Tag: #division1

Rockets sign Trae Pemberton for 2018/19

Reading Rockets have made another important announcement ahead of its 2018/19 National Basketball League campaign with the signing of 26-year-old American Trae Pemberton.

The 6ft4 guard from Indiana, who celebrates his birthday later this month (19 August), joins compatriot AJ Carr and Irish players Adrian and Ronan O’Sullivan on the Rockets roster for the new season.

Pemberton’s move to Reading comes following two seasons of impressive competition in Ireland, where he starred with the Tralee Warriors.

Contributing to the club’s Irish Superleague Championship successes, Trae was named Eurobasket.com Import Player of the Year last season, as well as Basketball Ireland All-Star two years in a row.

A multiple winner of Sportleague Player of the Month, he was also named Irish Men’s Superleague Player of the Year for 2016-17.

Reading Rockets Head Coach Alan Keane said: “Trae is a really good signing for us. On the court he is a high volume scorer, who is very dynamic and can score in a variety of ways. His calm demeanour means he is very good in key moments of the game and has a track record of producing the goods when the game is on the line. A man with great character, Trae is going to be an awesome Rocket both on and off the court, as well as in the community.”

Reading Rockets chairman Gary Johnson added: “Our senior men’s squad just keeps getting better and better, with even more still to come. I am delighted that Trae has signed for us. He has all the qualities we look for in a Rocket, and I think this season will be an exciting new chapter in his career. In Trae, the communities in and around Reading will definitely have another sporting hero to look up to.”

Trae Pemberton said: “I’m really excited about this upcoming season here in Reading! There is a high level of basketball being played in England and the Rockets have a great history of winning. I’m proud to be a part of that. I think it will be a great opportunity for my basketball career and for me to be involved in a great community. The family atmosphere really helped me make my decision, and I really want to be a part of the Rockets family. We have a lot of good pieces on this team and I think we can do some special things. Having played against Adrian in Ireland, we are looking forward to playing on the same side for a change! The ultimate goal is to win some hardware at the end of the season. I’m looking forward to it!”


Reading Rockets Adds American Flair to Senior Men’s Squad

Reading Rockets has revealed the next player to join its senior men’s squad for the forthcoming 2018/19 National Basketball League (NBL) season, American forward AJ Carr.

The 23-year-old, who hails from Fairfax, Virginia, becomes the first American player to be announced for the new season after recent Irish signings Adrian O’Sullivan (24) and Ronan O’Sullivan (24).

A graduate of Saint James School in Maryland, AJ went onto play basketball for Shepherd University in West Virginia for four years, totaling 85 competitive games since 2014.

At 6ft6, AJ will bring a brand-new dimension to the growing Rockets squad with a versatile playing style that promises to bring a unique flair to the team’s game. The American will move to Reading in late August, when he will meet with Rockets colleagues and start to integrate himself into the club.

Reading Rockets Head Coach Alan Keane said: “I am very pleased with how our team is coming together. Our most recent signing, AJ, adds another dimension to the team. AJ’s versatility really suits the style of game we will play. AJ possesses a skill set which will make us difficult to defend and play at a tempo that will be exciting to watch. In addition, AJ’s character fits the values and personal traits we value most at the club. I have big expectations of AJ and have no doubt he will deliver that and some.” 


Reading Rockets chairman Gary Johnson added: “To sign someone of AJ’s calibre sends a strong message of our intentions this coming season. We 

are always deeply privileged when a player decides to commit to our club, but never more so than when it requires a move overseas. The whole of Reading will take note when AJ’s in town, and I can’t wait to see the fans’ reaction to his game play.”

AJ Carr said: “Coach Keane contacted my agent and I about playing in England and joining the Rockets. It was an honour to be considered to play professionally overseas in Europe and after talking with Coach Keane and Mr. Johnson, my agents at SportsFive and I decided that signing with the Rockets was the best move for me. As far as the season ahead, I’m extremely excited to continue building upon the longstanding success of the Reading Rockets’ programme and bringing a commitment to excellence as well. The Rockets are a competitive, prestigious, and family/community-oriented organisation that I’m ecstatic about joining. Big things are coming!”

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Meet Head Coach Alan Keane

It has been just over a month since we announced Irishman Alan Keane as the new Head Coach for Reading Rockets. Alan’s role will see him lead the senior men’s squad in the 2018/19 NBL season but also support all facets of the Rockets junior programmes based at the John Madejski Academy.

We thought the time was right to find out more about Head Coach Keane.

Alan, you’ve been on a very interesting coaching journey, what does this new role mean to you?

“It simply means a step in the right direction for where I want to go with my coaching. I want to keep progressing and with that needs to come new challenges. Reading Rockets is a club that has allowed me the privilege to work as a full time basketball coach between the JMA Academy and the Rockets men’s team. I am thankful for that.”

You have not Head Coached a senior men’s team even though your experience is extensive, what do you see are the challenges ahead?

“I see many challenges that excite me in every coaching job I have done. Many of those challenges cross over whether you are coaching U12, an U18 national team or U19 EABL. Having assisted with this team for the past two years we can be more demanding and have higher expectations from the players individually and collectively. Players fighting to meet those expectations and execute to a high standard each day excites me. The challenge that comes with that journey excites me too.”

Your role as Head Coach at JMA in the EABL would suggest that you are wanting to create an environment for some of better young players to come and experience Division 1?

The environment is everything. The right environment that constantly challenges and supports every player and coach will allow all of us to flourish. It is a critical goal of mine to integrate a number of JMA players into the senior team from day one of training camp. Why would you not do that? We have talented junior players who can contribute to any Division 1 men’s team in the country.”

You have been a part of the Rockets for a couple of years. What makes this so important to you at this stage of your career?

“Having had two years assisting the Rockets men’s team, and returning from a unique experience as assistant coach with the England senior team at the Commonwealth Games, makes me eager to take the next step and head coach a senior programme. The Reading Rockets organisation takes a truly professional approach to how it runs the programme. Heading up the men’s team puts me in a position to take on roles and duties you just don’t get from being an assistant or a junior team head coach. All are challenges I eagerly await.”

 You are a family man too. How will you get the balance right between your well-known pursuit of detail and having time at home?

“I guess this is a challenge for many coaches as our jobs are not in line with typical working hours. When you have a family that supports what you do, admires what you do and knows what you do makes you happy, that helps somewhat towards getting the balance right. However, it is important to make time consciously for those around you. It can be so easy to be engrossed for hours on end with basketball. Involving my family in what I do such as coming to games etc. has helped a lot.”


 - Communications -

Press Release
4 May 2018

Reading Rockets has today announced that its Division 1 Head Coach, Manuel Peña Garcés, is to leave the club by mutual agreement.

The Spaniard has been at the helm for five years and parts company with the club on good terms.

Rockets most recently reached the semi-finals of the National Basketball League Division 1, where they lost to Hemel Storm.

Reading Rockets Chairman, Gary Johnson, has thanked Peña Garcés for his contribution to the club over the past five seasons: “We part company with Manuel on good terms having enjoyed five solid seasons working together. This has been a mutual decision and we wish him all the best for the future.”

Peña Garcés will remain under contract until the end of July, and reflects on five positive years with the Rockets: We are finishing something really positive this summer and I’m not yet thinking about the future. Thanks to the club, staff, players, supporters and volunteers for making these past five years such a great time. I wish everyone associated with the Rockets all the best.”

Reading Rockets is embarking on an off-season of regroup and growth as it prepares for the exciting next chapter of its 21-year history.

Johnson continued: “The vision for Reading Rockets is very clear: to attain British Basketball League status, and we will now set out a renewed direction for the club, both technically and operationally, to allow us to fulfil this aspiration. Rockets turns 21 in 2018, which is heralding a new era for the club.”

One of the Rockets priority items is to find a permanent venue that meets BBL’s stringent franchise stipulations. That can only be achieved with the support from benefactors, government and the community to identify opportunities and raise the necessary funds to make the Rockets BBL vision a reality.

“We recognise the hurdles we have to overcome, which lie most urgently and importantly in finding a permanent home for the Reading Rockets,” concluded Gary Johnson. “Only from such a venue, can we truly showcase basketball in our region in a representative manner, fitting of BBL status. There is a lot of work to do, but we remain committed to meet our ambitious goals and to put Reading on the international basketball map.”

For more information about Reading Rockets, please contact:
Chris Hughes – 07917 352511

Rockets in seventh heaven as they aim for top four finish in final weekend of the regular season

Reading Rockets (15-7) will be looking to secure a top four finish in NBL Division One this weekend when they travel to the north for their final regular season games as they face rivals Team Northumbria (15-7) on Saturday afternoon (4pm tip-off) before matching up against the league’s basement team Lancashire Spinners (0-22) on Sunday afternoon (3.45pm tip-off). Rockets secured their seventh victory on the spin last weekend when they defeated league leaders Team Solent Kestrels, claiming a hard fought 78-66 victory to put themselves in contention for a third place finish. If Rockets finish the season with an equal number of wins as Northumbria and Worthing, they have the head to head over Worthing, who are currently fifth placed (14-=8). The Reading team would need to beat Lancashire Spinners on Sunday should Saturday’s affair not go their way to make sure of a top four finish and a home tie in the quarter-finals of the play-offs, scheduled for Sunday 8th April.

Rockets have faced both opponents at home already this season in league play securing victories on each occasion. The Reading outfit captured an 84-72 win most recently over Team Northumbria and also comfortably beat Lancashire Spinners 107-67 back in January but face a tough final league double header this coming weekend.

Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés was really pleased to see his team chalk up win number seven in a row as well as deliver a much improved performance but knows this will mean nothing should his team falter during the final weekend of the regular season. The Spanish play-caller said,

I am really happy with last weekend’s win against Solent and the players put in a much better performance than in some of our recent successes so this is very positive for us heading into this weekend’s tough double header. Defensively, we were a lot better but know that this can improve further with more work needed on offence for us to really maximise our potential.

Whilst it is a positive time for us, it is important that we now focus on our game against a very good Team Northumbria this Saturday before we look ahead to Sunday. Sports Central has always been a difficult place to get a win and none more so this weekend with third place on the line for both teams. Preparation for this game will be crucial and if we are able to keep working on being the best version of ourselves and deliver what we know we are capable of then there is no reason why we can’t secure the all important win. We know the talent Coach Mark’s (Steutel, Team Northumbria Head Coach) roster has and there is no doubt he will have them ready to play as he has done so well in past end of seasons. An exciting time and we will be ready!

Rockets go into this weekend’s crunch double header with no current injury concerns: however the Under 18 duo of Adrian Nosa Castillo and Iñigo Perez Baena both remain out of action with injury and games themselves. The Reading team could make it nine consecutive wins to finish their campaign and be a real threat in the play-offs as they look to pick up their first piece of silverware in almost four years.

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