Rockets get off the mark and prepare for first league outing against NBL Division One new boys

Reading Rockets (1-1) recorded their first victory of the 2017-18 campaign last weekend when they defeated Worthing Thunder (0-2) by 80 points to 61 to send them into their first league outing on a winning note. The Berkshire outfit will make the long trip to Newcastle on Sunday afternoon (4pm tip-off) to take on the league’s newest outfit in Team Newcastle University (1-1). The north east organisation were promoted as play-off champions from Division Two last term and joined league victors Kent Crusaders in England’s top tier this season. They have started life splitting their opening two games having won on the road at Bradford Dragons by 73 points to 70 before coming unstuck against Division One holders Team Northumbria going down 66-82 and having the same record as their visitors on Sunday.

Having watched his team come from 16 points down last weekend, Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés believes his team showed a lot of resilience during last Saturday’s victory but knows there is a vast amount of improvement needed if his team are to challenge for honours this term. In preparation for Rockets’ first league game of the campaign the Rockets play-caller said,

We had a difficult start to the game against Worthing but the team showed great character to come back into the game before the half time break and then press on and really show the quality that we have. Our task is to keep being better each time we are together as well as respect and compete in everything that we are doing. We believe in the squad we have but know that for us to compete with the very best in this league we need to work harder and better.
Sunday’s game against Newcastle will be an interesting one for us. They did very well in Division Two last year and come to Division One with an excellent coach and programme whilst full of confidence. We expect a tough test but one that we will need to embrace and prepare for really well so we can try and set the tone for how we want our season to be. I am expecting a great week of preparation and for us to be ready to compete at 4pm on Sunday!

Rockets go into Sunday’s first NBL Division One game with no injury concerns. Captain Danny Carter picked up a slight knock in Saturday’s win over Worthing but will almost certainly feature during Sunday’s match-up. Last weekend’s only absentee was Under 18 point guard Iñigo Perez Baena who was ruled out with a dead leg but he also looks set to return to the fold in time for this weekend. The Reading team will be hoping to start the league season better than last time out when they lost three of their opening four games before going on a 19 game winning streak and the challenge for Coach Peña Garcés’ team will be to try to keep up the pace at the right end of the table where the Rockets have been for many seasons.

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Feature image courtesy: Mirror Box Studios