|Team Solent Kestrels||87||Win|
Having a narrow lead going into the final period just wasn’t enough for Rockets in this Championship Play-off quarter final at Rivermead as the south coast visitors blitzed the quarter by 31-11 to secure a semi-final spot away to Manchester Magic. The season ending injuries to four of Rockets players has made the last 3 weeks a very tough time for Rockets and in the end being so undermanned Rockets were caught out though third in the league and a Play-off spot are achievements in themselves.
Captain Danny Crater hit the first pair of points from the free throw line before Chris Hooper made his trademark spin to add to Rockets early tally. When Carter sent a dish pass to Ali Sbai to sink a wide treble and Craig Ponder drove to score Rockets enjoyed a 13-8 advantage. However Kestrels finished with a 14-4 run to edge ahead 22-17. Despite a Ponder treble and a Fidel Gomez finish Rockets soon trailed by ten points at 24-34. Six form six from the penalty stripe by Ponder kept Rockets in touch and the first of Juan Valerio’s three trebles coupled to a hook shot from Carter saw Rockets close to 39-43 at the break.
Dance troupe Messy Jam entertained the supporters during the interval as Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces prepared his troops for the third quarter. A Sbai treble launched Rockets attack with Valerio edging the Berkshire outfit ahead by two. However a pair of quick fouls called on Hooper saw the threat to Kestrels basket be reduced as Hooper was forced to sit out. Nonetheless the Rockets players fought tenaciously and ties the game on 56 points before scoring the last four points of the period to l 60-56 going into the deciding quarter having taken the period 21-13.
Kestrels were on fire as Rockets wavered leaving Rockets 67-77 down with just over three minutes remaining. Kestrels run continued to 21-7 as Rockets couldn’t buy a basket. Desperately trying to regain possession Rockets fouled Kestrels but the south coast team took the final period 31-11 to deservedly progress to the semi-final stage with a 87-71 win.
Six of Kestrels players scored ten or more points with Rockets only playing seven players. Kestrels outrebounded Rockets by 44/30 and had a 62% success rate from the 2 point range compared to Rockets 48 %.
Top scorers for Rockets were Craig Ponder with 22 pts., Chris Hooper with 15 pts., Juan Valerio and Ali Sbai with 9 each and Danny Carter with 8 pts.
|02/04/2017||17:00||NBL Division 1||2016 / 2017|
|24 Richfield Ave, Reading, Reading RG1, UK|