|Team Newcastle University||68||Loss|
After nearly 6 hours of travel Rockets arrived at the fabulous facility that is Sport Central where Rockets other league opponents Solent Kestrels and Team Northumbria were also playing on an adjacent court ( N’bria won by 2 in the last 4.6 secs ) . With an almost new team most of the Rockets players were experiencing their longest journey and a great arena.
Australian Declan Soukup opened Rockets account with a lay-up off a Scotty Hendricks assist before big man Tim Gill scored his first points from a Sydney Donaldson assist. Soukup took a charge, Gill spun to add to his tally and Ali Sbai found his rhythm with a brace of trebles as Rockets maintained their advantage throughout the opening quarter to lead 18-12 at the break.
Sbai scored with a drive and Academy graduate Alex Drincic scored with a fine base line drive but Newcastle had come into a purple patch and reduced the deficit to just 2 points causing Rockets Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces to call a time-out but Rockets still soon lost the lead at 24/25 . A Hendricks wide treble edged the visitors ahead and despite Newcastle levelling on 33 and 35 Rockets finished the period with Soukup stroking a shot, Simas Baupys taking a Gill assist and Donaldson finishing a fine drive with a finger roll ensuring Rockets took a 41-35 advantage to the locker room at the interval.
Soukup showed his class with some fine jump shots and Gill worked hard inside to open up a 14 point lead at 54-40. Newcastle banked a treble and came again but Donaldson took a brave charge as Rockets went into the final quarter still with a double digit lead at 59-49.
If Pena Garces was hoping for a straight forward final period, he was in for a shock as some poor finishing by Rockets and clinical finishing by Newcastle saw the game close to just a 2 point lead with 43 seconds left. Newcastle found themselves frequently at the free throw line and outrebounded Rockets for a few crucial minutes though Gill took down a key defensive rebound to stop a certain Newcastle score which would have seen Rockets lead reduced to just a single point within the final 2 minutes of play. Up stepped the confident guard Soukup to make a steal and hit both penalty shots but a missed shot by Rockets gave Newcastle more impetus in the final minute as they tried hard to take the win. Rockets stopped Newcastle’s possession and Hendricks was fouled and secure with a pair of free throws to see Rockets to their first league victory of the new season.
Still much work to do , said Pena Garces but to come this far and take the points is satisfying . He will see that development as Rockets head into a double header weekend in both the league and National Cup this weekend.
|08/10/2017||16:00||NBL Division 1||2017 / 2018|
|Radnor St, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8QD|