After Spinners great away overtime victory at fourth placed Derby Trailblazers, Rockets headed to Preston with more than respect for their opposition especially as Fidel Gomez was injured in training and will miss the remainder of the league campaign so Tom Goodyear, another 20 year old was added to the team.
A cautious opening quarter reflected the respect and the tiredness in the limbs after a 240 journey as Rockets just edged this by 23-22. Captain Danny Carter had begun Rockets scoring with a treble, a feat he was to repeat four more times before the interval. Influential guard Craig Ponder had the first of his assists whilst Chris Hooper spun twice to score and drove a third time. Ali Sbai sent a length of the court pass to Juan Valerio to lay up and from some great team work Carter stroked a wide treble. With the game tied on twenty Ponder had a pull up treble before Spinners finished the period’s score with a jump shot.
Rockets defence harnessed Spinners to three points in the first seven minutes of the quarter as they took a stranglehold on the game by taking the period 35-13 and opening up a lead of 59-35 by the interval. Ponder was secure from the free throw line to start Rockets scoring before the much improved Paulin Jardim finished a clinical fast Rockets break before dishing a pass to Carter to stroke the the first of back to back of trebles. A Jardim steal coupled to some more excellent defence from the 20 year old student kept Spinners at bay and was just part of a glorious five minutes for the Bulgarian as he made a pair of steals, finishing each with a slam dunk having moments before dished an awesome pass to Ponder to stroke another score. Chris Hooper was sending great cross court passes to the grateful recipients of Valerio and Carter to hit a brace of trebles and take Rockets to the locker room comfortably ahead at 59-35. A dubious foul given after the buzzer sounded didn’t take the glitter off a superb quarter for Rockets.
Hooper made some excellent defensive play before being called for an offensive foul, his third of the game , so was rested early in the third quarter as neither team clicked on offence for more than three minutes before the mercurial Ponder received a dish form Carter to hit a treble and get the score board moving again. A fast break ended with Valerio giving a reverse bounce pass to Hooper to score, draw the foul and add the bonus point. Valerio then helped himself to a treble and lay up as Rockets opened up a 70-40 lead with just over three minutes to go in the third period. Jardim sent a length of the court pass to Carter to score and despite a late six point run by Spinners, Carter hit blue from the top of the key to see Rockets ahead by 77-52 as the final quarter beckoned.
Spinners did their utmost to disrupt Rockets as well as have their best period by edging it 23-18 but the game was secure in Rockets hands and they strolled to a 20 point victory, number seventeen on the bounce. Ibu Jassey Demba injured his shoulder (again) and had to leave the court. Rockets Physio was soon on his case and Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces will hope this isn’t another long term injury like Joel Keeble’s and Fidel Gomez’s. The 95-75 score reflected the growth and development of this young Rockets Team and they now look forward to a double header weekend with just five remaining league games left including games against the current leaders Northumbria and the third placed Manchester Magic who swept everyone before them last season so a tough run in as they fight for that league title.
Top scorers for Rockets were Danny Carter with 28 points and 13 rebounds ; Craig Ponder 21 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists; Chris Hooper with 18 points and 11 rebounds as both shooting guards Ali Sbai and Juan Valerio hit 10 each. Two double doubles from Rockets big men showed how influential they were though this was another fine team performance.
|04/03/2017||17:45||NBL Division 1||2016 / 2017|
|Wenning Myerscough College, St Michael's Rd, Bilsborrow, Preston PR3 0RY, UK|