|Team Solent Kestrels||79||Loss|
Having found themselves 5 points adrift at the interval against south coast rivals and National Cup finalists Solent Kestrels, Rockets fired the extra burners with a brilliant second half display of outstanding basketball with a 57-30 blast to secure another fine victory and maintain their chase for the title.
Solent hit the first point from the free throw line but a 13-0 run by Rockets caused an early time-out from Kestrels Head Coach and ex-Rocket player, Matt Guymon, after which Solent went on a 11-2 run before Elvisi Dusha, making his Rivermead debut, dished the first of his nine assists to Ali Sbai who stroked a treble. A Danny Carter block saw Rockets open up a 16-10 lead but back to back trebles from Kestrels ensured the first quarter was tied on 21 points apiece.
Five quick Solent points saw them in the ascendancy but a Carter offensive rebound and score coupled to Academy player Ibu Jassey Demba’s treble tied the game again on 26. Then for three or four minutes the lead swapped with every possession as neither team stopped the other scoring as the interval approached. Some great team play by Rockets saw 17 yo Fidel Gomez finish a superb move and a Dusha pull up jump shot tied the scores again on 44. However a 5-0 Solent finish saw them go to the locker room with heads held high and a 49-44 lead.
Though Solent made an early three point play and hit a treble to extend their advantage to 55-45 whilst captain Danny Carter was called for his third foul, it was a resurgent American who jump started Rockets third quarter. Having spent the vast majority of the opening two periods on the bench having been called for a pair of early fouls, Rockets inside man Chris Hooper was raring to be unleashed and how well he responded with nine personal points,, four rebounds and an assist and steal with an impressive display which caused Kestrels much trouble and lifted the Rivermead crowd. A 25-7 quarter finish by Rockets showed how much they had outplayed a talented and well coached Solent outfit worthy of a Cup final place in early January. Carter stroked a pair of trebles and Craig Ponder hit nine points as the game changed dramatically and Rockets took a 70-62 lead into the final stanza.
Could they hang on to this lead ? Oh yes they could with an awesome display of brilliant basketball, great defence, team commitment and dedication and a 31-17 score line to secure the victory to rousing applause from an appreciative crowd returning to Rivermead for the first time this season. Dusha hit 12 personal points whilst giving an excellent display of a creative point guard with two more assists and a pair of steals. Sbai made a great stop, Hooper was taking down rebounds at both ends of the court and Ponder finished a fine fast break. Solent looked mesmerised for much of this period and it was the young Spaniard, Gomez who brought up the 100 point marker with a fine base line drive and finish to bring every Rockets supporter to their feet and show their appreciation for a quite brilliant second half. This bodes well for 2017 when Rockets now play seven of their next eight games at Rivermead having had so many away games when the sports centre was not available to them.
Rockets coaching team under Manuel Pena Garces was pleased with another fine display as he sees his team growing in confidence and cohesion yet with many areas still open to improvement. Book your Rivermead seats for an anticipated title chase starting on Saturday 7th January against second in the table Manchester Magic before the BBL Trophy game on Sunday 8th January.
Leading scorers for Rockets were captain Danny Carter with 23 pts and 7 rebounds; Chris Hooper with 21 pts and 14 rebounds; Craig Ponder with 17 pts, 5 rebounds and 4 assists and Elvisi Dusha with 16 pts., 5 rebounds and 9 assists., but this was a superb team performance.
|18/12/2016||17:00||NBL Division 1||2016 / 2017|
|24 Richfield Ave, Reading, Reading RG1, UK|