Tag: #NBL

Rockets take on rivals Kestrels in play-off quarter-finals

Third placed Reading Rockets (20-6) will take on sixth placed Team Solent Kestrels (15-10, one game voided) this Sunday at Rivermead Leisure Complex in the play-off quarter finals (5pm tip-off) with the winners advancing to the semi-finals and an away trip to either second placed Manchester Magic (21-5) or seventh placed Bradford Dragons (14-12) whilst for the losers the season will draw to a close. Rockets finished the season similarly to how they started it as they lost their final three games of the NBL Division One campaign including last weekend’s narrow defeat to runners-up Manchester Magic who took the second spot in the table with a 75-71 win over the Berkshire outfit. The Reading team finished third in the division for the second consecutive season and will face Team Solent Kestrels for a fourth time this season with the Southampton based team losing on the final day of the season and being leapfrogged by Loughborough Student Riders (15-11) who claimed a final day victory over fourth placed Derby Trailblazers 73-84 to set up a re-match with last weekend’s opponents at the quarter-final stage. Rockets are currently undefeated against Sunday’s opposition having claimed victory in the National Trophy pool stages way back in October with a 79-65 scoreline and were also triumphant in league play, defeating the Kestrels 101-79 at home in mid-December before battling to an 88-81 away win in February to lead this season’s series 3-0.

Rockets Head Coach Manuel Peña Garcés has already begun work in preparing for Sunday’s winner takes all game but has been reflecting on last Saturday’s defeat to Manchester as he prepares his team to try and beat Team Solent for a fourth time round, a task he knows will be a very difficult one. After leading his team to third place in the NBL Division One table the Spaniard said,

“The last couple of games have been difficult for us and we are a little disappointed not to have been champions or finish runners-up but we cannot dwell on this, if anything, these losses have provided us with a lot of learning and I think the response we saw in the second half against Manchester and in the preparation we have done this week shows we have taken another step and we will be a challenge for any team in the play-offs. I was really pleased with our fight and determination against Manchester and after being 17 down, to be within one lay-up of tying the game late on after battling so hard, I am pleased and confident we know what we have to do this weekend and hopefully in another two games.”

“This however is going to be tough! It is a ‘one and done’ game and we know that Team Solent, after an impressive first season in Division One, will be really ready to challenge us. I have been impressed with the job Coach Matt (Guymon, Team Solent Head Coach) has done with his group and I am sure they will want to beat us after not succeeding so far this season. They possess many dangers that we will need to study and prepare for and we will also need to find a fourth way to try and beat a unit that averages 82 points a game.”

“This week for us has been about continuing our fight and determination and being committed once again to what we are doing through sacrifice, discipline, and humility. I am really proud of this group and what they represent and I know that by Sunday’s game we will be ready in terms of attitude, desire, and tactics and I hope that we get what we deserve and that is to move on to the semi-finals.”

Rockets go into Sunday’s game without the services of shooting guard Joel Keeble who has been out for the Berkshire club long term with a fractured wrist as well as Under 19 Ibu Jassey Demba who was ruled out for the season last week with a broken hand. The Reading team will hand late fitness tests to both Fidel Gomez De Enterria Lopez and Bikram Rana with the pair forced to sit out last Saturdays’s loss to Manchester with ankle injuries. Both have not played since their EABL defeat to Charnwood College two weeks ago and it will be touch and go if the pair will be fit ahead of Sunday’s play-off quarter final.

Rockets have only lost once at the quarter-final stage of the post season in the last five years and will be hoping to advance to the semi-final stage once more with the ultimate goal of emulating last season’s finale by reaching the play-off final. Having won 19 games in a row this season, the longest streak in NBL Division One this term, Manuel Peña Garcés and his men will fancy their chances but also be desperate to change their form of late and reach the next stage of the play-offs having not picked up any silverware in their last two campaigns as the Rivermead crowd await them on Sunday excited and expectant of a good performance from their home team.

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Big surprise this Sunday!

This Sunday we have the dance group Messy Jam performing at half time at the Division 1 Men’s game. They are well known for their three crews, which won places to compete in the European Street Dance Championships in Paris and Germany.

For this Sunday they are going to bring two crews, Mayhem (under 14 years’ intermediate crew) and Blackout (over 9 intermediate crew).

Both crews are very experienced dancers. Some of the dancers formed part of the Elite Squad Royalz crew that went to the semi-finals of Britain’s got talent. Both crews are 1st place winners of 2017 British street dance Championships. Many have competed abroad and recently danced in a music video for DreamWorks TV.

So get down to Rivermead this Sunday and see these 2 amazing crews in action.



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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