With a double digit lead gained in the first six minutes coupled to Chris Hooper being on fire with sixteen points and seven rebounds in the opening quarter, Head Coach was quick to give his lesser experienced and young Academy players much court time recognising the bruising battles ahead with just seven league games remaining and a tough run in for Rockets against three of the other top five teams vying for the title.
Ali Sbai sent a great pass to Juan Valerio to stroke the first of his four trebles but Warriors hit a brace of their own to stay in contention. Craig Ponder had begun with four assists and Hooper had taken down seven rebounds as Rockets showed their determination to keep the winning streak. A couple of trademark pull up jump shots form Ponder and a steal, drive and score saw Rockets lead 26-14 at the first break.
The second quarter was more even as Warriors stepped up their defence and again stroked a brace of trebles after finding themselves nineteen points adrift at 39-20. With Hooper rested it was Danny Carter who made a big block during Warriors 9-0 finishing run giving Rockets a bigger advantage at the half way stage 45-31.
Warriors cut that deficit to single figures with their first possession in quarter three as they hit three trebles and came within six points of Rockets in a 19-2 run much to the frustration of Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces. Hooper made a block, passed to Ponder who found Valerio to sweetly stroke a treble. Carter made a block and then sent an arrow pass to Valerio to hit another trademark treble and see Rockets back with a double digit lead at 55-45. A Hooper dish to Valerio to make it three trebles for the Spaniard in this period encouraged Carter to hit a treble and when Paulin Jardim finished a fine fast Rockets break, they had gone on an 8-1 run and had a more comfortable 65-50 lead going into the final stanza.
Tight Rockets defence caused Warriors to succumb to a 24 second violation right at the start and Fidel Gomez took down an early key rebound to stop Warriors again. Swift passing from Ponder to Carter and back to Ponder saw the American point guard make a three point play easing Rockets to an eighteen point advantage early in this last quarter. Despite a Jardim steal, Warriors fought tenaciously to break up Rockets game and went on a 14-2 run. Hooper and Ponder stepped up again with Hooper scoring off offensive rebounds and Ponder making a great stop before hitting a down town treble seeing Rockets ahead by thirteen points with just over a minute left. Warriors hit their last treble as Rockets played a wise end game to extend their winning run to fifteen and cement their second place in the league with just seven games to go in the league season.
Rockets will need their defence to be better for tomorrow’s home game at Rivermead at 5 pm when they entertain last weeks’ National Trophy Cup London Lituanica.
Top scorers for Rockets were Chris Hooper with 33 pts. and 16 rebounds; Craig Ponder with 17 pts.,7 assists and 5 steals and Juan Valerio with 12 pts.
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|25/02/2017||15:00||NBL Division 1||2016 / 2017|
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