Rockets face crucial double header weekend in title race

Reading Rockets (18-3) will play their penultimate double header of the season this weekend as they entertain relegation threatened Worthing Thunder (6-16) on Saturday evening at their second home venue, Bohunt School (6pm tip-off), before travelling to the capital to take on play-off chasing London Lituanica (9-11) on Sunday afternoon at UEL Sports Dock (1.30pm tip-off). Rockets made it 17 wins on the spin to keep their title ambitions alive with a 95-75 away win at Lancashire Spinners with five games remaining in the regular season. Both of the Berkshire outfits upcoming opponents recorded victories last weekend as Worthing Thunder secured a crucial 67-60 victory against fourth placed Derby Trailblazers (13-7), whilst London Lituanica picked up their first win in five beating bottom of the table Westminster Warriors (1-19) 87-77 to leave the Lithuanian side in 9th place in the table just outside of the play-offs.

Saturday’s match-up with Worthing Thunder will be third meeting between the two teams this term with Thunder picking up an opening day 78-71 home win in the National Trophy before Rockets secured an 84-70 away league win back in December. The Reading team defeated Sunday’s opponents just two weeks ago in their only meeting of the season running out convincing winners by 105 points to 69 at Rivermead Leisure Complex.

Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés was pleased to see his team notch up another win and was especially satisfied with the 36-13 second quarter blitz against Lancashire but knows work at the defensive end needs to be done and appreciates that this week is a huge one for him and his team. He said,

“I am very happy after Saturday’s win because we had an improved performance and played an absolutely great quarter of basketball during the game. This is good for our momentum but we cannot be satisfied or at all complacent. We gave up 75 points and for me that is too much so this week we will need to address this and continue to work on the really good defence we played, especially in the second quarter of the game.”

“Both teams we play this weekend are still really fighting for different things in the league; Worthing to stay in the division and London Lituanica to get into the top eight and the play-offs and that’s what makes them both dangerous opponents in their own right. Worthing have just beaten Derby and held them to 60 points so they are in a good moment and will be desperate to beat us as always! Lituanica recorded their first win since the National Trophy final and are a very tough opponent at home – we have seen this with their victory over Northumbria in January so we know that, whilst we are on our run we and the team to beat, we have to put care and attention in to both games, one at a time, before thinking about next weekend.”

“I urge Rockets fans to keep their fantastic support with us as we keep working so so hard to achieve something really special this season. We must keep improving, thinking the right way, and believing!”

Rockets go into their penultimate double header weekend of the season with no further injury concerns than the ones they already have. Shooting guard Joel Keeble remains a long term absence for the Berkshire outfit whilst Under 18 Fidel Gomez De Enterria Lopez is still a few weeks away from competitive basketball with his ankle injury. Under 19 point guard Bikram Rana did make the journey to Lancashire but didn’t feature for Manuel Peña Garcés’ team but looks set to return to full action in time for Saturday’s game against Worthing Thunder. Ibu Jassey Demba suffered a knock during last Saturday’s win against Lancashire Spinners but has shown no ill affects since and will almost certainly feature. With five games remaining and an incredible 17 game winning streak, Rockets will look to keep this alive as well as their title ambitions with all to play for at the top of NBL Division One.

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