Category: Match Report

Rockets V Cavaliers | Match Report

Reading Rockets 86 v 89 Thames Valley Cavaliers

In a pulsating game on Tuesday evening Rockets came from 21 points down to take the lead with just 1 minute 17 seconds left but a trademark treble saw the visitors take the spoils.

Cavaliers shot out of the blocks in the opening quarter as they drained four trebles and had a treble from the free throw line despite Leome Francis dominating the rebounds ( 14 in the game ) from the outset. Sam Toluwase, one of two Rockets players in Basketball England’s Team of the week last week ( together with O’Showen Williams ) worked hard and tirelessly from tip to buzzer.  Ben Dixon scored with a lay-up as Reis Pinnock went coast to coast to finish but Rockets found themselves 8-15 adrift mid-way through the first quarter. A Williams drive and dish to Jaz Bains to hit his first treble kept Rockets close but Cavaliers looked comfortable with a 27-19 lead.

Rockets scored off their first possession in the second period as a Sam Grant dish to Bains saw him stroke a treble but a buzzer beating treble response from Cavaliers suggested that whatever Rockets threw at them, Cavaliers had the armoury to respond immediately. Three more Cavaliers trebles before the break made it hard work for the Rockets though Toluwase finished with a slam and Bains made a great interception to score. However Cavaliers were ‘hot’ and took the quarter 28-17 to open up a 55-36 advantage at the interval.

Head Coach Alan Keane had his work cut out to turn things around, and how well he did that, only for Rockets to fall at the final hurdle. Great effort; much improved second half  performance which Rockets took 50-34 and encouraging as the Championship Play-offs are just 4 weeks away. Two drives by Pinnock and Williams got Rockets off to a great start to quarter three which improved as Dixon dished a pass to Pinnock to hit a treble whilst stopping Cavaliers advances. A Toluwase offensive rebound and score fired up Rockets again before he hit a long two and Pinnock hit his third treble of the game but still the hosts were down 50-64 midway through the third period. An 8 personal points run by Williams including a brace of trebles , one a buzzer beater, saw Rockets cut the deficit to single figures but again Cavaliers stroked a treble to lead 74-62 as the final quarter beckoned.

A 24-15 quarter got Rockets mightily close to upsetting the apple cart as Cavaliers have lost only one game this season , and that against joint league leaders and undefeated Solent Kestrels, so this performance was outstanding.  Rockets defence was almost a lock out compared to the opening quarter as every player stepped up to the mark, and exceeded it. Having scored 12 points in the third quarter Williams knew he had to continue to be on fire ( and he did with 9 more points ) as Toluwase continued to impose himself at both ends of the court as he hit 11 personal points in quarter four . Within three minutes of the start of this period Rockets were just 69-76 down and had phenomenal team energy as they stayed in contention with four minutes to go as Toluwase was fouled three consecutive times by Cavaliers which Toluwase accepted by scoring six points from the free throw line to see the score at 78-80 with 3.41 to go. Bains took a key charge to stop a Cavaliers score and Williams drove to bring the scores level on 80 apiece. Both teams scored to tie the game for only the second time throughout this encounter before Cavaliers converted one from two free throws to have the advantage again but a Toluwase spin move gave Rockets the lead ( for the only time in the game ) 84-83 with 1.17 left. Could Rockets hold out ? The single treble of the quarter for Cavaliers was scored by their American Taylor Johnson to hurt Rockets before a tough referee call gave Cavaliers two free throws which they hit to lead 89-86 as Rockets had the last possession. A treble to draw the game and take it into overtime came back off the rim and Cavaliers took the win….by a whisker !!

Great game. Excellent second half Rockets performance. An ever improving Rockets was a delight to watch.

Top scorers for Rockets were Sam Toluwase with 28 points, 7 rebounds with O’Showen Williams hitting 25 points , also taking down 7 rebounds though adding 5 assists and 2 steals to his overall performance. Reis Pinnock hit 13 points and took down 5 rebounds to add to his 3 assists whilst Jaz Bains hit 10 points and made 3 steals. Leome Francis had 14 rebounds and made 3 steals too.

Rockets now travel to Hemel Storm for the weekend game on Saturday 27thMarch tipping at 5 pm.

Rebels V Rockets | Match Report

Essex Rebels 90 v 102 Reading Rockets

On Saturday afternoon in Essex, Rockets showed the type of energy and performance to lift the team, coaches and supporters as they battled hard for the opening two periods , only to open the game up with a 32-18 third quarter from where they secured a fine win on the road.

Head Coach Alan Keane welcomed back his power forward Leome Francis after missing 4 games where his rebounding was missed but O’Showen Williams showed why he’s so cherished by the Berkshire outfit as he hit 29 points and generally ran the ‘operation’. Sam Toluwase and Sam  Grant scored early for Rockets whilst a Dixon treble kept Rockets close to Rebels who led 14-13 midway through quarter one. Some great team play saw Chuck Duru drain a treble  to keep Rockets still a single point behind at 23-24 before the game was tied 3 times in the period at 25, 27 and 29 as Rebels hit a buzzer beating score to see the scores level on 29 at the period end.

Rebels scored from their first possession of quarter two  but Jaz Bains hit a treble , Williams made a steal and score moments before he sent a length of the court pass to Toluwase to finish and see Rockets with a 36-31 advantage.

Rebels spun to score but a Francis defensive rebound was quickly sent to Williams to stroke another treble edging Rockets further ahead by 6 points.  A 7-2 Rebels run got them to within a single point of Rockets at 42-43 before they tied again on 43 and 45 before hitting a treble to lead Rockets.  Kivuvu Live received an assist from Williams  which was repeated moments later but for the second period running Rebels hit a buzzer beating score to go to the interval with a 52-48 lead.

Toluwase scored from Rockets first possession  and Reis Pinnock hit a free throw before the sharp shooters on both sides got in on the action as together six trebles were shared equally in a high scoring quarter of fifty points with Rockets taking it 32-18. As they found even more energy and quality in their finishing as Toluwase hit a buzzer beater and Bains gave an assist for Pinnock to hit his first treble which was matched by Duru and ever reliable Williams as Rockets went on a 17-4 run to open the game up and bring more confidence into them. A brilliant team defence stopped a Rebels score and a Bains step back score coupled to a Williams assist to Duru saw Rockets enjoy a double digit lead at the end of the third quarter by 80-70.

A Pinnock drive and Bains buzzer beater kept Rockets noses ahead but Rebels fought back with a 7-0 run pegging Rockets to a slender four point advantage just under three minutes into the period. Toluwase sent an assist to Williams to drain another treble and a big defensive rebound from Francis,  which he finished with a drive and score, aided by a Dixon assist to Bains to score with a treble saw Rockets ahead 92-82 mid way through the final stanza. Some tight defence  kept Rockets with a double digit advantage right through to the buzzer as the commentator said ‘Rockets are truly pumped up today’.

O’Showen Williams again shone brightly with 29 points, 7 rebounds , 8 assists and 2 steals ably assisted with Sam Toluwase with 26 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals whilst Jaz Bains continues to show what a good late signing he was on transfer deadline day just 5 weeks ago with 12 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal. Chuck Duru hit 10 points and Leome Francis hit 7 points but took down 10 rebounds in this fine victory for Rockets.

Riders too hot for Rockets

Reading Rockets 77 v 95 Loughborough Riders

For their fourth game in 8 days, Rockets didn’t have the energy required to beat the talented Riders who effectively kept their 15 point interval advantage throughout the second half to secure the win.

Rockets won the tip and scored first through a tip in from Sam Grant which Reis Pinnock added to moments later but that was the only time Rockets led in this game as Riders  rained three trebles including a brace form ex Rocket Harrison Gamble who proved a thorn in Rockets side throughout the game as he hit 21 points and took down 9 rebounds. Again Coach Keane played the academy players from early on with Latrell Maitland scoring with a  drive and giving an assist to O’Showen Williams, Rockets most consistent player and scorer, to finish off the glass and add the penalty shot as he was fouled in the process. When Ben Dixon gave Williams another treble Rockets were just 2 adrift at 15-17 . Chuck Duru drove to score after Riders had hit a treble and then Williams hit another treble from the top of the key to see Rockets just a single point behind at 19-20. Pinnock stopped a certain score with a brilliant run and stop but a treble effort on the buzzer rimmed out leaving the hosts 21-27 in arrears.

Rider’s Conroy Hayden not only hit 15 points but grabbed 14 rebounds as he led the Riders charge with a convincing quarter of 30-21 giving the visitors a have time lead of 57-42, something Rockets never recovered from despite all their efforts. Williams and Duru were the only Rockets in doble figures at the interval and still so at the end of the game as usual contributors failed to trouble the scorers. Dixon floated a shot to score and then took down a defensive rebound as Duru drove the end line to score and see Rockets just 29-32 adrift but Riders re-introduced Gamble to help them take control again.Pinnock sent an assist to Sam Toluwase to score before Williams stroked another treble keeping Rockets in contention at 36-38 mid way through the period but a 19-6 run by Riders saw them go to the interval with a 57-42 lead.

A much tighter defence from both sides reduced the scoring to just 14-15 in the third period in Riders favour as Chuck Duru showed all around of his determination to fight for the ball as he hustled on the floor getting possession from which Williams stroked a treble. 18 yo Kivuvu Live made a steal and scored whilst Jaz Bains took a charge but a tough call gave Riders a three point play right at the end of the quarter and a 72-56 advantage going into the final period.

A great team move was finished with Williams draining his fifth treble of the game which gave Rockets renewed faith as they reduced Riders lead to single figures less than 3 minutes into the quarter at 63-72. A Dixon drive and assist to Williams coupled to Toluwase spin and finish kept up the pressure on Riders and even when Pinnock took a defensive rebound and went coast to coast to score, it just wasn’t enough as Riders rode away from the John Madejski Academy with the win and a score of 95-77.

Top scorers for Rockets were O’Showen Williams with 28 points followed by Chuck Duru with 14 points as young Ronnie Oquekwe ked the rebounders with 6. Riders finished with 2 players with double double and a third with 21 pts and 9 rebounds….ex Rocket Harrison Gamble.

Rockets so close but suffer defeat

B A lions 82 v 79 Reading Rockets

In a game that swayed from Rockets to the hosts and then was a titanic battle as Rockets came f rom11 adrift with under 4 minutes to go to miss with a brace of treble efforts that could have given them the victory.

With Leome Francis still out with a knee injury the teenager Kivuvu Live started for Rockets, scored early and ended up their second top scorer as he worked hard and well inside. The young Lions fought tenaciously for every ball and the scorers were kept busy as the lead changed hands with almost every possession in the first quarter till Rockets finished with a 14-5 run to have a 28-20 advantage at the first break with the academy players, Latrell Maitland and Ronnie Oguekwe scoring  and making assists. O’Showen Williams and Jaz Bains had hit their trademark trebles though both were to miss out in the end game scenario.

Rockets, having enjoyed an 8 point advantage, saw Lions turn the table in quarter two as they drew level with an 8 point period win of 23-15. Williams had scored a pair of quick scores and coupled to Chuck Duru finishing well inside, Rockets had opened up a 12 points lead. Rockets were still 6 points up with 4 minutes to the interval at 40-34 but a 9-3 Lions run, despite another Williams treble, saw the game tied on 43.

However a devastating poor quarter from Rockets which they lost 12- 29 as Lions hit three trebles and were more alert throughout the period caused consternation with Head Coach Alan Keane. Rockets were slow to defend and picked up many fouls though Bains scored with a treble but Reis Pinnock was called for a technical foul which Lions capitalised on from the free throw line. Duru hit a pair from the penalty stripe but Lions led 72-55 as the final quarter beckoned.

An 11-4 early Rockets run thanks to a brace of Bains trebles coupled to a Ben Dixon drive followed by a Dixon treble, stirred up the Rockets players. However the Lions just kept battling away and soon enjoyed a 79-68 advantage . Sam Toluwase made a lay-up and Pinnock another steal before Live received an assist from Bains to score before making another lay-up immediately after. When Toluwase was secure from the free throw line Rockets were just 4 points adrift with 1 minute 28 seconds remaining. Williams hit a penalty shot to reduce the deficit to just 3 points before Lions responded with a score. Live scored with a jump shot to see Rockets back to a single shot behind Lions as the clock showed 49 seconds to go. Rockets stopped Lions from scoring but missed a brace of trebles in this time to end up tantalisingly close but losing 79-82.

Again O’Showen Williams was Rockets top scorer with 21 points but Kivuvu Live made a huge impact with 14 points and 6 rebounds for the 18 year old as Jaz Bains grows into his Rockets role too with 12 points and 5 assists. Sam Toluwase was Rockets fourth player in double digits with 10 pts scored.

Rockets now play again tomorrow in what is  4 games in 8 days schedule.

(Images provided by Graham Hodges)

Rockets V Newcastle | Match Report

Reading Rockets 98 v 91 Newcastle University

Having a  double header weekend is always very demanding on the players so with Leome Francis out ( knee ) and Kivuvu Live out ( reaction to a vaccination ) Head Coach Alan Keane not only had a depleted team but also had two power forwards missing so a re-think on Saturday night was the order of the day for Keane.

And how well he led his chargers as the starting 5 of O’Showen Williams, Reis Pinnock, Ben Dixon, Sam Toluwase and Sam Grant played most of the game and contributed significantly to this key win against a team with a 9-3 record and joint third in the table….and Sam Toluwase played with a dislocated finger strapped throughout the game !!

Rockets shot out of the blocks with a 19-9 early run as Pinnock lit up the opening exchanges with a pair of assists to Williams and Dixon respectively as well as tipping a Newcastle offense pass out of play. Grant and Dixon gave dishes to Williams who hit a brace of trebles extending Rockets advantage before a 21-8 Newcastle run saw the teams tied on 30 at the first break.

Newcastle capitalised on their first possession of the second quarter to take the lead for the first time which they extended to 39- 34 as Rockets missed with a few chances. Both teams scored regularly for the remainder of the period before Jaz Bains hit a treble to cut the deficit and  Toluwase and Pinnock stroked trebles to see Rockets behind by 51-54 at the interval .

The 15 minute break was very welcome to the hosts having playing unbeaten Solent just 19 hours before, and how they imposed themselves was a delight to see as they took the quarter 24-18.  Rebounding was key to their defensive strategy coupled to matching the sharp shooters in the Newcastle team as Rockets drained three trebles whilst reducing Newcastle to none. Toluwase hit a top of the key treble before taking down an offensive rebound to add to his personal tally as Rockets most improved teenager this season, Sam Grant, scored inside, rebounded exceptionally and caused Newcastle problems. Bains was quick thinking with an inbound to Pinnock who drove into the paint hard to finish     moments before dishing a pass to Dixon to stroke another treble. As Rockets broke quickly again Newcastle were called for an unsportsmanlike foul and Rockets finished the stronger to edge ahead 75-72 as the final stanza beckoned.

Captain Ben Dixon again led the team from the front by taking another charge and causing Newcastle to get another technical foul as Rockets were on fire. Dixon’s fourth treble and an exchange between the two Sams, Toluwase and Grant saw the latter draining a treble and Rockets enjoying an 8 point lead just 4 minutes into the period. Grant took down an offensive rebound to score but with both team in foul trouble, Newcastle reduced Rockets advantage to just two at 88-86 . Grant appeared to score but the referees called a travel violation  but he spurned himself on to play a key part in the end game scenario as he gave an assist to Williams, took down a pair of defensive rebounds and hit 3 from 4 from the free throw line as Rockets great team performance took them to a deserved victory.

Top scorers for Rockets were the veteran Sam Toluwase with a double double of 25 pts and 10 rebounds and 5 assists with point guard O’Showen Williams hitting 20 pts, taking down 5 rebounds and making 4 steals. Teenager Sam Grant hit 17 pts and took down 9 rebounds as Ben Dixon was electric from beyond the arc with 3 from 4 trebles in his 15 point tally though Reis Pinnock was everywhere with 10 pts, 9 rebounds, 9 assists and 4 steals in all round excellent display .

Rockets now look forward to another double header next weekend where they travel to Barking Abbey Lions on Saturday before a return to their season long home venue of the John Madejski Academy on Sunday where they entertain Loughborough Riders.