Despite being without Assistant Head Coach Alan Keane away on G B Commonwealth coaching duties and captain Danny Carter, imminent birth of first child, coupled to both Academy players who had a key double header weekend, the 8 travelling players put on a brilliant display as each one contributed to the crucial victory which means Rockets retain third position in the league and home advantage in the Playoff Championship in 2 weeks time.
With Ali Sbai having his most complete game of the season coupled to the mercurial Scotty Hendricks still on fire (32 points today to add to his 27 and 27 of the previous 2 games), the writing was on the wall from tip. Tim Gill opened Rockets scoring with a fine spin score before Hendricks made the first of his four steals to lay up. Rockets had got the 6.5 hour journey out of their legs but Northumbria took the lead with a 6-0 run which was their biggest scoring run and part of the total time of 29 seconds that they held the lead throughout the game, such was Rockets determination to secure that third place. Sydney Donaldson stroked a treble and drove to score before Jonny Foulds took a charge and the proud Rockets stood upright and made a statement, we haven’t come this 620 mile trip to go away without the win.
The 33-27 first quarter became a tighter affair in the second period as Northumbria took it 24-19 though Rockets held a double digit advantage early on. Northumbria’s American Blayne Freckleton led all scorers with 19 pts at the interval including three trebles. Ed Potter had seven personal points in this quarter and Declan Soukup made assists all around the court on his way to an unusual double double of 15 assists and 10 rebounds. Sbai had the first of his successful drive scores but Rockets had the narrowest of leads at 52-51 at the mid way break.
Northumbria scored a pair of open shots and then Tim Gill showed his breadth of skills as he stroked a treble from the top of the key and the scores were level on 55. Northumbria scored first to take the lead for only the second time in the game…..and that was soon quashed by three trebles from Foulds, Hendricks and Foulds again. Northumbria found themselves mostly down by double digits as Rockets controlled the game for most of the remainder to finish with a 55-36 run. Sbai was driving, spinning, scoring with floaters and taking down key rebounds, giving him increased confidence. Hendricks drained thirteen points in this quarter alone and a 34-22 period fairly reflected Rockets strong team work as the quarter finished 86-73.
Great inter passing was a delight for the many travelling Rockets supporters but a fifth personal foul by Foulds saw him play no further part whilst Donaldson, Potter, Soukup and Sbai were just one foul away from also leaving the court. Their professionalism saw them through to the end with Sbai hitting a season high 11 points in this period alone as Hendricks surpassed his recent scores of 27 on consecutive games to hit a new high with 32 points. What form is this American shooting yard on !!……and at exactly the right time for Head Coach Manuel Pena Garces and the fast approaching end of the season championship.
The 110-91 was a just score line in this crucial game which sees Rockets doing the double over their northern rivals securing third place in the league with the victory.
Top scorers for Rockets were Scotty Hendricks with 32 pts., 8 assists and 4 steals; Sydney Donaldson with 22 pts., 7 rebounds and 3 steals: Ali Sbai with 22 pts. and 4 rebounds with Tim Gill having his customary double double of 15 pts., and 14 rebounds.
Rockets now travel across to Bury for their final game of the league season this afternoon (Sunday).
|24/03/2018||16:00||NBL Division 1||2017 / 2018|
|52 Northumberland Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear NE1 8SG, UK|