American shooting guard Scotty Hendricks personified everything that represents Rockets….sheer effort, heart and determination against all the odds, in this Play-off Championship semi final by insisting on playing having broken his hand just 6 days before. He had to remove both casts before the game started leaving just heavy tape supporting the fracture as the high scoring guard in his best form of the season (as Rockets had won ten games on the trot thanks much to Scotty’s outstanding shooting), knew he could contribute defensively even if not offensively and was determined to do his best to try and secure silverware for Rockets this season. He played twelve of the first twenty minutes till the interval, clearly in pain, and nearly all with his left hand, and right up until the last three minutes before the break ( when he was resting on the bench ), Rockets were within a single point of Storm at 41-42. However a 9-0 Storm run saw Rockets trail by double digits at 41-51 at half time, something from which they just couldn’t recover as sharp shooting Storm just had too much in depth to lose such an advantage.
Sydney Donaldson had an awesome opening quarter as he scored eleven personal points and drew fouls as he drove courageously to the basket. With Rockets two big guys Danny Carter and Tim Gill working hard and keeping them close to Storm, a high scoring first period saw Rockets trail by five at 27-32. Everyone in the packed arena knew this pace just couldn’t be kept up all game. Rockets tally man, Declan Soukup hit a brace of trebles and orchestrated Rockets offensives though the ball did everything but fall Rockets way as it rimmed around or came back of the ring whilst Storm were most effective here. The 41- 51 interval couldn’t come quick enough for the Rockets coaching team, though Hendricks knew his game was effectively done though he did play for three more minutes in the remainder of the game.
Gill scored with a hook shot to reduce Rockets deficit at the start of the third quarter and Ed Potter finished well. When Soukup made a magnificent strip as Storm were about to score, everyone was aware that despite the hand Rockets had been dealt for this semi -final, they were determined to give it their best. Unfortunately when 6’8”Gill was being policed tightly, he turned and pushed Storm’s David Ajumobi ( an ex-Rockets ) in the face and was immediately ejected from the arena, making Rockets goal of reaching the final even tougher. A 27-16 third period saw Storm 78-57 ahead as the final stanza began but under captain Danny Carter, he ensured Rockets played to their utter best representing Rockets and all the travelling supporters, keeping heads high and still playing to win.
Three trebles in the early part of the fourth period by Storm including one on the buzzer gave Storm an unassailable lead though Ali Sbai flew through the air to make a huge rejection and Charles Asquith Davis came off the bench to hit a treble. Jonny Foulds hit a pair of them too as Rockets stalwarts Carter, Donaldson and Soukup were brought off to standing ovations from the Rockets fans who recognised this was just a challenge too great without both Americans.
A season that saw Rockets finish third and into the Play-off championship semi- final looked impossible at Christmas but they showed class and determination and, if not for that broken hand, who knows what may have happened.
Top scorers for Rockets were Danny Carter with 17 pts.,8 rebounds and 2 assists with Sydney Donaldson having 14 pts.,, taking down 4 rebounds and having 4 assists and Tim Gill 12 pts. Declan Soukup has 7 assists to add to his 9 pts.
|14/04/2018||19:00||NBL Division 1||2017 / 2018|
|Heath Ln, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire HP1, UK|