Category: Press Releases

Rockets retain important trio as Captain Carter returns for a sixth straight season

Reading Rockets have re-signed three players from last season’s squad in the shape of English shooters Ali Sbai and Joel Keeble as well as ever-present club captain Danny Carter.

Carter, 28, had no hesitation in putting pen to paper for his sixth successive season despite a heavier workload after his head of year promotion at the John Madejski Academy this term. The 6’9 forward is the longest serving player that has come through the club’s junior programme and four years in the United States at Stonybrook University, and the Windsor native is more motivated than ever to bring silverware back to his club. The Englishman was arguably one of the Rockets’ most productive players last season and has been working hard during the down months in the gym and on court. In speaking about his return to the Reading team, Carter said,

“ I am really happy to be back and more so I am looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead. As you get older you appreciate a lot more things around you and one of those things is your body! I have been working really hard in the gym and on the court because I know that to be the best player and leader I can be, this is a must if we as a team are to face the upcoming challenges with the ultimate goal of returning silverware to Reading.

Carter will be joined by sharp-shooter Joel Keeble who has been plagued by injury during the last two seasons but the 23 year old will be hoping his third term with the Berkshire outfit is a healthier one. The 6’6 guard sat out the majority of the second part of last season with a fractured wrist but looks set to be fully fit ahead of the 2017-18 campaign. In speaking ahead of his return from his hometown of Ipswich, Keeble said,

I am really looking forward to being back and actually playing and contributing this season. The last two seasons have been frustrating in terms of injury and performance but I am hoping I can repay the faith that’s been shown in me this season and contribute to the team in any way, shape, or form in our quest to bring some silverware back to Reading. I have been working in the off-season to be fit and ready and I can’t wait to get started.

Also returning from last year’s team is 19 year old guard/forward Ali Sbai. The Moroccan-born shooter played a significant part in Manuel Peña Garcés’ team last time out and was also one of the leading players for the John Madejski Academy in the Elite Academies Basketball League (EABL), guiding the team to their first ever play-off position. The 6’5 former academy player has signed his first contract with the Berkshire club and will be hoping to use his experience with the Great Britain Under 20’s squad to contribute again this year. He said,

I am really happy to be given the opportunity to come back and play this season after finishing in the academy and I will be doing everything I can to help the team win some silverware this year. I can’t wait until the season starts as I have missed playing competitively and I am looking forward to linking up with my new teammates.

Rockets will be announcing some exciting new signings in due course.

Rockets Basketball Fixtures

Reading Rockets will open up their 2017-18 season campaign with a trip to last season’s NBL Division Two champions Kent Crusaders on Saturday 23rd September, (tip-off currently to be confirmed), before hosting their play-off conquerors from last season Team Solent Kestrels on Sunday 24th September at Rivermead Leisure complex (5pm tip-off). Both games see the start of the National Trophy group stages with Worthing Thunder being the other outfit to make up Pool 3. Rockets’ first NBL Division One league game should see them travel to face the leagues other new boys Team Newcastle University on Sunday 8th October but this fixture is still to be confirmed. The Berkshire outfit will begin at home the following weekend when they take on Hemel Storm on Saturday 14th October, 5pm tip-off.

Rockets will join this season’s National Cup competition at the third round stage on Sunday 15th October and will play away at either Oxford Stealers, Oxford City, Swindon Shock, or BC Medelynas London. This season’s opening BBL Trophy game will take place before Christmas on Sunday 17th December with the Berkshire outfit’s opponents yet to be drawn. The Reading team will finish off their regular season with a double header away trip when they take on last season’s NBL Division One Champions, Team Northumbria on Saturday 24th March at Sports Central before being hosted by Lancashire Spinners the following day, Sunday 25th March, in their final game of the campaign.

The squad will start their pre-season proceedings prior to this on Tuesday 29th August with Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés back at the helm for a fifth season assisted once again by newly-appointed JMA Academy Director Alan Keane. Both coaches have had an extremely busy summer but are looking forward to returning to Reading and have the goal of claiming silverware this year after a three year absence. Head Coach Peña Garcés has been working with the Spanish Federation over the summer period, delivering on the country’s top coaching qualification as well as holding a number of clinics for coaches from in and around his native Spain. Assistant Coach Keane led the Great Britain Under 18 Men’s team to the silver medal position in Division B at the European Championships but more importantly and impressively gaining promotion to Division A at the first time of asking.

Rockets will open up their pre-season period with a trio of friendly games in their second week of training, the home games being behind closed doors. The Berkshire outfit will play their annual friendly game against Team USA Select on Tuesday 5th September at the John Madejski Academy, before hosting a Norwegian team, Fyllingen who play in the top league in Norway on Friday 8th September. And their busy week will be rounded off with a trip to the Brentwood Centre to take on old rivals and now NBL Division Two outfit Essex Leopards. The two teams have had some memorable games over the years and the Rockets quickly accepted the invite to take on the Leopards on Saturday 9th September, 7pm tip-off.

The club will be announcing their roster in due course with a couple of returning players in the mix as well as two new import players as Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés looks to put the pieces of the jigsaw together and mount a challenge with his young, new-look squad for the 2017-2018 season.

Follow the Rockets on social media; Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – @rocketsreading or check out the club’s website – www.readingrockets.co.uk

Spalding NBL MVP Award 2016/17 Voting Now Open!

After a flurry of activity and voting from clubs across the NBL, a shortlist has now been drawn up in D1M, D1W and D2M so that players and fans can have their say on the outcome of the Spalding MVP Awards 2016/17 in those divisions.

We are grateful to Spalding for once again sponsoring these awards, meaning winners will be presented with a commemorative glass plaque as well as a Spalding #TrueBelievers goody bag!

The voting is available through our NBL Facebook page. You can access it from the following link: https://www.facebook.com/NBLengland/

All polls will remain open until 9am on Wednesday 19th April and we will be announcing the winners of each award from across the NBL (including D3 and D4) on Thursday 20th April. Those announcements will be placed on our website and social media channels so be sure to follow our accounts using the links below!

For the NBL Facebook page, click HERE!
For the NBL Twitter page, click HERE!

Rockets take on rivals Kestrels in play-off quarter-finals

Third placed Reading Rockets (20-6) will take on sixth placed Team Solent Kestrels (15-10, one game voided) this Sunday at Rivermead Leisure Complex in the play-off quarter finals (5pm tip-off) with the winners advancing to the semi-finals and an away trip to either second placed Manchester Magic (21-5) or seventh placed Bradford Dragons (14-12) whilst for the losers the season will draw to a close. Rockets finished the season similarly to how they started it as they lost their final three games of the NBL Division One campaign including last weekend’s narrow defeat to runners-up Manchester Magic who took the second spot in the table with a 75-71 win over the Berkshire outfit. The Reading team finished third in the division for the second consecutive season and will face Team Solent Kestrels for a fourth time this season with the Southampton based team losing on the final day of the season and being leapfrogged by Loughborough Student Riders (15-11) who claimed a final day victory over fourth placed Derby Trailblazers 73-84 to set up a re-match with last weekend’s opponents at the quarter-final stage. Rockets are currently undefeated against Sunday’s opposition having claimed victory in the National Trophy pool stages way back in October with a 79-65 scoreline and were also triumphant in league play, defeating the Kestrels 101-79 at home in mid-December before battling to an 88-81 away win in February to lead this season’s series 3-0.

Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés has already begun work in preparing for Sunday’s winner takes all game but has been reflecting on last Saturday’s defeat to Manchester as he prepares his team to try and beat Team Solent for a fourth time round, a task he knows will be a very difficult one. After leading his team to third place in the NBL Division One table the Spaniard said,

“The last couple of games have been difficult for us and we are a little disappointed not to have been champions or finish runners-up but we cannot dwell on this, if anything, these losses have provided us with a lot of learning and I think the response we saw in the second half against Manchester and in the preparation we have done this week shows we have taken another step and we will be a challenge for any team in the play-offs. I was really pleased with our fight and determination against Manchester and after being 17 down, to be within one lay-up of tying the game late on after battling so hard, I am pleased and confident we know what we have to do this weekend and hopefully in another two games.”

“This however is going to be tough! It is a ‘one and done’ game and we know that Team Solent, after an impressive first season in Division One, will be really ready to challenge us. I have been impressed with the job Coach Matt (Guymon, Team Solent Head Coach) has done with his group and I am sure they will want to beat us after not succeeding so far this season. They possess many dangers that we will need to study and prepare for and we will also need to find a fourth way to try and beat a unit that averages 82 points a game.”

“This week for us has been about continuing our fight and determination and being committed once again to what we are doing through sacrifice, discipline, and humility. I am really proud of this group and what they represent and I know that by Sunday’s game we will be ready in terms of attitude, desire, and tactics and I hope that we get what we deserve and that is to move on to the semi-finals.”

Rockets go into Sunday’s game without the services of shooting guard Joel Keeble who has been out for the Berkshire club long term with a fractured wrist as well as Under 19 Ibu Jassey Demba who was ruled out for the season last week with a broken hand. The Reading team will hand late fitness tests to both Fidel Gomez De Enterria Lopez and Bikram Rana with the pair forced to sit out last Saturdays’s loss to Manchester with ankle injuries. Both have not played since their EABL defeat to Charnwood College two weeks ago and it will be touch and go if the pair will be fit ahead of Sunday’s play-off quarter final.

Rockets have only lost once at the quarter-final stage of the post season in the last five years and will be hoping to advance to the semi-final stage once more with the ultimate goal of emulating last season’s finale by reaching the play-off final. Having won 19 games in a row this season, the longest streak in NBL Division One this term, Manuel Peña Garcés and his men will fancy their chances but also be desperate to change their form of late and reach the next stage of the play-offs having not picked up any silverware in their last two campaigns as the Rivermead crowd await them on Sunday excited and expectant of a good performance from their home team.

Follow Rockets on Facebook – readingrockets, Twitter – @rocketsreading, or Instagram – rocketsreading

Big surprise this Sunday!

This Sunday we have the dance group Messy Jam performing at half time at the Division 1 Men’s game. They are well known for their three crews, which won places to compete in the European Street Dance Championships in Paris and Germany.

For this Sunday they are going to bring two crews, Mayhem (under 14 years’ intermediate crew) and Blackout (over 9 intermediate crew).

Both crews are very experienced dancers. Some of the dancers formed part of the Elite Squad Royalz crew that went to the semi-finals of Britain’s got talent. Both crews are 1st place winners of 2017 British street dance Championships. Many have competed abroad and recently danced in a music video for DreamWorks TV.

So get down to Rivermead this Sunday and see these 2 amazing crews in action.