Category: Club Announcements

Rockets looking to bounce back against Thunder

Reading Rockets (0-1) will be looking to record their first win of the campaign when they travel to the south coast on Saturday evening (7.30pm tip-off) to take on Worthing Thunder (0-1) in their second National Trophy game of the season. The Reading team had a bizarre start to the year as they were unable to play their first official game away at Kent Crusaders due to no officials arriving for the game and therefore the outcome of this match-up will be decided by governing body Basketball England. Rockets returned to Reading and faced Team Solent Kestrels (2-0) the following day and lost out to their rivals and play-off conquerers of last term by 93 points to 78, their first opening day defeat for four seasons. Team Solent Kestrels look all but certain to have secured a place in the quarter-final stage after beating Worthing Thunder in their opening game 107-85 meaning Saturday’s match-up will see one team take their first win of 2017-18.

In speaking after his teams opening day defeat and looking ahead to Saturday’s encounter with Worthing Thunder, Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés was naturally disappointed with last weekend’s results but knows it is very early in the season and his new look team needs some time to gel. He said,

It was a really difficult opening game for us and highlighted early on some key areas we need to be better in but we know Solent is a very good team and it is still very early on in the season so we are not panicking. I don’t think the previous days events at Kent affected us as frustrating as it was but I think the more games we play the better at this stage of the season as we look to bring the group together and playing a good level of basketball. The biggest concern on Sunday was defensively as we gave up 93 points, too high for us and something we will analyse and work on this week and in the coming weeks.

We travel to Worthing this weekend who have made a great signing in Zaire Taylor in the off-season and we know they can score very heavily so it is an interesting next game to have as it will test our resilience as well as the areas we have been focusing on. I am confident my team can produce a better performance and in turn win the game but we are still building and the most important aspect at this stage of the season is to put in a good performance and always reflect on what we could do better.

Rockets go into Saturday’s game with a fully fit squad with six players making their away debut for the Berkshire outfit. Tim Gill, Scotty Hendricks, Sydney Donaldson, Jonny Foulds, Declan Soukup, and Simas Rauyps will all be in action for the Reading team as Captain Danny Carter celebrates his 29th birthday. Under 18s Iñigo Perez Baena and Adrian Nosa Castillo will also make the trip to the south coast as the Rockets look to get off the mark and keep up the hunt for a National Trophy quarter-final spot – a trophy their have collected seven times in their history.

Rockets tip-off season with National Trophy double-header

Reading Rockets will start the 2017-2018 season with a double header weekend as they travel to Barking on Saturday afternoon to take on NBL Division One new-boys Kent Crusaders (4pm tip-off) before hosting Team Solent Kestrels on Sunday afternoon in their first home game of the campaign, 5pm tip-off at Rivermead Leisure Complex. Both games are in the National Trophy Pool 3 with Worthing Thunder being the other team in the group whom the Berkshire outfit face the following weekend in a bid to progress to the knockout stages.

The Reading team concluded their pre-season games last week when they defeated Team USA Select by 65 points to 58 to win 3 out of 4 encounters ahead of their first competitive game. Since then, American Tim Gill has arrived and will have 2 weeks of training under his belt before tip-off time this Saturday and Australian guard Declan Soukup will link up with his teammates during the week. Rockets have also made what looks to be their final signing of closed season with the news that Lithuanian small forward Simas Raupys has joined the Berkshire outfit. The 6’5 23 year old is a former Lithuanian Under 19 representative and played in his home country last term before moving to Hertfordshire.

In speaking of his latest signing and ahead of this weekend’s games, Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés is happy to make one final addition to his squad and is really looking forward to getting the season off and running. Starting his fifth season as Rockets play-caller, the Spaniard said,

We have been looking to bring in one more player so to be able to have someone of Simas’ quality complete our roster is really pleasing and we are all excited to get started this weekend. Our pre-season has been positive up to now and our junior players have made an excellent impact whilst we have been waiting for 2-3 players to arrive so we feel in a good position going into the season but with a lot of work to do.
This weekend we play two good quality organisations. Kent did really well to bounce back to Division One last season and Coach Lloyd (Gardner) continues to do a great job at Barking Academy and with the Crusaders so we are expecting a tough opening test. Team Solent Kestrels defeated us in the play-off quarter finals last season and have once again composed a challenging roster. They did really well in their first season in Division One and I think will pose a threat again this year so for a first home game this should be a really good game to watch.

Both of this weekend’s oppositions have caused Rockets problems in the last couple of seasons with both teams defeating the Berkshire outfit at the play-off quarter-final stage. Team Solent Kestrels were victors in last year’s post season as they came away from Reading with an 87-71 win and Kent Crusaders, who beat the Rockets in last season’s National Cup quarter-finals 92-83 also defeated the Reading team in the 2014/2015 play-off quarter-final by 63 points to 61.

Rockets Captain Danny Carter is hungry to bring some silverware back to Reading and gave his thoughts on this weekend’s upcoming games as well as the season ahead. The 28 year old said,

I am excited for the new season start. We need to start how we intend to finish by being extremely competitive and outworking every team we play against. I am looking forward to taking on a newly promoted team when we travel to Kent before we host the team that ended our season last year in local rival Solent.

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Rockets sign Australian Soukup as American Gill arrives in the UK

Reading Rockets have made their fifth new signing ahead of the 2017-2018 campaign by adding Australian native Declan Soukup to their squad. The 6’3 combo guard has just finished playing in his home country with Dandenong Rangers in the Australian SEABL and is due to fly to the UK later this week to meet up with his new teammates. Prior to this, the British passport holder played four years in the NCAA in Divisions One and Two for Bryant University and Assumption Greyhounds respectively before returning to his home country. He averaged 11 points and 3.3 assists per game in his final year of college and will really bolster the Rockets backcourt with his ability to play the point guard position and as an excellent shooter.

Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés is delighted to capture the signing of Soukup and feels the Australian will have an immediate impact on his team. The Spaniard said,

We are really pleased to bring in Declan to our team and feel he is an excellent fit to the squad we already have. He has a very versatile game and is in great shape having only just finished his season back in Australia. We have felt for a while we need to bolster and strengthen the group and by adding Declan to the mix we have taken a great step in doing so.

Rockets have also been buoyed by the news that American Tim Gill has finally got his visa sorted and will join his teammates early this week. Gill had been waiting for a number of weeks to secure his paperwork for his transfer to the UK and will finally be able to join the Berkshire outfit and make an impact.

The Reading team has had a full on pre-season with games against Team USA Select, Fyllingen, and Essex Leopards and have undertaken all three match-ups with only 4 senior players. Under 19 Alex Drincic has made a good start to life in Division One and he and the rest of the team have been well supported by Under 18s Iñigo Perez Baena and Adrian Nosa Castillo with Ali Sbai sustaining an early season ankle injury and Joel Keeble unavailable for the first few weeks. Rockets Chairman Gary Johnson is looking forward to seeing all the pieces of the puzzle finally coming together over the next week or so but may also be looking to add one more player to the mix. He said,

We have had a really good pre-season in terms of training and games and the guys that are in have done well so far. There is still a lot of work to do and that will be the challenge for the coaching staff over the next couple of weeks as the squad comes together and we possibly look to add one more player to the fold. Our focus has been to have a deeper squad than last season as well as maintaining our philosophy of promoting and developing young talent. We feel we have definitely taken some positive steps in this off-season and now we are looking forward to really competing and working hard during the season.