Tag: #2019-2020

Rockets looking to bounce back against Leopards

Reading Rockets (13-7) will be looking to bounce back from a pair of league defeats this weekend when they host a rejuvenated Essex and Herts Leopards (2-18) on Sunday afternoon, 5pm tip-off at Rivermead Leisure Complex. Rockets were humbled at home last weekend as they lost out to champions elect Team Solent Kestrels by 78 points to 110 as the league leaders made it 18 wins out of 18 games to put one hand on the NBL Division One trophy.

This weekend sees the Leopards come to the ‘Mead, fighting for their lives at the wrong end of the table but with some key additional personnel added since the last encounter between the two teams back in December when the Berkshire outfit recorded a 98-82 road win in the National Cup quarter-finals. Leopards added former BBL players Orlan Jackman and Elvisi Dusha to their roster as well as Lithuanian Osvaldas Gaizauskas before the 31st January deadline.

Rockets Head Coach Alan Keane is wary of the threat Essex imposes and knows his team needs to be better in the coming weeks as the season reaches it’s climax. The Reading play-caller said,

“Essex will be a much changed outfit to the team we have played twice already this year, three if you include a pre season game. We could also be described as much changed, which highlights to you the impact AJ Carr’s absence through a season ending injury has had on the team.

“Essex have done a great job supporting the team by signing three high calibre players, two of which have shined at the BBL level for the past few years. Based on resent performances by Essex, including running close to an upset over Hemel, we know we have our work cut out for us this coming weekend.”

“Regardless of results we are coming off a run of disappointing performances this side of Christmas and currently we are looking more from inside the camp to be better than focus too much on who we are playing. Whoever we play, we still need to defend the ball better, help each other better, rebound better, take better shots and not just the first one, communicate better and ultimately commit better to every action on court. We will know later in the week the injury outlook with a few guys carrying some injuries presently.”

Rockets go into Sunday’s game uncertain as to whether British Forward Ed Potter will be available for the Berkshire outfit. The 24 year old sat out of last Sunday’s loss to Team Solent with a knee complaint but it is unknown the length of time needed on the sideline so Potter will be a game time decision ahead of this weekend. Spanish duo Matias Boho and Pau Mayor came through their first game back together and look set to continue their return to fitness ahead of the visit of Essex.

Rockets will be hoping to come out of their mini slump with six games of the NBL Division One season remaining with only a couple of points separating the teams in third to seventh position and the fight for play-off positions intensifies.

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

Match Report – Reading Rockets v Team Solent Kestrels



Reading Rockets78Loss
Team Solent Kestrels110Win

Having lost to the league champions elect in the National Cup Final 4 weeks earlier, Rockets knew what a talented team would take to the Rivermead court, especially as since that date Kestrels had added another excellent recruit in the form of TrayVonn Wright to their roster. Could Rockets match their south coast rivals now they had both Spaniards returning to the court ?

Truth is that this Solent team is improving with and in each competition and having become the first team from Div.1 to secure a BBL Trophy Cup Final spot having overwhelmed Bristol Flyers at Southampton by 36 pts before losing by ten away, the Kestrels appear to be going from strength to strength with no team looking forward to meeting them in the Championship Play-offs next month.

Rockets opened the scoring as Pau Mayor finished with a floater though Solent his three consecutive goals to edge ahead. The outstanding Nick Richards drove for the first of his scores before Liam Davis struck Rockets first treble to regain the lead at 7-6 though that was the last time the Berkshire outfit led despite the valiant efforts of Richards who was the games’ top scorer with 27 points and a subsequent winner of the Nando’s Impact Player of the Game. The game was being played at a fast pace with clinical finishing from Solent who were between 55 and 72% across all scoring stats. Richards stroked a brace of trebles to keep Rockets in touch at the end of the first period though adrift 21-29 but then Kestrels had a 32-15 second quarter to go the locker room 61-36 ahead after commanding the boards and hitting three more trebles as they took control of the game.

Head Coach Alan Keane used the fifteen minute break to correct and re-direct his chargers with Leome Francis scoring six points and competing on the boards as the returning Spaniard Matias Boho stroked a treble but Solent again took the quarter 26-16 with a buzzer beating treble to lead 87-52.

In line with Rockets mantra of giving the young academy guys plenty of court time, it was good to see them contributing with scores and assists against such quality opposition . Rockets scored 50% of their points in the final period moving from 52 to 78 as Mayor and Davis hit 8 points each though Solent hit another 4 trebles to secure another victory and extend their unbeaten run in this Division back to Feb 2019, some awesome record. The final score was 78-110 with Rockets top scorers being Nick Richards with 27 pts., 5 rebounds and a block as Liam Davis hit 15 pts., and took down 6 rebounds and Leome Francis had 11 pts., and took down 8 rebounds. Pau Mayor had 10 pts.,, 8 rebounds and 5 assists.


Date Time League Season
23/02/2020 17:00 NBL Div 1 2019 / 2020


24 Richfield Ave, Reading, Reading RG1, UK

Rockets to face unbeaten Kestrels

Reading Rockets (13-6) will be looking to bounce back from their surprise defeat to Leicester Warriors (8-10) when they take on unbeaten league leaders Team Solent Kestrels (16-0) on Sunday afternoon, 5pm tip-off at Rivermead Leisure Complex. Rockets suffered their sixth defeat in NBL Division One sending them right back into the play-off mix with only eight points separating the teams from second to seventh position. The Berkshire outfit lost 83-71 in the East Midlands and will have it all to do this weekend against the history making Southampton outfit.

Team Solent Kestrels were the first NBL Division One team to reach the BBL Trophy final last weekend as they recorded a memorable two-leg victory of Bristol Flyers. The Southern based team are unbeaten in the league and cup where they triumphed over the Rockets last month, winning the National Cup final by 90 points to 67 to lift their first piece of silverware.

Ahead of this weekend’s match-up against the league leaders, Rockets Head Coach Alan Keane knows his team will face a formidable opponent but is ready for the challenge that lies ahead with his group. The Irishman said,

“With Solent proving a powerhouse in NBL (and maybe BBL for that matter), nobody will give us a chance this weekend. However we won’t focus on that. The only thing that is important to us is giving the best performance we are capable of. We have been presented with many challenges this year and what comes with that is great opportunities for all, particularly our Academy players who are gaining valuable experience and will be continue to be called upon the rest of the season.”

Rockets go into Sunday’s mouthwatering game with still with a number of injury concerns. Spanish forward Matias Boho looks likely to miss out again with his ongoing knee injury whilst counterpart Pau Mayor will be a game time decision following his Achilles’ complaint that has not yet fully recovered. Australian guard Ben Dixon tweaked his ankle during last Saturday’s loss to Leicester Warriors but the Berkshire outfit are hopeful he will be fit for the visit of Solent this Sunday. British forward Ed Potter missed the Reading outfits last game and could potentially miss out again with a knee injury he sustained during a practice session. New signing Leome Francis will play in only his second home league game for the club with regulars Liam Davis and Nick Richards fully fit.

With a high number of games in the last six weeks of the regular season throughout the club keep up to date with all the latest news and information by following the Rockets on social media; Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – @rocketsreading or check out the club’s website – www.readingrockets.co.uk.

Match Report – Leicester Warriors v Reading Rockets



Leicester Warriors83Win
Reading Rockets71Loss

An already injury stricken Rockets side travelled to the Midlands having just heard that joint captain Ed Potter was out with an injury and the ever improving Kivuvu Live was sick. Pau Mayor was shirted up and was keen to try out his Achilles strain but Matias Boho’ knee injury continues.

Warriors opened up an 8-2 gap within the opening exchanges before Nick Richards took down his own offensive rebound to get Rockets troubling the scoreboard. Recent signing Leome Francis had a personal following as he was previously with nearby Northampton and he scored five quick points with an inside move, a coast to coast score and a penalty point to level the game on nine each. The scores were tied on 11 and 13 before Rockets went on a 11-3 finishing run as part of a 20-5 run to lead at the first break 24-16.

Warriors took the second quarter 20-13 having begun this period with a 7-0 run before a Richards tip in kept Rockets ahead by a single point. Academy youngster David Chive stroked the first of his three trebles but Rockets soon found themselves in team foul trouble from which Warriors capitalised. Another Academy player David Obediah took an assist from Liam Davis to score before Davis made a key tip in himself. With the game in a nip and tuck phase, it was anyone’s guess as to who would lead at the interval but that honour fell to Rockets with the slenderest of margins at 37-36.

Warriors’ American guard T J Henderson was on fire as he stroked trebles from all round the arc as Warriors hit Rockets with a storm taking the quarter 31-11 having hit five trebles in this time as Rockets turned the ball over and just couldn’t finish even within a foot of the basket. With a score line of 48-67 it was going to take an almighty effort from Rockets to take the victory in the final period but when Chive hit a treble and Richards drove to score, Warriors looked a little concerned. However Rockets missed four from four from the line whilst Warriors hit all theirs so Rockets found themselves adrift by 17 points after just over three minutes of the final stanza at 54-71. Davis picked up too many fouls so together with Chive was fouled out of the game but Richards and Francis worked tirelessly to keep Rockets close as with Rockets having won the home game by 15 points, with the league being so tight, Rockets wanted to keep the head to head should the league points be level in late March. This they did after Head Coach Alan Keane called his final time -out as a reminder and the guys not only stopped Warriors but also saw Francis score leaving the deficit at the buzzer just twelve at 71-83.

Rockets find themselves in a scramble with 6 other teams vying for a home tie in the Play-offs when they hope to have a fully fit squad .

Top scorers for Rockets were Nick Richards with 26 pts., 7 rebounds and 6 steals with both Rockets’ big guys having double doubles as Liam Davis scored 14 pts., and took down 11 rebounds whilst Leome Francis hit 13 pts., and took down 13 rebounds though Warriors American guards was supreme on the day as he hit 40 pts., took down 9 rebounds and made 5 assists


Date Time League Season
15/02/2020 15:00 NBL Div 1 2019 / 2020


Braunstone LC
A47, Leicester, Leicester LE3 1JN, UK

JMA Rockets return from their Erasmus trip to Spain

22 players and 6 staff were privileged enough to spend 2 weeks in Spain recently thanks to the Erasmus plus programme. Erasmus plus is the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport. Erasmus plus aims to modernise education, training and youth work across Europe. It is open to education, training, youth and sport organisations across all sectors of lifelong learning, including school education, further and higher education, adult education and the youth sector.

The group set off from Gatwick airport to Valencia at 7.30 in the morning, an early start for all! On arrival, the boys and girls teams checked in to their home for the week before a short walk to L’Alqueria, Valencia Basket’s state of the art training facility which has eleven, yes eleven full size basketball courts, as well as a huge gym/fitness centre, and a restaurant!

Here, the group were able to watch multiple Under 18 Euroleague games in the Adidas Next Generation tournament which included our very own former JMA Rocket, Matthew Marsh, who is in his second year playing for FC Barcelona and doing very well! To end our first day in Spain, we watched the Valencia Women’s first team play in La Fonteta, the main arena. They lost to a very impressive Girona team but it was awesome to see Carmen Segura’s sister Lorena back in the squad!

The following day was pretty similar, watching a variety of games which culminated in Valencia’s ACB team hosting Tenerife and recording a 98-91 win in front of 8,000 orange fans! What an atmosphere and such a great opportunity to see some of the highest quality basketball on show.

After 2 days of intense basketball, it was time for a change of scenery as the group had a guided tour of the beautiful city of Valencia, learning about it’s history and traditions. After watching the Valencia Women train, it was the boys who would play their first game of the trip as they beat academy side Ferran Pizcueta 76-56 despite being a bit rusty from the Christmas break!

The group watched the ACB team train (so privileged!) and talked with Head Coach Jaume Ponsarnau as well as having some practice of our own, it was time to see 2020 in Valencia style! We went outside the town hall with probably thousands of other people but it was a really family orientated atmosphere as midnight struck with lots of music and fireworks. The behaviour of all students (and staff!) was exemplary so we were really impressed with their conduct and representation of JMA Reading Rockets.

A tour of Valencia’s magnificent Oceanographic centre coupled to a quite breath-taking dolphin show! Everyone really embraced the culture of that trip and this was certainly one of those moments.

The following day was preparation day for the main basketball event of the trip as both teams were getting ready to play in the Valencia Basket Cup. After their sessions, the group were hosted by a Spanish academy players parents for the afternoon as they put on a quite magnificent spread (sounds very English I know) including the traditional Spanish food, paella! A really nice afternoon was had by all and we were most grateful for that time together.

Tournament time soon came upon us and it was to be a very busy couple of days. The girls team faced some very high level opposition and were able to claim 7th position, a very respectable achievement considering who they were playing and their ever-growing injury list! The boys did incredibly well winning every game including beating Valencia Basket B in the final to lift the trophy and cap off a fantastic experience in the city of Valencia. The group also managed to fit in watching a Euroleague game on the Friday night as Valencia secured an impressive 91-77 win over Alba Berlin!

It was time for the group to move to their second destination of the tour as they embarked on the four hour coach trip to Madrid! As we arrived to Aristos, our new home for the next five days, we were greeted by a former Rockets Coach and our friend Raul Lozano who was hosting us during

our time in Madrid. The first day in the capital city was however quite a calm, relaxed day for everyone having just played 6 games in three days but the group did travel to the Wizink centre to watch Real Madrid v Valencia in the ACB, a game narrowly won by the hosts.

The first ‘proper’ outing for the group was a trip to the city centre where the players were put into mixed groups and set various challenges for the three hours they were given. Tasks such as eating tapas, asking someone a question in Spanish, doing a group dance in front of a famous building were just three of the nine tasks set which was done so well by all involved. To cap off this trip, no fewer than 5 former players of JMA Rockets visited us which was great as it showed us the impact we had during their time in England. The day was completed with the boys back in action as they played Aristos Under 20s and recorded a narrow win.

Wednesday saw a trip to Real Madrid’s iconic football stadium, the Bernabau, which was an amazing venue to go and see as well as learning all about the history of one of Europe’s best club’s. Some individual practices as well as some studying and resting completed the day before the final full day of the trip was upon us.

On Thursday, the group had one to one meetings with staff about their time in Spain as well as presenting their tasks from Tuesday, a very funny hour looking back at what they had managed to achieve! One final trip for the group was back to the Wizink centre to watch a Euroleague game between the hosts and BC Zalgris before heading back to the accommodation and getting ready to fly home.

The trip ended with the arrival back to JMA around midday in what was a fantastic two weeks for everyone involved. A huge thank you must be given to Erasmus, the John Madejski Academy, and Reading Rockets for all their help and support in making this trip happen as well as all the staff for their tireless commitment and organisation! Finally, a big congratulations to the players for representing themselves, the school, and the club so well over the two weeks as everyone involved gets right back to work with their respective teams as the business end of the 2019-2020 descends upon us!