Rockets found themselves not only deep into the East End but also in a hard fought encounter against lower league opposition in the third round of the National Cup on Sunday evening. After losing the first period 23-26, Rockets imposed themselves in the second quarter to take a double digit advantage to the interval and from which they steadily built a winning cushion.
Still without the injured captain Danny Carter and missing American point guard Scotty Hendricks as cup rules prohibit two import players on court against lower league opposition, Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces final preparations were also impeded with the sudden transfer late on Friday of Lithuanian Simas Raupys …to the opposition !! So the starting five saw Aussie Declan Soukup take the point guard spot from where he put up a match winning performance. Besides his personal points contribution , his leadership and quiet demeanour settled and lead Rockets to a victory that sees them playing at home on Sunday 29th Oct in the fourth round.
Tim Gill opened Rockets account but the hosts replied immediately. Sydney Donaldson drove to score and Declan Soukup was secure from the free throw line on four consecutive occasions as he drove and was fouled by the determined Lithuanian outfit. A pair of trebles saw the hosts take the lead by five points and though Jonny Foulds spun to score and newly promoted to the Div.1 side, Ed Potter stroked a treble, Rockets found themselves 23-26 adrift at the first break.
Donaldson lit up the start of period two with a drive and then a treble moments before Potter gave Gill an easy score. When Soukup drove to add to his tally and give Rockets an 8-0 start to the quarter Medelynas called a time out but still Rockets strove forward and Potter bravely fought on the floor for Rockets to regain possession. A 35-30 lead midway through this period was turned into a 49-38 half time advantage as Potter gave Gill another assist and received a similar pass from Soukup to stroke another treble and show Pena Garces what an asset this young man can be to his team. A Soukup pull up jump shot, more points inside from big man Gill and the icing on the cake was a wide treble from Ali Sbai to see Rockets finish with a 26-12 quarter .
A 23-11 third period gave Rockets almost absolute control but Medelynas were always dangerous offensively. Sbai helped himself to three trebles in this quarter with Potter making a crucial steal and Joel Keeble scoring with a floater as Rockets went into the final stanza leading by 72-49.
A steal by Rockets big man Gill and finish by the American of a fine Rockets team move kept the hosts at bay but then they stroked three trebles to reduce the deficit. Their fighting spirit overtook Medelynas at times and they had a player ejected for a pair of unsportsmanlike fouls mid-way through this final quarter. A buzzer beater treble from Foulds with just three minutes remaining meant the 17 yo Spanish point guard Inigo Perez, recovering from injury, could enjoy the end game scenario, nearly scoring with a finger roll which rolled around the ring before slipping off. A Foulds dish to wide out Keeble saw the guard stroke a trademark treble and see Rockets compete a professional performance with a 93-77 victory.
Top scorers for Rockets were Declan Soukup with 27 pts., Tim Gill with 17 pts., Ed Potter with 15 pts., and Ali Sbai with 12 pts.
Rockets next opponents will only be determined after the clash between Worthing Thunder and Cardiff scheduled for the principality next weekend .
|15/10/2017||18:00||National Cup||2017 / 2018|
|Pitchford Street, London E15 4RZ, United Kingdom|