After suffering their last league defeat against the Dragons back on 6th November, Rockets were keen to avenge that loss and extend their unbeaten run to thirteen games, and how well they did it by scoring 50 points in the first half and a staggering 58 in the second as they hit their highest score of the season so far of 108.
Yet this was not a one- sided affair by any means and rest assured no-one will want Bradford in the Play-offs as they are a very threatening side with much shooting power and experience. Rockets began with the knowledge that Joel Keeble will almost certainly be out for the rest of the season as his broken wrist went back into plaster for 6 weeks earlier this week. This just means the young Rockets Academy players have more court time and now each play key roles in this developing team. Captain Danny Carter again led the way with 24 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds in an excellent performance with Chris Hooper scoring 23 pints and taking down 16 rebounds whilst the mercurial Craig Ponder also hit 23 points, 9 assists and took down 5 rebounds as they led this still developing young side, average age just over 21 years.
Team ball was the name of the game as players kept looking for the open player who was keen to take the shot or make the play as was epitomised in the first score when Hooper threw a long cross court pass to Carter who stroked a wide treble to get the scoreboard started. When Carter followed that up with a spin move and both Ponder and Ali Sbai hit trebles with Ponder adding a steal and finish, Rockets had a 13-2 opening rush. Dragons roared and went on a 11-2 run of their own before Carter and Ponder gave assists to Hooper to score from as Rockets edged ahead 21-15 at the end of the quarter.
The second period began with Ponder making a trademark pull up jumper and Carter gave Hooper another easy score so a double digit lead was enjoyed by Rockets. A rare right hand lay- up followed a typical Hooper spin movements before 18 yo Ibu Jassey Demba slammed the first of his three dunks. Carter went strong inside whilst Hooper was rested on two personal fouls and Ponder threw a great dish pass to Carter to hit another treble and give Rockets a sixteen point cushion at 42-26. Still they came as Carter and Ponder hit further trebles to be twenty points ahead with just two minutes to the interval. Five quick Dragons points gave them encouragement but a great steal from Paulin Jardim and coast to coast drive ended with him hitting both free throws as he was fouled but taking Rockets to fifty points at the break and leading by 17 at 50-33.
The 29-18 quarter was a joy to watch whilst the third quarter was a treble shoot out as Dragons hit six and Rockets three in a fifty five point period edged by Dragons. Other highlights of this quarter were a big block by Hooper, another Jardim steal and slam dunk finish coupled to great vision and team basketball. At 76 -62 you may begin to think steady now guys, you’ve had a brilliant weekend, ease to victory. However you just can’t entertain that against this fast and dangerous Dragons side so more concentration, tighter defence, higher rebounding and clinical finishing were the order of the day in the final stanza. Hooper reminded the team of the need to take down each rebound at the very start of the quarter before Carter scored himself, made a big block and then found Hooper with a superb assist before finishing a personal move with a slam dunk. For the second consecutive evening Danny Carter was the name on everyone’s lips as he led his team with confidence and by example. After he had scored yet another treble and drive, Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces beckoned him to the bench for some well-earned rest whilst the appreciative Rockets supporters stood and clapped to applaud a most brilliant weekend performance. With a constant twenty point lead in the final period, Pena Garces also called Chris Hopper to the bench to take the crowds appreciation as he ended up with a great haul of points and rebounds and then moments later the arch tormentor point guard Craig Ponder strolled to the bench with another set of amazing stats. Sbai and Juan Valerio both stroked trebles as the game drew to its close and Rockets hit their season best 108 points tally.
Now Rockets travel away to basement team Westminster Warriors next Sunday 19th at 3 pm before another double header as they
keep the pressure up on Northumbria who have led the league from the first weekend and who will be at Rivermead on Saturday 18th March.
Basketball Hotline 0118 926 3040
|12/02/2017||17:00||NBL Division 1||2016 / 2017|
|Sheerlands Rd, Wokingham RG40, UK|