In a move that is sure to play a major role in the home stretch of the NBL Division One season, Essex & Herts Leopards last week announced the signing of 2018 England Commonwealth Games representative and former BBLer Orlan Jackman.
Moving over from the now defunct London Royals, Jackman made an immediate impact on his Leopards debut this past weekend. Helping Essex to an 81-77 win over fellow relegation candidates Westminster Warriors, the result represented a first win in the last seven games for coach Baker's side. Considering a lack of prep before hand, Jackman was happy with the result.
"For only practising once with the team since joining, the game went pretty good," he said.
"The team had faith in me in the last quarter and I had faith in the guys to. I got into some positions where I knew teams were going to double me and I kicked it out to guys to hit their shots, which they did."
That pass first attitude allowed Jackman to rack up seven assists to tack onto a 13 point, 14 rebound double-double in a full 40 minutes of action.
With the bottom two sides in the 14 team D1M table eligible for relegation, 13th place Essex currently sit a win away from 12th place Westminster and two victories off Barking Abbey in 11th. Despite their struggles, Jackman was still eager to join Essex once the opportunity presented itself.
"I reached out to Essex directly, and I also did a bit of research of a few local D1 teams," Jackman added, when discussing his potential options after the Royals.
"I knew a few guys who had played for them, so I chatted to them as well. I then approached Essex about signing and they jumped at the opportunity, they were highly interested."
Whilst the 31-year-old clearly has an eye on his team's current predicament near the foot of the standings, Jackman also has loftier goals that may turn a few heads in the NBL.
"One of our goals is to avoid relegation, but a goal of mine personally is to try and make it to the playoffs," confessed Jackman.
"If we can make it there, that'd be pretty good based on where we are right now."
Currently 6 wins behind Bradford Dragons in the 8th and final playoff spot, Essex have nine games remaining in their regular season schedule. If they can snatch a playoff spot remains to be seen, but no doubt Leopards' fans would settle for a comfortable end to the season with some breathing space between themselves and the relegation scrap.
Main image credit: Peter Simmons/5or6