After a tortuous journey south from Newcastle the night before, you could justifiably have expected a tired Rockets to take to the floor but a rejuvenated team took the game to the joint league leaders from tip till the final buzzer with a determined display.
Chris Hooper, who was to lead all scorers on the night, opened Rockets account and set out his stall as the man to stop around the ring as he scored 8 points and dished an assist to Joel Keeble who stroked a brace of trebles. The ever improving Paulin Jardim finished with a finger roll, then took down an offensive rebound splaying a pass to Craig Ponder who hit a glorious treble, a feat doubled by Rockets captain Danny Carter. Rockets edged the opening quarter 27-25 .
Juan Valerio opened his tally with a trademark treble and Rockets determination to put behind last night’s tough loss was highlighted when two of the players fought tenaciously on the floor to gain possession. Ali Sbai stole the ball and went coast to coast to score after scoring moments earlier with a lay-up. Rockets were to lose the lead for the first time with less than 3 minutes of the second period to go. Another Carter treble drew them closer but a pair of similar from Dragons saw Rockets go to the interval 45-49 in arrears.
It seemed as if every time Rockets got to within a single point of Dragons , they’d see another missile nestle in the basket but still Rockets fought. Ponder was at his most influential as well as adding 8 points to his personal tally whilst Chris Hooper stole the show under the basket as he worked hard and drew fouls. At the end of the game his body must have been black and blue with all the physical battering he endured keeping Rockets within striking distance as they stayed 3-4 points off the very good Dragons team throughout the quarter. Both Rockets Americans worked well together as they amassed 19 of Rockets 24 points during this period. A buzzer beating Dragons score saw Rockets adrift 69-76 though both Head Coaches were still thinking, we can win this.
This was a great game for the spectators as the skill level was high, shooting percentages high , speed of the game electric, respect for each other earned and given as they played out a 27-26 final quarter shootout edged by Rockets but still not enough to secure the win as Dragons held on to take the victory 102-96. Hooper and Ponder again shone through but Dragons point and shooting guard, Marcus Gooding, will entertain many crowds in his first season in this top English league.
Top scorers for Rocket were Chris Hooper with 33 points, Craig Ponder with 20 points, Joel Keeble with 15 points and Danny Carter with 11 points. Rockets now travel to Brentwood on Friday evening to take on Essex Leopards.
|06/11/2016||16:15||NBL Division 1||2016 / 2017|
|31 Great Horton Rd, Bradford, West Yorkshire BD7 1AT, UK|