In a game befitting a probable title decider, Northumbria edged the game in a well prepared , well executed performance at Rivermead this evening before a packed audience, to have one hand on the league trophy. Rockets were shackled in the first quarter by some stout defence and couldn’t fire on all cylinders whereas N’bria finished clinically and out rebounded Rockets, an unusual experience for the Berkshire outfit.
With Rockets big American Chris Hooper and shooting guard Ali Sbai finding themselves in foul trouble early in the second period , the pressure on the young Rockets was mounting so coupled to a long injury list, Rockets knew they’d have to dig deep to take the vital win as they found themselves 33-44 at the interval. Rockets had kept close to the northern visitors with Paulin Jardin and Danny Carter stroking trebles with Craig Ponder hitting a brace too to try and reduce the deficit. Rockets are normally a free scoring team but N’bria’s strong defence and a mis- firing Rockets offence combined to keep N’bria around ten or more pints in the lead throughout this period.
When Hooper was called for his fourth personal foul early in the third quarter the recovering from ankle injury Fidel Gomez and the young Englishman Tom Goodyear, recently promoted from the Div.4 side had to be called into the affray. In fact 18 yo Ibu Jassey Demba played with a broken wrist as Rockets Head Coach tried to change the relentless accurate finishing of N’bria but to no avail as they took the third period 24-16 leaving Rockets with a mighty fourth quarter goal to take the victory and keep alive their realistic title hopes. At 49-68 this was something of a deficit Rockets had not faced over the last 4 months but a 7-0 run caused N’bria to call a time-out as the lead was reduced to just 12 points. A Rockets steal was so nearly converted to a critical score but the ball was sent just a fraction too long for Juan Valerio to finish. Nonetheless Rockets caused a 24 second violation for N’bria as the crowd lifted Rockets but the missing of a pair of free throws hurt Rockets. Back they came with another Carter treble cutting N’bria’s lead to just 71-61 with three minutes to go. Could Rockets stop N’bria score and add points themselves in the dying minutes ? A crucial treble was sunk by N’bria giving them a cushion which as hard as Rockets tried they couldn’t bridge and fell just short as N’brai took the win by 76-64.
Rockets now have to lift themselves for tomorrow’s game which tips at 5 pm at Rivermead as they need to finish the league season at home.
Top scorers for Rockets were Craig Ponder with 19pts., Danny Carter 15 pts., Chris Hooper with 11 pts and 10 rebounds and Ali Sbai with 10 pts.,
|18/03/2017||18:00||NBL Division 1||2016 / 2017|
|24 Richfield Ave, Reading, Reading RG1, UK|