Solent Kestrels 90 v 67 Reading Rockets.
Despite losing the National Cup Final on Sunday to the unbeaten Kestrels both Rockets Chairman Gary Johnson and Head Coach Alan Keane were extremely proud of the way the depleted team played and represented Rockets in one of only 3 National trophies this season.
A final Saturday morning fitness test on both Spanish players, Matias Boho and Pau Mayor, revealed that neither could participate in any way due to knee ligament and Achilles injuries respectively, so coupled to the absence of long term injured A J Carr and new signing Leome Francis being cup tied, the Berkshire outfit took to the court with just 4 senior players. However the six Academy players made much contribution as they played 43% of the game showing just how blessed Rockets is with such talent for today and the future. ‘Our programme is designed for the development of young players and giving them exposure at the highest level of English basketball’ said Rockets Chairman ‘And in Alan Keane we have the very best coach to develop these players for either USA colleges or the professional game in main land Europe as well as with Rockets ‘ added Johnson. He was immensely proud of Rockets achievement in reaching the National Cup Final and the way they played throughout the game, playing hard and raising their game from what looked like a game too far with the devastating injuries Rockets currently have.
Obviously Head Coach Alan Keane was disappointed with the loss but nonetheless very proud of his young academy players. The talented and deep Kestrels squad imposed themselves on the game from the tip hitting the opening 6 points but Ben Dixon and Liam Davis hit back with drives and jump shots whilst Nick Richards hit a fade away shot and then immediately ran the length of the court to make a stop letting all the Rockets supporters and his team mates know that Rockets were here to play at their best whatever the circumstances.
After the 15-28 first quarter reverse Rockets lost the services of Davis as he was called for a second foul when Rockets fans thought he’d made a great block. Besides the ball not dropping into the basket as frequently as they’d hoped, Rockets persevered as Ed Potter was working tirelessly inside scoring and taking down rebounds with Dixon adding to his personal points tally though it was a 19 point deficit at the interval as Rockets trailed 30-49.
Just what could Coach Keane get out of his team in the second half. An excellent display is the answer as Rockets won the third quarter 19-16 and just lost this half by the smallest of differences 37-41 as Richards came alive offensively hitting 18 points , young Ross Stepney hit Rockets sole treble , David Chive took down 8 rebounds and made 3 steals as Rockets upped the intensity and speed. Davis enjoyed one of the few slam dunks in the game and Rockets players flung themselves on the floor to hustle for possession but a brace of trebles from Kestrels in the last minute gave the scoreboard an unfair reflection on Rockets efforts.
The game’s top scorer was Rockets Nick Richards who hit 22 pts, took down 8 rebounds and made a pair of steals and 5 assists in a complete performance. Rockets Ed Potter had a double double with 16 pts and 13 rebounds whilst Liam Davis scored 10 pts and took down 9 rebounds . It would be remiss not to mention Academy player David Chive who also took down 8 rebounds and made 3 steals to compliment his 5 points.
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