After a 300 mile round trip on Saturday coupled to a late return in the early hours of Sunday morning AND the absence of effectively 3 Senior players, Rockets just didn’t have the strength in depth. Their energy levels and inexperience with 6 Academy players in the 10 players that took to the court, did their utmost to take the victory against second placed Thunder, but experience won the game.
A tight opening quarter saw both teams size each other up and unable to be separated at the first break at 24 each as three players from each team stroked trebles. The competitiveness and importance of the game saw both teams giving each other much respect and for the first time in Rockets history, the game was officiated by two female referees. A 6-2 quarter finish saw Thunder go the locker room 45-40 ahead at the interval.
The third period was again very tight as the lead was swapped with almost each offence but a wide treble from Thunder in the final seconds saw them sneak a 4 point advantage 63-59 as the final quarter beckoned. This was to be a disappointing period for Rockets as both Americans had worked themselves almost to a standstill over 24 hours at both ends of the court. The mercurial 16 yo Academy student David Chive and his 18 yo fellow student Arinze Emeka-Anyakwo had spent 32 and 33 minutes each on court in a titanic affair bringing them 10 pts, 6 rebounds and 3 assists and 9 pts and 3 rebounds respectively, as key contributors. Both guys have much opportunity ahead and Rockets has a healthy future. But Thunder’s experienced and seasoned campaigners kept Rockets to just 8 points in the fourth quarter as they hit 21 to see the final margin of victory as 84-67.
The packed Rivermead had witnessed a great battle and Rockets now look forward to a National Trophy semi-final in 2 weeks’ time when it’s hoped both O’Sullivans will be back in action from ankle ( Adrian ) and hand ( Ronan )injuries and captain Danny Carter having rested his back . The other Rockets top scorers were A J Carr with another double double of 21 pts and 10 rebounds complimented by 6 assists whilst Trae Pemberton had 14 pts and 4 rebounds. Sydney Donaldson took down 9 rebounds to add to his 7 points.
Look on Rockets website social media for confirmation of the date and venue for the semi-final as Rivermead is booked.
|13/01/2019||17:00||NBL Division 1||2018 / 2019|
|24 Richfield Ave, Reading, Reading RG1, UK|