Rockets’ winning streak put to test this weekend with tough double header

Reading Rockets’ (12-3) eleven game winning streak will be put to the test this weekend as they travel south on Saturday evening to take on in-form Team Solent Kestrels (10-6) (7pm tip-off) before returning home to their second venue Bohunt School to host the Bradford Dragons (10-8) on Sunday afternoon, 5pm tip-off. Rockets comfortably overcame the league’s basement team Westminster Warriors (0-15) last weekend as they ran out winners 79-55 whilst Saturday’s opponents Team Solent Kestrels secured a double winning weekend of their own, defeating Derby Trailblazers by 86 points to 81 on the road before beating Bradford Dragons the following day, 83-74 at Fleming Park. The Dragons did however pick up a win last Saturday as they beat Worthing Thunder 88-78 away from home in what is looking to be a great finish to the NBL Division One season. The Berkshire outfit has already defeated Saturday’s opposition twice this season in the National Trophy (79-65) and in the league (101-79) but the Kestrels have reached the National Cup final since and won their last four games. Rockets have lost to Sunday’s visitors to Reading by 102 points to 96 back in November in Bradford and will be looking to overturn one of only three defeats in the league this season.

In speaking after last Saturday’s win against Westminster and ahead of this weekend’s double header, Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés knows his team must perform better after a somewhat sluggish performance but believes the group is capable of keeping their run going against two highly competitive teams in Division One. He said,

“It was important not to slip up against Westminster and we are pleased that we didn’t do that and came out with a comfortable win but the performance was not what we were looking for and we need to address that this week. I think we have been playing at a very good level in recent weeks but this was a bit sloppy from us and whilst I can understand the type of mindset we had, this needs to be better in time for what is a really difficult weekend coming up for us.”

“Team Solent are on a good run at the moment and have brought in a new American player since our last meeting and having been in the National Cup final as well as winning the last four games, they will fancy their chances against us being at home too. Coach Matt (Guymon, Team Solent Kestrels Head Coach) has assembled a good unit now and has got them playing some good basketball so I expect this to be a different kind of challenge and one that requires excellent preparation and application during the game.”

“We then return to Reading on Sunday to take on a well-coached Bradford Dragons. Coach Chris (Mellor, Bradford Dragons Head Coach) has done a great job with his team and really uses the personnel he has to the maximum and having beat us in Bradford last time we played, I’m sure he and his team will believe they can do the same this time around.”

“But this is not what we can worry about, what the other team is thinking, how they will approach the game etc. What we need to be concerning ourselves with is how we play, improving our performance from last week, preparing one game at a time, and executing our game plan with discipline and I think if we do that we have a very good chance of keeping our run going but we know it is going to be difficult!”

Rockets go into this weekend’s double header unable to add to their squad at the close of the transfer window. The Berkshire outfit were not able to make any late signings but will rely on the great form shown by the team’s senior players and be very encouraged by the productivity of their academy personnel heading into the final eleven games of the regular season. Coach Manuel Peña Garcés was not too concerned about this but he will once again be without the services of shooting guard Joel Keeble who remains sidelined after surgery on a wrist injury. That should be the Spaniard’s only absentee as he looks once again to the form of American’s Chris Hooper and Craig Ponder who are the team’s leading scorers and club Captain Danny Carter who put in a near triple-double performance last time out with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 9 assists as the Englishman looks to help his team keep up the pressure on Manchester Magic and Team Northumbria at the top of the NBL Division One table.

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