Category: Mens Team

Match Reports – Tough double header finish to weekend for Rockets



Derby Trailblazers74Loss
Reading Rockets87Win

After a prolonged journey troubled by a coach puncture coupled to a late tip off due to a serious injury to a player in the Ladies game that had preceded this Men’s Div.1 game,  it took Rockets most of the first half to settle into the powerful performance that they displayed after the break. Without the services of captain Danny Carter, back injury, Rockets determination to avenge the first home league defeat in October by Derby by ten points showed through as they came back from 37-39 adrift at the interval to secure a fine 13 point victory on the road. This maintains Rockets in third place in the league and with leaders and league favourites Solent Kestrels picking up their second defeat either side of the Christmas break, there’s renewed hope for the trailing 3 / 4 teams including Rockets.

Head Coach Alan Keane has never been afraid to release the prodigious talent he has in Rockets academy and with Ronan O’Sullivan still out with a broken hand and Carter missing, James Jolly was included in the team together with 4 other regular academy youngsters and each played key roles. Arinze Emeka-Anyakwo played for 35 minutes and David Chive had 23 minutes too, showing their importance to this still developing team.  Trailblazers also showed their desire to do the double over Rockets as they stormed the defensive boards with 19 rebounds compared to an unusually low 11 for the visitors, and were 50% more successful from inside and beyond the arc with their shootingas their leading marksman Malcolm Smith had 15 points and 5 rebounds before the break though Rockets restricted him to just 7 more points and 2 more rebounds in the second half. Derby extended their lead to 44-38 in the opening exchanges after the interval but a 33- 9 Rockets run almost exterminated the fire of the Trailblazers. Trae Pemberton was finding his three point shooting eye early in the game and exploded into it with five big trebles from the start of the third quarter till the final buzzer. However three of these trebles were also buzzer beaters, one from just inside his own half. With A J Carr scoring 13 points in the third period Rockets took off with a 34-14 quarter and a lead of 71-53 as the final stanza arrived.

Derby hit three trebles to try and get back into the contest but Coach Keane had clearly encouraged his players to rise to the boards as Rockets took the second half by 26-18 and the players shooting averages had much improved. They only missed one throw from the penalty stripe out of eleven. Keane was also using all his academy players no doubt thinking ahead of the following days game against south coast rivals and title contenders Worthing Thunderbut with less than 2 minutes remaining another ankle injury to the effervescent Irishman Adrian O’Sullivan dampened Rockets spirits a little as they journeyed home though high with a big victory securing that third league placing.

Rockers were led by double doubles from both their American players as Trae Pemberton had 28 pts., 11 rebounds and 6 assists with A J Carr hitting 26 pts.,and also having 11 rebounds. 


Date Time League Season
12/01/2019 19:15 NBL Division 1 2018 / 2019


Clarence Wiggins Sports Centre
14 Bracknell Dr, Derby DE24 0BP, UK


Reading Rockets67Loss
Worthing Thunder84Win

After a 300 mile round trip on Saturday coupled to a late return in the early hours of Sunday morning AND the absence of effectively 3 Senior players, Rockets just didn’t have the strength in depth. Their energy levels and inexperience with 6 Academy players in the 10 players that took to the court, did their utmost to take the victory against second placed Thunder, but experience won the game.

A tight opening quarter saw both teams size each other up and unable to be separated at the first break at 24 each as three players from each team stroked trebles. The competitiveness and importance of the game saw both teams giving each other much respect and for the first time in Rockets history, the game was officiated by two female referees. A 6-2 quarter finish saw Thunder go the locker room 45-40 ahead at the interval.

The third period was again very tight as the lead was swapped with almost each offence but a wide treble from Thunder in the final seconds saw them sneak a 4 point advantage 63-59 as the final quarter beckoned.  This was to be a disappointing period for Rockets as both Americans had worked themselves almost to a standstill over 24 hours at both ends of the court.  The mercurial 16 yo Academy student David Chive and his 18 yo fellow student Arinze Emeka-Anyakwo had spent 32 and 33 minutes each on court in a titanic affair bringing them 10 pts, 6 rebounds and 3 assists and 9 pts and 3 rebounds respectively, as key contributors. Both guys have much opportunity ahead and Rockets has a healthy future. But Thunder’s experienced and seasoned campaigners kept Rockets to just 8 points in the fourth quarter as they hit 21 to see the final margin of victory as 84-67.

The packed Rivermead had witnessed a great battle and Rockets now look forward to a National Trophy semi-final in 2 weeks’ time when it’s hoped both O’Sullivans will be back in action from ankle ( Adrian ) and hand ( Ronan )injuries and captain Danny Carter having rested his back .   The other Rockets top scorers were A J Carr with another double double of 21 pts and 10 rebounds complimented by 6 assists whilst Trae Pemberton had 14 pts and 4 rebounds. Sydney Donaldson took down 9 rebounds to add to his 7 points.

Look on Rockets website social media for confirmation of the date and venue for the semi-final as Rivermead is booked.


Date Time League Season
13/01/2019 17:00 NBL Division 1 2018 / 2019


24 Richfield Ave, Reading, Reading RG1, UK

Rockets to face first double header of the year after taking opening win of 2019

Reading Rockets (8-4) will look to continue their unbeaten start to 2019 when they travel to the East Midlands on Saturday evening to take on the Derby Trailblazers (7-6) (7.15pm tip-off) before entertaining second-placed Worthing Thunder (10-3) on Sunday afternoon at Rivermead Leisure Complex (5pm tip-off).

Rockets were victorious in their first outing of the New Year as they recorded a hard fought, coming from behind, win over basement team Manchester Magic 98-87. The Berkshire outfit will play both opponents for the second time in regular season play however were on the wrong side of both scorelines in previous encounters as the Trailblazers took an invaluable 94-84 win away from Reading at the beginning of October whilst the Thunder recorded an 86-79 victory on the south coast the following week as the Reading team started their NBL Division One campaign 0-2.

Head Coach Alan Keane was pleased to get back to winning ways after the turn of the year but knows how important it is to now focus on this weekend’s two match-ups. He said,

“Travelling to Derby is always tough. They are a very talented team with a lot of scoring power especially inside from Malcolm Smith. Double header weekends have been difficult for us as we are a very young team with many junior players. However we are growing week to week. Therefore this double header weekend will be another great opportunity to continue the growing process. Worthing come to us Sunday in flying form and a lot of veteran players, with any one of them capable to score 30 points. We will have a great week of preparation and look forward to the challenge that lies ahead.”

Rockets go into this weekend’s double header with the knowledge they have also qualified for the semi-finals of the National Trophy thanks to Hemel Storm overcoming Essex Leopards last Sunday. The Berkshire club have also won eight out of the last ten Division One games and will be keen to make a statement this weekend against two play-off contenders.

Captain Danny Carter remains the only injury concern for the Reading team with his on-going back issues and is listed as day to day by the Rockets physiotherapy team. 16 year old Academy star Sam Grant made a huge impact in last Saturday’s win away at Manchester and Coach Keane will look to his academy players once more as the Berkshire outfit look to continue their surge up the Division One table.

Manchester Magic v Reading Rockets – Match Report



Manchester Magic87Loss
Reading Rockets98Win

The first game of 2019 began with Rockets needing some fire and the players looking as though the Christmas pudding had stopped them from getting off the floor and taking rebounds as Magic took down and commanded  the boards, storming into a 17-17 early lead which they extended to 33-19 by the first break. Four trebles and a 3 point play were some of the extent of Magic’s superiority.

With Rockets finding themselves 19-38 down midway through the second quarter, Head Coach Alan Keane had to change many things and personnel switches. These proved most successful as Rockets roared into life taking the second period 24-19 and looking more in the game. A J Carr had proved a handful for Magic as he hit 12 personal points and Trae Pemberton was finding more space but the final play before half time saw Sydney Donaldson receive the inbounded ball as the clock showed less than 10 seconds, used up the time close to the buzzer before driving to score, drawing the foul and

 hitting the penalty shot to lift Rockets as they had a skip in their steps as they walked to the changing room just 11 points adrift with the score 43-54.

The 3 week lay-off was now something of the long past as Rockets powered into the third quarter taking it 30-18 to take a single digit lead at 73-72. Two of Rockets young Academy players were very influential as Sam Grant stroked a brace of trebles and scored with a jump shot whilst Arinze Emeka- Anyakwo made steals, defended the boards well and hit five personal points. Pemberton had found his length and hit three trebles and a pair of floaters to score 13 personal points and help lift Rockets further even with the big American Carr spending much time on the bench with 4 fouls.

A 25-15 final period saw Rockets secure another victory 98 to 87 and lift them to third in the league ahead of the visit of south coast rivals and current second placed Worthing Thunder to Rivermead next Sunday 13th Jan. Magic hit three trebles to stay in contention throughout the fourth quarter but Pemberton was imperious with another eleven point quarter haul coupled to crucial rebounding and steals. Emeka-Anyakwo scored ten personal points and took down a pair of key defensive rebounds as Rockets began to look forward to the 200 mile return journey secure in the knowledge they’re still in the chasing pack seeking the league title.

Top scorers for Rockets were Trae Pemberton with 34 pts.,6 rebounds and 5 steals with Arinze Emeka-Anyakwo hitting 15 pts., taking down 4 rebounds and making 3 steals and A J Carr with 14 pts., and 4 assists plus Sam Grant with his first. 8pts Senior haul and taking down 3 rebounds and making a steal in an impressive forward for the 16 yo who had played a junior Men game some 6 hours earlier in the day and arrived just an hour before tip….surely a game and weekend to remember for Grant.


Date Time League Season
05/01/2019 18:30 NBL Division 1 2018 / 2019


Amaechi BC
226 Wilbraham Rd, Manchester, Manchester M16 8GN, UK

Mixed weekend for Rockets Men


Reading Rockets101Win
Loughborough Student Riders86Loss

After a great performance in an upbeat game against second in the table L’boro on Saturday, Rockets trailed an Essex Leopards team for most of Sundays last league game of 2018.

On Saturday, Rockets were the first of the three chasing teams in the top half of the table to take a victory from one of the top three who each lost on Saturday night, including the first loss for Solent showing this a most competitive of leagues this season.

American guard Trae Pemberton ignited Rockets with a brace of trebles and captain Danny Carter hit a pair from the penalty stripe as Rockets began with an 8-0 run.  Adrian O’Sullivan stroked a treble and A J  Carr imposed himself as Rockets had a 5 point advantage at the first break at 24-19 against L’boro.

Carter worked tirelessly inside scores 13 pts and  Rockets Head Coach Alan Keane saw 5 other players total another 20 pts as Rockets enjoyed a double digit lead of 57-46 at the interval. A fine 14-0 run from  28-25 to 42-25 midway through quarter eased Rockets further ahead before L’boro hit three trebles and had a 3 point play to cut the deficit before Carr sent an arrow pass to Carter and 16 yo Sam Grant stroked his first treble. Rockets took their first time out at 51-40 and Sydney Donaldson hit what seemed an impossible shot wide out and on the buzzer as he was falling backwards giving Rockets a 57-46 at interval lead as Carter, Pemberton and Carr had personal tallies of 15,14 and 13 respectively.

A powerful third period saw Rockets take it 25-18 and see them with an 82-64 advantage as the three guys causing L’boro most trouble continued imposing themselves and O’Sullivan ( injured last weekend and trained little this week ) drove to score, hit one from two from the line, sent an assist to Pemberton form off the floor and stroked a treble as he got more into the game.

Young Grant was clearly enjoying extended court time and took down a key defensive rebound after L’boro tried three times to score. Recognising Rockets had another big game on Sunday Keane was not only rotating his five experienced players with his Academy youngsters but with such a comfortable lead against the team that were second in the league at tip, with a 21 point lead, all the Academy players played together for the last 3-4 minutes as Rockets secured a key victory at 101-86.

Tops corers for Rockets were Pemberton with 25pts and 6 rebounds, Carter 23 pts., and 7 rebounds and 5 assists with Carr hitting 20 pts., and having 8 rebounds. Two other players hit double figures as O’Sullivan hit 12 and Grant 10 pts.


Reading Rockets90Loss
Essex Leopards101Win

Then on Sunday the first 2 quarters scores were close to Saturdays except Rockets were on the receiving end as they found themselves 18-25 and 45-56 adrift. The intensity and energy that had permiated Rockets on Saturday was not apparent as Leopards kept a fast pace and clinical finishing. Rockets sole lead was at 39-37 during a purple patch in the second period as A J Carr stroked 3 trebles and Trae Pemberton also scored to draw the scores level on 36 before 16 yo David Chive scored with a treble. But that’s as good as it got before the break as Rockets trailed 45-56 .

At the start of the third period there was encouragement to Rockets supporters as Sydney Donaldson and  Carr stroked trebles with Pemberton scoring with a floater in an 8-0 run and within a single score of Leopards at 53-56. Rockets got even closer when they tied the game on 67, 69 and 71 but a huge treble on the buzzer from just inside Rockets half brought delight to Leopards as they still held a lead though now just 74-71.

The euphoria of the third quarter effort slipped to disappointment for Rockets supporters as Leopards kept coming at them, and again hitting three trebles in the final period sapping the energy and effort of the Rockets though captain Danny Carter did his level best as he hit eleven points in the quarter but Leopards took another victory over Rockets by 101-90.

Top scorers for Rockets were Pemberton with 25, Carr with 22, Carter with 15 and Donaldson with 11.

Rockets now have a near 3 week break till 5th Jan when they travel north to Manchester to take on Magic.