|Team Solent Kestrels||93||Win|
In their first competitive game of the new season, Rockets came up against a well drilled and talented Kestrels buoyed with victory against Worthing Thunder last week and already showing why they are one of the fancied league title contenders though this was a National Trophy pool game. The game was very close until towards the end of the third quarter when Kestrels had a 9-1 run opening a gap Rockets just couldn’t breach in the final period.
Rivermead was packed to the rafters for this encounter against the side who knocked them out of the Championship Play-offs last season, and what a superb game it was with quality offensive basketball from the tip. The Aussie Declan Soukup was the first to trouble the scorers for Rockets before American Tim Gill added to Rockets score with a hook shot. New American point guard Scotty Hendricks stroked a treble and captain Danny Carter made an arrow pass for Sydney Donaldson to open his personal Rockets account. With both teams on 23 a piece in the last minute of the first period, Solent hit their second treble but an excellent steal and score by Hendricks kept the crowd on its toes at 25-28.
Rockets were in regular trouble with the referees as Solent capitalised on going to the free throw line 25 times before the interval compared with Rockets total of just 8. It was just this situation that saw Solent open up a quick 8 point advantage within a minute of quarter two starting, coupled to another awesome treble from Scarlett for the visitors. But Rockets dug deep and Lithuanian Simas Raupys hit a fine treble quickly followed by a ‘down town’ treble from Donaldson. Jonny Foulds was secure from the penalty stripe and then took the first of two charges before Hendricks scored and Rockets took the lead at 39-38 which they increased to 43-40 into the last minute before the break. However a rebound score and a buzzer beating treble by Solent saw them go the locker room with a 45-43 lead.
A base line drive by Donaldson and an offensive rebound score by Gill edged Rockets ahead though this was very much a nip and tuck affair with neither team allowed to get far ahead, both knowing each other’s ability. Yet another base line score by Donaldson saw Rockets in contention with just over three minutes of the quarter remaining but he was called for his fourth personal foul so was side-lined as Solent hit a purple patch taking them to an eleven point lead at 56-67 before Raupys and Ali Sbai scored giving the score-line a 60-67 situation as the final period beckoned.
Though Raupys hit a treble, Solent hit a pair of them and extended their lead. With Donaldson fouled out and with a sound advantage, Solent saw out the game despite Soukup hitting a pair of trebles as Solent stroked two of their own in the final moments securing the win at 93-78. This had proved a tough opener against last year’s Championship Play-off runners up but much to encourage the packed spectators at Rivermead as well as much to work on for Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces.
Top scorers for Rockets were Sydney Donaldson with 17 pts., Declan Soukup with 15 pts and Scotty Hendricks with 14 pts. though Simas Raupys, and Jonny Foulds also hit 12 and 10 pts., respectively.
|24/09/2017||17:00||National Trophy||2017 / 2018|
|24 Richfield Ave, Reading, Reading RG1, UK|