In a tight fought opening game away to newly promoted Westminster, Rockets missed opportunities in the last 21.6 seconds to secure victory as from a single point lead at 84-83 , Warriors drove to score and then hit a pair of free throws to win the game.
After Warriors opened the score returnee Ed Potter sent an assist to Bristol Flyers loanee Liam Davis to secure his first Rockets points with a slam dunk, something he repeated 3 times in the first quarter as he totalled 8 personal points. The titanic affair saw the teams level on 10 points each before Australian Ben Dixon sent a superb pass to Spaniard Pau Major to open his account and see Rockets 15-10 ahead. However a 13-4 run by Warriors had them go into the first break leading 23-19.
A Davis treble and hook reduced the deficit but Warriors replied with a treble. A technical foul called on Nick Richards appeared an officious action but Davis and Dixon scored to see Rockets down by just 32-33. A Matias Boho treble followed a pair of Warriors free throws to tie the game on 35. Potter took a charge to stop a Warriors score but they still extended their lead to 42-36 just 3 minutes before the interval. An exchange of trebles by both teams kept Rockets at bay before Major hit a treble quickly followed by a drive score to see Rockets trail 47-49 at the interval.
A Dixon drive score and great floor hustle upped the Rockets tempo at the start of the third quarter and soon saw the scores level on 51 and 53 but Richards was called for a second technical foul and had to leave the arena just under 4 minutes into this crucial period. Head Coach Alan Keane now had to give more court time o the inexperienced Academy guys and play the new signings more than he initially hoped. He needn’t have worried as Asher Ndah scored to see Rockets take a slender single point lead at 56-55 but a brace of Warriors trebles and a successful conversion of another free throw saw Rockets trail 58-64. With just over a minute of the quarter remaining. Up stepped James Jolly to hit a free throw and Davis hit 4 unanswered points including a buzzer beating spin score to see Rockets only 63-64 adrift as the final period beckoned.
The fast and sound offensive play by Rockets off Warriors early possession surprised Warriors who gave away 3 very quick fouls though they still managed to increase their lead to 70-65. Rockets needed some inspiration and the tenacious Potter fought hard in the key and received 3 assists to score 6 quick points coupled to an offensive rebound free throw . When Dixon made an interception to stop a certain Warriors score, the Rockets supporters and bench were encouraged and soon levelled the game on 72 , 75 and then 77 points with a little over 3 minutes on the clock. A Davis assist to Major saw Rockets edge ahead again 79-78 and keep that slender lead at 81-80 before a Warriors treble with 45.7 seconds gave them a 2 point advantage at 83-81. Coach Keane time out saw Boho fouled and he hit one from two from the line before another Dixon steal edged Rockets ahead 84-83 with 21.6 seconds left but Warriors were not to be denied a winning return to Div.1 as they hit the final 3 points to take the victory.
It had been a titanic battle from tip to buzzer and Rockets will be pleased to see the return of the 2 influential Academy players David Chive and Sam Grant together with the arrival of last season’s Player of the Year A J Carr as his visa has now arrived and he arrives mid-week.
Top scorers for Rockets were Liam Davis with 27 pts, Pau Major and Matias Boho Sayo with 14 pts each and Ed Potter with 12 pts.
|28/09/2019||17:30||NBL Div 1||2019 / 2020|
|Moberly Sports & Edcucation Centre|
|84 Kilburn Ln, London W10 4AH, UK|