In a pulsating game worthy of the fight for Play-off home advantage, Rockets took a major step to secure that with a fine team win against a very talented northern side who have their eyes firmly on seeking consecutive league titles.
A 27-15 opening quarter in Rockets favour was responded to with a 15-12 Northumbria second quarter leaving the game tantalising close at the interval with the defending champions nosing ahead 40-39. Sydney Donaldson opened Rockets account but a 6-0 N’bria run showed all the spectators in the Bohunt School arena that neither side wanted to let the other get the upper hand for long. The games’ MVP Declan Soukup began his outstanding performance by draining a treble before dishing assists to Ali Sbai who stroked a brace of trebles in a 25-9 run to take the quarter and give N’bria’s Head Coach, Marc Steutel food for thought.
Steutel did so in the 2 minute break and N’bria went on a 5-0 run followed by a 10-0 run to tie the scores on 34. Danny Carter was prominent whilst Tim Gill had to spend time on the bench having fallen foul of the officials three times early in the game. As he was secure form the free throw line, scored with a left handed hook shot, spun for another score before falling hard on the court as he fought for a defensive rebound. A short time on the physio’s couch had him returning to the fray and giving an assist to Donaldson. An exchange of trebles form Rockets Scotty Hendricks and ex Rocket Lewis Champion meant Rockets trailed by a single point 39-40 at the interval as N’bria responded with a 25-12 quarter.
The game was well poised but only N’bria had any player ( two ) in double figures at the break and had enjoyed 11 form 18 points form the free throw line compared to Rockets 3 from 4. Soukup lit up Rockets offence as he dished to Donaldson to hit a treble and then to Gill to score inside. With Hendricks hitting 2 from 3 penalty shots and Sbai again stroking a treble, Rockets Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces had clearly garnered his team to up the tempo and find that free player. Carter scored and sent an assist to Soukup to edge Rockets ahead 52-47 but after a few exchanges a N’bria treble tied the scores on 54. N’bria hit another treble but Sbai drained one to tie the scores again on 57. The indestructible Donaldson drove, was fouled but hit the pair of free throws before Sbai gave Ed Potter an easy finish as Rockets led into the final stanza 62-59.
Having defeated another top team in Manchester Magic last week, the Rockets supporters dared to dream they could take a victory here as Soukup found an open Hendricks to extend Rockets lead to six with the first score of quarter four. The game was at fever pitch with Donaldson again and again throwing himself on the floor to fight for possession for Rockets and bringing Rockets supporters to their feet in admiration. N’bria scored form the free throw line but Rockets kept a 5, 6 and 7 point advantage as the clock headed to the end game scenario. How appropriate that Soukup should be the one to stroke a crucial treble and open up a double digit Rockets lead with just three minutes remaining. N’bria threw up the trebles but to little avail and when the visionary Soukup sent a cross court pass to Hendricks to drain another treble the advantage was twelve points which Rockets remained firm to take a well earned victory and set them up for another mighty challenge next weekend when they take on title favourites L’boro Student Riders.
This was a further improved team performance as six Rockets players finished up with double digit scores led by Declan Soukup with 16 pts., 10 rebounds and 8 assists. Scotty Hendricks had 15 pts., with both Danny Carter and Ali Sbai hitting 13 pts., apiece….Carter taking down 8 rebounds and giving 4 assists as returns to his best and his role as captain whilst Sydney Donaldson had 11 pts., and Tim Gill 10 pts.
|17/02/2018||17:00||NBL Division 1||2017 / 2018|
|Sheerlands Rd, Wokingham RG40, UK|