Rockets face Liverpool and Birmingham in league and cup double header

Reading Rockets (4-1) will take their four game winning streak to the north of England this weekend when they take on Liverpool Basketball Club on Saturday evening (5pm tip-off) before travelling back to the Midlands to take on NBL Division Two outfit Team Birmingham Elite in the National Cup third round on Sunday afternoon, 4.20pm tip-off.

Rockets were victorious for the fourth time in succession last Sunday when they beat Barking Abbey by 99 points to 73 to move into second position in the NBL Division One table. This weekend’s league opponents Liverpool have had a positive start to life in Division One after promotion last term with two wins out of the first five games against Barking Abbey and Bradford Dragons. Sunday’s National Cup opponents have started 1-2 in Division Two with Team Birmingham most recently losing to former Division One champions Manchester Magic by 53 points to 67.

Rockets Head Coach Alan Keane was pleased with last Sunday’s win against Barking Abbey after a shaky start and is looking forward to this weekend’s match-ups despite potentially being short-handed in both games. The Reading play-caller said,

“We started the game against Barking pretty slowly but we didn’t press the panic button and we kept chipping away. Having been down by as many as 14 points in the game, we showed that our positivity and being the best we can in every moment really helped us to overcome some hurdles and record another win with a very pleasing second half performance, especially without AJ (Carr).”

“This weekend will be a really tough test. Liverpool have come into the league with some good talent on their roster as well as some real experience that this league requires. They have already recorded a couple of wins and making the long journey there is also something to factor in. We will be solely focused on this game first before moving on to Sunday’s cup game.”

“The game against Birmingham will also be a tricky test especially as we have to sit one of our two biggest influences so far this season in AJ Carr or Nick Richards. Birmingham will believe they can win the game especially with their style of basketball but for us it will be about taking one game at a time and being the best we can be during each game.”

Rockets go in to this weekend’s double header with American AJ Carr a major injury doubt for the two upcoming games. The 6’6 24 year old sat out of last Sunday’s win against Barking Abbey with a hamstring injury and it is still uncertain whether he will be able to play any part this weekend. That, coupled with the Berkshire outfit only being able to play one American player in the National Cup game against Team Birmingham due to the Basketball England rules of only playing one import player against lower league opposition, means that Coach Keane may not have a full squad to choose from for both games.

The Reading outfit will be hoping to go better in the National Cup this season after losing to Manchester Magic 76-60 in the third round last season with the potential of a fourth round tie and a six game winning streak available to Coach Keane’s men at the end of the weekend.

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