Tag: #2017-2018

Rockets tip-off season with National Trophy double-header

Reading Rockets will start the 2017-2018 season with a double header weekend as they travel to Barking on Saturday afternoon to take on NBL Division One new-boys Kent Crusaders (4pm tip-off) before hosting Team Solent Kestrels on Sunday afternoon in their first home game of the campaign, 5pm tip-off at Rivermead Leisure Complex. Both games are in the National Trophy Pool 3 with Worthing Thunder being the other team in the group whom the Berkshire outfit face the following weekend in a bid to progress to the knockout stages.

The Reading team concluded their pre-season games last week when they defeated Team USA Select by 65 points to 58 to win 3 out of 4 encounters ahead of their first competitive game. Since then, American Tim Gill has arrived and will have 2 weeks of training under his belt before tip-off time this Saturday and Australian guard Declan Soukup will link up with his teammates during the week. Rockets have also made what looks to be their final signing of closed season with the news that Lithuanian small forward Simas Raupys has joined the Berkshire outfit. The 6’5 23 year old is a former Lithuanian Under 19 representative and played in his home country last term before moving to Hertfordshire.

In speaking of his latest signing and ahead of this weekend’s games, Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés is happy to make one final addition to his squad and is really looking forward to getting the season off and running. Starting his fifth season as Rockets play-caller, the Spaniard said,

We have been looking to bring in one more player so to be able to have someone of Simas’ quality complete our roster is really pleasing and we are all excited to get started this weekend. Our pre-season has been positive up to now and our junior players have made an excellent impact whilst we have been waiting for 2-3 players to arrive so we feel in a good position going into the season but with a lot of work to do.
This weekend we play two good quality organisations. Kent did really well to bounce back to Division One last season and Coach Lloyd (Gardner) continues to do a great job at Barking Academy and with the Crusaders so we are expecting a tough opening test. Team Solent Kestrels defeated us in the play-off quarter finals last season and have once again composed a challenging roster. They did really well in their first season in Division One and I think will pose a threat again this year so for a first home game this should be a really good game to watch.

Both of this weekend’s oppositions have caused Rockets problems in the last couple of seasons with both teams defeating the Berkshire outfit at the play-off quarter-final stage. Team Solent Kestrels were victors in last year’s post season as they came away from Reading with an 87-71 win and Kent Crusaders, who beat the Rockets in last season’s National Cup quarter-finals 92-83 also defeated the Reading team in the 2014/2015 play-off quarter-final by 63 points to 61.

Rockets Captain Danny Carter is hungry to bring some silverware back to Reading and gave his thoughts on this weekend’s upcoming games as well as the season ahead. The 28 year old said,

I am excited for the new season start. We need to start how we intend to finish by being extremely competitive and outworking every team we play against. I am looking forward to taking on a newly promoted team when we travel to Kent before we host the team that ended our season last year in local rival Solent.

Follow the Rockets on social media; Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – @rocketsreading or check out the club’s website – www.readingrockets.co.uk

Rockets sign Australian Soukup as American Gill arrives in the UK

Reading Rockets have made their fifth new signing ahead of the 2017-2018 campaign by adding Australian native Declan Soukup to their squad. The 6’3 combo guard has just finished playing in his home country with Dandenong Rangers in the Australian SEABL and is due to fly to the UK later this week to meet up with his new teammates. Prior to this, the British passport holder played four years in the NCAA in Divisions One and Two for Bryant University and Assumption Greyhounds respectively before returning to his home country. He averaged 11 points and 3.3 assists per game in his final year of college and will really bolster the Rockets backcourt with his ability to play the point guard position and as an excellent shooter.

Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés is delighted to capture the signing of Soukup and feels the Australian will have an immediate impact on his team. The Spaniard said,

We are really pleased to bring in Declan to our team and feel he is an excellent fit to the squad we already have. He has a very versatile game and is in great shape having only just finished his season back in Australia. We have felt for a while we need to bolster and strengthen the group and by adding Declan to the mix we have taken a great step in doing so.

Rockets have also been buoyed by the news that American Tim Gill has finally got his visa sorted and will join his teammates early this week. Gill had been waiting for a number of weeks to secure his paperwork for his transfer to the UK and will finally be able to join the Berkshire outfit and make an impact.

The Reading team has had a full on pre-season with games against Team USA Select, Fyllingen, and Essex Leopards and have undertaken all three match-ups with only 4 senior players. Under 19 Alex Drincic has made a good start to life in Division One and he and the rest of the team have been well supported by Under 18s Iñigo Perez Baena and Adrian Nosa Castillo with Ali Sbai sustaining an early season ankle injury and Joel Keeble unavailable for the first few weeks. Rockets Chairman Gary Johnson is looking forward to seeing all the pieces of the puzzle finally coming together over the next week or so but may also be looking to add one more player to the mix. He said,

We have had a really good pre-season in terms of training and games and the guys that are in have done well so far. There is still a lot of work to do and that will be the challenge for the coaching staff over the next couple of weeks as the squad comes together and we possibly look to add one more player to the fold. Our focus has been to have a deeper squad than last season as well as maintaining our philosophy of promoting and developing young talent. We feel we have definitely taken some positive steps in this off-season and now we are looking forward to really competing and working hard during the season.

Rockets add two Brits to their roster

Reading Rockets are delighted to announce the signings of British pair Sydney Donaldson and Jonny Foulds to their roster for the 2017-2018 season. The pair recently put pen to paper and join up with new signings Tim Gill and Scotty Hendricks who in turn joined returnees Danny Carter, Joel Keeble, and Ali Sbai.

Sydney Donaldson is another player well known to the Rockets as the 6’3 guard was a prominent part of NBL Division One rivals Derby Trailblazers during the 2015-2016 season but also the son of a familiar figure to the Reading outfit Robert ‘Dip’ Donaldson who was a player-coach in the ’00’s at Coventry Crusaders. The 26 year old graduated from the College of Idaho of NAIA Division Two in 2015 averaging 15 points and 5 rebounds in his senior year and is a player the Rockets have admired for a couple of years. In speaking about his imminent arrival in Reading, Donaldson said,

I was very excited when I saw that Coach Manuel and Mr Johnson had reached out to me as I am well aware of the great history this club has. After learning more about the vision, I quickly realised that this was something I wanted to be a part of. I am very thankful for the opportunity and am looking forward to pursue all that’s in store for me in Reading.

Jonny Foulds has become the Rockets’ fourth new signing this term and is another player known to the Rockets having also played at Tees Valley Mohawks alongside American Scotty Hendricks. The 6’5 guard/forward spent three seasons with the North East outfit before suiting up for NBL Division Two champions Kent Crusaders last time out. The Englishman is currently studying for a Masters at the University of East London but is really looking forward to the opportunity of pulling on a Rockets jersey. He said,

I am excited for the upcoming season since signing with Reading Rockets. The club has a great coaching staff and an extremely supportive fan base. Having competed against them in previous seasons the professionalism of the club has always stood out to me and it’s exciting to be a part of the talented team we are going to have this season.

Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés is very pleased to be able to bring two quality English players to Reading and feels they can both make significant contributions this season. The Spanish play-caller said,

We are really excited about Sydney and Jonny going us. They are both exciting players and bring different things to the team as well as complement the squad we already have. I am looking forward to working with them both and I am sure their time in Reading will be a really positive one.

Rockets’ roster is almost complete for the 2017-2018 campaign but the Berkshire outfit will be looking to add at least one more player to the squad and further signings will be announced in due course.

Rockets sign American duo

Reading Rockets have made a double swoop with the signings of American duo Tim Gill and Jerrod ‘Scotty’ Hendricks. The pair put pen to paper last week to fill both of the Rockets import spots for the 2017-2018 campaign in place of last year’s club MVP Craig Ponder and league MVP runner-up Chris Hooper.

First to fill these positions is 6’9 Power Forward Tim Gill who will start his second year out of college having played in Spain’s EBA League last season for Baloncesto Naron since graduating from NCAA Division Two school Clarion University in 2016. The 23 year old has also played at NCAA Division One outfit Jacksonville Dolphins and prior to that attended Patrick Henry High School. Gill averaged 13 points and almost 11 rebounds last season and will really bolster the Rockets front court this term.

In speaking about his move to Reading Gill commented,

I have heard nothing but great things about the Reading Rockets and am eager to not only improve my game but also this program as a whole! I am really thankful for this opportunity!

Rockets’ second new signing of the 2017-2018 season is 5’9 Point Guard Jerrod ‘Scotty’ Hendricks. The well established 26 year old is an NCAA Division Two King University graduate but is well known to the Berkshire outfit having played in NBL Division One already for Tees Valley Mohawks where he averaged 18.5 points per game along with 3.4 assists and finished up as the league MVP runner-up in the 2015-2016 season. Last season, Hendricks played in Canada’s NBL for Orangeville A’s but wanted to return to England and is very excited about joining up with his new teammates at the Rockets. He said,

I’m excited about returning back to my favourite country England and the NBL Div. 1. Being able to be a part of such a winning organisation that is family oriented is a warm feeling. Day one of chasing a championship happens as soon as I step off the plane. We have a great coaching staff whom I’m excited to come and learn from

Rockets Chairman Gary Johnson is very pleased with his first acquisitions of the 2017-2018 campaign and commented,

We are delighted to have both Tim and Scotty with us and they provide our team with some much needed size and presence in the front court (in Tim) as well as an exciting, experienced point guard to run the team in Scotty. We are awaiting their arrival in England and we are sure they will be able to make significant contributions on and off the court.

Rockets will be announcing some further signings ahead of the 2017-2018 season in due course.
Follow the Rockets on social media; Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – @rocketsreading or check out the club’s website

Rockets retain important trio as Captain Carter returns for a sixth straight season

Reading Rockets have re-signed three players from last season’s squad in the shape of English shooters Ali Sbai and Joel Keeble as well as ever-present club captain Danny Carter.

Carter, 28, had no hesitation in putting pen to paper for his sixth successive season despite a heavier workload after his head of year promotion at the John Madejski Academy this term. The 6’9 forward is the longest serving player that has come through the club’s junior programme and four years in the United States at Stonybrook University, and the Windsor native is more motivated than ever to bring silverware back to his club. The Englishman was arguably one of the Rockets’ most productive players last season and has been working hard during the down months in the gym and on court. In speaking about his return to the Reading team, Carter said,

“ I am really happy to be back and more so I am looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead. As you get older you appreciate a lot more things around you and one of those things is your body! I have been working really hard in the gym and on the court because I know that to be the best player and leader I can be, this is a must if we as a team are to face the upcoming challenges with the ultimate goal of returning silverware to Reading.

Carter will be joined by sharp-shooter Joel Keeble who has been plagued by injury during the last two seasons but the 23 year old will be hoping his third term with the Berkshire outfit is a healthier one. The 6’6 guard sat out the majority of the second part of last season with a fractured wrist but looks set to be fully fit ahead of the 2017-18 campaign. In speaking ahead of his return from his hometown of Ipswich, Keeble said,

I am really looking forward to being back and actually playing and contributing this season. The last two seasons have been frustrating in terms of injury and performance but I am hoping I can repay the faith that’s been shown in me this season and contribute to the team in any way, shape, or form in our quest to bring some silverware back to Reading. I have been working in the off-season to be fit and ready and I can’t wait to get started.

Also returning from last year’s team is 19 year old guard/forward Ali Sbai. The Moroccan-born shooter played a significant part in Manuel Peña Garcés’ team last time out and was also one of the leading players for the John Madejski Academy in the Elite Academies Basketball League (EABL), guiding the team to their first ever play-off position. The 6’5 former academy player has signed his first contract with the Berkshire club and will be hoping to use his experience with the Great Britain Under 20’s squad to contribute again this year. He said,

I am really happy to be given the opportunity to come back and play this season after finishing in the academy and I will be doing everything I can to help the team win some silverware this year. I can’t wait until the season starts as I have missed playing competitively and I am looking forward to linking up with my new teammates.

Rockets will be announcing some exciting new signings in due course.