Despite the absence of Danny Carter and the withdrawal of key Aussie Declan Soukup and Academy student Adrian Nosa with sickness moments before the coach left for Derby, Rockets galvanised themselves, fought tenaciously for any loose ball and showed further improvement in their defence to take the vital league win.
The game began with Rockets Sydney Donaldson scoring with a lay-up back at the arena he played at just 2 seasons ago. He was warmly welcomed by Trailblazers supporters and was determined to give of his best though his early enthusiasm saw him being called for two fouls in the electric 8-1 Rockets start. Hard as a rock, Jonny Foulds took his trademark charge whilst Tim Gill showed he was a threat on the boards and Ali Sbai finished some smart Rocket moves. Derby hit a buzzer beating treble to edge ahead for the first time by a single point but Joel Keeble stroked a wide shot to level the scores on 18 with a couple of minutes of the opening period to go. But 6’9” Academy player Alex Drincic hit a top of the key treble, Keeble and Tim Gill drove to score and Rockets re-took the lead and didn’t surrender it again.
The 25-22 score was added to by Drincic with the opening move of the second quarter and Gill increased his presence in the key as he dominated the rebounds, scored, drew fouls and was a genuine thorn in the flesh for Derby. Rockets maintained a 6/7 point advantage for almost all this period as Donaldson lead by example, Keeble stroked a treble and Scotty Hendricks helped himself to more penalty stripe points and scored with a pull up jumper. A Keeble steal and arrow assist kept Trailblazers at bay though at a cost of three players being on three personal fouls kept Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces on his toes with substitutions. Nonetheless Rockets led at the interval by 50-45.
The third quarter saw Gil at his imposing best as scored seven points but took down four key rebounds as Rockets took control. Concern was expressed by the travelling supporters and the coaching team as the game was stopped as Hendricks went over on his ankle and lay on the floor for a couple of minutes before being carried off court for attention by Rockets physio. Ed Potter shone throughout this period as fought on the floor and in the air to grab the ball for Rockets as Sbai hit a downtown treble and Rockets had a double digit lead that they weren’t going to relinquish for the remainder of the game other than momentary. A patched up Hendricks returned to the floor spraying assists everywhere, making a steal and finish and stroking a treble from a Donaldson assist as Rockets advantage stretched to 15 points at 73-58 as the final stanza beckoned thanks to a 23-13 quarter.
An unforced Rockets error was punished by Derby but Gill was so prominent scoring around the basket with regularity it was a frustration for the Derby coaching team and supporters. Derby still came forward but with determination expressed by Potter ( floor hustle ) Donaldson and Foulds ( taking charges ) the game was secure. Sbai hit another treble, Donaldson made a great save to maintain Rockets possession Rockets closed out the game with a thoroughly deserved victory and keeping pace with other r league leaders who have played more games.
Tops corers for Rockets were Tim Gill with 24 pts., and 17 rebounds ( awesome stats ); Sydney Donaldson with 17 pts., and 5 assists; Scotty Hendricks with 14 pts., and 11 assists with Ali Sbai hitting 14 pts., too.
Rockets now travel today to Solent for the National Cup quarter final tipping at 3 Pm at the St Mary’s Centre.
Basketball Hotline 0118 926 3040
|18/11/2017||19:15||NBL Division 1||2017 / 2018|
|Clarence Wiggins Sports Centre|
|14 Bracknell Dr, Derby DE24 0BP, UK|