it and was sent to the foul line where he missed both foul shots.
But Adeluola made the key steal and calmly sunk his free-throws before Ajumobi wrapped up the Big Cats' win.