Tag: #division1

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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