Against the full timers from Bristol, Rockets part time and Academy players stood tall and proud alongside Rockets Chairman Gary Johnson, many VIP’s and the Mayor of Reading though the final quarter was just a step too far for the depleted team.
Rockets were without their shooting guard, Joel Keeble, who injured his arm in the previous evening’s game but were still first out of the blocks, taking a 7 -0 lead and well deserved their 28-17 opening period lead, causing Flyers much irritation as the well drilled and talented Rockets played great team basketball and fought tenaciously.
Rockets kept a double digit lead well into the second quarter but lack of concentration coupled to a 13-2 run and nine from eleven free throws encouraged the south west team. With less than two minutes before the interval, Flyers took the lead ,for the first time and kept the slender advantage as they went to the changing room 46-44 ahead. The stats were very even as both teams had stroked five trebles, had five and six steals respectively and had ten and eleven fouls against their name.
A 19-18 quarter saw Rockets stay within a single score of Flyers as again the stats were very similar so both teams knew something would have to change for either team to take the win they both wanted. Academy youngster Ibu Demba Jassey slam dunked and point guard Craig Ponder made a crucial steal and made a lay-up letting the BBL team know Rockets were continuing the fight for the victory. Captain Danny Carter again led by example driving to the basket and converting 4 from 5 from the free throw line, taking Rockets to a 63-64 score line as the final stanza beckoned.
Great applause and encouragement rang around Rivermead as Rockets took to the court and expectations were high for the young ( average age just 21 years and 3 months and five players under 20 ) Rockets who have 4 Academy players and two University students in their team. They didn’t disappoint and took the lead with the first play of the final period but Flyers scored and edged ahead by 4 points at 71-67. Chris Hooper wasn’t getting anything from the officials as he worked tirelessly inside against far bigger guys but Craig Ponder hit a treble to raise Rockets hopes and the supporters’
voices. However the greater strength in depth of the Flyers, in numbers alone on the bench due to Keeble’s injury and Dusha’s surprise departure to Plymouth Raiders late on Thursday, meant it was a tough final quarter for Rockets. Flyers experience held out and they go through to the next round of the BBL Trophy.
Top scorers for Rockets were Danny Carter , Chris Hooper and Craig Ponder, each with 17 points with Hooper also having a double double for the second consecutive game with 11 rebounds. 19 year old Ali Sbai hit 10 points and took down nine rebounds .
Rockets now return to NBL Div. 1 action against Hemel Storm on Saturday at 6 pm at Rivermead as they seek to extend their league winning streak to eight.
|08/01/2017||17:00||BBL Trophy||2016 / 2017|
|24 Richfield Ave, Reading, Reading RG1, UK|