Reading Rockets (10-3) will be looking to record their tenth straight league victory this Sunday when they take on Essex Leopards (5-9) at Rivermead Leisure Complex, 5pm tip-off. Rockets recorded win number nine in succession last Saturday evening when they won on the road against the then third placed team Derby Trailblazers, coming away from the East Midlands with a 93-75 victory to lift themselves into third position, hot on the heels on Manchester Magic and Team Northumbria at the top of the NBL Division One table. The Berkshire outfit could make in ten wins on a row on Sunday against a team they have already beaten this season 90-73 at the Brentwood Centre back in November but will be mindful of the Leopards’ recent success in the BBL Trophy as they knocked Manchester Giants out of the competition in the first round with a huge upset, defeating the BBL Championship side 86-84 before eventually losing to Plymouth Raiders last weekend.
Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés remains very proud of his players during this period, especially with a slightly depleted squad but knows adding to this as well as working to improve areas of the game needed to maintain a championship run are crucial at this time of the season. Speaking after Saturday’s win against rivals Derby and in preparation for the visit of Essex Leopards, the Spanish play-caller said,
“Derby is a very difficult place to go and win so I think this victory was a really good one for us, not only to be able to do so against a rival away from home, but also to take the head to head over a team that I’m sure will be in and around the top four at the end of the season – that is of course the place we are hoping to be too! Our behaviours and in turn our performances have been improving week by week and this has helped the results to be positive for us. We are still a little thin on the ground and this is something we are looking to rectify before next week’s deadline as well as work on improving the areas that are key to make us even better and very difficult to beat. It is a good moment for us but we know so much more hard work is needed for us to achieve anything and this is our focus right now.”
“The visit of Essex is always a really tough game; the last couple of years have been really competitive with them and they have won some critical games against us so we will be looking at this game as a crucial one and preparing accordingly in order to keep our run going and negate what they throw at us because I know Coach Steve (Ogunjimi, Essex Leopards Head Coach) will have them ready to battle!”
Rockets go into Sunday’s match-up with no new injury concerns but English shooting guard Joel Keeble is still two weeks or so from a return to action and looks set to miss his fourth game in a row this weekend. American forward Chris Hooper was back in action last weekend and posted 22 points and 16 rebounds and showed no ill effects of a back injury that kept him on the sidelines the week before. Under 18 Fidel Gomez de Enterria Lopez was the only casualty on Saturday as an ankle injury sustained in an earlier Under 18 game ruled him out but he should return to action for both teams ahead of this weekend’s round of games.
It could be ten straight wins for the Rockets if they overcome Sunday’s opposition as Coach Manuel Peña Garcés’ men continue their march to the top of the NBL Division One table and look to finally regain some silverware after a two year absence. To keep up to date with all the latest news heading into Sunday’s game against Essex Leopards, visit www.readingrockets.co.uk and on Twitter @rocketsreading.