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Rockets looking to bounce back from double defeat with Friday night game against rivals Essex Leopards

Reading Rockets (1-3) will be looking to return to winning ways on Friday night when they travel to the Brentwood Centre to take on the Essex Leopards (0-4) in both teams’ fifth NBL Division One game of the campaign (7.30pm tip-off). Rockets endured a tough trip to the north last weekend as they came away emptied handed losing out to a high-flying Team Northumbria side by 86 points to 75 before a narrow 102-96 defeat at the hands of the league’s leading scorers Bradford Dragons to leave the Berkshire outfit with only one win from their opening four games and all to do heading into Friday’s crucial game against Essex Leopards. The Reading team have once been in this position before under former head coach Samit Nuruzade when they lost three of their first four games but that season they went on to win the play-off championship, a feat the club will be looking to work towards this season with the National Cup also still within their reach also as they take on Kent Crusaders at the quarter final stage on Sunday 20th November.

Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés was in quite a reflective mood after this weekend’s two losses but knows it is a long season ahead for him and his group and believes his side is not far off turning the competitive performances he has seen into wins. The Spaniard said,

This weekend was really difficult in terms of results. Our performances against both teams were not where we would like them to be and we have a lot of work to do to try and turn those performances into more consistent ones and then wins, however what is positive for us is we are competing and are not far off two very good opponents with the young roster we have. At this point it is important to reflect where we are and what we need to do to progress as a group and this journey will be different to maybe ones we have been on before with a lot of building and hard work needed for us to be in and amongst the best teams in the division.
And honestly that starts again this week in practice and as we prepare to play Essex on Friday night. It is a big game for both teams as Essex is yet to record a win in the league but has a roster full of talent and can pose so many dangers if they are allowed to play their game. We know this from past games against them but we also know their personnel very well having had two really talented players in David Ajumobi and Wayne Yeboah with us last year so we are expecting a tough game but one we must believe we can compete in and win.”
At this stage I feel calm and objective, and I am really excited with the challenge that lies ahead because I think it will be one that has more satisfaction than winning and once we get it right I believe we will be in for a great time together. Practice by practice, game by game is the approach with hard work, honesty, and commitment to the project key for our success this year.

Rockets go into their first Friday night game of the season with no new injury concerns and with the bonus of two solid performances from academy point guard Ganesh Bikram Rana who has stepped up to the Division One set-up having been with the Berkshire outfit for four years. The 18 year old has been on the fringes of the team over the last year and was finally given his chance during last weekend’s trip to the north. Rana, who links up with his fellow academy teammates Ali Sbai, Ibu Jassey Demba, and Fidel Gomez De Enterria Lopez will be looking to continue to make an impact in the senior programme as the Rockets look to build on their National Cup run at the same time as avoiding the unwanted statistic of their worst start to a NBL Division One campaign when they visit winless Essex Leopards in what is already a crucial game at this early stage of the season.

The Rockets WNBL Division One Women also return to league action this weekend after only their second loss of the season last weekend against league leaders Charnwood College Riders (79-50) as they make the long journey to Lancashire to take on the Spinners against a team they have already beaten this term 64-46 back in October as they look to build on their third place in the division and keep in touch with the top two teams in the league.

To keep up to date with all the latest news and information within the club visit www.readingrockets.co.uk <http://www.readingrockets.co.uk> and to keep in touch will the latest scores and updates throughout the week and weekend follow the club on Twitter @rocketsreading.