Rockets extended their winning run in a titanic affair in the Docklands this afternoon with the game precariously perched at 73 -71 in Rockets favour with just over 5 minutes remaining but a 13-2 final push including three trebles, a steal and 2 stops saw them go into the last 2 weekends of the league season tied at the top with Team Northumbria and vying with both them and Manchester for the title. AND what an 8 days that’s going to be as Rockets take on Northumbria on Saturday, then play Loughborough on Sunday at Rivermead before a trip north to Manchester for the last league game..some run in !!
After a blistering start from Lituanica including four trebles, Rockets hit back through Chris Hooper with a couple of inside scores before he dished a pass to Craig Ponder to score beyond the arc which Ponder quickly followed with a pull up treble and eased Rockets ahead by 25-14. However the talented and tough Lithuanians finished with a 8-2 run to cut the deficit at the first break to 27-22. Hooper and Ponder had contributed 20 of these points.
Captain Danny Carter hit the first of his five trebles to start the second period but a 7-2 run by the Londoners brought the scores level on 29 each. Paulin Jardim edged Rockets ahead but sharp shooting Lituanica hit a treble to lead for the one and only time at 32-31. Jardim drove to the basket and gave an assist to Hooper sandwiched between a Ponder treble and a Carter assist to Juan Valerio to stroke the first of his three trebles. A big Jardim rejection brought the Rockets bench to their feet and soon the interval appeared with Rockets enjoying a 50-41 advantage.
Ali Sbai made a great steal to stop Lituanica as they tried to score from their first possession. He was soon rewarded as Hooper sent Sbai a fine pass for him to hit a treble. Rockets were called for an unsportsmanlike foul which enraged the travelling Rockets supporters but Carter rose high and strong to stop another Lituanica attack. He mirrored this action moments later before Valerio found Carter out wide and the 6’9″ forward sank another treble to open up a double digit Rockets lead at 60-50. Yet again back came Lituanica who just wouldn’t lie down and came close at 61-58 before Ponder scored with a big treble and Crater made a crucial stop taking Rockets to the final quarter 64-58 ahead. This period had been dominated by good defence from both teams as reflected in the quarter 14-17 score.
Ponder drove, scored, was fouled and hit the bonus point before Hooper made a big block. When Jardim was secure from the free throw line and Ponder sent an exquisite bounce pass to Hooper to lay -up Rockets had opened up another double digit lead at 71-60. But still Lituanica hit back with a 8-0 run adding pressure to this young Rockets team as their lead was just 3 points.
Though Ponder scored a pair from the penalty stripe Lituanica hit a treble to reduce Rockets lead to just 2 points with over five minutes to go at73-71. Would Rockets winning streak come to an end adjacent to City Airport ? Captain Carter takes a dish from Ponder and hits a crucial treble before repeating the shot moments later. Valerio received an assist from Ponder to hit a trademark treble and suddenly the pressure was much less with Rockets having an eleven point lead with just over two minutes remaining. Excellent defence in the end game saw Rockets to victory number nineteen on the trot and sets up a great title chase for them against their other two title contenders over the last 8 days of the league season.
Make sure you’re at Rivermead for a double header home weekend beginning with the game against the team who have led the league all season, Team Northumbria. Tip on Saturday is at 6 pm.
Top scorers for Rockets were Craig Ponder with 30 points ( giving him a weekend tally of 66 pts. ), Chris Hooper with 19 points and Danny Carter with 17 points but again this was an excellent team effort and a really tough encounter setting them up for the crucial game on Saturday which Rockets has to win to have any chance of taking the league title.
|12/03/2017||13:30||NBL Division 1||2016 / 2017|
|UEL Sports Dock|
|West Building, 6 University Way, London E16 2RD, UK|