Category: Press Releases

Rockets aiming for runners-up spot as winner takes all in Manchester

This weekend was just a game or two too far for Rockets who have played 4 games in 8 days with a severely depleted team through extended injuries. The 19 game winning streak came to an end last weekend but they will be aiming to clinch the runners-up position in NBL Division One this weekend when they take on last seasons champions Manchester Magic (20-5) at the Amaechi Basketball Centre on Saturday evening (6.30pm tip-off). Rockets lost out on a chance to become champions themselves after losing to the newly-crowned winners Team Northumbria on Saturday evening by 64 points to 76 before a surprise defeat at the hands of Loughborough Student Riders (13-11) on Sunday evening 66-73. This left the Berkshire outfit on the same record as this Saturday’s opponents with the winner of that game guaranteed the runners-up spot and the loser third place in the NBL Division One standings as all teams embark on the final weekend of the regular season.

In what should be the pick of the final round of games with relegation matters also settled last weekend as Westminster Warriors (2-23) and former NBL Division One champions Essex Leopards (5-20) were condemned to live in Division Two next term, Rockets won their only previous encounter with the Magic in the home league game, beating the National Trophy winners by 105 points to 92 back in December. The Manchester outfit have also finished the season strongly but encountered a surprise defeat to Derby Trailblazers (16-8) last Sunday losing out 85-73 to set up a one game shoot out for the runners-up place.

Speaking after seeing his team’s 19 game winning streak and title chances ended last weekend, Manuel Peña Garcés was naturally disappointed but says only good lessons from this can follow and is looking to get back to winning ways against Manchester, and secure second place in the NBL Division One table. The Spaniard said,

“It was a difficult weekend for us overall and we are disappointed not to be able to take the title challenge into the final weekend. We must however congratulate Team Northumbria on claiming the title and playing a great game against us. Coach Marc (Steutel, Team Northumbria Head Coach) had his team well prepared, disciplined throughout the game, and ultimately worthy winners of the league, so many congratulations to him and his team. That was obviously disappointing for us on Saturday and unfortunately we were unable to pick ourselves up on Sunday against Loughborough and ended up coming out of the weekend with two losses.”

“Despite these coming at a bad time in terms of the league, I think we will learn the most valuable lessons from these as we attempt to finish runners-up and give ourselves the next best possible seeding for the play-offs, a competition that is exciting and one we want to win. Collectively, we will analyse where we went wrong this week, take accountability for our mistakes and errors, and look to make some changes and adaptions in how we are and how we prepare for this weekend’s game against Manchester.”

“This is a perfect opportunity for us to bounce back and give ourselves a big lift heading into the post season but we are under no illusion this will be a difficult game, especially away from home, and we will need an improved performance if we are to secure the win. Whilst we need to remain humble, especially at a time like this, I am still very proud of my players and I think to win as many games as we have in a row is a big credit to them but this hasn’t enabled us to win anything yet and that is what we want to put right and certainly where our thinking will be for the remainder of the season.”

Rockets go into this weekends final game off the back of their two lowest offensive performances of the season having scored 64 and 66 points respectively and with an injury count finally taking it’s toll. The Berkshire outfit are still without the long term injured Joel Keeble and now look set to face the Magic without Ibu Jassey Demba. The 19 year old forward played very limited minutes with a broken hand last Saturday but was unable to continue in the game and sat out of Sunday’s loss to Loughborough. Better news for the Reading team has come with the improvement to Under 18 Fidel Gomez de Enterria Lopez who managed to play a little in both games whilst still recovering from an ankle injury, the same injury which has also sidelined Under 19 Bikram Rana and his status is still unknown heading into Saturday’s final showdown. However, the Rockets have proven themselves on many occasions this season and will be hoping to cap off a great campaign by clinching the runners-up spot and finishing in their highest position for the last three seasons as Manuel Peña Garcés’ team remain in the hunt for glory.

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Top two meet at Rivermead on Saturday in crunch title game

Reading Rockets (20-3) have a huge weekend in front of them as they face title rivals Team Northumbria (20-3) on Saturday evening at Rivermead Leisure Complex (6pm tip-off) before rounding off the weekend hosting Loughborough Student Riders (12-10) the following day (5pm tip-off). Rockets took their winning streak to an incredible 19 games last weekend as they defeated Worthing Thunder (6-18) on Saturday 110-78 behind Craig Ponder’s 36 points before grinding out a hard fought win away to London Lituanica (9-13) by 86 points to 73 to put the Berkshire outfit level with Saturday’s opponents Team Northumbria. This season’s table toppers were not in action this weekend due to the BUCS tournament but have been at the summit of NBL Division One for most of the campaign and a win for the visitors on Saturday will all but guarantee them league glory. One of Rockets’ three losses came at the hands of Team Northumbria back at the beginning of November by 87 points to 75 and this may have a bearing on the final outcome of the Division One table. If both teams finish with the same record, their head to head results come into play although if Rockets win their remaining three games this will not matter but with the Berkshire outfit finishing their campaign away to Manchester Magic (19-4) who also remain in the mix one game behind this may be a big factor in the final standings.

Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés was very pleased to see his team come through a tough weekend with injuries playing a significant part, but his attentions now turn to the next game which he is relishing. Speaking after recording wins 18 and 19 on the bounce and ahead of this weekend’s potential title decider, the Spaniard said,

“We are really happy with last weekend’s two wins because our performances were better and we had to make some adaptions in the game against Lituanica. They did really well stopping us and it was important for us to make some changes which we did with great commitment and showed good character to win the game and that pleases me heading into the final three games of the regular season.”

“This week will be a huge week for us and one we are really excited about but will prepare for as normal. We need to recover some injuries and rest some players whilst making sure we keep working on our defence and our game plan against Northumbria. They have been magnificent this season and Marc (Steutel, Team Northumbria Head Coach) has done a fantastic job with his group and I know they will be thoroughly prepared to face us and will throw everything they have in order to win the game and the league. It promises to be a great advertisement for Division One and we will be working hard this week and on Saturday to try and get the win that we so badly want!”

“Whilst this is the next game and we continue to have a “one game at a time” mentality, after Saturday we will obviously turn our attentions to Sunday’s game against Loughborough as this will be a really important game too. They have done really well in their first season in Division One and have some good talent on their roster so we know this will also be a tough game and one we will need to turn our attentions to quickly after Saturday.”

“We have put ourselves in a great position and I am so proud of my players for everything they are doing and I really hope this weekend we can show what we are about and create a little bit of history in what is an exciting period for the club.”

The major factor heading into this weekend’s final double header of the season will be the injury list that has grown since last week. Along with Joel Keeble (wrist), Fidel Gomez De Enterria Lopez (ankle), and Bikram Rana (ankle), is Under 19 Ibu Jassey Demba who has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a broken hand. The 19 year old forward sustained a fracture in a freak accident last Friday and will also be out of the John Madejski Academy’s EABL quarter-final match up with Charnwood College on Wednesday. Division Four captain Tom Goodyear stepped up and made his home debut last weekend and will be keeping his place on the roster for the upcoming double header. Manuel Peña Garcés will also call upon some junior players to bolster his squad as Rockets look to take one step closer to the Division One title and keep their unbeaten streak well and truly alive in what will be their toughest weekend of the 2016/2017 season.

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Rockets face crucial double header weekend in title race

Reading Rockets (18-3) will play their penultimate double header of the season this weekend as they entertain relegation threatened Worthing Thunder (6-16) on Saturday evening at their second home venue, Bohunt School (6pm tip-off), before travelling to the capital to take on play-off chasing London Lituanica (9-11) on Sunday afternoon at UEL Sports Dock (1.30pm tip-off). Rockets made it 17 wins on the spin to keep their title ambitions alive with a 95-75 away win at Lancashire Spinners with five games remaining in the regular season. Both of the Berkshire outfits upcoming opponents recorded victories last weekend as Worthing Thunder secured a crucial 67-60 victory against fourth placed Derby Trailblazers (13-7), whilst London Lituanica picked up their first win in five beating bottom of the table Westminster Warriors (1-19) 87-77 to leave the Lithuanian side in 9th place in the table just outside of the play-offs.

Saturday’s match-up with Worthing Thunder will be third meeting between the two teams this term with Thunder picking up an opening day 78-71 home win in the National Trophy before Rockets secured an 84-70 away league win back in December. The Reading team defeated Sunday’s opponents just two weeks ago in their only meeting of the season running out convincing winners by 105 points to 69 at Rivermead Leisure Complex.

Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés was pleased to see his team notch up another win and was especially satisfied with the 36-13 second quarter blitz against Lancashire but knows work at the defensive end needs to be done and appreciates that this week is a huge one for him and his team. He said,

“I am very happy after Saturday’s win because we had an improved performance and played an absolutely great quarter of basketball during the game. This is good for our momentum but we cannot be satisfied or at all complacent. We gave up 75 points and for me that is too much so this week we will need to address this and continue to work on the really good defence we played, especially in the second quarter of the game.”

“Both teams we play this weekend are still really fighting for different things in the league; Worthing to stay in the division and London Lituanica to get into the top eight and the play-offs and that’s what makes them both dangerous opponents in their own right. Worthing have just beaten Derby and held them to 60 points so they are in a good moment and will be desperate to beat us as always! Lituanica recorded their first win since the National Trophy final and are a very tough opponent at home – we have seen this with their victory over Northumbria in January so we know that, whilst we are on our run we and the team to beat, we have to put care and attention in to both games, one at a time, before thinking about next weekend.”

“I urge Rockets fans to keep their fantastic support with us as we keep working so so hard to achieve something really special this season. We must keep improving, thinking the right way, and believing!”

Rockets go into their penultimate double header weekend of the season with no further injury concerns than the ones they already have. Shooting guard Joel Keeble remains a long term absence for the Berkshire outfit whilst Under 18 Fidel Gomez De Enterria Lopez is still a few weeks away from competitive basketball with his ankle injury. Under 19 point guard Bikram Rana did make the journey to Lancashire but didn’t feature for Manuel Peña Garcés’ team but looks set to return to full action in time for Saturday’s game against Worthing Thunder. Ibu Jassey Demba suffered a knock during last Saturday’s win against Lancashire Spinners but has shown no ill affects since and will almost certainly feature. With five games remaining and an incredible 17 game winning streak, Rockets will look to keep this alive as well as their title ambitions with all to play for at the top of NBL Division One.

To keep up to date with all the latest news and information the Rockets social media platform is the place to be on Facebook – readingrockets, Twitter – @rocketsreading, and Instagram – rocketsreading.

League title hots up as Rockets face test against play-off chasing Spinners

Reading Rockets (17-3) will take their 16 game winning streak up north this weekend as they take on Lancashire Spinners (6-13) on Saturday evening at Myerscough College (5.45pm tip-off). Rockets won games 15 and 16 on the bounce as they defeated Leicester Warriors (7-14) last Saturday afternoon by 82 points to 73 before returning home to see off London Lituanica (8-11) on Sunday winning the game 105-69 to keep the heat on league leaders Team Northumbria (19-3) who had a huge away win against fellow title-chasing rivals Manchester Magic (15-4) to continue to lead the way at the top of NBL Division One. Saturday’s opponents for the Berkshire outfit secured an important away win against fourth placed side Derby Trailblazers (13-6) as the Lancashire team came away from the East Midlands with a one point overtime win, 99-98, to keep their feint play-off hopes alive. The two teams have met once this season back in November in league play and the Rockets came out on top with a 96-73 scoreline in their favour, a feat they will be hoping to repeat this weekend.

Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garces remains firmly focused on the next game despite talk of a potential title challenge and knows that each of the remaining six games for the Berkshire team presents their own challenges. After seeing his team notch up two more wins and ahead of the long trip to the north this weekend the Spaniard said,

“I am really pleased we were able to record another two wins against two tough, physical teams. This pleases me and keeps our run and confidence going as we head into the next game against Lancashire. We are aware of what is happening in the league, it would be silly to suggest otherwise, but what is important for us is to keep taking our season game by game and focusing on the next job we have to complete and that is exactly what we are doing day by day, week by week. Complacency is often a word thrown around in sport when teams experience winning and success but I remind us all that we have not won anything yet and the hardest work is still to come.”

“On Saturday we face a tough trip to Lancashire and it has been a difficult place to go and win and off the back of their win against Derby and the fact they are still in the hunt for the play-offs, they will undoubtably be ready. Providing we keep preparing as we have, continue to work hard and make tweaks in practice, and focus on the task ahead, we have the potential to pick up another win and obviously that is our intention with a better performance each time.”

Rockets will go into Saturday’s game with a number of injury concerns to their bench. Joel Keeble is still three to four weeks away from a return but it’s injuries to academy duo Bikram Rana and Fidel Gomez De Enterria Lopez that are the main concerns for the Reading outfit with both picking up ankle problems in the last ten days and look set to be on the sidelines for at least 2-4 weeks leaving the Berkshire side short of cover and problems for the club’s EABL and Under 18 teams. That said, with both missing Sunday’s win against London Lituanica, and with the momentum firmly in the Rockets favour, the team will be hoping to keep up the pace at the top of the league with a potential championship showdown on 18th March against Team Northumbria who have only four more games to play this term.

To keep up to date with all the latest news and information, it’s, Facebook – readingrockets, Twitter – @rocketsreading.
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