Tag: #division1

Rockets Basketball Fixtures

Reading Rockets will open up their 2017-18 season campaign with a trip to last season’s NBL Division Two champions Kent Crusaders on Saturday 23rd September, (tip-off currently to be confirmed), before hosting their play-off conquerors from last season Team Solent Kestrels on Sunday 24th September at Rivermead Leisure complex (5pm tip-off). Both games see the start of the National Trophy group stages with Worthing Thunder being the other outfit to make up Pool 3. Rockets’ first NBL Division One league game should see them travel to face the leagues other new boys Team Newcastle University on Sunday 8th October but this fixture is still to be confirmed. The Berkshire outfit will begin at home the following weekend when they take on Hemel Storm on Saturday 14th October, 5pm tip-off.

Rockets will join this season’s National Cup competition at the third round stage on Sunday 15th October and will play away at either Oxford Stealers, Oxford City, Swindon Shock, or BC Medelynas London. This season’s opening BBL Trophy game will take place before Christmas on Sunday 17th December with the Berkshire outfit’s opponents yet to be drawn. The Reading team will finish off their regular season with a double header away trip when they take on last season’s NBL Division One Champions, Team Northumbria on Saturday 24th March at Sports Central before being hosted by Lancashire Spinners the following day, Sunday 25th March, in their final game of the campaign.

The squad will start their pre-season proceedings prior to this on Tuesday 29th August with Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés back at the helm for a fifth season assisted once again by newly-appointed JMA Academy Director Alan Keane. Both coaches have had an extremely busy summer but are looking forward to returning to Reading and have the goal of claiming silverware this year after a three year absence. Head Coach Peña Garcés has been working with the Spanish Federation over the summer period, delivering on the country’s top coaching qualification as well as holding a number of clinics for coaches from in and around his native Spain. Assistant Coach Keane led the Great Britain Under 18 Men’s team to the silver medal position in Division B at the European Championships but more importantly and impressively gaining promotion to Division A at the first time of asking.

Rockets will open up their pre-season period with a trio of friendly games in their second week of training, the home games being behind closed doors. The Berkshire outfit will play their annual friendly game against Team USA Select on Tuesday 5th September at the John Madejski Academy, before hosting a Norwegian team, Fyllingen who play in the top league in Norway on Friday 8th September. And their busy week will be rounded off with a trip to the Brentwood Centre to take on old rivals and now NBL Division Two outfit Essex Leopards. The two teams have had some memorable games over the years and the Rockets quickly accepted the invite to take on the Leopards on Saturday 9th September, 7pm tip-off.

The club will be announcing their roster in due course with a couple of returning players in the mix as well as two new import players as Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés looks to put the pieces of the jigsaw together and mount a challenge with his young, new-look squad for the 2017-2018 season.

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Rockets aiming for runners-up spot as winner takes all in Manchester

This weekend was just a game or two too far for Rockets who have played 4 games in 8 days with a severely depleted team through extended injuries. The 19 game winning streak came to an end last weekend but they will be aiming to clinch the runners-up position in NBL Division One this weekend when they take on last seasons champions Manchester Magic (20-5) at the Amaechi Basketball Centre on Saturday evening (6.30pm tip-off). Rockets lost out on a chance to become champions themselves after losing to the newly-crowned winners Team Northumbria on Saturday evening by 64 points to 76 before a surprise defeat at the hands of Loughborough Student Riders (13-11) on Sunday evening 66-73. This left the Berkshire outfit on the same record as this Saturday’s opponents with the winner of that game guaranteed the runners-up spot and the loser third place in the NBL Division One standings as all teams embark on the final weekend of the regular season.

In what should be the pick of the final round of games with relegation matters also settled last weekend as Westminster Warriors (2-23) and former NBL Division One champions Essex Leopards (5-20) were condemned to live in Division Two next term, Rockets won their only previous encounter with the Magic in the home league game, beating the National Trophy winners by 105 points to 92 back in December. The Manchester outfit have also finished the season strongly but encountered a surprise defeat to Derby Trailblazers (16-8) last Sunday losing out 85-73 to set up a one game shoot out for the runners-up place.

Speaking after seeing his team’s 19 game winning streak and title chances ended last weekend, Manuel Peña Garcés was naturally disappointed but says only good lessons from this can follow and is looking to get back to winning ways against Manchester, and secure second place in the NBL Division One table. The Spaniard said,

“It was a difficult weekend for us overall and we are disappointed not to be able to take the title challenge into the final weekend. We must however congratulate Team Northumbria on claiming the title and playing a great game against us. Coach Marc (Steutel, Team Northumbria Head Coach) had his team well prepared, disciplined throughout the game, and ultimately worthy winners of the league, so many congratulations to him and his team. That was obviously disappointing for us on Saturday and unfortunately we were unable to pick ourselves up on Sunday against Loughborough and ended up coming out of the weekend with two losses.”

“Despite these coming at a bad time in terms of the league, I think we will learn the most valuable lessons from these as we attempt to finish runners-up and give ourselves the next best possible seeding for the play-offs, a competition that is exciting and one we want to win. Collectively, we will analyse where we went wrong this week, take accountability for our mistakes and errors, and look to make some changes and adaptions in how we are and how we prepare for this weekend’s game against Manchester.”

“This is a perfect opportunity for us to bounce back and give ourselves a big lift heading into the post season but we are under no illusion this will be a difficult game, especially away from home, and we will need an improved performance if we are to secure the win. Whilst we need to remain humble, especially at a time like this, I am still very proud of my players and I think to win as many games as we have in a row is a big credit to them but this hasn’t enabled us to win anything yet and that is what we want to put right and certainly where our thinking will be for the remainder of the season.”

Rockets go into this weekends final game off the back of their two lowest offensive performances of the season having scored 64 and 66 points respectively and with an injury count finally taking it’s toll. The Berkshire outfit are still without the long term injured Joel Keeble and now look set to face the Magic without Ibu Jassey Demba. The 19 year old forward played very limited minutes with a broken hand last Saturday but was unable to continue in the game and sat out of Sunday’s loss to Loughborough. Better news for the Reading team has come with the improvement to Under 18 Fidel Gomez de Enterria Lopez who managed to play a little in both games whilst still recovering from an ankle injury, the same injury which has also sidelined Under 19 Bikram Rana and his status is still unknown heading into Saturday’s final showdown. However, the Rockets have proven themselves on many occasions this season and will be hoping to cap off a great campaign by clinching the runners-up spot and finishing in their highest position for the last three seasons as Manuel Peña Garcés’ team remain in the hunt for glory.

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