With a magnificent display in front of a packed arena at Rivermead this evening Rockets steamrollered a talented Lituanica with an awesome display of power, skill, finishing and team work as they took win number sixteen on the trot and maintain their quest for the league title. Though Northumbria defeated third placed Manchester today, Rockets face the league leaders at Rivermead on Sat 18th March before travelling north to our Mancunian rivals in the last league game of the season the following Saturday. A tight finish to a most competitive season beckons !!
With two Academy youngsters side-lined with injuries, Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces only had eight fit players, half of whom were the remaining Academy players now firmly ensconced in the Div.1 team. And how well they performed brings hope for all the young players in Rockets junior teams and academies.
Influential point guard Craig Ponder scored the first points of the game with a trademark jump shot before his compatriot, big American Chris Hooper spun to score. Lituanica hit their first treble but Juan Valerio was soon to put on a shooting display from outside the arc not seen in Reading before as he stroked seven from ten trebles, four in this opening period. Ali Sbai hit a three and Danny Carter made a crucial block before he threw a length of the court bounce pass giving Ibu Demba Jassey an easy lay up as Rockets led 25-14.
By the interval Rockets had accumulated fifty five points even though Lituanica stroked three trebles. A high tip in from Demba Jassey which he quickly followed by a slam dunk, lit up the start of the second quarter and then Hooper made a steal, went coast to coast to extend Rockets advantage to fourteen within the first minute. The crowd were raucous, loud and appreciative of some exquisite basketball as Paulin Jardim scored with a floater and then a slam dunk, Carter rolled in another score and Ponder hit a pair of pull up jumpers and fed Hooper to score with regularity. A great steal by Jardim and a top of the key treble from the skipper was only surpassed by another Jardim slam dunk as Rockets went to the locker room 55-38 ahead even though Lituanica had the games top scorer at this stage in Mantas Guzys with 19 personal points.
Valerio with eleven and Hooper with nine points dominated the scoring for Rockets in the 30-12 third quarter as Rockets showed the very best of team work and determination to defend against a talented but depleted in number side. Hooper took down a big defensive rebound as he rose strongly to claim the ball before he hit the last seven Rockets points of the period to see Rockets comfortable at 85-50 and the game effectively over.
Time to release all the Academy youngsters together with Valerio the 25 yo experienced player as Manuel Pena Garces rested his captain Danny Carter for the whole fourth quarter and brought off Chris Hooper and Craig Ponder midway through the period, to tumultuous applause from the appreciative supporters. Jardim had his third slam dunk finish and then he stole the ball, passed it to Sbai who passed it to Demba Jassey to also slam dunk and light up the arena. Lituanica took the last few minutes but this was a great game for Rockets supporters as they saw six of Rockets players get into double figures, three of these from the Academy and skipper Danny Carter hit nine points but also had nine assist and five rebounds. Paul Jardim made six steals and at one time Rockets held a forty three point lead at 103-60…some basketball extravaganza at Rivermead.
Rockets stay on the heels of Northumbria who defeated Manchester at the same time as Rockets took this victory.
Top scorers for Rockets were Juan Valerio with 28 pts., and 3 steals; Chris Hooper with 24 pts.,18 rebounds, four steals and six assists; Craig Ponder with 14 pts.,3 steals and 5 assists with the three Academy players each scoring 10 pts., and between them making 10 steals, 6 assists and took down 14 rebounds.
Now Rockets travel north to Lancashire next weekend to try and extend this winning run to seventeen .
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|26/02/2017||17:00||NBL Division 1||2016 / 2017|
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