Category: Press Releases


Rockets enter final eight games with tricky double header

Reading Rockets (15-3) will enter the final eight games of their NBL Division One campaign starting with a double header weekend as they visit the East Midlands on Saturday afternoon to take on the Leicester Warriors (6-13) at Braunstone Leisure Centre (3pm tip-off) before entertaining London Lituanica (8-9) back in Reading on Sunday afternoon at Rivermead Leisure Complex (5pm tip-off). Rockets blistering first half display against bottom team Westminster Warriors (0-17), where they led 62-27 at half time, resulted in win number 14 in a row as they beat their so far winless opposition by 95 points to 77 to move into second place above Manchester Magic (14-3), who claimed National Trophy honours as they beat Sunday’s opponents London Lituanica by 81 points to 59 in the final. The Berkshire outfit have yet to face the Lithuanian opposition this term but have already beaten Saturday’s opponents Leicester Warriors 93-73 back in mid-November at Bohunt School.

Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés was forced to use the old cliche of ‘a game of two halves’ after last weekend’s victory over Westminster Warriors after seeing an emphatic first half performance but a second half performance that shows work is needed for his team ahead of a tricky double header weekend. The Spaniard said,

“I was really happy with the performance in the first 20 minutes, we were outstanding and played some fantastic basketball and this gives me a lot of encouragement. But for whatever reason in the second half we didn’t perform as well and giving up 50 points is not something we are or can be happy with and this is the reflection we must take from this game and move on this week. There is no need to dwell on this at all but it is something we can definitely work on as we prepare for two more tough games starting with the visit to Leicester on Saturday.”

“Both teams will undoubtably give us a physical challenge and believe they can win the game with us all needing to from our respective positions in the league table. It is important we take one game at a time, prepare well for each opponent and be ready for the challenges they are likely to throw our way. It is about continuing to learn, build, and execute in this part of the season and not look further ahead than our next game and that is exactly what myself and my players will be doing.”

Rockets go into this weekend’s double header in sensational form with 14 wins in a row, a feat they have not seen since the 2008/2009 season. The Berkshire club will be hoping to keep a fully fit squad ahead of their two games in the knowledge that shooting guard Joel Keeble remains sidelined and Under 19 Ibu Jassey Demba was forced to rest during last weekend’s game due to a knee complaint. With both Manchester Magic and Team Northumbria in double header action as well as playing each other on Sunday, it is a massive weekend for all three teams at the top of Division One and could have an interesting say heading into the last five weeks of the regular season.

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13 and counting as Rockets keep up the heat at the top of NBL Division One

Reading Rockets (14-3) overcame a tough test last weekend with an away win against Team Solent Kestrels 88-81and an impressive home win against Bradford Dragons 108-85 to keep up the heat on league leaders Team Northumbria (16-3) and second placed Manchester Magic (14-3) as they head into this weekend’s game against the division’s basement team Westminster Warriors (0-15). The Berkshire outfit will travel to the Capital on Sunday (3pm tip-off) as they look to extend their winning run to 14 games with nine games of the NBL Division One regular season remaining. The Reading team defeated their upcoming opponents only two weeks ago at Rivermead Leisure Complex, running out winners by 79 points to 55 as the Warriors remain winless from their 15 games and staring relegation in the face with 11 games still to play for the Londoners.

Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés was understandably a happy man after last weekend’s double success and was very pleased with the performances his team put in against quality opposition but knows that will mean nothing with a slip up this weekend against Westminster. The Spaniard understands his team must put in a better performance against the Warriors than they did two week’s ago. He said,

“I am really proud of my players after this weekend’s performances. We showed great character in both games and played some great basketball but most importantly came out of the weekend with two wins. We are not thinking about anything yet other than keeping the momentum we have going, continuing to put in good performances, but crucially continuing to be better every time we are together; this is the key and we will be working on some things we are not so happy with this week.”

“Last time against Westminster, although we won comfortably in the end, we did not give the performance we wanted and we will be looking to change that this time around. Getting the win will be the most important thing of course but that will come through performance and that’s where our focus will be this week so we don’t slip up against a team that is fighting for their lives in the division.”

“We continue to focus on one practice, one week, and one game at a time whilst enjoying what we are doing. We are really happy but nothing is won yet so we want more and the players are working so hard to hopefully achieve something special this season.”

Rockets go into Sunday’s match up at Capital City Academy with no new injury concerns to date. Shooting guard Joel Keeble looks like he will now be sidelined for the remainder of the season after complications with his wrist operation which is a blow for the 21 year old and his team as it was originally thought the Ipswich-born player would only be out for 4-5 weeks. However the Reading team will be buoyed by the form of Chris Hooper, Craig Ponder, and Danny Carter who all made huge contributions during last weekend’s wins against Team Solent and Bradford which was complemented by some really improved performances from Paulin Jardim and Ibu Jassey Demba. Rockets will be hoping to keep healthy as the countdown begins to the conclusion of the NBL Division One campaign with the Berkshire club in fine form but with it all to do to overcome Team Northumbria and Manchester Magic in what promises to be a thrilling title run-in.

To keep up to date with all the latest news and information visit and follow the club on Facebook (Reading Rockets) and Twitter (@rocketsreading).

Joel shooting-new2

Rockets’ winning streak put to test this weekend with tough double header

Reading Rockets’ (12-3) eleven game winning streak will be put to the test this weekend as they travel south on Saturday evening to take on in-form Team Solent Kestrels (10-6) (7pm tip-off) before returning home to their second venue Bohunt School to host the Bradford Dragons (10-8) on Sunday afternoon, 5pm tip-off. Rockets comfortably overcame the league’s basement team Westminster Warriors (0-15) last weekend as they ran out winners 79-55 whilst Saturday’s opponents Team Solent Kestrels secured a double winning weekend of their own, defeating Derby Trailblazers by 86 points to 81 on the road before beating Bradford Dragons the following day, 83-74 at Fleming Park. The Dragons did however pick up a win last Saturday as they beat Worthing Thunder 88-78 away from home in what is looking to be a great finish to the NBL Division One season. The Berkshire outfit has already defeated Saturday’s opposition twice this season in the National Trophy (79-65) and in the league (101-79) but the Kestrels have reached the National Cup final since and won their last four games. Rockets have lost to Sunday’s visitors to Reading by 102 points to 96 back in November in Bradford and will be looking to overturn one of only three defeats in the league this season.

In speaking after last Saturday’s win against Westminster and ahead of this weekend’s double header, Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés knows his team must perform better after a somewhat sluggish performance but believes the group is capable of keeping their run going against two highly competitive teams in Division One. He said,

“It was important not to slip up against Westminster and we are pleased that we didn’t do that and came out with a comfortable win but the performance was not what we were looking for and we need to address that this week. I think we have been playing at a very good level in recent weeks but this was a bit sloppy from us and whilst I can understand the type of mindset we had, this needs to be better in time for what is a really difficult weekend coming up for us.”

“Team Solent are on a good run at the moment and have brought in a new American player since our last meeting and having been in the National Cup final as well as winning the last four games, they will fancy their chances against us being at home too. Coach Matt (Guymon, Team Solent Kestrels Head Coach) has assembled a good unit now and has got them playing some good basketball so I expect this to be a different kind of challenge and one that requires excellent preparation and application during the game.”

“We then return to Reading on Sunday to take on a well-coached Bradford Dragons. Coach Chris (Mellor, Bradford Dragons Head Coach) has done a great job with his team and really uses the personnel he has to the maximum and having beat us in Bradford last time we played, I’m sure he and his team will believe they can do the same this time around.”

“But this is not what we can worry about, what the other team is thinking, how they will approach the game etc. What we need to be concerning ourselves with is how we play, improving our performance from last week, preparing one game at a time, and executing our game plan with discipline and I think if we do that we have a very good chance of keeping our run going but we know it is going to be difficult!”

Rockets go into this weekend’s double header unable to add to their squad at the close of the transfer window. The Berkshire outfit were not able to make any late signings but will rely on the great form shown by the team’s senior players and be very encouraged by the productivity of their academy personnel heading into the final eleven games of the regular season. Coach Manuel Peña Garcés was not too concerned about this but he will once again be without the services of shooting guard Joel Keeble who remains sidelined after surgery on a wrist injury. That should be the Spaniard’s only absentee as he looks once again to the form of American’s Chris Hooper and Craig Ponder who are the team’s leading scorers and club Captain Danny Carter who put in a near triple-double performance last time out with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 9 assists as the Englishman looks to help his team keep up the pressure on Manchester Magic and Team Northumbria at the top of the NBL Division One table.

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Rockets looking to extend unbeaten run

Reading Rockets (11-3) will be looking to extend their ten game winning streak to eleven this weekend when they entertain the leagues basement team Westminster Warriors (0-14) at Rivermead Leisure Complex on Saturday evening, 6pm tip-off. Rockets chalked up win number ten on the spin with an 89-74 victory over Essex Leopards thanks largely to Chris Hooper’s 40 points, 23 rebounds double double. The Berkshire outfit has moved up to second place in the NBL Division One table along side Manchester Magic (11-3) and are hoping to keep the pressure on league leaders Team Northumbria (13-3) with a win this weekend against a so far winless Westminster Warriors.

Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés was pleased to see his team overcome a difficult test against Essex Leopards and despite this Saturday’s opponents having not recorded a win yet, the Spanish play-caller is airing on the side of caution as the Berkshire outfit has had some difficult games with the Warriors over recent years. He said,

“Last Sunday’s win over Essex was an important one for us, I think they are a really dangerous team and without Mike Martin it was difficult to know how they were going to play but credit to the team, despite an early deficit, they worked really hard together to get another important win.”

“Chris Hooper’s performance was outstanding but all of the players are doing what we need them to do at the moment and I think that has been key to the run we are on. It is really important that in this time there is no complacency but plenty of humility and we keep working hard to get better every time we step onto the floor.”

“This weekend’s game against Westminster is a tricky one I think. In previous seasons we have always found them difficult to overcome. A team is always the most dangerous when they are really fighting against the odds so it’s crucial to respect and prepare as we do every game and work hard to get what we feel should be another win.”

Rockets go into Saturday’s game with the news that shooting guard Joel Keeble requires surgery on a fractured wrist. The 21 year old Brit has been out of action for three weeks and will miss a similar amount of time after his operation on Tuesday. Chris Hooper showed no ill effects of his recent back injury with a mammoth double double and despite his American counterpart being laid up in bed this week through illness, point guard Craig Ponder played a crucial part in last Sunday’s win and should be fully fit for the visit of Westminster. Rockets is still looking at a possible signing before the deadline passes on Tuesday 31st January and will be aiming to capture win number eleven in a row as the race for the NBL Division One title hots up.

To keep up to date with all the latest news and information including any potential signings, visit and visit the clubs twitter page @rocketsreading.
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Rockets hoping to make it a perfect ten after great away day in Derby

Reading Rockets (10-3) will be looking to record their tenth straight league victory this Sunday when they take on Essex Leopards (5-9) at Rivermead Leisure Complex, 5pm tip-off. Rockets recorded win number nine in succession last Saturday evening when they won on the road against the then third placed team Derby Trailblazers, coming away from the East Midlands with a 93-75 victory to lift themselves into third position, hot on the heels on Manchester Magic and Team Northumbria at the top of the NBL Division One table. The Berkshire outfit could make in ten wins on a row on Sunday against a team they have already beaten this season 90-73 at the Brentwood Centre back in November but will be mindful of the Leopards’ recent success in the BBL Trophy as they knocked Manchester Giants out of the competition in the first round with a huge upset, defeating the BBL Championship side 86-84 before eventually losing to Plymouth Raiders last weekend.

Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés remains very proud of his players during this period, especially with a slightly depleted squad but knows adding to this as well as working to improve areas of the game needed to maintain a championship run are crucial at this time of the season. Speaking after Saturday’s win against rivals Derby and in preparation for the visit of Essex Leopards, the Spanish play-caller said,

“Derby is a very difficult place to go and win so I think this victory was a really good one for us, not only to be able to do so against a rival away from home, but also to take the head to head over a team that I’m sure will be in and around the top four at the end of the season – that is of course the place we are hoping to be too! Our behaviours and in turn our performances have been improving week by week and this has helped the results to be positive for us. We are still a little thin on the ground and this is something we are looking to rectify before next week’s deadline as well as work on improving the areas that are key to make us even better and very difficult to beat. It is a good moment for us but we know so much more hard work is needed for us to achieve anything and this is our focus right now.”

“The visit of Essex is always a really tough game; the last couple of years have been really competitive with them and they have won some critical games against us so we will be looking at this game as a crucial one and preparing accordingly in order to keep our run going and negate what they throw at us because I know Coach Steve (Ogunjimi, Essex Leopards Head Coach) will have them ready to battle!”

Rockets go into Sunday’s match-up with no new injury concerns but English shooting guard Joel Keeble is still two weeks or so from a return to action and looks set to miss his fourth game in a row this weekend. American forward Chris Hooper was back in action last weekend and posted 22 points and 16 rebounds and showed no ill effects of a back injury that kept him on the sidelines the week before. Under 18 Fidel Gomez de Enterria Lopez was the only casualty on Saturday as an ankle injury sustained in an earlier Under 18 game ruled him out but he should return to action for both teams ahead of this weekend’s round of games.

It could be ten straight wins for the Rockets if they overcome Sunday’s opposition as Coach Manuel Peña Garcés’ men continue their march to the top of the NBL Division One table and look to finally regain some silverware after a two year absence. To keep up to date with all the latest news heading into Sunday’s game against Essex Leopards, visit and on Twitter @rocketsreading.